I was recently invited to give a talk at a housing conference down in Los Angeles. Once again my fellow speakers engaged in the usual arguments. Aging Baby Boomers asserted that we need to keep building more 1957 style suburban homes on the edge of the metroplex because that’s what people want and can afford, … Continue reading Beginnings, Middles, and Ends
I spent the afternoon yesterday helping my neighbors pack, clean, and complete a series of fix-it projects around their apartment. They’re moving from San Francisco to a semi-rural town of 28,000 in western Massachusetts. My neighbor bought her one bedroom apartment a decade ago for what seemed like the outrageously high price of $400,000. Today … Continue reading The Big Move
I was last in Reno, Nevada twenty years ago and I can’t say I had a strong opinion of the place. It was just another forgettable generic one night stop over on a long drive to somewhere else. But I found myself back there twice in the past month. First, a young friend was leaving … Continue reading My Reno Epiphany
There’s what exists on paper according to the authorities, and then there’s reality on the ground. The recent fires in Sonoma and Napa counties destroyed 7,000 buildings – almost all of them single family suburban homes. Entire subdivisions were wiped out overnight. This occurred in a part of the world where the gap between what … Continue reading The Domino Effect
These are highly educated well paid workers at a San Francisco tech company. They’re mostly young. Some are single. Some are newly coupled. Some are married with young children. There are exceptions, but they tend to want to live in a vibrant urban neighborhood with a short commute rather than a distant suburb. Some enjoy … Continue reading Finally! Great New Affordable Bay Area Housing!
When you see something once you don’t notice it. When you see it three times you think… hmmmm. When you see it thirty times in seven different states you realize it’s actually a thing. In this case the “thing” is pretty white girls used in advertisements for upscale apartment complexes in transitional neighborhoods. When developers … Continue reading Pretty White Girls
I often host dinners with people from the neighborhood. Talking with them reminds me of how each generation has a different perspective and temperament. The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials each approach the challenges of life from unique angles and specific contexts. In the wake of the Great Depression and World War … Continue reading A Boomer, an Xer, and a Millennial Walk Into a Bar…
What do you do with an aging suburb that can’t compete with either the trendy urban core or newer upscale suburbs? This is the challenge confronting many lackluster communities all across the country. One approach is to reinvent the place with soft infrastructure – otherwise known as… people. An unadorned anonymous 1970’s concrete box turns … Continue reading Soft Infrastructure
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.
This is 85% of what’s on offer across North America. For many people – perhaps for most people – this works just fine. A comfortable four bedroom home in a safe clean subdivision in a good school district is the America Dream. But what if this isn’t what you want? What if you want something different? What … Continue reading An Archipelago of West Berlins