There’s currently a lot of talk about why so many towns, counties, and states are going broke. “Teachers are getting paid way too much.” “Cops and fire fighters have extravagant pensions.” “It’s waste, fraud, and abuse.” “It’s welfare queens.” “It’s immigrants.” “It’s the Democrats.” “It’s the Republicans.” But here’s the truth. Even if you fired … Continue reading Municipal Solvency: How to Not Go Broke
Some friends recently took a trip to Laughlin, Nevada for a few days. Laughlin and the adjacent town of Bullhead City, Arizona are on the Colorado River where Arizona, Nevada, and California converge. Laughlin earns its living by being a closer, smaller, less expensive version of Las Vegas. It’s a reasonable drive from the population … Continue reading Front Loading Value is a Mistake
What would our neighborhoods look like if we voluntarily reduced the amount of infrastructure? This isn’t a purely academic question. As municipal, state, and federal budgets get squeezed there’s going to be a point at which we have no choice but to stop building new roads and even reduce the amount of maintenance on the … Continue reading The Argument for Less Infrastructure
www.veterantributes.org I was researching material for a blog post about the town I grew up in (Toms River, New Jersey) and accidentally stumbled on something completely unrelated that I find deeply disturbing on multiple levels. It was a roadside memorial dedicated to a fallen soldier. I looked up his name and realized that he had … Continue reading Is This Really the Best We Can Do?
I have an on-going correspondence with a particular city planner who recently asked, “What pushes a neighborhood down vs. what lifts it up?” In the end I suspect this is going to be like the old joke. Ask three rabbis a question and you’ll get five answers. Perhaps I should provide a few examples of popular … Continue reading The Urban Planner’s Dilemma
This is the house I grew up in. It wasn’t a terrible house. It wasn’t a great house. It was what my parents could afford. And it was nearly identical to all the houses that everyone in suburban southern New Jersey lived in back in the 1970’s. People with more money fixed up these little … Continue reading Suburbs and Class Identity
Lost in the suburban sprawl of New Jersey are remnants of previous forms of town planning from the pre-World War II era. One of my favorite examples is Island Heights along the Toms River in Ocean County. I’d like to describe the town and compare and contrast its urban form with the surrounding sprawl. Island … Continue reading Waterfront Development – Old vs. New