Blog Posts
Evaluating a Land Value Tax in Jersey City
May 29, 2023
A Land Value Tax would create a more vibrant city that is also more affordable to families.
Let's Regulate For The Places We Want
July 11, 2022
Start by identifying patterns in your favourite places, and change your planning regulations to encourage it.
Engineers Should Not Design Streets
September 7, 2021
When engineers design streets, we end up with the "programmer art" of urbanism.
The Un-Environmental Review
August 30, 2021
We slap the word "environmental" onto a review process that has little to do with the protecting the environment.
How to fight those "Boxy Buildings"
April 12, 2021
We can return to a fine-grained development pattern if we want. It is just a matter of making of adjusting the rules to make it the easiest thing to build, and it will get built.
The Problem With Focusing On Affordable Rents
January 25, 2021
When we talk about the affordability of cities, let's not limit the conversation to rents. Mass renting is not a long term solution.
The Myth of the Template Store
August 26, 2020
Phooey to the chain store that will not touch your city if you will not let them build their suburban template. You are better off without them anyway.
The Scar of Modernity
June 1, 2020
The scar of modernity is the fear of change. Humanity's most difficult challenge will not be engineering some invention, but returning to building places that do not suck.
The Scar of Modern Architecture
March 30, 2020
'Picturesque', 'beautiful', and 'charming' are rarely words we use to describe modern architecture, instead preferring 'cool', 'state of the art', and 'innovative' - words describing something that disrupts rather than complements the surroundings
The Scar of Modern Urban Planning
February 3, 2020
Modern urban planning has scarred us. Change should be good. But, a century of bad change has taught us otherwise.
Lessons from the Streets of Tokyo
October 2, 2019
The Japanese have really taken to heart that one size does not fit all, and there is an obvious division between streets and roads.
Urban Biodiversity
October 1, 2019
One of my criticisms of modern urban planning is that it kind of looks the same everywhere you go.
One Size Does Not Fit All
September 13, 2019
Streets and roads are not the same thing, and their design should reflect that.
Wayfinding in the Tokyo Subway System
August 30, 2019
I never got lost riding the Tokyo subway, despite not knowing Japanese.
Parking is Harmful to Small Businesses
May 12, 2019
Ample parking and high levels of car ownership is harmful for small, neighbourhood businesses.
The Problem with Helicopter Urbanism
February 12, 2019
It is important when we design a building or a neighborhood to look at how it feels and interacts with the street. Too often, new development feels designed from a helicopter’s-eye-view.
Aiming for Imperfection
November 29, 2018
When we aim for perfection, imperfections will disturb us. But, when we aim for imperfection, other imperfections build character.
The Causes of Traffic and Congestion
October 4, 2018
Will this new development make traffic worse? The conventional wisdom about the relationship between development and traffic contains a number of important misconceptions.
What Does Incrementalism Actually Mean?
September 5, 2018
Incremental approaches are often cheaper, faster, or have less risk than sudden approaches. Let’s explore different types of incrementalism.
What Makes A Place Walkable
August 7, 2018
Walkability is a word urbanists throw around, often with different ideas as to what it really means, or why we care about it. Let’s take a look at how safety, distance, convenience, and comfort affect it.
The Case for Small Commercial Spaces
July 5, 2018
When large storefronts sit empty for years, holding out for the perfect big tenant, while small businesses can’t find space to rent, we’ve got a serious problem.
The Living City vs. The Mechanical City
May 2, 2018
A city is a living organism, and we should tend to it as such. A city dies when it is treated as, and functions, as a machine.
A Brief History of Setbacks
March 7, 2018
If you want to understand housing affordability and transportation issues, start with setbacks.
You Don't Need Transit To Build A Walkable Place
February 14, 2018
Transit is not a prerequisite for making a decent people-oriented neighbourhood.
We Need Complete Neighbourhoods
February 7, 2018
A Complete Neighborhood is one where, outside of commuting to work or spending a night out, you can get everything you need within walking distance.
Surprising Approaches to Achieving Density
January 4, 2018
We can build compact, walkable cities in an adaptable and economically inclusive manner - no high-rise towers needed.
Setbacks and Land Consolidation
October 19, 2017
Setbacks require us to set aside a fixed amount of land per lot, encouraging us to consolidate towards fewer, larger lots.
A Simple Guide to Architectural Rendering
August 29, 2017
Is there an empty lot in your neighborhood you dream of filling? Use these simple steps to sketch, model and render a new building in the space.
Let's explore Maxwell Place Lawn
July 25, 2017
When we force private developers to provide "open space," they typically do a mediocre job of it.
Let’s explore Van Vorst Park
May 10, 2017
Let's take a look at what makes a neighbourhood park great by exploring Van Vorst Park in Jersey City, NJ.
Subdividing Large Lots for Small Developers
April 19, 2017
What if cities purchased those big lots and sold them to smal-scale developers?
Cites as Platforms of Productivity
March 23, 2017
Cities are filled with talent, ideas, and hardworking people. We just need to provide them with the platform to be productive.
Historic Preservation Treats The Symptom Instead Of The Cause
January 30, 2017
Historic preservation is often used to prevent something being replaced by something worse, but are we focusing on the symptom or the cause?
Ride-Sharing and Car Ownership
January 4, 2017
What does ride-sharing mean for the future of our cities and car ownership?
Rethinking Parking as Infrastructure
December 1, 2016
Let's rethink parking as communal infrastructure rather than private property.
Washington Street Fantasy Design
October 27, 2016
What would a main street look like if we designed it first and foremost for people?
The Well Tempered City
September 20, 2016
A review of The Well Tempered City by Jonathan F. O. Rose.
Let's Infill A Neighbourhood (And Make A Profit)
August 8, 2016
Let's infill a Hoboken city block with traditional urbanism.
Big Boxing The City
July 20, 2016
Big-box stores are often associated with suburbia, but they can trace their roots to department stores that are often anchors of retail life in a city. There is nothing inherently suburban about large scale retail.
Small Bets
June 14, 2016
Small bets are an affordable way to incrementally improve the places we love. Every city should be looking at the low hanging fruit that they can use to continually improve themselves.
An Antifragile Ecosystem of Cities
June 1, 2016
An experimental idea to build an antifragile ecosystem of cities.
Organically Grown Cities
May 25, 2016
If only we could find a free spot in town and build a house.
Housing Unaffordability is the Result of Artificial Scarcity
April 20, 2016
Housing affordability is simply a result of supply and demand. In a true free market, housing prices should be around the same as construction costs.
Car-Free Life in the City
April 11, 2016
It's Strong Citizens Week at Strong Towns, and I was invited to share what life is like in a major American city without a car.
Encouraging Fine-Grained Development
March 17, 2016
The largest threat to Hoboken's character are the monolithic block-sized buildings I see appear anywhere that there is an opportunity to redevelop.
The Case for One-Way Streets
February 11, 2016
Urbanists love to bash one way streets, but I think it is a red herring.
Unbiased Streets
January 20, 2016
For a street to be unbiased, it needs to not prefer one mode of transportation over the other.
The Case Against Traffic Projections
December 10, 2015
Traffic projections are only correct if you listen to them thus inducing demand and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Let's Build A Village From A Parking Lot
December 3, 2015
All of this empty land just sitting there is ripe for some infill.
My Car Pays Cheaper Rent Than Me
November 23, 2015
I wish I could pay $30/month to rent 1,000 square feet of space. I could if I were a car.
Thoughts on Gentrification and Affordability
November 5, 2015
Does it make you a bad person for wanting to live in the nicest area you can afford?
Every City Believes They Have A Parking Problem
October 26, 2015
Complaining about parking is useless. Every single city I have lived in thinks they have a parking problem.
October 21, 2015
There are many advantages of a fine-grained development pattern where ownership is diversified.
September 16, 2015
Parks are an excellent use of land, and we can classify them as Neighbourhood Parks and Grand Parks.
September 14, 2015
Greenspace is useless filler that spaces things apart. We are better off building real parks.
Alley Garbage Truck Math
August 30, 2015
Even if an alley has to be clear for 4 hours a week for garbage collecting, that still leaves 164 hours a week when you are free to set up your tables and chairs.
The Last Two Months
July 31, 2015
Visiting Australia and Mexico, and moving to New York City.
Following The Pack - Drive-through Banking
June 24, 2015
If you wanted drive-through banking - why would you drive downtown to do so, and not visit a suburban branch?
What is 'Complete'?
June 5, 2015
What you and I consider makes a street 'complete' is different.
Sovereign Hill
May 20, 2015
Let's visit a 1850's themed town in Australia.
A Minimal Amount of Thought
April 24, 2015
There are some things in this world that are obviously done without a whole lot of thought put into them.
Blurred Lines
March 26, 2015
It does not really matter to the person on foot what is private or public, or who owns or controls what, if the end result is a pleasant environment for people.
Some Thoughts on Narrow Streets
March 18, 2015
Narrower streets provide exponentially more tax revenue per square foot of street supporting them.
A Matter of Priorities
February 20, 2015
There is nothing inherent to what we build - it is simply a matter of priorities.
The Negative Consequences of Car Dependency
January 21, 2015
We often talk about car dependency as being the result of the suburban Growth Ponzi scheme, and how a Strong Town should focus more on walking, biking, and transit. But do you ever wonder why?
A Look At Traffic Lights
December 18, 2014
Traffic lights act as synchronization barriers that cause cars to cluster together giving the illusion of congestion.
Fine Grained
December 1, 2014
My worst fear is that we are transition towards a polarized economy - an economy where you have a small group at the top that owns most of the capital, and a large low-skilled, low-paid working class.
A Place To Call Home
November 17, 2014
I feel lost and that feeling fuels me to write, it fuels me to travel, and it fuels me to find a place to call home.
Building Dense Does Not Have To Be Dense
November 4, 2014
Building dense is not the same as building tall. More Provincetown and less Le Corbusier.
Top Down Funding
November 3, 2014
Where does a small state like Arkansas go in the priority for federal money?
Do Your Transit Leaders Ride Transit?
October 27, 2014
It's 12pm and I can either get to my destination by 12:06pm via car or 5:19pm via transit. Who designed this madness?
Shopping Online
October 8, 2014
Living in suburbia is driving me to do more of my shopping online than when I lived in a city.
October 2, 2014
How is the Walmart 'Neighbourhood' Market 'neighbourly' when your front door is set back 750 feet from the street - distancing themselves as far away as possible from any 'neighbours'!
Place:Non-Place Ratio
September 29, 2014
Let's compare the ratio of Places and Non-Places.
The Case Against Historical Districts
September 18, 2014
The best way to preserve something is to keep is relevant, not put it under a glass case and keep it on life support.
Strong Towns National Gathering
September 13, 2014
I have spent the weekend at the Strong Towns National Gathering.
Zoning and Traffic
September 5, 2014
My simulation shows that single use zoning results in worse traffic.
Thoughts on Language
August 9, 2014
I was always taught to communicate in the most plain, simple, and unambiguous way possible.
July 28, 2014
My humble blog is growing popular.
A Blast To A Pre-War Past
July 16, 2014
What would a streetcar suburb look like today if their bones were never ripped up?
Density Without Zoning
July 16, 2014
Density is simply a measurement of population over area and has very little to do with zoning.
Learn To Say No
July 10, 2014
If what you have been doing has not worked out for you, the best thing you can do is to stop.
Craving Energy
June 23, 2014
Too much suburbia makes a person crazy.
Food Courts
June 23, 2014
Food courts are more than simply places you can walk to to eat a reasonably priced meal or snack at. Food courts are social places.
Car Dependent By Design
May 21, 2014
If we zone automobile-oriented uses at automobile scales do not be surprised if the result is an automobile dependent environment.
Zoning Systems
May 15, 2014
Zoning refers to any system where restrictions and laws vary within in the same jurisdiction based on area, or zone. There are multiple zoning systems in use, I will describe the three major types I have encountered.
A Tale of Two Cities
May 13, 2014
Inner Conway would be an awesome town if we could just focus on being us - and let everyone else just do their thing.
Narrow Streets
April 22, 2014
I love narrow streets, they are an essential part of making a city feel warm, inviting, and most importantly, human-scale.
The Problem with Sales Tax
April 16, 2014
The problem with relying on sales tax is that everything other than retail becomes a burden. There is no motivation for government to do or provide anything else.
April 10, 2014
Look at the forest and not the trees when it comes to being environmentally friendly.
March 19, 2014
America's best urban planners are out there building malls, university campuses, and amusement parks instead of cities.
Pig Buildings
March 12, 2014
We need a name that is unique and catchy enough to remember, and hopefully insulting enough to discourage this bad form!
February 14, 2014
One of my favourite things I miss from Australian cities are laneways and their connotation is different to an alley.
The Case for Investing Downtown
January 15, 2014
In an urban environment, not only are we concentrating our infrastructure and saving money - requiring very little to service many - but the taxes and jobs generated from it are phenomenally high.
Thoughts for 2014
January 10, 2014
2014 is my first year of home-ownership.
Thoughts of a Pedestrian
December 19, 2013
A few frustrating thoughts walking around in my new neighbourhood.
A Traditional City Primer
December 4, 2013
The Traditional City simply refers to the pattern of development that human civilization has built in for millenia.
Optimizing the Street Grid
November 28, 2013
Does block size and street width really matter?
Paving Our Streets
November 11, 2013
Cars are rugged machines. So why do we prioritize making cars more comfortable than people?
What About The Elderly?
October 18, 2013
Traversing an environment built for the automobile in anything other than an automobile, sucks. Even if you can overcome the inhospitable nature of that, there are others that can not.
Sandbox Urbanism
September 9, 2013
Instead of comprehensive planning, let's unleash the market to experiment.
Public Markets
August 20, 2013
Public markets encourage innovation, they create activity, and most of all, they lower the cost of entry to the market, which in turn, encourages jobs to locally grow.
Copy-and-Paste Towns
July 15, 2013
The Copy-and-Paste town, unique only by its configuration of chain stores, is a very dull and uninteresting place.
Anchors in Urban Environments
June 13, 2013
An anchor is a destination that people want to purposely visit and will go out of their way to get there
Explain Your Vision
May 19, 2013
Let's be upfront and transparent about what we are trying to build.
This or That?
May 3, 2013
Which do you prefer?
Why I Use So Many Pictures
April 30, 2013
I use a lot of pictures in my blog posts to ensure that I get my messages across in the most effective way possible.
Let's Build A Traditional City (And Make A Profit)
March 30, 2013
Let's transform an old airport site into a Traditional City.
Human-Scale Streets
January 31, 2013
Wide streets have many problems, so let's design our streets to the scale of humans.
Small-Town Exceptionalism
January 10, 2013
Good urban design is good urban design, regardless of the population you're catering for.
Fortifying Yourself in the Suburban Warzone
November 2, 2012
Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the southern United States would have noticed the abundance of large vehicles on the roads.
Culture Shock
October 20, 2012
Part of the experience of moving to a new country are the new experiences that come with it.
Complete Streets
October 17, 2012
A complete street tries to encorporate as many features as possible - sidewalks, bicycle lanes, cross walks, and traffic lights - to accommodate every potential mode of transportation that could use that street.
Places and Non-Places in Cities
October 15, 2012
All of the land used within a city can be classified into two categories: places and non-places. Places are for people. Everything else is a non-place.
The Future of The Automobile
October 1, 2012
Global warming, obesity, gasoline prices, the war for oil, urban sprawl, social isolation, small businesses shutting down, the rising cost of living - what do all of these problems have in common?
The Political Machine
September 25, 2012
Thoughts on the 2012 Presidential election.