The Oscar-winning film The Lives of Others recalls that famous question about governments who spy on their citizens: Who will watch the watchers? (Answer: Alberto Gonzalez.) A similar, if less cloak-and-dagger question applies to planning: Who will zone the zoners? While governments use zoning to keep polluting uses away from homes, what if the biggest polluter in a city is a government use?In most cities today, the most common polluting use is exempt from zoning: highways. Blog Post
Jun 25, 2007   By Greg Smithsimon
Over the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to attend public meetings in Europe and the American South. I find public meetings to be an entertaining challenge. Let’s face it, a public meeting is always a gamble. You’re at the mercy of whoever shows up and whatever they perceive about the project. You have to think on your feet and make quick decisions to guide the process, without looking like I’m-in-control-here-Alexander-Haig.  Blog Post
Jun 25, 2007   By Barbara Faga
Local officials are rightfully leery of someone who shows up at their doorstep and proclaims, "I'm from the U.S. Government ... and I'm here to help you." That probably goes double for the Environmental Protection Agency. But when a team arrives from the EPA’s Smart Growth office, rather than scrambling to bar the door, local officials greet them with open arms — because they really do provide essential assistance. Blog Post
Jun 20, 2007   By
I recently got taken to the proverbial wood shed on Planetizen Interchange for arguing that mass transit is unsustainable. So, I decided that it might be useful to look at the mass transit system that seems to be the most successful in nation: New York City. New York has the density and economic activity to sustain transit—perhaps a best-case scenario in the U.S. Blog Post
Jun 19, 2007   By Samuel Staley
An acquaintance of mine is trying to decide whether to move to Los Angeles or New York. Having spent most of her life in the Northeast, New York is a familiar city where she has good friends and job connections. However, she can’t help but feel the draw of the West Coast, and on a recent visit to Los Angeles, she was rather keen on settling down in Southern California, especially when she was comparing the rents in L.A. to those in New York. While rents in New York are increasingly stratospheric, L.A.’s are just exorbitantly high. Blog Post
Jun 18, 2007   By Christian Madera
Some readers may be familiar with the TELECOM-CITIES listserv that I've run for the last ten years, sharing discussions about how information and communications technology is transforming cities and the process of urbanization. Once upon a time back in 1998, 1999, TELECOM-CITIES was an active community of researchers trying to figure out what fiber optics and cell phones and dot-com startups meant for the future of cities. Over the years, the list has maintained that focus, but growth of readership has been stagnant for years. Blog Post
Jun 15, 2007   By Anthony Townsend
Solve this riddle: New York has an unequaled reputation for diversity in the US, but at the same time ranks as “hyper-segregated” in measures of Black-white racial segregation. How do we unravel this contradiction, and what does it say about what diversity really is? The Columbia Encyclopedia provides the prevailing view: “New York City is also famous for its ethnic diversity, manifesting itself in scores of communities representing virtually every nation on earth, each preserving its identity.” Blog Post
Jun 12, 2007   By Greg Smithsimon
Having sat through a Transportation Task Force committee meeting recently where a representative of local government requested funds to enable the completion of a particular road project, I had to chuckle – folks had been asking for the final funds for that road for several years and, several times, various community leaders had touted the resolution of the funding problem with “full speed ahead” declarations.  While not quite as embarrassing as the President Bush’s now dated declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, it was gaining the same notoriety locally.  The actual construction was Blog Post
Jun 12, 2007   By Steven Polzin
For the last couple of years I have been tracking decision support tools that bring audio into the planning process. At our PLACEMATTERS06 conference, Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. (HMMH) demonstrated their suite of acoustical environmental tools for planning, including a simple online soundbuilder enabling visitors to create  different mixes with several sound overlays. Blog Post
Jun 11, 2007   By Ken Snyder
It is now about 22 months since hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. I was recently in New Orleans for the first time and had plenty to see. The city is still very much in a state of devastation. But there has also been a lot of progress.In this post, I'd like to share some pictures I took when I was there and some facts and figures I've come across that help illustrate the current situation in the city. Blog Post
Jun 11, 2007   By Nate Berg