betacity


freedom to remake ourselves
November 22, 2015, 5:03 pm
Filed under: betaCITY, Cities | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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A multivalent definition of cities: the manifestation of who we are, our relationships, our attitude toward nature, our quotidian habits, how we use technology, what we find beautiful.

There is freedom in changing our built environments to change ourselves.

the question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from the question of what kind of people we want to be, what kinds of social relations we seek, what relations to nature we cherish, what style of daily life we desire, what kinds of technologies we deem appropriate, what aesthetic values we hold. The right to the city is, therefore, far more than a right of individual access to the resources that the city embodies: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city more after our heart’s desire. It is, moreover, a collective rather than an individual right since changing the city inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power over the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.

David Harvey, The Right to the City

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parkscore
April 25, 2015, 12:25 pm
Filed under: Cities | Tags: , ,

New York_NY-page-1 New York_NY-page-0

These are data and maps from a site called parkscore, based on walkscore. You can look at a live version of the map here.



I’m not subsidized!

The suburbs are subsidized? I didn’t pay for my split level and my SUV? Not for the gas I consume?

No you didn’t. But why should we care? We need to spend our tax money on something and it may as well be the things that people want, including cars and houses on acreage and cheap energy.

Well there are reasons to care. Besides the rank hypocrisy of the subsidized libertarian, sprawl and its discontents are one of the biggest contributors to public debt.

Here is an excerpt from Chakrabarti’s book A Country of Cities which lists ways to end the subsidies. Prescriptions are: take away subsidies for mortgages in suburban areas; don’t subsidize gas; price gas to include pollution and congestion; percapita distribution of federal monies to multimodal transportation.

Good ideas that few believe and ever fewer want; all the more reason to talk about them:

While the ‘inversion’ is irrefutable and, some would argue, welcome, few examine the potential long-term benefits of this trend – particularly if government rather than promoting suburbanization instead encouraged urbanism, or at least gave it an even chance. The necessary changes would include modifying or curtailing the vast array of  federal policies that currently subsidize suburban America, including: phasing out the federal home mortgage interest deduction (MID); ceasing the backing by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac of large mortgages that otherwise would not be underwritten by the private market; removing subsidies for the oil industry; reclassifying SUVs and minivans as light trucks; allocating federal transportation dollars by population, and distributing those dollars fairly across all modes of transportation, including rail and mass transit, instead of disproportionately funding highways and runways; streamlining the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to drastically reduce the red tape associated with urban development and building large-scale infrastructure; and, finally, pricing fuel to reflect what economists call the ‘negative externalities,’ or the actual price of gas if the societal costs of pollution and congestion were included (many economists put this price at $10 or more per gallon.)

As we will see in the pages that follow, such policy reforms would dramatically improve our economy, our environment, and our chances for equal opportunity. Achieving consensus for these changes, however, would be a tremendous challenge, and would require a recasting of the political spectrum as we know it. People are accustomed to their subsidies, particularly those in the middle class, who tend to believe they are not subsidized at all.

Vishaan Chakrabarti, A Country of Cities, p 38.



September 13, 2014, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Cities, streets, Suburbs | Tags: , ,

One-Mile Walk in a Compact Neighborhood

A one-mile walk in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge takes you through a grid-like street network with a mix of residences and businesses.

One-Mile Walk in a Sprawling Suburb

A one-mile walk in Bellevue, WA with cul-de-sacs and winding streets has few shops and services within walking distance.

Maps courtesy of Lawrence Frank & Co. and the Sightline Institute



International bar
September 7, 2014, 5:10 pm
Filed under: Cities | Tags: , , , ,

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Union Square
September 7, 2014, 5:08 pm
Filed under: Cities | Tags: ,

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density and co2
May 18, 2014, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Cities, density, Suburbs | Tags: , ,

From Building Hyperdensity and Civic Delight, Vishaan Chakrabarti