Having become something of a junkie who overdoses on political and economic news, it is only natural that I try to help justify that time investment by scouring the news for tidbits that have professional relevance. Just this past week several things have come across my monitor that have made me reflect.
We’ve been conducting public meetings for years. And it used to be easier. Present the plan. Discuss the plan. Talk about how your plan is better for the neighborhood/community/city/region and provide the conclusion. But things have changed.
One of the more powerful concepts to come out of the information and services economy is the Long Tail.
Transcontinental flights are a great time to catch up on reading, and a recent flight from San Jose to Chicago inspired this blog post. As I was reading book #1 (below), I realized that a number books have been published recently that have important things to say about cities although they might be dismissed too easily as reactionary, ideological, or simply not relevant to urban planning.
What if the utility company asked you how much you made when you called to start service in a new home? What if they wanted this information to tie your bill to your salary and not to how much gas, electricity or water you used? Would that seem fair? That’s how some communities are treating developers when determining how much stormwater they should be required to manage. But regulations that link stormwater standards to the developer’s ability to pay are neither fair nor efficient. Environmental regulations and their costs should be directly linked to the impact on the environment, not to profit margins.
I couldn’t wait to use the new word, ginormous, which Merriam-Webster recently added to the Collegiate Dictionary. My spell checker has been trained and now I can get about the business of saving ginormous amounts of energy. Recent bouts of ecoterrorism in the form of Hummer vandalism in Washington D.C. and the growing media attention to the environmental hypocrisy of the travel and housing habits of card-carrying carbon footprint club members (take a gander at the 10,000 sq. ft. home of Al Gore or the 28,200 sq.
I find it intriguing when I hear folks talk about how high energy prices will cause a tipping point and everyone will rush back into the city in order to afford to commute to work. If, or as, higher costs for energy begin to play a greater role in location choice it is as likely that they will force even more employers to move to the suburbs. In many urban areas we may be well past the point where fuel price pressures to minimize travel would result in land use changes that move population back to town.