I recently returned from Asia, where I noticed, as always, numerous people wearing face masks on the street. In Mainland China, I have always assumed this was because of the rampant air pollution in major cities. But I also observed masks in other cities such as Hong Kong and Taipei, where industrial and automotive pollution appears, at least to the unscientific observer, to be much less. And we Californians are also used to seeing some of our Asian neighbors wearing masks in American cities. I have wondered, is this a holdover from life in Beijing or Shenzhen or other cities in Mainland China, where the color of air can be as dull as a grey goose? (And I’m not thinking of vodka.) Or is it something else?Continue Reading Why we had Urban Renewal
Dear Pasadena City Council Members,
A long overdue update to the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance is before you at the January 30, 2017, City Council public hearing. With the passage of AB 2299 and SB 1069, all local jurisdictions are obligated to amend zoning ordinances to facilitate easier pathways to building accessory dwellings units (ADUs). As the staff report notes, the new state laws came about in response to a statewide affordable housing crisis. We see it in Pasadena. It’s rendered in the presence of homeless encampments, occupied vehicles on city streets and parking lots, and the existence of unpermitted housing on private properties across the city.
Continue Reading An Open Letter to the Pasadena City Council Urging a Comprehensive Overhaul of the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance
Dear Pasadena Planning Commissioners,
A long overdue update to the City of Pasadena’s Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance is before you at the December 14, 2016, Planning Commission public hearing. This will be the first of many hearings in response to the passage of Assembly Bill 2299 (AB 2299) and Senate Bill 1069 (SB 1069) and the upcoming Housing Element Implementation Program. At this juncture, I see three compelling reasons for your Commission to advocate a comprehensive overhaul of Pasadena’s Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance.Continue Reading An Open Letter to the Pasadena Planning Commission Urging a Comprehensive Overhaul of the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance
Earlier this year, a hosted panel of local decision makers was brought together to discuss future of San Diego. Much of the conversation was around the convention center expansion. If you’ve been following the local news, you’ve noticed much of the dialog is about the benefits of a larger meeting space. The conversation is often about the need for more space to keep Comic-Con in San Diego or the heavy regional impact, the tax revenues, or the attention it all brings to our city. At the end of the panel discussion, a younger, seemingly naive gentleman stood up to ask a question. The question was, “Why do we need a larger convention center when it seems vacant for most of the year?”Continue Reading Convention Center Expansion?
Do you remember where you were or what you were doing on September 11th, 2001? I can still remember quite vividly that day even though it was 15 years ago. I had just arrived at my office when the building manager said in passing, “Isn’t it terrible what happened in New York City?”Continue Reading 9/11: Reflections of An Urban Planner
An imagined future reflection on a well-planned 21st century in Boston:
We can finally declare summer 2084 has started as indicated by the number of daily boat and canoe commuters, together with the daily increase of water level (finally the latest snow storms have started melting). As of next year MBTA will also provide a “hydropolitan” line from Medford to Winthrop, which will probably become more popular under the name of “periwinkle line.”
The following text and images comprise the East Village Draft Focus Plan released on July 30, 2016, including subsequent minor corrections and additions made by its authors. It has been reconstituted here from the PDF original version to enable web and mobile viewing (there are formatting variations from the original). To view a gallery of images, or view any image in its full size, click directly on the image. The original version may be downloaded from this PDF link (warning: downloading PDF may require high capacity broadband connection).
Downtown San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park expansion opened last week . . . more or less. Construction is not quite complete. San Diego’s downtown (at least post-WWII downtown) has thus far lacked a vibrant town square like San Francisco’s Union Square or similar successful plazas in other major cities. This major expansion of the small historic plaza is intended to fill the bill. The design team for Horton Plaza Park included Walker Macy | Landscape Architecture, the same firm that designed Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland. Features include cafe-style tables and chairs, amphitheater-style steps / bleachers, and pillars / obelisks that double as lighting for events. There’s a Starbucks, Sloan’s Ice Cream, Arts Tix Kiosk, and a yet to be named vendor all built into the park.Continue Reading Is San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square 2.0?
The long-anticipated WTC Transportation Hub designed by Santiago Calatrava had a “soft” opening at the beginning of March. Shoe-horned next to the WTC Memorial, the Hub’s steel wingspan has loomed over the active construction site for years, promising big things to come. In fact, the opening was so low-keyed that the main entrance was still unfinished and signs showing how to enter were non-existent. The building itself is surrounded by cyclone fencing with no obvious way of getting inside. Ask a stranger how to enter, and the only response was “I don’t know, but I know it cost $4 billion!”Continue Reading Quick peek at the Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub
There is a unique joy in walking through a building and experiencing what it was, understanding what it is now, and contemplating what it can be in the future.Continue Reading Oh the Stories They Could Tell… “Is That a Beluga Whale?”