I recently attended a Request For Proposals session in Sonoma County. An RFP is basically a government agency asking the private sector to offer solutions for something the government doesn’t want to tackle on its own. In this case it had to do with the need for affordable housing in a highly constrained market. On … Continue reading Studies Are Easy. Implementation Is Hard.
Santa Rosa Junior College is installing another parking lot near campus. No big deal, right? This is a commuter school serving people from all corners of the county. Faculty and students need places to park. This parking lot is carefully designed to meet all sorts of requirements. There’s comprehensive handicap accessibility. Thoughtful landscaping will include … Continue reading Transactions of Decline
December was a record month. I’ve said goodbye to five different households of friends and neighbors. Two more are on the fence – and the fence is leaning precariously. I’m pretty aggressive when it comes to reaching out and making new friends. I practically drag people off the street and force them to eat dinner … Continue reading Saying Goodbye. Again.
Google Google . Here’s an intersection in unincorporated Sonoma County about an hour and a half north of San Francisco. It’s not exactly urban. But it’s a little too developed to be truly rural. Yet there’s enough productive farm land that it isn’t entirely suburban either. It’s a mixed bag. . . . These vacant … Continue reading “Economic Development”
In 2007 a cousin of mine bought a five bedroom house on a half acre out on the far edge of the metroplex. It was her dream. It was her husband’s dream. I knew their economic situation so before they bought the place I sat down with them and expressed my concerns. The house was … Continue reading Living a Resilient Life
All across America local governments have become dependent on state and federal transfer funds to pay for things that used to be covered by local revenue. Those external funding sources are becoming increasingly unreliable. At a certain point locals are going to need to pay their own bills again – one way or another. The … Continue reading Teachers, Pipes, and Pavement
My last post was about the lackluster older suburbs that are neither vibrant and cosmopolitan enough for some buyers, nor leafy and upscale enough for others. Property values are low, as are prospects for radical reinvention in the conventional sense. These locations aren’t ever going to be transformed into urban centers with Main Street downtowns. … Continue reading Homesteading the Suburbs
I was recently interviewed and asked what might happen to the stagnant poorly aging neighborhoods that are neither verdant and exclusive like the most desirable suburbs, nor vibrant and urbane like rapidly gentrifying city centers. My response was straightforward. They probably won’t be retrofitted and made more urban. And they probably won’t be retrofitted to … Continue reading The Best Bargain Around
Our current national conversation pits suburbia against the urban core. Big box stores against Main Street. Cars against transit. Single family homes against apartments. This is a false choice. The way things play out over time might surprise everyone – including me. So I want to look to the past to get a vague outline of … Continue reading History Doesn’t Necessarily Repeat, But It Rhymes
This is Dubai. I include this photo of a toilet because every drop of water in the entire city comes from desalinated sea water. I thought a lot about the cost – in money and fuel – involved in mechanically creating that fresh water from the salty Persian Gulf – and how it is then … Continue reading Complexity and Vulnerability