MLewyn's blog

Obama, King of Sprawl

My Generation Chooses Urbanism (More Than Its Parents, Anyhow)

While I was rummaging through some old files at my parents' house, I discovered two books that I thought were pretty interesting: the school directory for the boarding school I attended in the late 1970s, and the 1999 alumni directory for the same school. 

As a new urbanist, my first thought was: I wonder where people lived then? And what have they chosen today?   This was a pretty fancy boarding school so I figured its student body was a pretty good sample of people who can afford both urbanism and sprawl.

Gentrification and rent- a fuzzy connection

One common argument for allowing cities to continue to decay or de-densify is the specter of gentrification: the fear that a retrofitted city might price out the poor.

Against "Community Character"

In an interesting article entitled "The Case for Listening to NIMBYs", Kaid Benfield mentions "that municipal planners would benefit by being more sensitive to building types that fit well with existing neighborhood character."  He writes that pro-infill planners should encourage such infill to be consistent with the character of the existing neighborhood.  Of course, he has a point: if a landowner wants to add housing units to a neighborhood, everyone is happier if those housing uni

The Onion Or San Francisco Chronicle? Hard To Tell The Difference

Today's headline: "S.F. Called Model For Affordable Housing."

Really? The same San Francisco where the average house is worth over $800,000 (about eleven times the median household income)?  At first glance, the story seems at least as insane as any of the comedy stories on the Onion.

Where Republicans Carried The City Vote

Today's New York Times has an interesting graphic showing the precinct-by-precinct vote in this year's Presidential election.  Although Republican nominee Mitt Romney did very poorly in Manhattan and in most of New York City, he carried numerous outer borough precincts. 

Smart Growth In Not-So-Dumb Places

Not long ago, Brigham Young's law review published a provocative article entitled "Smart Growth in Dumb Places."  The basic theory of the article is that building near the water is dangerous, and where downtowns are near the water, infill development is thus dangerous.

What I Am Thankful For

Since today is Thanksgiving, I thought I would post about what I am thankful for (instead of complaining as usual about what I am not thankful for):

I am thankful that in the year 2012, urbanism is, in some ways, winning over sprawl: (some) cities are being repopulated, transit ridership is rising, and "urban" is no longer a dirty word in popular culture to the extent that it was a decade or two ago.

I am thankful that I live in a revitalized city (New York) rather than a city that is still declining.

Nonsense about Nixon and Reagan

A recent article in the New Republic has the reassuring (to me) headline: "Republicans Can't Afford to Ignore Cities Anymore."  I'm certainly all for Republicans not ignoring cities, but there was a passage in the article that made me want to bang my head against the nearest brick wall. 

The Real Swing Voters

My sense is that the conventional political wisdom is that urban voters are Democrats, rural voters are Republicans and suburbanites are in the middle.