Feeling like you could use a good boost of pro-transit, pro-urban romance to brighten up your day? Go online and see Paperman (link here), an Oscar-nominated short in which a romance arises on a downtown train that looks an awful lot like Chicago's El.
In Walkable City, Jeff Speck points out that 1990s sitcoms tend to be more urban and more pro-urban than those of the 1950s and 1960s (which tended to be set in small towns or rural areas) or even the 1970s (often set in depressing or depressed urban locations, with the exception of "Mary Tyler Moore.")
Pundit Matt Yglesias has dug up some interesting Federal Reserve-compiled data on regional housing prices. He compares today's housing prices not to those of the mid-2000s real estate boom, but to 1998 pre-boom housing prices. The Fed's data shows that some regions have experienced long-term price increases despite the recession, while in others housing prices have not recovered to pre-boom levels.
I am in the middle of Jeff Speck's Walkable City, and noticed his statement that walkable cities "provide a better quality of life." (p. 70). But when I lived in car-oriented cities like Jacksonville and Atlanta, I talked to more than one ex-northerner who said they preferred the "quality of life" of the suburbs where they lived. Clearly, not everyone understands this term the same way.
Nicole Garnett of Notre Dame Law School is publishing a sympathetic critique of form-based codes (available here, soon to be published in Brooklyn Law Review). She supports the aims of form-based codes, but wonders whether they would be more appropriate as voluntary codes than as citywide zoning overlays. She has three concerns.
A few days ago, I partially responded to Joel Kotkin's defense of Sun Belt sprawl and attack on more "urban" cities like New York and Washington, arguing that the latter group of cities seem to be more attractive to the wealthy and more able to generate wealth. But of course, I didn't really address the broader argument that New York is a two-class city. Although Kotkin ferociously attacks environmentalists, his argument seems pretty similar to the left-wing argument that America is losing its
Joel Kotkin just wrote a blog post on New Geography explaining why today's Obama voters will eventually turn into Republicans - a subject not particularly relevant to urbanism. But a few paragraphs of the essay grabbed my attention, in particular this one:
It seems to me that the public argument about gun control should really be two separate arguments:
1. How do we reduce gun crime generally? This argument is primarily an urban argument, to the extent that gun crime disproportionately occurs in central cities, and especially in poorer central cities such as St. Louis and Detroit.
Some commentators note that the Los Angeles metropolitan area has more people per square mile than other regions, and use this alleged fact as an argument why density doesn't affect a region's level of car dependency. One region this argument is silly is that Los Angeles density is quite different from that of more transit-oriented cities.