MLewyn's blog

Beauty and Boredom in Kansas City

Every so often, I walk forty-five minutes to work rather than taking a bus.  My walk takes me through Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood, an area full of distinguished-looking old houses on gridded streets with sidewalks.  Sounds great, right?

Best Practices In Sprawl: Apartments

When I visted Fargo, North Dakota, I saw a few things I liked, such as a nicely fixed-up downtown and a beautiful historic district just south of downtown. 

Too Early To Declare Victory on Affordability

I just read numerous discussions about how high-cost cities really are cheaper than you might think, based on a study by New York's Citizens'  Budget Commission purporting to show that when housing and transportation costs are combined, New York is actually one of the most affordable cities in the United States.  Since I just left New York, this seemed a bit too good to be true. 

Mr. Kotkin Talks About What "People Really Want"

Joel Kotkin recently wrote in the Washington Post that unspecified urban planners want "to create an ideal locate for hipsters and older, sophisticated urban dwellers" rather than focusing on the needs of "most middle-class residents of the metropolis." He claims that these people want "home ownership, rapid access to employment throughout the metropolitan area, good schools, and 'human scale' neighborhoods" as well as "decent

What Ferguson Tells Us About Working-Class Suburbia

Recently, Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, has received lots of attention because of a police officer's questionable decision to shoot an unarmed civilian, followed by demonstrations, followed by some even more questionable decisions by police (such as arresting journalists and tear-gassing the citizenry).   

The "Chains Are Ruining Our City" Myth

I recently read about a blog complaining that New York was "suburbanizing" due to the "disappearance of small stores and restaurants" and their alleged replacement by national chains.

The "Building Boom" Myth

One common argument against new infill development is "my city has already experienced a building boom, and rents keep going up."  But in New York City, one of the nation's most expensive cities, this claim is built on false assumptions.  A recent study by the Citizens Budget Commission shows that New York has experienced lower growth in housing supply than all but 3 of 22 cities surveyed- and 2 of the 3 (Detroit and Chicago) lost population over the past decade.

worst practices: vanishing medians

One thing that can make suburban roads less intolerable for pedestrians is a large median, so that the pedestrian can cross a huge road two or three lanes at a time, instead of having to cross an entire six- or eight-lane highway in one mad dash.  

The Toxic Results of NIMBYism

An article in today's New York Times discusses population growth patterns over the past several years, and suggests that population growth is fastest in the inland Sun Belt-places combining relatively warm weather and cheap housing.

interesting blog post on congestion pricing

At the Smart Growth for Conservatives blog, analyst Michael Brown has written a series of interesting posts about congestion pricing, most recently one on how to make congestion pricing (that is, tolling highways during peak periods to reduce congestion) sound appealing to the general public.   He also suggests that congestion pricing will increase