This weekend is the Grand Nationals at the Brainerd International Raceway, just a couple of miles from my house. To the non-racing enthusiasts like myself, the influx of a couple hundred thousand people to the area this weekend means you either hunker down in the house or get out of town. With no air conditioning and this being the hottest weekend of the year, I am packing frantically, which is going to cut this edition of the news digest short.

Enjoy these few tidbits and enjoy your weekend.

  • This article describes one town's discovery that their current zoning code is stifling development. This is something we see all over the place. This quote from the article encapsulates the prevailing reality of zoning throughout most of Small Town America.

"We realized....that there were more planning and zoning exceptions to our zoning regulations than straight applications," said Goldstein, whose agency is a special taxing district that promotes downtown businesses and services. "Developers were at a loss about what zoning was for the downtown."

  • This is a short blub about a new book on the reuse of bog box stores. I've added it to my reading wish list on Amazon.
  • This story about the future of shopping malls is also interesting. They quote from The Economist in a paragraph that sums up the article:

In the past half century ... [malls] have transformed shopping habits, urban economies and teenage speech. America now has some 1,100 enclosed shopping malls, according to the International Council of Shopping Centres. Clones have appeared from Chennai to Martinique. Yet the mall's story is far from triumphal. Invented by a European socialist who hated cars and came to deride his own creation, it has a murky future. While malls continue to multiply outside America, they are gradually dying in the country that pioneered them. 

  • When I was in engineering school I was taught, and subsequently had reinforce in nearly every engineering manual since, you build roads safe by building them wide, flat and straight. A common sense intuition helps us know how wrong that is when you get to our local streets - wider, flatter and straighter means faster and more dangerous. Read this article to hear about how they have dealt with this more sensibly in the Netherlands. Another reason by Ruurd totally rocks! 
  • I was once asked, if I were trapped on an island and could have only one album to listen to for the rest of my life, what would it be. My answer: Abbey Road. This article has nothing to do with planning, but everything to do with enjoying the soundtrack of life, especially as one prepares to head out of town this weekend and pitch a tent. Cheers to you all, and for those stuck at their computers, you can always watch people endlessly trying to recreate the famous album cover on the Abbey Road webcam.