Friday 02 December 2005 : Eyesore Of The Month
I periodically like to call attention to James Howard Kunstler’s Eyesore of the Month feature: ‘Architectural blunders in monthly serial’. He hasn’t got one up yet for December, but if you’re unfamiliar with the thing, there is already an archive of dozens of the things. While poking in there just now, I came across this, the featured eyesore for October...
Tuesday 11 October 2005 : Central Planning In Maryland
“We’re suffering from our success as a great community,” Floreen said. “Our real estate prices are out of sight.” That’s Montgomery County (MD) council member Nancy Floreen, quoted in a Washington Post story about a new proposal to do something about Montgomery County’s lack of ‘affordable housing’. Montgomery County is a victim of its own success, Ms. Floreen says....
Saturday 02 July 2005 : Cause and Effect, Part II
In the Washington Post today: After returning from his job as a writer for the American Civil Liberties Union one evening this spring, William Potter grabbed an iron pry bar and, with a few whacks, demolished the kitchen of his Petworth rowhouse. I wonder whether he’s got a permit for that? For Potter, 25, this act of destruction was just...
Friday 01 July 2005 : Cause And Effect
The Washington Post says: The District’s skyrocketing real estate prices have fueled an increase in illegal construction as property owners across the city are building and renovating homes without obtaining the required permits, according to D.C. officials and a review of city records. But it occurs to me that in fact real estate prices in D.C. may be ‘skyrocketing’ because...
Tuesday 01 February 2005 : Arts Mumbo Jumbo and Eminent Domain
For as long as I can remember, there’s been a push in St. Louis to develop a certain area — called ‘Grand Center’ by its boosters — as an ‘arts district’. I call this kind of thing ‘Sim City Urban Planning’. In Sim City — and particularly in the early versions of the game — you are the god-mayor, lording...
Friday 28 January 2005 : Suburban Addresses
A lot of places in the suburbs have unnecessarily confusing addresses.
Wednesday 10 November 2004 : The Problem With Zoning, Part 735
Montgomery County, MD, uses zoning laws to exclude Wal-Mart, and they don't even bother to attempt to justify their move as having anything to do with what the zoning laws are for.
Wednesday 29 September 2004 : Front Royal Council Comes Out Against Front Royal Council
'Bombshell indictment': "I don't know who we're suing now", says a plaintiff (who is unidentified by the Warren Sentinel). There is never a dull moment in Front Royal politics.
Friday 06 August 2004 : U-Scan Till Scandal in Front Royal
Self-Service Till Shock Horror in Front Royal
Sunday 23 May 2004 : In The Suburbs
A new photo gallery, on the subject of bad suburban planning, has been added to Tinotopia.
Tuesday 18 May 2004 : It’s All About the Benjamins
A photo gallery has been added to Tinotopia, and you are invited to help test it.
Monday 10 May 2004 : More Wal-Mart in Front Royal
Wal-Mart shows what they think of towns they are considering moving into, in the Washington Post.
Thursday 06 May 2004 : Wal-Mart in Front Royal, and Town Elections
Front Royal votes pro-floodplain-Wal-Mart officials out of office; speculation on what’s behind Wal-Mart’s site preferences; two stories from the Warren Sentinel about the election
Monday 08 March 2004 : The Housing Market Keeps Lurching Along
Behavior of house buyers strongly suggests that the real-estate market is not operating efficiently.
Tuesday 11 November 2003 : The Retail Experience in Columbia, MD
Columbia, MD provides a textbook example of one of the problems with suburban zoning.
Sunday 09 November 2003 : McJobs and McMansions
McDonald's is upset at the inclusion of 'McJob' in the new edition of the Mirriam-Webster dictionary. Tino manages to extract from this a rant partially about urban planning and Marxism.
Wednesday 08 October 2003 : The War On The Poor (Housing Front)
Montgomery County, Maryland moves closer to its goal of completely outlawing poverty.
Friday 26 September 2003 : ‘Affordable’ Housing and Public Servants
Real-estate market distortions result in a suburban county having essentially no housing that the county's employees can afford the live in. The solution? Why, more distortion, of course!
Monday 08 September 2003 : Hazards of Transit Subsidies
Subsidize Metrorail in a different way, if you want it to work.
Friday 29 August 2003 : Fat and Sprawling
A recent report on the health aspects of living in the suburbs doesn't make its case too strongly, but its conclusions are still probably true.
Sunday 17 August 2003 : Park-and-Ride Lots as Transit Hubs
The Wisconsin department of transportation plans to build 'commuter retail centers' to make park-and-ride lots more convenient. This is an improvement over the current practice of dropping park-and-ride lots from the sky, but it doesn't go far enough.
Friday 25 July 2003 : Wal-Mart in Front Royal
Wal-Mart wants to build a store in Front Royal, VA. The opposition this time isn't to the store itself, but to its proposed location. A political circus ensues.
Thursday 24 July 2003 : ‘Transit’ Housing Subsidies Redux
A Washington Post article fills in some of the details on Washington's Smart Commute Initiative boondoggle, but the paper appears not to have noticed the glaring inconsistencies in the proposition.
Wednesday 23 July 2003 : Housing Subsidies — For Transit?
Fannie Mae is allowing people to buy tract houses in the suburbs for higher prices, on the reasoning that they're 'transit friendly'. At the same time, they complain that housing prices are too high.
Tuesday 24 June 2003 : Suburb Hell
Fairfax County, Virginia, sits just west of Washington, D.C., and is almost entirely filled with suburban development. It's quite a prosperous place, one of the United States' richest counties. It's also a traffic nightmare. Most of Fairfax County's traffic problems are the result of classic suburban-type development. Very few of the county's buildings are more than two stories tall, and,...
Monday 26 May 2003 : Cars, Parks, and Car Parks
Not long ago, Brian Micklethwait on Samizdata wrote about the aesthetics of car parks. Car parks -- parking lots -- are a necessary part of our environment, and useful, to be sure. But why is it that they're so ugly? The answer is that they're designed entirely for cars, and not for humans. The term car park -- not much...
Thursday 03 April 2003 : San Francisco Development, NIMBYism and Sprawl
One of the usual suspects has sent me a great article on development in San Francisco that's hard to excerpt in any meaningful way. It repeats most of the things I've been saying about urban planning, and makes a few points I hadn't thought of. It's quite long, but I'll try to give a Readers' Digest version of it here...
Thursday 13 March 2003 : Sprawl
Water Makes Things Wet Sky Blue, Say Researchers Tonight Expected To Be Dark All headlines from the Washington Post. Just kidding. The Post did, however, recently have a story headlined Density Limits Only Add To Sprawl, which is in about the same class. I shouldn't make fun; writing headlines is hard work, and most of the dumbest headlines are the...
Monday 24 February 2003 : The Suburbs, SUVs, and Unintended Consequences
It's hard to dispute that one of the things that led to the SUV trend is the federal government's CAFE standards. These rules dictate that the average fuel economy of all the cars sold by a given manufacturer in the United States must be at least 27.5 miles per gallon. "Light trucks", meaning things like SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks,...
Thursday 14 November 2002 : Suburban Living
Sales of large houses in subpar locations is driven by government interference in markets.
Wednesday 30 October 2002 : Homelessness and Markets
Well-meaning policies meant to reduce 'poverty' actually just outlaw the outward signs of poverty and result in the poor being materially worse-off than they would be in a more laisez-faire environment.
Wednesday 07 August 2002 : Architectural Eyesores
James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere among other things, has a section of his website for the architectural eyesore of the month. The archives are well worth a look, even if his links stop working after a while. He's incredibly bitter, and it comes out as humor. Kunstler has correctly identified the problem with modern American urban...
Wednesday 07 August 2002 : Sprawl & Farmland
The Heritage Foundation debunks the argument that we must stop urban sprawl because it's somehow using up farmland. This is good; only someone who's never spent much time in the Midwest could have come up with such an idea. There's enough land out there to feed us all even if everyone in the country lived on a 1-acre plot. The...
Tuesday 06 August 2002 : Nimbyville and Development
In between searching for jobs and houses in anywhere not the Washington, DC area today, I've had time to squeeze in a little newspaper reading. On the front page of the Washington Post's Metro section is a column by Marc Fisher headlined In Nimbyville, Even Schools Face Resistance. The central point of the column is about the difficulty the Jewish...
Wednesday 18 July 2001 : Speed Bumps
Vintage Tino! Better speed bumps.
Thursday 29 March 2001 : Markets and Planning
Vintage Tino! "New Urbanism" is another potential zoning boondoggle
Thursday 29 March 2001 : “New” Urbanism
Vintage Tino! There's nothing new at all about 'new' urbanism.
Wednesday 17 January 2001 : Natural Light in Offices
Vintage Tino! The people who design office interiors don't seem to consider that people work better under natural light.