Welcome back to the Monday Member Blog Roll - MLK Jr’s Birthday edition!  I hope you, like me, have off from work today.  Even if you don't, find a chance to take a few moments to look back at the Reverend’s life.

We’re going to start this off with the brilliant Josh McCarty.  He’s the behind-the-scenes half of the ‘fiscal urbanism’ “Do the math!” duo fronted by Joe Minicozzi, (and their associated practice, Urban3).  Some have called him Joe’s sidekick, others know him as Joe’s puppet master.  Legend says that he prefers to see himself as Andy Richter to Joe’s Conan O’Brien.  But I digress.  Here’s a really well written and interesting post of his about the “accidental wonders” one finds on modern satellite imagery.  I love the way his mind works.

Is there a sarlac in that hole?

Is there a sarlac in that hole?

The internet tells me that this 100 meter deep pit is not, in fact, the dreaded Pit of Carkoon.

Speaking of “fiscal urbanism”, Dave Alden of the North Bay Design Kit is writing an Intro to Urbanism as an “attempt to increase the knowledge of readers who have an interest in urbanism”.  This week he writes about what he has coined “fiscal urbanism” to describe “the possibility that urbanism can help alleviate the financial distress being felt in many city halls in the 21st century.”  Preach it, brother!

Reduced to its essence, suburbia is expensive.  Between construction of the additional infrastructure required to serve an increasing far-flung world, the long-term maintenance of that infrastructure, the cars and gasoline needed to navigate the suburban world, the home and yard maintenance implicit in moving from an urban apartment to a suburban home, and many other factors, our pocketbooks have been squeezed by the rise of suburbia.

Here’s an interesting take on what might be a logical solution to expensive suburbia in St. Louis County: municipal disincorporation.  The folks at nextSTL always have interesting stuff.

The tyrannical, dysfunctional, corrupt, selfish, incompetent, impotent, wasteful, insolvent municipalities in St. Louis County have to go.

Want to see what officials do in a place that’s moving in the right direction?  Just look at Palm Beach Country, FL, where Strong Towns contributor Jesse Bailey writes (on his own blog, Walkable West Palm Beach) about a day-long “rolling field trip” of public transit for the regions MPO directors.  That’s a start.

I look forward to the day when a special field trip isn’t necessary for our public officials to understand our county’s transportation system. Until then, this is a fantastic event and we hope it becomes a regular occurance.

Another town that is doing some things right is Seattle.  The MyParkingSign blog looks into the city’s decision to increase carsharing permits and operators.  Definitely a good call.

Around 2,000 Seattle residents have already given up their cars since joining Car2go, reports the blog, The Stranger. The carshare company, notes GeekWire, is available in 60 cities and offers more than 12,000 vehicles, but its greatest U.S. presence is in Seattle, where it has been available since early 2013 and today boasts 59,000-plus members and 500 cars. The membership number itself is staggering; Councilmember Tom Rasmussen noted that that figure is “…starting to approach 10 percent of the population. In terms of membership, that’s huge.”

Next up, Johnny Sanphillippo of Granola Shotgun explains what urban planning tactics are entirely NOT fiscal urbanism.  As always, he does so with a lot of compelling images and experience-backed commentary.  He takes a peak at Atlantic City, NJ to illustrate his points.

I have an on-going correspondence with a particular city planner who recently asked, “What pushes a neighborhood down vs. what lifts it up?” In the end I suspect this is going to be like the old joke. Ask three rabbis a question and you’ll get five answers. Perhaps I should provide a few examples of popular “solutions” that I know for a fact don’t work.

Jesse Bailey comes in again with an example of “what not to do” from his hometown of West Palm Beach.  It’s great that the parklet is now permanent…but what’s with those bollards?

Bollard'd parklet.jpeg

Finally, nextSTL outlines yet another vision for the NorthSide Regeneration project.  This is very strange to me.  It’s also incredibly top-down.

Yet, NorthSide hasn’t and can’t completely shed its allure. We want to believe the numbers and narrative (see more below). It’s fun to believe we can remake 1,500 acres of central St. Louis City with a grand plan. It’s exciting to think it’s possible to rebuild a swath of urbanity that took a century to develop, and a half century to become devastated. Whether ultimately a success or failure, NorthSide will produce important lessons for St. Louis and American urbanism. This is why despite the uninspiring monotony of the process, we continue to watch.

That’s all from me for today, folks.  Have a great day!

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