Durable Growth, Government

The downfall of suburbia as seen in sidewalk cracks

A London sidewalk

This has been a tough week for blog post topics. First, I promised to begin an urbanist look at affordable housing, only to be sidetracked by an unexpectedly consuming advocacy task. It was a satisfying effort in which to participate, but left me short of time to get my thoughts organized […]

Durable Growth, Government

Keeping the civic debate civil

I promised to write today about urbanism and affordable housing. It’s a promise I’ll keep, but not today.

Instead, I have a need to discourse upon a final point in my recent foray into urbanism and politics. Having opined about how some who profess to abhor socialism might take a deeper look at their own […]

Durable Growth, Government

Putting up a strawman inside the community separators

I’ve previously written about the Sonoma County community separators, delineated areas between towns in which only limited land use development is allowed, permitting the towns to retain distinct identities. Supporters of the separators, of whom there are many, point to the undifferentiated development of the South Bay and the Los Angeles Basin as the fate […]

Durable Growth, Government

Successful planning requires game-management quarterbacks, not delusions of grandeur

The French Quarter in New Orleans before the tourists arrive

I’ve written twice about “The Trouble with City Planning” by Kristina Ford. In the first post, I found the middle of the book to have useful insights into the planning process, particularly on the role of general plans. Later, I described the same worthwhile […]

Durable Growth, Government

People in glass houses shouldn’t complain about public pensions

Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In recent years, it seems that every ballot measure to bump municipal taxes in the North Bay has elicited comments like “I’m willing to pay more for better city services, but will vote against this tax increase for fear that my money will instead be spent on pensions.”

I understand the […]

Durable Growth, Government

Looking where StrongTowns points to spot a rara avis

Hays. Kansas

Those who have spoken with me about municipal government have likely heard one of my favorite sayings, “If your city manager and planning director aren’t at risk of being fired at least once a year, they’re not doing enough to make your city a better place.”

Like most good aphorisms, it contains […]

Durable Growth, Government

Making a difference – Parklet version

Parklet in Newark, New Jersey

Parklets are small, sometimes temporary, uses of a parking space or two near an existing business, often akin to a sidewalk café but with a greater range of design possibilities. The photo is a good example of a parklet. It’s from the Better Block Newark website, which offers good […]

Durable Growth, Government

Correctly targeting blame toward CEQA

Uptown neighborhood of Dallas

I spent the first decade of my career working in hydroelectric development. Not the big stuff, like Hoover Dam or Grand Coulee Dam, but the little stuff, often the retrofitting of turbines onto existing dams to take advantage of the increasing value of electricity. (I had a small role in […]


Public Planning Councils: My half-baked idea

Downtown Marietta, Ohio

Over the course of many public land-use hearings, I’ve often heard participants ask why decisions aren’t made on the New England town meeting model, which they understand to be a town-wide gathering to debate a proposal and to render a consensus decision.

I have a number of problems with the suggestion. […]

Durable Growth, Government

“The Trouble with City Planning”: Half-buried insights

Bourbon Street in New Orleans

My knowledge of the book publishing business is theoretical only. A few friends, mostly of the delusional sort, have suggested that a book can be found somewhere within my four years of blog posts. Thus far, I’ve ignored their siren call, flattered by their words, but unconvinced that 1,000-word […]