Michael Lewyn's blog

Michael Lewyn is an assistant professor at Touro Law Center in Long Island.
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Form-Based Codes Lite

There may be a way to supply some of the benefits of form-based codes without heavy-handed aesthetic regulation. In theory, a form-based code could be limited to verifiable characteristics such as setbacks, yard types, building height, frontage size and lot coverage.

Yes You Can (Get Groceries Without A Car)

Shopping for bulky items can be one of the challenges of living car free. Here are three of the best ways I've found for dealing with the problem.

Density Reduces Driving (Even At Pretty High Densities)

Research supports the argument that increased densities reduce vehicle miles traveled, even in areas with minimal transit service.

Do Environmentalists Feed The Fire of Climate Change Denial?

Despite the extreme weather events of the past year, most Americans are still not persuaded that climate change is primarily the result of human activity. Why not?

No, Cars Are NOT Greener than Buses (Even Almost-Empty Ones)

Even in cities without world-class transit systems, transit can reduce car ownership to some extent.

The Not-So-Libertarian Argument For Sprawl

In the 1990s, most public argument about suburban expansion was pretty simple. Environmentalists argued that sprawl increased pollution, while their opponents responded by invoking the free market.   Environmentalists and other sprawl critics (including myself) responded that sprawl is the result less of the free market than of government subsidy and regulation

Recently I have started to notice hints of a not-so-libertarian argument for sprawl: that pro-sprawl government policies such as highway construction open up real estate for development, and thus make housing affordable. 

Two Cheers for Romney

The conventional wisdom among Americans who spend lots of time thinking about public transit is that four more years of Obama will be good news, and the election of the Romney-Ryan ticket would be bad.  I have to admit that this belief is by no means completely irrational: after all, President Romney will be much less likely than President Obama to veto a transportation bill passed by a Republican Congress, and might propose a mere austere budget than President Obama.   Nevertheless, I think there are good reasons to believe otherwise. 

NIMBY Zoning And the Tragedy Of The Commons

Decades ago, ecologist Garrett Hardin wrote about the "tragedy of the commons"- when an action that is rational for one person becomes irrational when widely practiced. 

For example, suppose that there are a few dozen cattle ranchers near a pasture open to all.  It makes sense for each rancher to let as many cattle graze as possible on the pasture, so that the ranchers can feed their cattle without buying additional land.  But if every rancher lets as many cattle as possible graze, sooner or later the land will be overgrazed and the cattle may starve.

A Tale of Three Lobbies

In the early 1990s, transportation politics at both the state and federal levels was often fairly simple: an all-powerful Road Gang (made up of real estate developers and road contractors) typically got whatever it wanted, rolling over a much weaker pro-transit coalition of environmentalists and urban politicians.

Traffic deaths, safety and suburbia, Part 2

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post comparing the safety of inner suburbs and outer suburbs. (See http://www.planetizen.com/node/56468 )

My post showed that (in least in the metropolitan areas I looked at) inner suburbs were safer than outer suburbs, because violent deaths from murder and traffic combined were lower in the former.