New Urbanism News 6-19-2010

San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks Program — San Francisco ’s streets and public rights-of-way make up fully 25% of the city’s land area. Many of the streets are excessively wide and contain large zones of wasted space. San Francisco’s new “Pavement to Parks” projects seek to temporarily reclaim these unused swathes and quickly and inexpensively turn them into new public plazas and parks. See pictures of the transformation in one area in San Francisco.  Another idea using underutilized pavement is to convert parking lots to parks.  And while we consider alternative uses, what about turning grocery stores into walkable neighborhood centers.

Housing Costs Add to Transportation Costs & Pollution. In Asheville, NC, a study concludes that high housing costs are pushing low-wage workers farther from their jobs, adding to their transportation costs and to the area’s air pollution problems.

Another study shows the connection between land use and travel behavior.

What makes a city liveable? Although a lot has been written about what makes an area “liveable”, one author suggests that diversity in nature and in cities is what makes them more liveable.

Designing for the Future – Own vs. Rent. As we design for the real estate recovery and beyond, one important economic fact should be considered — metro areas with the highest rates of homeownership typically had worse economic outcomes across the board than did metros with lower rates. They also reported lower levels of well-being and happiness.  Rental housing provides flexibility and less fixed burdens.

Form Based Codes294 form based codes have been adopted or are being prepared or proposed in the US and Canada, according to a count by Hazel Borys of the consulting group PlaceMakers. They’re in 40 states and three Canadian provinces. [can’t imagine doing a large TOD land development over multiple years — and spanning several real estate cycle — with traditional zoning!!!]

Suburbs and the Poor: Suburbs are now home to the largest and fastest growing poor population in the country. Why is this happening and who are the suburban poor?

Revitalizing Cities with Innovative Parks:  Peter Harnik, director, Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land and author of “Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities,” presented cutting-edge models for cities seeking to add much-needed parkland. At a briefing at the National Building Museum, Harnik said designing accessible parks may be “harder than rocket science” because designers need to integrate “math, horticulture, psychology, sociology, landscape design, and communications.”

New Urbanism for the Not So Rich:  The author tours an Oregon mixed use, transit, sustainable project and notes that “the Green Urbanism I’ve seen glides on a silent lubrication of money” and ponders the social equity results of public/private new urbanism projects.

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About Bob Voelker

Head of the Munsch Hardt (Dallas law firm) Hospitality & Mixed Use Development Group, and former developer of affordable housing. I'm i
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