Most Americans have never lived in a time when “the inner city” wasn’t a locus of poverty, physical blight and social disintegration. Yet many of us fail to grasp the extent to which public policy had its thumb on the scale from the start in creating those conditions.
Our systems of planning and permitting too often give large developers an unfair advantage over local builders. And one little-discussed planning concept does a lot to explain why.
Commuter rail stations in the San Francisco Bay Area should be some of the most valuable land in the region (and by extension, the world). So why are there so many parking lots and one-story buildings right next to them?
Would you rather have a pizza, or the ingredients of a pizza arranged in separate piles? This analogy has something to teach us about the consequences of how we organize our cities.
Mid-size regions like Kansas City don’t have the affordability struggles of, say, a fast-growing Denver or Seattle: they have their own unique challenges instead. Here’s how the “natural” affordability of homes in these places can be turned into an opportunity for an urban renaissance.
Missing Middle development—anything from a duplex to a cottage court to a small apartment building—is an indispensable piece of the Strong Towns vision for cities that are resilient, adaptable, and can pay their bills. We need to revive a culture of building this way: here are 5 ways cities can start.
Many cities impose a minimum lot size on residential neighborhoods—which can lead to more expensive housing and less tax revenue to pay for city services. But do these rules actually lead to bigger lots—or do they just reflect what the market would produce anyway? A new study sheds some light on that question.
In many areas of modern life, the market provides a cornucopia of choices to accommodate people’s diverse needs, wants, and tastes: just visit a supermarket to see this. When it comes to housing options, though, the reality is starkly different.
If a local resident or business owner with a high school diploma can’t sit down and figure out what she can and cannot do with her property in less than an hour, the zoning regime is exclusionary. Here are five guidelines for making it more accessible to laypeople.
Most apartments built today are in huge complexes along busy streets, not tucked away in quiet neighborhoods in “missing middle” buildings like fourplexes, which used to be common. But how did the missing middle go missing, anyway?
Incremental development doesn’t mean slow development. Here’s how big places that need housing fast can get there using the Strong Towns approach.
Historically, a decentralized, trial-and-error process was how cities “discovered” which urban design features worked best for their own circumstances. Let’s look at the evolution of front setbacks in New York to understand how this works.
Minneapolis just became the first major U.S. city to embrace a key Strong Towns principle: every neighborhood should be allowed to evolve to the next increment of development.
In New Hampshire, the state charges local planning boards with looking at whether the zoning they have created is going to make a town prosperous. This implies a clear obligation to do the math on costs and benefits of new development.
Most cities’ zoning and development regulations obsess over things that are easy to measure, like building height and density, at the expense of the things that actually determine whether we’re building quality places.
Following a recent fatal crash, the University of Kentucky is taking a hard look at campus drinking culture. But the city of Lexington needs to pick up the slack on the reasons students feel compelled to drive.
High home prices near many of Portland, Oregon’s rail stations are essentially mandatory. On most nearby lots, dividing the land into so much as a duplex would be illegal. If that’s not a recipe for luxury housing, what is?
Austin needs a new Grand Bargain, one that includes everyone and exempts no one.
Let’s walk through what it actually takes to build a small rental apartment on your property in Austin, Texas. It’s a lesson in how the city’s existing code stymies gentle, incremental, small-scale development.
Austin’s CodeNEXT process, a dramatic overhaul of the city’s zoning code, tried to placate multiple constituencies with a “grand bargain.” The result was a draft code that satisified almost no one and failed to solve the city’s housing and growth challenges.