Christian Madera was managing editor of Planetizen from 2006 to 2008.

Homelessness In The City Of Angels

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited Downtown L.A.'s Skid Row that the city has a serious homelessness problem -- with more people living on the street than any other city in the nation. A recent article in the Economist focused on the recent crackdown by the city's police on the homeless population of skid row. With more and more residents moving into the area, and city officials keen to clean up downtown's streets, police chief William Bratton committed additional police officers to patrol the area to round up criminals (and presumably break up the population of street dwellers).

Welcome To Planetizen Interchange

Greetings Planetizen readers! I'd like to welcome everyone to our new blog -- called Planetizen Interchange. This is our latest effort to provide exposure to new ideas, encourage discourse that cuts across disciplinary boundaries, and bring together allied professionals.

Planning In Second Life

Anhinga Island I've just about finished researching and writing an article about the implications for planning in a virtual environment called Second Life.

If you're one of the 578,672 people worldwide who participate in the virtual world called Second Life, you are empowered. You use the game's virtual environment to interact with others, design buildings, develop communities, or even construct your own island, complete with an economy, design guidelines, and many of the same issues and problems that come with a real community.

Wi-Fi... Shades of the early cable days?

Bob Jacobson emails to say that Brian Deagon's article for Investor's Business Daily, "Cities' Wi-Fi Efforts Might Pose Threat To Cable, Telecom" is a good article and reminds him of "the early cable days!"

More cities are starting to manage Internet access much like they manage electricity, water and transportation services. That trend could cost cable and telecom providers billions of dollars in lost business.

As of July 1, 59 cities were running broadband Internet networks, up from 38 a year earlier, according to, which tracks this subject.

Make a lot of creative, small plans

The surging housing market and development pressure in Philadelphia has resurrected what was once an all but dormant profession - planning. Meeting after meeting is being held with community leaders, politicians, developers and others to discuss the current lack of planning in the City in the wake of this widespread change. The concensus of each meeting is that the City needs a Master Plan. Further, there also appears to be a major call to finally empower the planning commission which has, for years, been cast aside as a step-child of City governance.

A Little Bit of LA River

Portland's river is a central gathering place for the city. New York lives between two rivers. A river defines Washington DC's geography.

In Los Angeles, the river is a concretized ditch.

But that river was always wilder than the others. Until the last century it ran not north-south -- its course today -- but east-west, emptying in Santa Monica instead of San Pedro. I have an antique map of Los Angeles on my living room wall, the first one published (1849 or so), and the river does indeed run perpendicular to the one I grew up driving over, or next to.

Low-Tech Communications

There's been an increasing number of urban projects breaking out the paint brushes as a low-cost means of improving cities. As stated by Jaime Lerner, former Mayor of Curitiba, for every zero that is removed from a city budget, the more creative solutions become. It seems these examples represent areas with extremely limited budgets. Object Orange is a public art project in Detroit that is calling attention to blighted structures through the use of bright orange paint. It seems their efforts have resulted in their desired outcome - increased demolition of unsafe structures.

Mike Davis says something interesting

The always-rewarding Bldgblog has a fun interview with Mike Davis, who wrote the iconic history of Los Angeles City of Quartz. Davis is flacking a new book, Planet of Slums


Next weekend -- that'd be May 6-7 -- a bunch of GPS geeks are going to map the entire Isle of Wight, off England. Not much on the Isle, apparently, but whatever's there is gonna get mapped. Says the New Scientist blog:

These high-tech cartographers will drive, cycle and ramble all over the island, using their GPS receivers to record the co-ordinates of roads, natural landmarks and points of interest. They'll use this data to create a completely digital map which will be available online to anyone.

The Google Flanuer

Building on the Google thread here started by Chris, this Geo-Tracing site was brought to my attention that links google mapping with individually uploaded content. Its, as I see it, the next iteration of Found City and other geo-tagging sites. Very interesting combination of technology to provide a sense of experience and place in cities that is often hard to capture on screen. As stated from the site:

"The main concept is depicted above.