My wife and I have been, for the most part, either dating or married since we were 15 years old. That means for 21 years now our summers together have begun with us celebrating my birthday the last week of May and ended with a celebration of her's the first week of September. In thinking about it now, it probably makes sense as well that mine is based around the memorial celebration while her's is at a time of honoring of one's labor. I'm the one who spends days dreaming about the past while she (as I am frequently reminded) tirelessly labors on. This weekend perhaps we can reverse those roles and I'll actually get my grass planted, albeit three months behind schedule. Or maybe not....

Enjoy the holiday, the "end of summer" and the week's news.

  • I realized that I had not updated readers on our local College Drive project which I wrote about on this blog as an example of federal and state subsidies inducing really ridiculous local land use decisions. The posting - thanks to some interesting keyword searches as well as a lot of local people sending the link to each other - has been our most widely read this year. For those of you interested in knowing, the project is full speed ahead.
  • For those of you interested in the counter argument to mine about College Drive or if you want to read someone in support of the idea of building-our-way-out-of-congestion-as-a-way-to-economic-prosperity, you will want to read this article about a study by the Reason Foundation. While I would love to debate the merits and findings of their work, and at the risk of appearing petty, I feel compelled to point out that I found their tagline interesting - "Reason Foundation; free minds and free markets". It takes a very free mind indeed to believe that trillions of government spending on highways, roads and streets is somehow part of a functioning free market.
  • Last month I posted on complex streets and how one of the features - increased pedestrian access - was important to capturing the value out of our capital investments. This article presents a dramatic example of the approach.
  • The apocalyptic predictions (thanks Aaron, my friend) you read here earlier this week are reinforced in this article about cities bracing for a long stretch of declining revenues.
  • While most economic development spending we see done at the local level provides a low return on the investment, this article is ominous and part of a (unfortunately) predictable nationwide trend in government reaction to the current financial crisis.

"As lawmakers struggle to rectify the state government’s gaping $26 billion budget deficit, they are setting their sights on potentially raising taxes on commercial property while at the same time gutting the budgets of local economic development agencies." 

  • While the afore mentioned trend is starting to shift the tax burden from largely inefficient residential development to (sometimes inefficient and sometimes not) commercial and industrial development, commercial properties are stressed and seemed poised to be the next wave of desperation in the shrinking economy. 
  • Wal-Mart as a business model has always fascinated me. I've actually been working (slowly) on a book comparing the approach of Wal-Mart to the approach of another mega-corporation, Disney, and how they compare to our lifestyle patterns. This small nuance in approach by Wal-Mart adds to my intrigue. 
  • And now it is not just Wal-Mart greeters anymore that are hanging on in the workforce. Come on Boomers - move it along! At some point you are going to have to retire in the world you have created, like it or not.
  • I have not read this report yet, but the central finding - that our housing preferences are changing - is something that is near obvious from out in the field. Extra credit to anyone who can summarize it well in less than two pages.
  • And finally, if you are looking for a rural experience for the weekend, consider a "haycation". Spend your weekend like I spent my summers growing up and live the good life. Brilliant on many levels.