Better Cities & Towns
For walkable cities, it's about finding the right kind of density. Wherever the word "dense" appeared, I crossed it out substituted the word “walkable.” Not only is “walkable” a much friendlier word, it also captures so many more of the things we need to make the places where we live and work more sustainable and livable. Read the article.
Ten Principles for Reinventing America's Suburban Strips
Suburbanites are calling for a greater sense of community and convenience in their lives. This shift of focus reflects a further reality that current patterns of growth and development along America's suburban commercial strips are unsustainable. This report from the Urban Land Institute (PDF) dissects 3 strips representative of different prototypes of suburban commercial environments:
Rockville Pike - Montgomery County, Maryland
Route 1 corridor - Fairfax, Virginia
Route 301 - Charles County, Maryland
Creating Great Neighborhoods: Density in Your Community
Arlington's (Virginia) experience illustrates the growing public realization that adding density in appropriate locations can create great places to live. More and more people understand that to achieve their community goals and create a vibrant place to live, the community needs different types of development and different types of density. It cannot thrive over the long term with only 1 development choice. This article was published by the National Association of Realtors in 2003 (PDF).
Cool Planning: A Handbook on Local Strategies to Slow Climate Change
Published in 2011 by the Transportation and Growth Management Program, this handbook (PDF) was written for Oregon communities, but most of the content is relevant to communities in the Thurston region. It lays out a number of strategies that local government can employ that use land use, community design, and transportation as tools to curb the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. It also includes useful, easy-to-read explanations of the relationship between transportation, land use, and climate change.
Building Blocks: The Better Block Movement This article about the Better Block Movement (PDF) demonstrates the vitality that could be brought to struggling neighborhoods. Barely 3 recession-wracked years ago, what has become known as the Better Block Movement got off the ground when residents and business people in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas decided to take urban renewal into their own hands and demonstrate in a dramatic, if temporary, way the revitalization prospects for a blighted cluster of structures. Without any public sector assistance, the Oak Cliff group almost instantly created the kind of pedestrian- and bike-friendly environment approximating the modern definition of a complete street.
Affordable & Accessible Housing in a Dynamic City This report published in 2011 by Todd Litman from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute (PDF), describes practical ways to increase the supply of affordable-accessible housing, which refers to lower priced homes located in areas with convenient access to essential services and activities due to good transport options and accessible land use. Various policy and planning reforms described in this report can increase affordable-accessible housing development.
Places That Pay: Benefits of Placemaking
Homes in walkable urban neighborhoods have experienced less than half the average decline in price from the housing peak in the mid-2000s. Read about positive affects of place making on property values, local economy, health and social life in this article published by the Brookings Institution in 2011 (PDF).
The 2011 Community Preference Survey
This research is an update to a 2004 report on Americans' preferences regarding the communities in which they live. There have been major changes in the economy and the housing market since the 2004 Community Preference Survey was conducted. Property values have dropped significantly in many areas, foreclosures are at record highs, and fluctuating gas prices have made long commutes more costly. The research covers characteristics consumers are looking for in a community, the reality of their current communities, and what policies they would support to improve their communities in the future. Read this article (PDF) published by Belden, Russonello and Stewart, LLC.
Form-based Codes Form-based codes (PDF) use physical form and the intersection between public and private realm as their organizing principle, rather than the organization and separation of land uses on which traditional zoning is based. Form-based codes are intended to promote predictable results in the built environment that are easier for the public to understand and for the market to accommodate, especially when considering complex mixed-use or redevelopment projects. This is a possible area for further exploration when assessing how to promote high-quality infill and redevelopment along this region’s primary urban corridors.
Key Relationships Between the Built Environment & Vehicle Miles Traveled This paper published in 2008 by David Brownstone from the University of California, Irvine (PDF), critically examines the current literature on the relationships between the built environment and household vehicle miles traveled (VMT). One of the key conclusions from this review is that the magnitude of the link between the built environment and VMT is so small that feasible changes in the built environment will only have negligible impacts on VMT. This suggests that more direct fuel and congestion taxes will be more effective for controlling vehicle emissions and congestion.