"The projected shift from single-family to multifamily living will likely have many large, long-lasting effects on the U.S. economy…Similarly, the possible shift toward city living may dampen demand for automobiles, highways, and gasoline but increase demand for restaurants, city parks, and high-quality public transit. Households, firms, and governments that correctly anticipate these changes are likely to especially benefit."

— Kansas City Fed senior economist Jordan Rappaport, “The Demographic Shift From Single-Family to Multifamily Housing” | Read more about it on the Wall Street Journal’s economics blog, 1/7/2014

(Source: tlacoyo, via thisbigcity)

What to expect when you’re expecting density in ATL

Glenwood Park

Curbed Atlanta has a cool post today about reasonable vs. unreasonable expectations for Atlanta becoming more walkable and densely populated. They begin by pointing out the futility of comparing Atlanta to an uber-dense place like New York City and then offer the reasons for more realistic goals.

A quote:

Atlanta does have a decent start, but it will be a long time (if ever) before the city can credibly be labeled a ‘walkable’ or public transit-oriented city. Does that mean we should drop efforts to help Atlanta grow in a more dense, sustainable fashion? Of course not.

I think there’s a great chance for walkable, compact nodes to develop all over metro Atlanta. They will probably never be as dense or as well-connected as those in a city like NYC, largely for the geographical reasons (Atlanta isn’t surrounded by a natural boundary like water). But they’ll be a hell of an improvement over the copy & paste, car-centric sprawl of the past few decades.

Photo of Glenwood Park by Flickr user peterlfrench

"Anti-density zoning laws represent the triumph of heavy-handed government over private property rights…imposing massive costs on the metropolitan area in terms of traffic, pollution, housing costs, economic segregation and education…suburban governments should free up housing markets from their long-standing anti-density bias and adopt more market-based approaches to housing."

Low-Density Suburbs Are Not Free-Market Capitalism by Jonathan Rothwell | The New Republic

Atlanta and Barlecona: how sprawl makes transportation more difficult
There are few words in the realm of urbanism that stir up emotions like “density.” Injecting that word it into any conversation about cities is a sure way to bring out the anger in many people. The concept of increased density as a good thing — in many of us, it brings to mind some kind of totalitarian, oppressive state where people are “herded” or “forced” into high rises.
But if you want to talk about making transportation more efficient and preserving the environment in a constantly-expanding world population, you’re going to have to bring up the “D” word at some point.
This article from the World Bank blog explores the differences in density between Atlanta (apparently the international poster child for sprawl) and Barcelona and how the latter’s higher density makes transportation infrastructure more efficient.

The respective densities of Atlanta and Barcelona greatly affect the cities’ ability to serve their citizens. For example, in order for Atlanta to accommodate as many people as Barcelona’s public transit system, Atlanta would need to build an additional 3,400 kilometers of track and about 2,800 new metro stations. Atlanta could then support 30% of trips through mass transit which Barcelona accomplishes with only 99 kilometers of tracks and 136 stations (World Development Report 2009, 211).

The point: if Atlanta’s population wasn’t configured in such a sprawled-out pattern, transportation infrastructure would be less expensive and more efficient. Not that Atlanta could or should be like an old European city. Atlanta can have its own identity — one that sets it apart from any other city — while still being less sprawly and less based around a car-dependent model.
And by the way, here’s what oppressive density looks like in Barcelona (those poor bastards):

Barcelona image by Flickr user Rodolfoto 

Atlanta and Barlecona: how sprawl makes transportation more difficult

There are few words in the realm of urbanism that stir up emotions like “density.” Injecting that word it into any conversation about cities is a sure way to bring out the anger in many people. The concept of increased density as a good thing — in many of us, it brings to mind some kind of totalitarian, oppressive state where people are “herded” or “forced” into high rises.

But if you want to talk about making transportation more efficient and preserving the environment in a constantly-expanding world population, you’re going to have to bring up the “D” word at some point.

This article from the World Bank blog explores the differences in density between Atlanta (apparently the international poster child for sprawl) and Barcelona and how the latter’s higher density makes transportation infrastructure more efficient.

The respective densities of Atlanta and Barcelona greatly affect the cities’ ability to serve their citizens. For example, in order for Atlanta to accommodate as many people as Barcelona’s public transit system, Atlanta would need to build an additional 3,400 kilometers of track and about 2,800 new metro stations. Atlanta could then support 30% of trips through mass transit which Barcelona accomplishes with only 99 kilometers of tracks and 136 stations (World Development Report 2009, 211).

The point: if Atlanta’s population wasn’t configured in such a sprawled-out pattern, transportation infrastructure would be less expensive and more efficient. Not that Atlanta could or should be like an old European city. Atlanta can have its own identity — one that sets it apart from any other city — while still being less sprawly and less based around a car-dependent model.

And by the way, here’s what oppressive density looks like in Barcelona (those poor bastards):

Barcelona

Barcelona image by Flickr user Rodolfoto
 

Will walkable neighborhoods be the future of new-home building?

"Six in 10 adults  said they would rather live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of  houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk, than a community of  only houses that required driving to get to businesses."

This quote is from Take a Walk, an article on Builderonline.com that reports on a 2011 National Association of Realtors poll. The poll results reveal a growing preference for pedestrian-focused (rather than car-focused) living in the US.
I hope this proves to be true — that demand for walkable neighborhoods will guide new construction trends. Atlanta developments such as the Inman Park Village, pictured above, could serve as a template for new construction throughout the city in that kind of market.
Photo of North Highland Avenue taken from atlintownliving.com

Will walkable neighborhoods be the future of new-home building?

"Six in 10 adults said they would rather live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk, than a community of only houses that required driving to get to businesses."

This quote is from Take a Walk, an article on Builderonline.com that reports on a 2011 National Association of Realtors poll. The poll results reveal a growing preference for pedestrian-focused (rather than car-focused) living in the US.

I hope this proves to be true — that demand for walkable neighborhoods will guide new construction trends. Atlanta developments such as the Inman Park Village, pictured above, could serve as a template for new construction throughout the city in that kind of market.

Photo of North Highland Avenue taken from atlintownliving.com

Tea Party: defenders of sprawl, haters of urban plansAnthony Flint has a great article today in Atlantic Cities: How the Tea Party Is Upending Urban PlanningHe  addresses an issue that vexes me more and more as I continue  to read objections by members of the Tea Party (and by those of similar  sentiment) to plans for the development of compact, walkable  urbanism. They rail against government stepping in to define development patterns that promote efficient land use at the expense of private  property rights. Really, they object to urban planning in general.
Quotes from the article:

Across the country, Tea Party activists have been storming planning  meetings of all kinds, opposing various plans by local and regional  government having anything to do with density, smart growth,  sustainability or urbanism…
What’s prompting the ire is anything from a proposed master plan to a  new water treatment plant, rules governing septic tanks, or a  bike-sharing program. What’s driving the rebellion is a view that  government should have no role in planning or shaping the built  environment that in any way interferes with private property rights…
The sprawl lobby – the fanciful label from my first book, This Land –  circles the wagons for corporate home-builders, road-builders and even  the lawn-care industry invested in far-flung conventional suburban  development.

Preventing government from having a role in defining development  patterns may have worked in a world where undeveloped land was  plentiful and ecosystems were relatively safe from human harm, but that  world is gone. It changed with the massive population growth of the US (from 3 million to 308 million between 1790 and 2010) and with the even more massive domination of natural lands  by sprawling development: the sprawl of our land consumption has outpaced population growth by a great deal since the dawn of the car era. The damaging effect on our environment is significant.
These beliefs and tactics of the anti-planning, anti-urban Tea Party crowd will be good to learn as Atlanta moves into the year of our fight for transit/transportation funding. You can be sure that we’ll get an earful of hate for all things urban and transit-related in the next several months.
I’m not really a religious man, but I’m also not above a bit of Bible-y goodness. And here’s a good one, particularly for pro-sprawl, property rights-promoting Tea Partiers who consider themselves believers in God:

Leviticus 25:23-24 - The land must not be sold permanently, because  the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the  country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the  redemption of the land.

So there. Thptphth.
Photo: The intricate urban plan for Savannah, GA. Obviously, a Communist plot to destroy property rights for suburban developers.

Tea Party: defenders of sprawl, haters of urban plans

Anthony Flint has a great article today in Atlantic Cities: How the Tea Party Is Upending Urban Planning

He addresses an issue that vexes me more and more as I continue to read objections by members of the Tea Party (and by those of similar sentiment) to plans for the development of compact, walkable urbanism. They rail against government stepping in to define development patterns that promote efficient land use at the expense of private property rights. Really, they object to urban planning in general.

Quotes from the article:

Across the country, Tea Party activists have been storming planning meetings of all kinds, opposing various plans by local and regional government having anything to do with density, smart growth, sustainability or urbanism…

What’s prompting the ire is anything from a proposed master plan to a new water treatment plant, rules governing septic tanks, or a bike-sharing program. What’s driving the rebellion is a view that government should have no role in planning or shaping the built environment that in any way interferes with private property rights…

The sprawl lobby – the fanciful label from my first book, This Land – circles the wagons for corporate home-builders, road-builders and even the lawn-care industry invested in far-flung conventional suburban development.

Preventing government from having a role in defining development patterns may have worked in a world where undeveloped land was plentiful and ecosystems were relatively safe from human harm, but that world is gone. It changed with the massive population growth of the US (from 3 million to 308 million between 1790 and 2010) and with the even more massive domination of natural lands by sprawling development: the sprawl of our land consumption has outpaced population growth by a great deal since the dawn of the car era. The damaging effect on our environment is significant.

These beliefs and tactics of the anti-planning, anti-urban Tea Party crowd will be good to learn as Atlanta moves into the year of our fight for transit/transportation funding. You can be sure that we’ll get an earful of hate for all things urban and transit-related in the next several months.

I’m not really a religious man, but I’m also not above a bit of Bible-y goodness. And here’s a good one, particularly for pro-sprawl, property rights-promoting Tea Partiers who consider themselves believers in God:

Leviticus 25:23-24 - The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.

So there. Thptphth.

Photo: The intricate urban plan for Savannah, GA. Obviously, a Communist plot to destroy property rights for suburban developers.