6 Ways Urban Renewal Misses the Livability Mark

Despite spending millions on urban renewal projects, municipalities often miss a common group of opportunities to make their communities more livable and walkable, according to William Adams, a San Diego-based land use attorney.

Read Time: 1 minute

September 12, 2014, 7:00 AM PDT

By melaniecj

Mixed-use waterfront

La Citta Vita / Flickr

When it comes to urban renewal, understanding the “big picture” is not enough to keep cities and towns from making mistakes.

William Adams, a San Diego-based land use attorney, writes that despite the increasing success of urban renewal in the past 15 years, cities are still missing opportunities to veer away from the auto-orientation that is driving suburbanites to city centers. (Please excuse the auto-oriented idioms.)

Common mistakes include communities not knowing how to truly provide for pedestrians and other active transit users, according to Adams.

“The lesson: Pedestrians and active transit users need routes designed specifically for them, not simply as an add-on to routes designed for cars.  Route planning should seek shortcuts and other opportunities that give walking or biking advantages over the automobile.”

Other common errors include not selecting the right streetscape trees, not reducing parking, and not protecting existing building stock.

“..for more than any other reason, successful urban renewal depends on creating or restoring an environment that diminishes the primacy of the automobile and prioritizes walking, active transit, public transit, the natural environment, and existing structures.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 in UrbDeZine

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Aerial view of dense single-family homes in neighborhood still under construction

How Virginia Counties Use Zoning to Stifle Development

Some state legislators are proposing action at the state level as counties block development using zoning and development requirements even as housing prices rise sharply in the region.

January 23, 2023 - The Virginia Mercury

New York City Coronavirus

The Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Remake Downtown

Urban cores around the country were transforming into live, work, and play destinations before the pandemic. The pandemic was a setback for this transformation, but it could also be a rare opportunity. It’s up to city leadership to seize it.

January 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Rendering of red seven-story student housing building with students walking in open grassy plaza in front of building

L.A. Times Editorial Board Calls for CEQA Reform

The Board argues that the environmental law, while important, has too often been ‘weaponized’ by NIMBY groups to delay or halt housing development.

January 31 - Los Angeles Times

Seattle buses in line at a depot with Seattle skyline in background

Seattle Brings Free Transit to Public Housing

Linking transit programs to housing can lower administrative costs and streamline the process for riders.

January 31 - Route Fifty

Broad street in downtown Columbus, Ohio with two pedestrians in crosswalk

Columbus Could Lower Downtown Speed Limits

The city council will vote on a proposal to lower speed limits to 25 miles per hour to improve safety and make downtown more walkable and welcoming to pedestrians.

January 31 - The Columbus Dispatch