Durable Growth

The humble bench fills a crucial urban role

London bench

A few years ago, I had a free afternoon in London and no desire to visit another museum or to attend another play. So I took the Tube to the neighborhoods south of the Thames, across from the Palace of Westminster.

It was a fine and sunny afternoon with spring about to […]

Durable Growth

Missing middle housing hiding in plain sight

Earlier this year, I wrote about missing middle housing, a term coined by Opticos Design of Berkeley to describe housing that is neither conventional single-family homes nor multi-story apartments, but fills the gap between those two with duplexes, granny flats, and their like. Well-executed missing middle housing, meaning housing that is compatible with the overall […]

Durable Growth

Keeping the urbanist toolbelt fully stocked

A community separator near Petaluma

“Community separator” is a term of which many may not be aware, even in the North Bay, but community separators will be getting serious attention in Sonoma County during 2016. The discussion will be important to urbanism.

In my perfect land-use world, gas would be accurately priced to account […]

Durable Growth, Transportation

We’ll talk about murals, but only after transit

I promised that today’s post would be about the murals newly adorning American Alley in Petaluma. And it will be, but only after I chat about a transit issue that is even more essential to the future of Petaluma. It’s a challenge that will be faced by many North Bay communities in the coming year.

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Durable Growth

Forget casinos and shopping malls, the real threat may be something else

Seaside, Florida

In 2004, the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians acquired a large parcel of land south of Petaluma, tucked between Highway 101 and the Petaluma River. Since 2004, Petaluma city government and residents have worried about the possibility of a casino on the site.

Recently, in the face of consistent casino […]

Durable Growth, Site News

Murals as unexpected urban delights

Mural in Johnson City, Tennessee

For years, my reaction to downtown murals was indifference. I suspect the lack of enthusiasm came from most murals falling into three types, none of which greatly appealed to me.

Some were heroic presentations of a civic past. I respect our forebears and think they did the best they […]

Durable Growth

A North Bay parklet?

Ray’s Delicatessen and Tavern

Parklets, the appropriation of curbside space otherwise intended for cars by amenities such as bike racks, benches, tables, etc., is one of the most recent additions to urbanism’s toolkit. Kaid Benfield of the Natural Resources Defense Fund offers photos of the range of activities that can be accommodated in a […]

Durable Growth, Government

Managing the clash of order and anarchy

Downtown Johnson City, Tennessee

The acknowledgement page of the Petaluma Station Area Master Plan lists my name near the top of the Citizens Advisory Committee, behind only the City Councilmember who chaired the committee. (The placement of names reflects the alphabet, not value of contributions.)

What the committee member list doesn’t show is that, […]

Durable Growth, Site News

Why Haystack Landing can’t be everything to everybody

Aerial view of Haystack Landing site

Last time, I wrote about the tentatively-named Haystack Landing, a proposed mixed-use project, with residential over retail, midway between downtown Petaluma and the coming SMART train station. Although I demurred slightly on the architecture, I was mostly thrilled with the project, with my principal wish being that ground-breaking […]

Durable Growth

Haystack Landing by any other name would fill the need as well

Aerial view of Haystack Landing site

Long-time Petaluma residents may remember the proposed Haystack Landing project, sited midway between downtown and the future SMART station, bounded by E. Washington, Weller, D, and Copeland Streets.

Over a great many years, the former owner of the property put forth a great many alternative plans for the […]