Durable Growth, Environment

Whither the drought?

As December reaches its midpoint, Californians are looking with hope toward El Nino and the rainfall that it’s predicted to deliver. The oft expressed hope is that El Nino “will end the drought.”

Perhaps it’s a Christmas Grinch mode, but I find that the hope misses the point.

It’s not that I doubt the El […]


Getting urbanism wrong: From the environmentally inadequate to the environmentally oblivious

Townhomes near downtown Chattanooga

In my last post, I argued that urbanism is a form of environmentalism. I further argued that it may be one of the most potent and universally accessible types of environmentalism. I believe that many people already understood this, but I also believe that the understanding sometimes gets lost at […]

Durable Growth, Environment

Ooh, ooh, ooh, call on me, Mr. Kotter, I have an answer

Urban corner in Napa, California

I recently sat in a North Bay City Council chambers and watched as the Regional Climate Protection Authority made a presentation on their Climate Action 2020 effort. The experience left me feeling deflated.

To be clear, I’m happy to live in a part of the country where we can […]

Durable Growth, Environment

Intro to urbanism, part six: Energy matters

View from Philadelphia Art Museum toward downtown

After two posts (here and here) of attempting, with only moderate success, to tackle the murky task of explaining the fiscal justifications for urbanism, I’m moving onto the next, and hopefully easier, task of presenting the environmental justifications. All the posts are part of my New Year’s […]

Durable Growth, Environment

Petaluma’s Measure Q: The arguments roll in

Typical suburban arterial

In my last post, I wrote about my reasons for supporting Measure Q in Petaluma, a sales tax measure intended to replenish municipal coffers after the great recession. I suggested that my distant roots in Puritanism may induce me to insist on paying my own way, rather than transferring the costs […]

Durable Growth, Environment

Construction’s high carbon cost shouldn’t stop smart growth

by narcoticpants, on Flickr

In the aftermath of Plan Bay Area’s passage, development skeptics from the region’s small towns, especially in Marin, have circulated a study showing that new construction gives of much higher levels of CO2 than renovating existing buildings even if that new construction is done in a very ecologically-friendly way. This, […]

Durable Growth, Environment, Government, Transportation

A measure of Marin’s development politics: Regionalism

For decades, Marin has cultivated a reputation as a firmly anti-development county, most recently in vehement protestations against affordable and medium-density housing. This would certainly be a fair assessment if one simply attends or watches government meetings about development policy or read the IJ’s op-ed section. But survey data from One Bay Area shows Marin […]

Durable Growth, Environment

Sprawl-booster ignores the implications of his own data

Recently, Bob Silvestri, a Marin-based proponent of auto-oriented, low-density development, argued that auto-orientation is more energy efficient than person-orientation and, therefore, superior.

Yet his data, while implying that New York City or Paris are terrible polluters, does not support his thesis that Marin is the pinnacle of environmental quality. That’s not to say his data […]

Durable Growth, Environment

Why urbanism matters

Balshaw Bridge in downtown Petaluma

I just recently passed the 18-month anniversary of writing this blog. I continue to enjoy the task and have no plans to stop. But I must occasionally recharge my batteries by reminding myself why urbanism is important.

So, today’s post will be about the top five reasons why urbanism […]

Durable Growth, Environment, Transportation

Marin environmentalism is at odds with itself

by jonathan_moreau, on Flickr

Marin’s environmentalists recently released the 2013 version of Community Marin (PDF), an outline of priorities for how to conserve Marin County’s character and environment while still addressing the challenges of commuting and growth.

Though the plan makes bold recommendations for development and transportation – most prominently restrictions on greenfield development […]