This is going to be a shorter-than-usual News Digest. I'm not sure if the swine flu has hit the family, but my oldest girl is running a really high temp and has been in bed all day. While I'm not asking for sympathy, about the toughest thing I ever have to do as a dad is to watch helplessly when the kids are sick. She wanted fruit today and, of course, we were out, so I went tonight and bought about $25 worth of bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. If my girl wants fruit on Friday, she'll get as much as she can eat.

Stay healthy and enjoy this week's news.

  • The economy is officially on the rebound and news outlets seem to have agreed on the notion that the advances we are seeing are caused by government subsidies of homes and cars. So if we want to grow the economy more, what should we do?
  • How about more home subsidies? This time it is not just new homebuyers but everyone that can join in the fun. At some point our economy is going to need to be more than just subsidized homes, which is not a creature of stimulus but something we have had for quite a long time (to our detriment, really).
  • If we are actually going to do something to promote home ownership, what they have done in Seattle recently makes vastly more sense than evermore subsidy. Allowing a backyard cottage not only provides affordable housing options and makes great use of existing infrastructure, it gives a property owner options for cash-flowing their own mortgage. A Strong Town way to avoid foreclosure.
  • Of course, if a backyard cottage is too much of a threat, a community could simply reduce development fees to try to and revive our failed development model. Believing that more of what got us in trouble is somehow the answer - only now with even less revenue to cover the expenses - is the very definition of insanity. But hey, desperate times....

"It is going to take drastic action to bring our economy back," said Mark Knorringa, CEO of the Riverside County Building Industry Association.

  • At least the federal government still has the wherewithal to bail out local communities that are overextended maintaining their inefficient infrastructure. Unfortunately, $6.8 million barely puts a dent in the $2 billion (and growing) currently needed.
  • Andres Duany was recently voted the second most influential planner behind only Jane Jacobs. I can't argue with that. This article reports on a talk Duany gave about how the public process has gone awry. There is a video of the talk you can watch by clicking here.

We don’t seem to give a damn about the final outcome as long as the process complies with all the rules. Of course, a key component of the process is public input. However, the vast majority of that input comes from vested interests – essentially, the developer and the people who live next to the proposed development site. Shouts of protest and sloganeering bombard the decision makers. No one speaks for the community as a whole.

  • Nothing to do with planning, but my dogs do not like Yoko Ono's singing, if that is what you call it. Neither do I.
  • Finally, I was really disappointed to find out that the Free Credit Report guys were under some federal suspicion for their services, which apparently are not all completely free. Is this shocking? Of course not, but what is shocking is just how addictive those songs are. Here is my favorite: