Archive for the ‘Urban Planning & Design’ Category

A friend posted this article on facebook and asked me what I thought of it.  I decided to add it my blog as well.
Was it ever any fun to live in Silicon Valley? Growing up here (SJ), was it ever a dynamic place to be?I’d absolutely agree with the writer, 100%. Planners, and Urbanists have been foretelling this phenomenon for years: Richard Florida, Katz, Christopher Leinberger, and other Brookings folks in particular. Their basic argument is that livable cities are where the knowledge-based economy will take place. What’s telling is how San Jose is not even mentioned in the article. But Oakland is. There are plenty of articles that have the same doom and gloom about how SF has become all white and gentrified, the ill-effects that will lead to, and that long-time San Francisco residents are flocking to Oakland.  As for comparing San Diego to the Bay Area, I don’t particularly have much insight. From my primitive understanding of cutting edge Bio-research, much of it is being developed alongside Computer Scientists. Given the comparative advantage here, all the startups dealing with Big Data, I’d give the edge to the Bay. There seems to be some talk about Boston leading the way in BioTech, but I feel Boston’s been nipping at the heels for decades. I’m eagerly watching to see what happens in Mission Bay and the new UCSF campus. They’re building like crazy out there, and with all the new office space available, there’ll be much more room for new companies to move in. Planners have begun talking about tearing down the elevated 280 freeways north of 101. If they do, there’ll be so much more room for activities!I’m very bullish on the Bay, and SF/Oakland in particular if you haven’t gathered by now. And as long as policies are being put forward that help humanize cities, I have a hard time seeing this shift (cities over suburbs) changing. From last I saw, office space is actually cheaper in SOMA than PA or MTV, and that will only continue to feed this. On a side note, Ron Conway is a name worth following. He’s an angel investor, and has a special place with SF Citi, a lobbying agency representing the tech community. Twitter moving in to Mid-Market has a lot to do with SF Citi.

Bruce Katz actually writes for The Atlantic Cities. I feel that there should have been some mention of this. Sloppy journalism, and slightly sensationalistic with little substance would be my comment about the article.


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I’m working on a piece on the topic with a friend, and I figured hopefully some good people will see this add their 2 cents to the topic that will help shape the final product. The thesis is that despite the success and history of bicycles in Davis, the city is, and has been not nearly as accommodating of bicycles as it could, and should be for some time. Davis is merely tolerant of bicycling and clings to this image to help prop itself up as a progressive community that allows retirees from Sacramento and families of older professionals a sheltered place to live.

One thing I’d like to examine is why the 5th St. road diet has taken as long as it has. All the research has been done, along with plans for implementation. It clearly makes Davis a more bike-friendly place, more eco-friendly and even a safer place to be – all things Davis purports to be, but why the hesitation?

Another aspect is spending and infrastructure. While being first in the nation to adopt bike lanes in the 60’s, the town has been slow to implement newer ideas from abroad since. Bike sharing programs and colored lanes have put cities like Portland and Chicago at the forefront. Bike ridership in fact has decreased despite the town and schools both growing in population.

Davis is by most measures a good place to bicycle, and for that deserves recognition. However, like many communities that are thought to be progressive, NIMBY-ism often overrules.

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As Inclusionary housing has been making in-roads on the affordability of housing in cities across the country, it seems to follow that the same could be done with commercial properties as well. What I’m thinking is a similar structure of 10 – 15% of lease-able space is designated at median rent rates for a city. It could be a great economic boom to entrepreneurs who are looking to enter new markets. Why settle for Panda Express, when you can have a more authentic experience at your local strip mall?

How would you select seems to be the next question. Perhaps it would only be available to first time business owners, or the would be tenant lives in the city. Just a thought.

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Brad Pitt graces the cover of Architectural Digest


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How’s that for a job? A year’s worth of work, this will be my new hobby.

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I read a rather interesting article in Sustainable Industries on affordable green building. It seems that finally market forces have allowed this crucial segment of housing to I read a rather interesting article in Sustainable Industries on affordable green building. It seems that finally market forces have allowed this crucial segment of housing to move forward.

It states that green construction is a mere 5% – 10% more than standard. Dana Bourland of Enterprise Community Partners claims the housing boom of recent years as providing proof of the value for green building.

Case studies

Patton Park is a new project in Portland by Gerding Edlen and SERA Architects that will utilize their experience in building green for an affordable housing project. The 33rd St and Powell Rowhouses will be built by REACH Community Development. Feature include energy-efficient windows and sunscreens, Energy Star-rated appliances, VOC paints, and solar panels. One really cool thing is the outreach component by educating residents about how to use less energy.


Sunscreens on the southwest corner of the building, were provided by a grant from Home Depot Foundation, which also provided $50,000 for a rainwater-harvesting tank at Station Place, another REACH-developed affordable housing project in Portland. 

Additional funding opportunities at the local level, such as Portland’s Green Investment Fund, incentivize local projects. Surprisingly given their tight budgets, some of the past recipients were affordable housing projects, such as The Watershed at Hillsdale and The Civic, which was developed by Gerding Edlen as a combination of market-rate condos and below-market affordable units.

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So it’s pretty lame to link to another blog that I write, but yeah, that’s what I’m doing here.


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