Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why Cul-de-Sacs are Bad for You

Nowadays I usually get inspired to post on this blog by things that appear in my Facebook feed. Due to my long association with UGA Law many of my friends are in Georgia, and Georgia-related news gets lots of play.   Recently a few land use savvy friends have posted this article from Slate, "Why Cul-de-Sacs Are Bad for Your Health." 

My first thought - "Isn't this something the New Urbanists have been telling us for, oh, 20 years or so?" Andres Duany has certainly been on the topic for a long time - his book Suburban Nation came out in 2001.

But, this article supports the truth many of us have known for awhile - that living in the suburbs and commuting by car has a negative impact on one's health.  This is being confirmed by a recent study at Georgia Tech.  The article makes for interesting reading, regardless of where you live.

Jamie Baker Roskie

December 11, 2013 in Development, DPZ, Exurbs, Georgia, Housing, New Urbanism, Pedestrian, Smart Growth, Transportation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mulvaney on Road Diets

No, that's not what Prof. Tim Mulvaney eats while traveling.  It's a land use concept that he discusses in a very interesting post on the Environmental Law Prof Blog.  An excerpt:

The neighborhood associations of Mistletoe Heights and Berkeley Place, both part of a historic preservation district in the city of Fort Worth, Texas, recently passed measures encouraging the city to consider a “road diet” for the four-lane road that transects these neighborhoods.  Planners Dan Burden and Peter Lagerway coined the phrase “road diet” in the 1990s to refer to the transportation planning technique of reallocating existing roadway space that is providing excessive carrying capacity in a manner that results in a reduction in the number of vehicle lanes.  For example, a road diet might involve the conversion of a four-lane, undivided road to a three lane road, whereby the land previously used for the fourth lane can be employed for other purposes, such as the creation of a two-way left turn lane and either defined bicycle lanes (image A below), wider sidewalks and landscaping (image B), or angled/parallel parking (image C), or some combination thereof. 

Check out the full post to see the illustrative diagrams and additional pictures and anaylsis.  I hadn't heard the term before, but the concept makes sense.

Matt Festa

May 6, 2012 in Density, Local Government, Pedestrian, Planning, Scholarship, Sustainability, Transportation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fast Walking = Health?

This new medical story has been zipping around the web recently.  From the BBC: Slow Walking Predicts Dementia?

A study, published in the British Medical Journal in 2009, said there was a "strong association" between slow walking speed and death from heart attacks and other heart problems. A Journal of the American Medical Association study suggested a link between walking faster over the age of 65 and a longer life.

Dr Erica Camargo, who conducted the latest study at the Boston Medical Centre, said: "While frailty and lower physical performance in elderly people have been associated with an increased risk of dementia, we weren't sure until now how it impacted people of middle age." . . .

The researchers said slower walking speeds were linked to a higher risk of dementia and stronger grip with a lower risk of stroke.

Interesting and potentially another data point toward favoring walkable pedestrian-oriented urbanism.  Thanks to Elizabeth Festa for the pointer.

Matt Festa

February 21, 2012 in Pedestrian, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Land Use Rules

Just got back from trick-or-treating with Peter Pan and a human pineapple. As they sort through the loot, I'm reminded of the increasing trend towards regulating Halloween activity. Where I grew up there weren't any rules, just social norms that controlled things like how late kids could reasonably stay out ringing on doorbells (with law enforcement as a backstop for teenagers out too late or too unruly). But then a few years ago I moved to a town in Ohio, and was surprised to learn that the town promulgated "official trick-or-treat hours" . . . and I'm not 100% sure on this, but I think the official hours to trick-or-treat were the day before Halloween, because it fell on a Sunday, or something. To get even more land use-y, it was restricted to residential neighborhoods only (not sure why you'd want to do otherwise).

Just trolling around the web tonight, I came across this Yahoo article compiling Bay Area Halloween Laws and Regulations. A few examples:

- Sex offenders: stay home; no candy; no decorations, and expect a police visit.

- Curfew laws enforced-- 10 p.m. seems like the most common time for Halloween curfew.

- Parades: several communities have kids' parades, requiring street closures, permits, police.

- Street festivals: for the second year in a row, the Castro District celebration has been cancelled; therefore traffic, parking, etc. will not be disrupted.

- Public safety: last year there was gunfire at an Oakland festival; expect tighter restrictions on large gatherings.

One other thing I have observed the past couple of years: people driving their kids to the more pedestrian-friendly, slightly denser, but still single-family residential neighborhoods to trick-or-treat-- the "sweet spot" (if you will) of efficient foot travel and probability of treats at each house. It turns out that kids are intuitively rational candy-maximizers. Happy Halloween!

Matt Festa

October 31, 2011 in Density, Food, Housing, Houston, Humorous, Local Government, Pedestrian | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What Occupy Wall Street Owes to Zoning

From the Wall Street Journal's Developments blog: What Occupy Wall Street Owes to Zoning.

Occupy Wall Street’s monthlong protest has been helped by donors willing to supply food, temperate fall weather and support from organized labor and some elected officials. But a less-visible asset has proved a big boon for the protesters: New York City’s land-use policy.

The geographic center of the protest is lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, a one-block collection of trees and benches that is owned by an office landlord, Brookfield Office Properties Inc. Private ownership actually makes the space more accessible than public parks, many of which close at night.

As discussed in a Journal article on Saturday, the city’s zoning code requires that many privately owned parks be open to the public at all times — one of the factors that made Zuccotti Park a hospitable venue for the protesters’s all-hours encampment.

Termed a “privately owned public space” — or POPS, in zoning parlance — these plazas stand at the intersection of capitalist instinct and public interest. The zoning code puts restrictions on the scale of towers that developers are allowed to build. In an attempt to add public space in Manhattan without buying new parkland, city government allowed developers to build bigger structures if they set aside a plaza that remains open to the public.

While many of these are tucked away in the backs of buildings or in lobbies, Zuccotti Park turns out to be one of the most accessible POPS in the city. Of course, there is an irony that the space in which Occupy Wall Street has found a continued home is owned by the city’s largest landlord for financial services firms — the very industry they are protesting.

Matt Festa

October 30, 2011 in Development, Local Government, New York, Pedestrian, Politics, Urbanism, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"The 19 Building Types That Caused the Recession"

Over at The Atlantic Cities website, I stumbled across this fun little piece,

Among his favorite examples of all the standard real-estate products built ad nauseum across the country over the last half-century, Christopher Leinberger likes to point to the Grocery Anchored Neighborhood Center. This creation is generally about 12 to 15 acres in size on a plot of land that’s 80 percent covered in asphalt. It’s located on the going-home side of a major four-to-eight lane arterial road, where it catches people when they’re most likely to be thinking about what to buy for dinner. . .

Leinberger, an urban land-use strategist and professor at the University of Michigan, includes the Grocery Anchored Neighborhood Center on his list of the 19 standard real estate product types dominant in post-war America. Also on the list: suburban detached starter homes, big-box anchored power centers, multi-tenant bulk warehousing and self-storage facilities. All of these products are designed for drivable suburban communities. They reflect almost exclusively what investors have been willing to finance for the last 50 years. And as construction picks back up following the recession, Leinberger says we'll need to get away from every single one of them.

It's a slightly fancier way to say we must get away from sprawl, but it's certainly food for thought.

And when you're done with that, check out Richard Florida's article "2011's Best Cities for Trick-or-Treating."

Jamie Baker Roskie

October 26, 2011 in Architecture, Community Design, Development, Finance, New Urbanism, Parking, Pedestrian, Planning, Sprawl, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 9, 2011

worst practices

If you do a Google Images search for "sprawl", what you will see is lots of aerial views of large subdivisions filled with small and medium-sized houses. But these places are "sprawl with a human face"; often there are sidewalks, or at least lawns for humans to walk on.

Right now, I'm visiting my parents' house in Atlanta and seeing sprawl at its worst. For example, look at this photo (a couple of miles from where I am sitting), showing a residential street where the trees go right up to the street, so there is no lawn to walk on; if you walk you just have to share the street with 40 mph car traffic. This sort of thing even happens in apartment complexes.

Michael Lewyn

September 9, 2011 in Pedestrian, Sprawl, Suburbs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My next article: sprawl in Canada and the U.S.

In public debate over suburban sprawl, one common argument is the “Inevitability Theory.”  The Inevitability Theory is based on the following chain of logic:

1.  Sprawl happens even in places where government policy doesn’t favor sprawl (such as Canada, Europe, etc.)

2.  Therefore, sprawl is an inevitable result of the free market, rather than government policy.

The Inevitability Theory is designed to rebut the environmentalist argument that sprawl is the result of American public policies such as highway construction, minimum parking requirements, anti-density zoning, and anti-pedestrian street design.

My next article criticizes the Inevitability Theory by focusing on Canada.  Part 1 of the Inevitability Theory discussed above can be broken down into two assumptions: (a) that Canada sprawls as much as the U.S.; and (b) Canadian public policy is antisprawl.  But in my article, I challenge both assumptions, arguing that:

a.  Canada is less suburbanized than the United States; even controlling for changes in city boundaries, Canadian central cities have been more likely to grow than their American counterparts.  Even Canadian cities that have lost population are better off than many older American cities.  For example, the fastest-declining major Canadian city, Montreal, lost 18 percent of its population between 1971 and 2001 (excluding areas annexed to the city in the intervening decades).  By contrast, St. Louis lost 44 percent of its population, and other cities such as Cleveland and Detroit lost over 30 percent of their population.

b.  If you treat sprawl as a matter of “how we develop” rather than “where we develop”,Canada again differs.  14 percent of Canadian commuters (as opposed to 6 percent of Americans) use public transit to get to work, and 5 percent walk (as opposed to 2 percent in the U.S.)

To be sure, Canada has some automobile-dependent cities and suburbs.  But is this necessarily the result of the market at work?  In my article, I show that Canadian cities and suburbs have the same kind of anti-density, pro-sprawl regulations as their American counterpart.  For example, in both nations, municipal zoning regulations limit density, thus limiting the number of people who can live within walking distance of public transit and other destinations.  And in both nations,  zoning regulations require businesses to install large amounts of parking, thus reducing density, making driving more convenient, and also making businesses more inhospitable to pedestrians (who often have to walk through large parking lots).   And in both nations, streets are often designed to be too wide to be comfortably crossed.  However, Canadian regulations do tend to be more lenient (and thus less anti-pedestrian) than their U.S. counterparts.

The full article is at http://works.bepress.com/lewyn/65/ .

September 6, 2011 in Comparative Land Use, Density, Local Government, Parking, Pedestrian, Scholarship, Sprawl, Suburbs, Transportation, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

America's Top 10 Walkable Cities, 2011

Or so says WalkScore, according to this article America's Ten Most Walkable Cities of 2011, by Jason Notte in The Street.  A lot of the usual suspects are on the list, which you can see by clicking over to the story.  Also interesting is the description of Walk Score:

The people behind Walk Score, a Seattle-based service that rates the convenience and transit access of 10,000 neighborhoods in 2,500 cities, have spent the past four years judging the distance between residents and amenities and ranking places based on the results. That "walkability" led to the first set of rankings in 2008 and the use of those rankings by more than 10,000 cities, civic organizations and real estate groups in the years that followed.

Once something becomes measurable, then you have numers that start to play a role in policy debates, budgets, and markets.  I suspect we'll see even more use of metrics and quantitative analysis in areas like livability, sustainability, and so on in the years to come. 

I'm not familiar with their methodology, but if you go to the Walk Score website you can check out the walkability score for your own address.  Mine: 68 ("somewhat walkable").

Thanks to Mubaraka Saifee for the pointer.

Matt Festa

 

August 7, 2011 in Budgeting, Chicago, Density, Local Government, New Urbanism, New York, Pedestrian, Planning, Sustainability, Transportation, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Robertson on Public Access to Private Land for Walking

Heidi Gorovitz Robertson (Case Western) has posted Public Access to Private Land for Walking: Environmental and Individual Responsibility as Rationale for Limiting the Right to Exclude, forthcoming in Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, Vol. 23, pp. 211-262, 2011.  The abstract:

Whether people have an independent right of access to walk on land they do not own is a question answered differently throughout the world, largely due to cultural, historical, and political variations amongst regions. In this decade, English citizens gained a legislated right to roam on privately owned land designated by the government for public access. The British government now designates land as access land by evaluating the nature of the land itself, not its ownership status. In Sweden, the right to roam on land owned by another has long been a deeply rooted cultural tradition, though not codified in law. Other countries have adopted variations of a right of access, while some, like the United States, continue largely to resist it, choosing instead to hold property owners’ right to exclude above a public right of access. This paper looks at some of the historical and cultural reasons countries have adopted, cherished, or rejected a public right of access to privately owned land. In particular, it focuses on the degree to which each culture values environmental and individual responsibility.

To do so, it considers the Scandinavian countries, with an emphasis on Sweden, where a public right of access is longstanding and cherished, and there is a corresponding deep respect for the environment and individual responsibility. It then considers England, which has moved decisively toward granting broader rights of access to certain types of land through legislation, grounding that expansion on the satisfaction of certain rules pertaining to environmental and individual responsibility. It also looks briefly at several countries in Europe,where environmental and individual responsibility, as well as other cultural factors, have supported expanded rights of access. Finally, it raises the question why the United States does not have, and will not likely achieve, a similar legislated or cultural right of access to private land for walking.

Matt Festa

June 30, 2011 in Comparative Land Use, Pedestrian, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Europe: Annoying Drivers on Purpose

I haven't been able to blog as much as usual lately, and one of the reasons is that we just moved.  It was a local move, but I'm sure you all know what a hassle moving is.  But today, the move actually helped my blogging.  It seems that the previous tenant failed to cancel his multiple newspaper subscriptions.  I rarely read news on dead tree anymore, so I might not otherwise have seen this morning's front page New York Times Story by Elisabeth Rosenthal called: Across Europe, Irking Drivers is Urban Policy.

ZURICH — While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

Some cities have closed entire streets; some introduced stiff fees for driving into the city; many have reduced on-street parking drastically; bike lanes have replaced car lanes without offset for traffic; others have purposely added red lights to mess with drivers; Zurich's tram operators seem to have the ability to change the lights to their favor as they approach.  (I'm trying to imagine how much a magic traffic-light-changing remote control clicker would fetch on e-bay.)

According to the story, and probably not inconsistent with what some of you may have observed, many of these European cities have dramatically improved in walkability, transit options, and quality of public space.  How much the policies are related causally to the result isn't clear, but we can assume they've had an impact.

I'm not entirely sure what I think of all this.  I'm a strong proponent of improving urban life by incentivizing higher density, mixed-use development and increasing pedestrian-oriented neighborhood viability and transit-oriented development.  Love it.  Still, I am hesitant to pursue these goals through policies that actually make things worse for some people on purpose.  What do these policies do to affordable housing?  How about people from lower socioeconomic strata that need to make their living from driving goods and services around the city?  How do public shared bikes help women who don't cycle (and families with kids)?  By all means, make mass transit better, faster, more economical.  But purposely creating red-light patterns just to deliberately piss people off just concerns me a bit.  It also would seem to thwart a number of smart-growth-friendly options that nonetheless rely on roads, such as bus rapid transit.

Admittedly I'm looking at this from the urban planning side more than the environmental side, but it seems the environmental benefits of these policies will be much more difficult to observe than the effect on quality of life; it's easy to see the quality of life in the very nice and improved transit-accessible mixed-use public spaces, but these types of policies would seem to generate a lot of external costs--on purpose.  Maybe that's a tradeoff people are willing to make.  But to acheive the same progressive land use goals, I still have a preference for a positive approach (e.g., incentivizing (or even just allowing) smart growth and new urbanism) rather than purposely making some aspects of urban life worse by degrading capabilites to make some people's lives "miserable." 

Matt Festa

June 27, 2011 in Affordable Housing, Comparative Land Use, Density, Downtown, Environmentalism, New Urbanism, Parking, Pedestrian, Planning, Politics, Smart Growth, Sprawl, Transportation, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bus Rapid Transit boom?

A lot of attention gets paid to light rail, high speed rail, and highway expansion as possible (and highly contested) approaches toward solving urban, regional, and national transportation problems.  Comparatively, much less attention is given to the emerging concept of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  However, several citites are implementing BRT and there seems to be some positive feedback.  From the May/June issue of the APA's Planning magazine, Now Boarding, the 5:15 Express; Bus rapid transit could be the economical answer to light rail.

It's the evening rush hour in downtown Cleveland, and the HealthLine bus pulls up to a sleek, modern station on bustling Euclid Avenue. The stop is brief — subway stop brief. In less than 30 seconds, passengers have gotten on and off and the bus has pulled away. Unlike a typical city bus, there is no line for the fare box. Passengers pay their fare and board from a slightly elevated loading platform something like the platforms  made famous by the express buses in Curitiba, Brazil. In seconds, the 100-passenger bus revs up and heads east on Euclid. It occupies a lane that is reserved for express buses.

To many observers, this is the future of public transit.

Dubbed bus rapid transit, or BRT, this urban transportation mode is designed to look and feel much like a light-rail system, but without the heavy start-up costs.

In addition to all of the politics now surrounding light rail and high speed rail, I think many Americans continue to associate bus travel with lower socioeconomic status; but BRT could help change that.  While it's not as widely known as an option, it could have a lot of upside:

While BRT is a relatively new idea in the U.S., the service is a good fit for many American cities, says Robert Cervero, a professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied BRT in Brazil and elsewhere. Because American cities have grown with automobile travel in mind, BRT service can be more easily incorporated than light-rail lines, he says. "I think it is the right technology. It's not the flavor of the day," he adds, referring to the buzz surrounding other new transit trends. "It's a meaningful response to emerging transit needs."

BRT doesn't necessarily have to throw light rail under the bus (sorry), but it's definitely worth more attention.

Matt Festa

June 2, 2011 in Downtown, Local Government, Pedestrian, Planning, Politics, Transportation, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cleveland's EcoVillage

Dennis Keating (Cleveland State) and Wendy Kellogg (Cleveland State-Urban Affairs) have posted Cleveland's Ecovillage: Green and Affordable Housing Through a Network Alliance.  The article offers a case study of EcoVillage, a transit-oriented affordable housing project in the Detroit Shoreway neigborhood of Cleveland.  Here's the abstract:

This article presents a case study of the inter-organizational network that formed to produce four housing projects in Cleveland's EcoVillage designed to integrate social equity and ecological stewardship as the basis for neighborhood redevelopment. Our paper builds on concepts of community development and housing production through inter-organizational networks spanning nonprofit, public, and private organizations that developed and supported four green and affordable housing projects. We are interested in understanding how development of the housing projects changed and connected traditional neighborhood development and ecologically-oriented organizations and how their interaction changed the practice of housing production and environmental and sustainability advocacy locally and regionally. The results of the study reveal that the marriage of green and affordable housing in Cleveland, despite some challenges, was viewed as important and beneficial by the organizations involved, and resulted in a range of demonstration projects that not only changed the EcoVillage, but affected other neighborhood housing projects in Cleveland as well. The projects resulted in enhanced capacity for green housing production through creation of a new network of organizations spanning the housing and environmental sustainability fields of practice that continues to support sustainable housing and neighborhood development in Cleveland.

Jim K.

 

March 12, 2011 in Affordable Housing, Climate, Community Economic Development, Density, Development, Environmentalism, New Urbanism, Pedestrian, Planning, Redevelopment, Scholarship, Smart Growth, Sustainability, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One of the Many Reasons I Love Buffalo

While the rest of the country is reeling from the huge snow storms, it was just another winter day here in Buffalo. (Most of the schools were closed today, but the consensus seems to be that they shouldn't have bothered because the snow didn't arrive in the amount expected.) Buffalo has already surpassed 60 inches of snowfall this winter, but no one here is fazed by it.

Having grown up in Wisconsin, I am used to snow but I have been impressed with the snow culture here. In particular, I assumed that being a home owner in Buffalo meant buying a snow blower. However, in my neighborhood this doesn't seem to be the case. Only one or two people on each block buy a snowblower snow thrower and then those wonderful souls clear the snow for the entire block. We moved to Buffalo this past summer. When our neighbors told us not to buy a snowblower because someone else already had one, we thought they were kidding. We have two such snowblower owners on our block. One of them even took the time to do our entire driveway. I rushed out to thank our neighborhood snowblower owner one day last week. "Just being a good neighbor!" he said.

Thinking about land use and community here in Buffalo necessarily involves considering weather snow. Locations of public services, uses of public spaces, and protection of natural resources must be approached differently in a place where you can't see the sidewalks for three months. Sure lots of cities are walkable, but how many are cross country skiable? It is always interesting to move to a new city and learn about the different communities, traditions, and landscapes. Although Buffalo is beautiful in the summer (admittedly the best time to visit), you have to be here in the winter to understand how the community comes together.

- Jessica Owley

February 2, 2011 in Climate, Community Design, New York, Pedestrian, Property, Water | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walkability = Social Capital

Speaking of the advantages of walkable neighborhoods as opposed to car culture, the USA Today GreenHouse Blog features a study whose findings it characterizes as Walkable Neighborhoods Have Happier People.  From the blog:

People who live in walkable communities are more socially engaged and trusting than those who live in less walkable areas, says a new study from the University of New Hampshire. . . . 

The researchers scored 700 residents of three communities in New Hampshire on measures of "social capital" such as socializing with friends, civic engagement and trust in their community. They found those in neighborhoods with higher Walk Score ratings reported being happier and healthier and more apt to volunteer, work on community projects or simply entertain friends at home.

The study is Examining Walkability and Social Capital as Indicators of Quality of Life at the Municipal and Neighborhood Scales, published by University of New Hampshire scholars Shannon H. Rogers, John M. Halstead, Kevin H. Gardner, and Cynthia H. Carlson in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life (2010). 

Matt Festa

December 15, 2010 in Housing, Local Government, Pedestrian, Planning, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Food Truck Scholarship

Chad has a great post below on the latest craze, food trucks.  By coincidence, just yesterday I saw this SSRN paper by Ernesto Hernandez Lopez (Chapman): LA’s Taco Truck War: How Law Cooks Food Culture Contests.  The abstract:

This paper examines the Los Angeles “Taco Truck War” (2008-9), when the city of Los Angeles and LA county used parking regulations to restrict “loncheros,” i.e. “taco trucks.” It describes the legal doctrine used by courts to invalidate these local restrictions. The California Vehicle code makes local food truck regulations illegal. Decades of court decisions affirm this. The paper sheds light, legal and cultural, on food truck debates, which will surely expand nationwide. It examines: the cultural and business arguments for food truck regulations; food’s role in migrant, community, and national identities; Mexican food’s influence in California culture; and recent trends in food trucks such as Koggi BBQ.

And from earlier this year, Alfonso Morales (Urban & Regional Planning, Wisconsin) and Gregg W. Kettles (Law, Mississippi College) posted Healthy Food Outside: Farmers' Markets, Taco Trucks, and Sidewalk Fruit Vendors, published in the Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, Vol. 20 (2009).  The abstract:

This paper explores the many dimensions of street vending and public markets, the multiple intersections vending and markets have with food regulation, and the historical connection markets have with other policy problems. We develop the article in four parts, following the introduction found in section one the article touches on three elements of law and public policy. The second section considers markets and merchants in public goods with their associated dilemmas. Our approach is to reconfigure the emphasis on public space as transportation by justifying the use of the street and sidewalk for street vending. The importance of public space for commerce and other creative activities bridges the second and third sections of the article. The third section chronicles the history of law and regulation around street and public markets. Here we emphasize how cities historically used public markets as public policy tools to address food security, employment, and to help those growing cities accommodate new immigrants. The fourth section focuses on public health by examining the law of outdoor food sold on the street. Through our analysis we set forth numerous suggestions for advocacy, policy, and legal reform.

Chad's right, food trucks are becoming a big deal.  I was skeptical at first, but it looks like they have come a long way from the "roach coaches" I remember on Army posts.  Check out the articles that he linked to, and for an even less highbrow alternative you can watch the Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race (you know that a trend has arrived when it gets a reality show).  It's a serious question, though, how cities are going to choose to accommodate or regulate this phenomenon through their land use laws.  

Matt Festa

November 18, 2010 in California, Food, Local Government, Parking, Pedestrian, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shoup on Graduated Density Zoning

Prof. Donald Shoup (Urban Planning, UCLA) contributed a comment to our recent post on Daniel Kelly's eminent domain paper.  In case you missed it, I wanted to be sure you had the chance to get the link to Prof. Shoup's important paper Graduated Density Zoning, from the Journal of Planning Education and Research (2008).  The abstract:

The difficulty of assembling sites large enough to redevelop at higher density can impede regeneration in city centers and accelerate suburban sprawl onto large sites already in single ownership. One promising new planning strategy to encourage voluntary land assembly is graduated density zoning, which allows higher density on larger sites. This strategy can increase the incentive for owners to cooperate in a land assembly that creates higher land values.  Graduated density zoning will not eliminatethe incentive to hold out, but it can create a new fear of being left out.  Holdouts who are left with sites that cannot be combined with enough contiguous properties to trigger higher density lose a valuable economic opportunity.This article examines the difficulty of assembling land for infill development, and explains graduated density zoning as away to encourage voluntary land assembly.  Finally, it presents the results of graduated density zoning in practice.

Graduated density zoning is a compelling idea.  You may also be familiar with Shoup's influential work on parking, including his book The High Cost of Free Parking (APA, 2005), and very recent articles quoting him in the New York Times (Tyler Cowen, Free Parking Comes at a Price, Aug. 2010) and Slate (Tom Vanderbilt, Time Expired: The End of the Parking Meter, Oct. 2010).

Matt Festa

November 4, 2010 in Density, Downtown, Eminent Domain, Local Government, Parking, Pedestrian, Planning, Scholarship, Smart Growth, Takings, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Four Year Old Bicyclist Found Potentially Liable in Woman's Death

Here's The New York Times version of a story that I know is getting lots of play.  Usually I'm one to give judges the benefit of the doubt but, in this case, my first reaction is, "Seriously?!"

The suit that Justice Wooten allowed to proceed claims that in April 2009, Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn, who were both 4, were racing their bicycles, under the supervision of their mothers, Dana Breitman and Rachel Kohn, on the sidewalk of a building on East 52nd Street. At some point in the race, they struck an 87-year-old woman named Claire Menagh, who was walking in front of the building and, according to the complaint, was “seriously and severely injured,” suffering a hip fracture that required surgery. She died three months later.

Her estate sued the children and their mothers, claiming they had acted negligently during the accident. In a response, Juliet’s lawyer, James P. Tyrie, argued that the girl was not “engaged in an adult activity” at the time of the accident — “She was riding her bicycle with training wheels under the supervision of her mother” — and was too young to be held liable for negligence...

[The child's lawyer] had also argued that Juliet should not be held liable because her mother was present; Justice Wooten disagreed.

“A parent’s presence alone does not give a reasonable child carte blanche to engage in risky behavior such as running across a street,” the judge wrote. He added that any “reasonably prudent child,” who presumably has been told to look both ways before crossing a street, should know that dashing out without looking is dangerous, with or without a parent there. The crucial factor is whether the parent encourages the risky behavior; if so, the child should not be held accountable.

"Reasonably prudent child"?  I realize the judge is just quoting the standard here, but I can't believe a court ever that a "prudent" child could ever exist?  Obviously those judges never spent any time around small children.  Children this age require constant supervision due to their particular lack of prudence.

Okay, you may be asking, but what does this have to do with land use?  Well, my impulse to blog this came from some of the reader comments to the Times story, to the effect that the child shouldn't have been riding on the sidewalk but on the street or a trail.  Other commenters, rightly, point out that it's certainly not safe to encourage small children to ride their bikes on the street.

Also, although I know bicycle advocates say that cyclists are actually safer riding in the street than on a sidewalk, even some avid cyclists I know sometimes feel safer on the sidewalk.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has the following suggestions for cyclists:

Only small children learning to ride should use sidewalks for regular riding. They should have adult supervision even on sidewalks or in the family driveway. [Emphasis added - at least someone has some sanity about kids on bikes with training wheels.]

All other bicyclists should learn to ride on streets or marked bicycle lanes, except in rare circumstances, such as when a wide sidewalk is part of a designated bicycle route.

Studies have shown that the sidewalk is considerably less safe for bicyclists than the street. The bicyclist is never required to ride on paths or sidewalks. Local jurisdictions can pass ordinances allowing bicycling on sidewalks if they have unusual circumstances where the sidewalk is safer for certain bicyclists.

So, food for thought for parents and cyclists alike.

Ironically, while I'm promoting cycling safety with this post, I am blowing out my carbon footprint on a flight from Atlanta to San Francisco.  (Gotta love inflight wi-fi!)  I'm spending the weekend at The Mindful Lawyer conference in Berkeley.  Should be pretty groovy!

Jamie Baker Roskie

PS Here's an article from the San Francisco Chronicle's website about the Mindful Lawyer conference.

 

October 29, 2010 in New York, Pedestrian, Transportation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lefcoe on the Uses and Abuses of Tax Increment Financing

George Lefcoe (Southern California) has posted Competing for the Next Hundred Million Americans: The Uses and Abuses of Tax Increment Financing.  The abstract:

Demographers predict that the US population will grow by one hundred million in 2050. Newcomers will settle in suburbia, particularly to the fast growing big cities of the south and west, cities in the resurgent heartland of the country, exurbia and ‘superstar cities’. 

Communities eager to appeal to these newcomers will use tax increment financing for public improvements such as stadiums, museums, plazas and promenades. These public improvements are often integrated into signature private redevelopment projects carefully designed to achieve environmental and planning objectives by being pedestrian-friendly, high density, and mixed use, accessible not only by automobile but public transit as well. 

After illustrating the beneficial use of tax increment financing, I describe six major criticisms often leveled against tax increment financing (TIF). (1) TIF helps outer suburbs lure jobs from center cities and inner suburbs; (2) TIF should be confined to seriously blighted areas and is not; (3) TIF is often used to subsidize the increased supply of retail development in markets where demand is static, achieving little except the displacement of sales from other locations; (4) cities sponsoring tax increment projects unfairly and inefficiently drain property tax revenues from other taxing entities including schools and counties; (5) There are few serious obstacles preventing local governments from sponsoring TIF projects in places that would have attracted private development anyway, or bestowing subsidies greater than necessary upon firms agreeing to locate in marginal areas; and (6) Many local governments don’t bother to analyze whether TIF projects are net tax revenue producers or assess periodically whether actual yields match initial projections.
We're working on TIFs right now in my state & local government class.  Students find these animals to be challenging and interesting, because they are very powerful drivers of land use yet fairly obscure to the general public.  This article helps explain TIFs and put them in the context of land use debates over density, development, and urbanism.

Matt Festa

October 5, 2010 in Community Design, Density, Development, Environmentalism, Finance, Local Government, New Urbanism, Pedestrian, Planning, Redevelopment, Scholarship, Suburbs, Transportation, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leinberger (vs. Kotkin): Walking--Not Just for Cities Anymore

On The New Republic's excellent "The Avenue" blog, Christopher Leinberger (author of The Option of Urbanism) discusses a recent Brookings debate with Joel Kotkin (author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050).  From Walking--Not Just for Cities Anymore, Leinberger notes:

I just had a debate with Joel Kotkin, whom many consider to be an apologist for sprawl. Surprisingly, there is a convergence between his view of the next generation of real estate and infrastructure development and mine: a constellation of pedestrian-friendly urban development spread throughout metropolitan areas, redeveloping parts of the central city and transforming the inner, and some outer, suburbs. There are certainly differences between the two of us: I happen to see significant pent-up demand for walkable urban development and massive over-building of fringe car-oriented suburban housing and commercial development.

In fact, I see compelling evidence that the collapse of fringe drivable suburban markets was the catalyst for the Great Recession, and the lack of walkable urban development due to inadequate infrastructure and zoning is a major reason for the recovery’s sluggishness. Joel feels the demand for walkable urban development is a fraction of the future growth in households. I think rail transit, biking and walking infrastructure are crucial to make this walkable urban future happen; Joel thinks bus rapid transit is as far as we have to go in the transit world… making cars more technologically efficient is his main answer.

I have been hoping that Leinberger will prove correct about his belief in the untapped market demand for walkable urbanism, which has not persuaded Kotkin and other critics.  Leinberger concludes:

We need move away from 20th century concepts that confuse the conversation. If I am right, 70 to 80 percent of new development should be in walkable urban places, and my research leads me to think the majority of that development will be in the suburbs.

Matt Festa

July 13, 2010 in Density, Development, Downtown, Exurbs, Financial Crisis, Local Government, Mortgage Crisis, New Urbanism, New York, Pedestrian, Planning, Sprawl, Urbanism, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)