Michael Lewyn is an assistant professor at Touro Law Center in Long Island.
After reading an article on the misuse of CEQA in California,* I took a short look at New York law. In New York, city planners must prepare an environmental assessment when property is rezoned, and must prepare a more detailed environmental impact statement (EIS) if property has a significant effect on the environment.
Monday, November 14, 2011 - 4:54pm PST
Before moving to New York, I'd viewed street design through a fairly simple lens: narrow streets good, wide streets bad. By and large, I still hold this view. But after living here for a few months, I have learned that not all wide streets are equally bad. The wide roads of the South are generally terrible, but New York has made some of its wide streets a bit more pedestrian-friendly. To see why, go to Google Street View and examine three addresses: 5019 U.S. 23 in Chamblee, Georgia, 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood, and 107-43 Queens Boulevard in my current Queens neighborhood of Forest Hills.
Monday, October 24, 2011 - 12:17pm PDT
In a recent post, Todd Litman criticized the Texas Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility Report. In this post, I'd like to do something a little different: assume that TTI's congestion estimates are more or less reliable, and try to learn something from them. So here are a few observations:
Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 1:18pm PDT
It is conventional wisdom in some circles that “comprehensive planning” and sprawl are polar opposites- that planning is the enemy of sprawl.
But in fact, a comprehensive plan is almost as likely as a zoning code to be pro-sprawl. Many of the land use policies that make suburbs automobile-dependent (such as wide roads, long blocks, low density, single-use zoning, etc.) can just as easily be found in a comprehensive plan.
Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 9:53am PDT
A few months ago, I updated a city rating system (available at http://lewyn.tripod.com/livable09) that evaluated cities' "livability" by rating crime rates, transit-friendliness, and cost of housing.
Plenty of cities did very well on the first two criteria. For example, New York is now safer than most big cities, and of course is by far the best city in the U.S. for public transit. But its housing costs are dreadfully high. The same was true of Boston and San Francisco (which, if only crime and transit were considered, would rank second and third for livability).
Saturday, July 30, 2011 - 10:28pm PDT
A few months ago, I was talking to a faculty colleague who lives in a part of Jacksonville even more sprawl-bound where I live, an area about a mile or so from the nearest bus stop and with a single-digit Walkscore. He said Jacksonville was "safe and clean." I was a little surprised: "clean" is one word I would never* use to describe Jacksonville. When I walk down the sidewalks of San Jose Boulevard, I notice litter aplenty - and from what I know of Beach Boulevard (the grim commercial strip near my colleague's house) I doubt that it is much better.
Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 5:39pm PDT
Last week, I was busy trying to turn my paper on sprawl in Canada (available at http://works.bepress.com/lewyn/65/) into a speech. In my paper, I define sprawl in two ways: where we grow (measured by growth or decline of central cities, controlling for municipal annexations) and how we grow (measured by modal shares for cars and transit). As I was proofing, I asked myself: why these particular measurements? What presuppositions underlie defining sprawl based on, say, modal share as opposed to the growth of a urban area's land mass?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 7:24am PDT
Friday, April 22, 2011 - 1:53pm PDT
I recently finished reading Foreclosing the Dream, by William Lucy. The most interesting parts of this book are the first chapter and the last appendix, both of which tell us where foreclosures are (or at least were in 2008, before the foreclosure crisis morphed into an international economic downturn). These figures seem to me to debunk at least a couple of the more popular explanations of the foreclosure crisis, such as:
Myth 1: "Its all the fault of too much lending to the urban poor."
Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:03pm PDT
Census data is already in for a couple of dozen states, and already blogs are starting to speculate about their lessons for American cities. Some commentators look at the continued decline of Rust Belt cities like Chicago and St. Louis, and suggest that suburban sprawl continues (and will forever continue) unabated. But reality is not quite so simple.
Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 3:13pm PST