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    Published on 16 Dec 2011 8:00 AM
    Categories:
    1. Practitioners and People
    2. Urban Design

    By Perry Norton FAICP

    It may be a tad bit contrived to set up Garreau v. Duany as a symbol of the conflict, but there is a conflict, a historical one, which is represented by the products which these two have presented.

    In Edge City, Garreau looks out and views the post WWII evolution of the built environment in our metropolitan regions: first the outmigration to the Levittowns and the Park Forests, then the auto-oriented shopping malls, then the nice clean electronic ratables and landscaped office parks. He sees a new coalescence of urbanized nodes (e.g., Tysons Corner), the product of free flowing free enterprise, he gives them a name, and he calls it good. He credits it to the deeply rooted good sense of the general public to know what is going to work.

    What Garreau touched off was resuscitation of a debate almost as old as the profession itself: sprawl development v. planned development. ...
    Published on 12 Dec 2011 8:00 AM
    Categories:
    1. Economic Development
    2. Housing

    By Michael Stumpf, AICP, CEcD

    Two homes of a similar size and age, on equally-sized lots in the same neighborhood, should have more or less equal value. On the face of it, this seems like a reliable statement and is the basis for several home value websites such as Realtor.com or Zillow.com. These services rely on such basic assumptions in developing algorithms to calculate expected home values based only on data from sources such as assessment roles (providing information such as lot and building size) and recent home sales in the vicinity. But what about other factors not apparent in the data? What if one home is a beautifully restored 1900’s Craftsman bungalow in a quiet neighborhood across from a park, while the other is a poorly maintained and nondescript ranch house on a four-lane arterial surrounded by industry? While obvious to us, the computer cannot “see” these differences and will suggest similar values for the homes, significantly over- or under-estimating their value. ...
    Published on 01 Dec 2011 8:00 AM
    Categories:
    1. Economic Development

    By Perry Norton FAICP

    This essay is allegorical, and rife with broad sweeping generalities. That said, and humbly begging your pardon, let us proceed.

    All across the country concerned people are experimenting with converting public schools into private schools. Charter schools, magnet schools, vouchers. There is the perception that as public institutions the schools have become so mired in red tape of their own making that they are no longer capable of "teaching".

    In a sense, these efforts are something like taking just the hands of the watch to the watch repair shop, saying that "they don't point to the right time." Read on. ...
    Published on 28 Nov 2011 8:00 AM
    Categories:
    1. Economic Development

    by Fernando Centeno

    “An economic development program does not economic development make.” -- Anonymous

    Over many years in the public arena, much has been said and done relating to our community’s business prosperity, but these activities have been carried out in the name of “economic” or “community” development. Though well-intentioned, this practice has in effect, institutionalized a narrow economic public policy approach at the expense of the broader community, whose basic needs account for the alarming growth in income inequality across our country, unequaled since our last Great Depression.

    From the perspective of local (or regional) economic policy, I find an arena dominated by pundits, press, and politicians, rather than by professional planners, community leaders or those in social science professions, who better understand and deal with the consequences of narrow economic public policy carried out in the public’s name. A major failing in this regard is the fact that “urban” planners, concerned with the built environment and who dominate the planning profession, have chosen to limit their role in the interests of the private sector -- primarily the commercial real estate industry -- at the expense of their natural constituency, the broader public. A major realignment of public resource distribution is in order. ...
    Published on 23 Nov 2011 8:00 AM
    Categories:
    1. Transportation
    Article Preview

    by Jeff Tyndall

    With the popularity of hybrid vehicles and increased availability of those silly little roller skates called Smart Cars, fuel efficient cars are as abundant as they were in the 1980′s. What is so troubling is the fact that even though today’s vehicles as a whole are more fuel efficient than their counterparts were even 10 years ago overall models that capable of 40+MPG Highway have decreased. There are seven models in 2009/2010 that get more than 40+ MPG highway; they are the Prius, Civic Hybrid, Insight, Smart, Audi A3 Diesel, VW Golf Diesel, & VW Jetta Diesel. For comparison in 1986 there were 14 models of cars capable of 40+ MPG Highway. The Chevrolet Sprint led the way that year with a still jaw dropping 54MPG. Today the Toyota Prius leads the way at 48MPG.

    The chart, compiled by myself, from data available at www.fueleconomydb.com and with 2009/2010 specs from www.fueleconomy.gov, shows the amount of vehicle models sold which got 40+ Miles Per Gallon (MPG), the amount which got 50+ if any, and the leading model for that year and its MPG. As you can see the amount of 40+ MPG fuel efficient vehicles fluctuates yearly with the most being 1985 and a string of double digit models in the early 2000′s. But what is most concerning to me is the steady decline in top end MPG, except for the Honda Insight, which has been steadily declining. Even today’s hybrid Prius’ can’t match the efficiency of the Geo Metro gas only cars of 20 years ago. Where is our technological progress? ...

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