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    Published on 24 Jul 2012 8:00 AM
    1. Planning Practice

    Jazzman writes:

    So this is kind of an interesting thought (or collection of thoughts) that's been going through my mind lately. Can planning be reconciled with libertarian or somewhat libertarian views, or are we all just a bunch of damn Commies? Hear me out -

    First of all, I absolutely do NOT consider myself to be a libertarian. As someone with a planning education, I completely understand why America, in its present, heavily developed and industrialized form, cannot be quite as free as the Founding Fathers might have envisioned - the more urbanized a society gets, the more your actions affect the lives of others, thus the reason why big cities and states that have big cities in them tend to have much bigger, more powerful governments with much more regulation and oversight than places that are more rural in nature or are simply less densely populated.

    However, I certainly believe in personal freedom to the extent reasonably possible, and there are times when I find myself muttering something or another about somebody being a damn Commie because I think they've just taken things too far. ...
    Published on 23 Jul 2012 8:00 AM
    1. Urban Design
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    Dan writes:

    In the United States, there's a phenomenon of "fat cities" and "thin cities" - cities and regions where obesity is prominent, and those where it's rare. While some cities may be "fat" due to climate, culture or poverty, or "thin" because of a dense, walkable environment, it seems like some "thin cities" are self-selecting for a fit population. Denver and Boulder, for example, which attract thousands of new residents every year, drawn to the ski slopes, trails and "fourteeners" as much as a new job. Nothing is stopping an obese person from moving to Denver, or a thin person from moving to Houston, a city often cited as having a high percentage of obesity. Still, for a fit mountain-climbing, back country-skiing, triathlon-competing type, Denver is far more likely to be on their short list than Houston. If those who are sedentary, a natural environment and climate conducive to outdoors recreation aren't going to be must-haves, and they'll be less likely to seek out a place like Denver. I don't think obese people self-select to Houston because of a thriving restaurant scene and low grocery prices. It's just that the mountains probably don't matter as much to them, and the outdoorsy crowd really isn't flocking there. ...
    Published on 16 Jul 2012 7:00 AM
    1. Careers
    2. Education
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    chocolatechip writes:

    We're all familiar with the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers on job growth in the planning field. US News bases their reports on these numbers, as well as nearly all other sources on job prospects. In other words, this is the strongest, most authoritative information we have on how many jobs there might be for planners in the future.

    A while ago, after doing some brief research on how these numbers are derived, I posted about how these statistics are basically a combination of historic growth with vague, anonymous tweaks by BLS economists, most likely just adjustments based on overall economic downturn. Most of the BLS data is qualitative, as they talk about how more people are moving to cities, and therefore there will be an increased need for planners, etc. Rather than debate these assumptions, this post assumes that the BLS data is relatively correct in predicting future planning employment. ...
    Published on 14 Jun 2012 8:00 AM
    1. Economic Development
    2. Land Use and Zoning
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    jwmun writes:

    You've heard it before: "These parking fees are killing business!"

    What do you all think? Accurate statement or scapegoating?

    I'm working in a fairly urban setting, but one that is competing with surrounding towns where they don't charge for parking. Obviously, the economy is poor right now, business is down, and there are more vacancies. Merchants, politicians, and others are pointing at the parking authority who (gasp) charges people to park, as the culprit.
    Published on 11 Jun 2012 8:00 AM
    1. Humor
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    Maister writes:

    Remember the premise of the movie Jerry McGuire? If you didn't see the flick, (it is widely regarded as a chick flick) Jerry McGuire was a successful sports agent who got sick and while in the throes of a fever had a moment of clarity and wrote down in a little manifesto exactly what he thought was wrong with his profession and how he conceived during that epiphany it should ideally be operated. Unfortunately for him, his agency got a hold of his 'manifesto' and he ended up losing all his clients, which forced him to essentially start his life over again.

    If you didn't have to worry about any consequences, how might your staff reports and recommendations read? Give us an excerpt or two.
    Published on 05 Jun 2012 8:00 AM
    1. Land Use and Zoning
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    SW MI Planner writes:

    I am working on an ordinance to allow transient food vendors in our downtown area, both non-motorized push carts, stationary trailers, etc. Anyone have any good examples of best practices, thoughts on what not to do, etc.? Do you allow them? Are they restrictied to private/public property, hours of operation, distance from existing bricks/mortar businesses? What about transient merchants of general merchandise/wares - do you allow them or no? ...
    Published on 04 Jun 2012 8:00 AM
    1. Economic Development

    Cardinal writes:

    I recently read an article about a new development in a city where I have done a great deal of work. The community development director was quoted gushing about a new development project. This would be low-income senior apartments, part built by the housing authority and part by a private developer. They would be built on a redevelopment site on the river.

    This is a nice location. As I mentioned, it is on the river, at the edge of downtown, and adjacent to a park. You would be right if you thought it could command some high value condominium development. In fact, there was a proposal for the site before the economy tanked. There is not that much demand now, but there will certainly be at some future time. I cringed when I heard that the City approved the low value development. It is a long term wasted opportunity to bring much needed high density, owner occupied, high value residential uses into the river corridor. Instead there will be low income seniors who will not have the same impact in spending at nearby businesses, encouraging investment in redevelopment, adding higher income residents in the neighborhood, and creating valuable property to add to the tax roll. ...

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