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? [Read more…] about Why we had Urban Renewal
Like many westerners, I left a rust belt eastern city decades ago, in the belief that the region, and certainly those old east coast cities were goners. So it was with surprise and pleasure that I recently read in Landmarks, the journal of The Landmark Society of Western New York, that residents with choices are moving back into the old downtown, and even more surprising, that nationally, corporate headquarters are also moving back to urban centers from the suburbs at an accelerating rate. [Read more…] about Take me back to tomorrow – Some surprising indicators of change in U.S. cities
Portland is a planner’s mecca. Or is it? Visitors to the city are treated to postcard worthy scenes of light rail trains, streetcars and even an aerial tram gliding past renovated brick warehouses and gleaming glass towers. But at the regional level the picture is not so perfect. [Read more…] about The Commons Concept – A Strategy to Restore Balance to the Portland Region
When I signed on as a contributor to UrbDeZine I promised Bill Adams that I would post at least once a month. I think I’m slightly off schedule. My excuse is that I’m in the middle of a move from Pennsylvania to Colorado and things have been a little bit stressful.
But while I was in Colorado recently searching for a rental house I had a dilemma that seems relevant to this blog’s subject matter – a serious housing crisis in Northern Colorado. [Read more…] about Colorado Has a Housing Crisis
While I was a graduate student at UC Berkeley studying architecture, ideas were always buzzing around; at design charrettes, guest lectures and of course, at the dining table. International House, where I lived, was home to residents from eighty countries enrolled in various academic programs. Our insatiable thirst for learning extended to coffee hours and dinner, with enough food for thought to go around. [Read more…] about Celebrating Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas
What does a creative live/work community art center look like? Does it even exist? Well, it certainly does and we have a wonderful example of such a facility here in Los Angeles. [Read more…] about Art Share L.A.: Promoting and Supporting the Arts
City parks are more than pretty outdoor spaces — research shows they can also be critical to improving a community’s health. In fact, from the earliest days of their implementation, parks have been tools for boosting air quality, encouraging safe physical recreation, reducing disease and discouraging crime, according to the George Wright Forum. [Read more…] about How City Park Design Contributes to Resident Health
Trust in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as the “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective.” Sadly, on numerous occasions, the City of Santa Monica and some their residents have proven that they cannot be trusted. [Read more…] about You Cannot Trust Santa Monica
In my previous post, I addressed some assumptions author Vishaan Chakrabarti makes in How Density Makes Us Safer During Natural Disasters. I don’t mean to single out Mr. Chakrabarti – many of his points are well-taken. Among them the reduced energy consumption of urban dwellers, balanced by his acknowledgment that “[r]egardless of the inherent environmental advantages of urban living, however, cities are vulnerable sets of materials and systems, and Sandy revealed some of their glaring deficiencies.” Over at messysystems.com, we can certainly appreciate the notion of a city’s resilience as a resultant of its systems. However, let’s look at examples of when density does and doesn’t make ‘us’ safer during disasters. [Read more…] about Disasters depend
As I occasionally do, today I used Car2Go for a mid-day meeting. I took the trolley to work. I had a meeting in Mission Valley but not near the trolley Line.
[Read more…] about Car Share: Bridge to Greater Transit Use for Car Lovin’ Southern California?