Urbification: Taking the sub out of Calif. suburbs

Walking. Bicycling. Alternatives to Driving Everywhere. Social justice. Alternatives to suburban boredom and waste. And the infrastructure and technology needed to get there.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Sprawl causes obesity. Sprawl causes obesity. For several months, we've been bombarded by news stories regarding studies that show that if you live in a suburb, you're not getting as much exercise as your city siblings, and are fatter and in poorer health than them. The S.F. Chronicle's John King, a writer I respect, criticized one of these studies as showing statistically insignificant results. But the studies keep coming. Here's news of one from the Boston University School of Public Health. When the public health officials jump on the bandwagon, it's harder to dismiss them as a bunch of eco-kooks.

Friday, November 28, 2003

There's more to say about the situation in Lakewood, Ohio: 60 Minutes' report says that eminent domain is being used to replace some residents' homes and a few businesses with expensive condos and "a high-priced shopping mall." It's not clear yet to me if the mall would sit where the old businesses sat, or if they would sit where the old homes sat. If retail replaced homes, I would cry foul. But there's more: One of the residents claims that Lakewood twisted the definition of blight to include any home that doesn't have three bedrooms, two baths, an attached two-car garage and central air. This is a highly disturbing case that can cause all sorts of blowback (starting with 60 Minutes) that can seriously harm the good ways in which suburban redevelopment can legitimately take place.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Mike Davis, author of the excellent Ecology of Fear, on the recent Southern California fires: "The white-flight gated suburbs insist on impossible standards of fire protection, but refuse to pay either higher insurance premiums (fire insurance in California is "cross-subsidized" by all homeowners) or higher property taxes."
When I lived back East, I admired the transit-oriented development around various suburban Washington D.C. Metro rail stations. Now, there's evidence that they not only encourage people to stop driving, they also do so without generating the extra traffic that so many NIMBYs always predict will accompany transit-oriented development.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

From ABC7 in San Francisco: Segway Scooter involved in SF hit and run. A 3-year-old girl "sustained cuts, bruises and a nasty bump on her head." The SFPD expects to quickly track down the suspect by contacting Segway.
Business Week recently published a story that says a new form of passive radar called Celldar can be used to support "pay-per-use" road taxes. (Web version available only to Business Week subscribers.)
The Thoreau Institute, in one of its pro-car screeds last month, raved about the 2004 Toyota Prius, the first car which supposedly can park itself. But a little Googling reveals that this feature is a $2,000 option and is not available in the U.S. yet.

Monday, November 24, 2003

The Cleveland Plain Dealer: "If suburbs such as Lakewood cannot use eminent domain, they are trapped in decline."

Monday, November 10, 2003

KRON-TV in San Francisco reports that Arnold Schwarzenegger may not be in the pocket of the surburbanites: "In another hint of his possible priorities, Schwarzenegger's transition team includes several experienced proponents of downtown redevelopment in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, but not a single major current suburban subdivision builder."