Your consolation link list

Apologies to everyone for the light posting – over the next few weeks I may be a bit busy with job and internship applications (any suggestions for work or job offers would be very much appreciated!), but hopefully I’ll still be able to put up a few posts a week. But for now, all you get is this mammoth link dump:

1. Vancouver’s laneway housing program (which we discussed earlier) has been off to a brisk start, and though planners are looking to liberalize sewer rules, they’re also considering only allowing one-story houses as-of-right, and limiting the amount of new laneway houses per block.

2. Former Market Urbanism contributer Sandy Ikeda writes about the urban origins of liberty at the Freeman.

3. The Dukakis Center has released a report suggesting that the gentrification caused by new light rail lines might cause driving to increase, defeating the purpose of TOD. Megan McArdle has also been discussing gentrification. Hopefully I’ll write something about this and gentrification more generally soon, but I wanted to post this in case I don’t get around to it. Any thoughts from the commenters on why this is and how it can be avoided?

4. North Korea “declare[s] war” on its version of the jitney, the “servi-cha.”

5. LA is the only big city in America whose fire department mandates that all skyscrapers have flat roofs so as to allow helicopters to land, but this may be changing (Curbed, parts 1 and 2).

6. Disabled riders file a class-action lawsuit against NYC’s MTA “for not spending a federally mandated 20% of [subway] station rehabilitation budgets on improvements like elevators and ramps.” The ADA’s impact on mass transit and urbanism is something that I’d eventually like to discuss more in depth, but I haven’t seen much research or even many anecdotes about it – perhaps our commenters have some insight?

7. Delhi is getting 345 km of new BRT lanes, although they seem to be coming at the expense of private buses, which were taken out of service as a test during the Commonwealth Games in a move that will now become permanent. The most common complaint appears to be safety, and though the private Blueline buses are going to be replaced in the short-run by private contracted service, it looks like the city is seeking to socialize mass transit in the long-run. This seems to echo the pattern seen in many developing countries of municipalizing transit service, with examples both recent (Santiago, Chile, now and then) and from America’s own past. Some dense Asian cities bucked the trend, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule.  Mass transit, perhaps more than any other industry, has escaped the recent global trend towards privatization.

8. Developers working on a large new affordable housing development in Brooklyn claim that it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for a “mayoral override of the parking requirement,” which allowed them to not build a single parking space. I’m happy that they were granted the exemption, but I wonder how many smaller or less politically-connected developers are oversupplying parking or deciding to not build at all because of the requirements.

Might a "Don't steal from highways to fund mass transit" sign be in our future?

9. Sam Staley suggests that the Tea Party movement might get involved in local land use decisions. But given their wishy-washy libertarianism and overwhelming suburban/rural orientation, I doubt they’d break out of the standard pro-car NIMBY mold and advocate for a true market in land use and transportation.

10. “Development specialists” have convinced Cambodia to privatize its interurban passenger and freight rail service, though land title issues for settlements that have sprung near tracks may pose difficulties.

11. New York City passes a pedicab regulation bill, which Meredith Sladek criticizes for giving local community boards the power to restrict pedicabs from operating in their neighborhoods, as well as for its outright ban on motors (which have at most half the power of a lawnmower) to assist the cyclist.

  • Owen

    it looks like the city is seeking to socialize mass transit in the long-run. This seems to echo the pattern seen in many developing countries of municipalizing transit service

    This is a bad trend. Mexico hasn’t gone very far down this road yet, but the municipal services are always lethargic. Wait times are long, trips can take hours, and coaches are uncomfortable. Private service zips along with one tram always waiting behind the one that just passed.

    Of course, BRT, underground rail, light rail, and the like require central management. That is unfortunate for rpaid transit because quality, competent, and honest public management is rare in Latin America (though not as rare as it seems in the USA).

  • Stephen Smith

    If by “central management” you mean government management, I don’t think this is necessarily the case – there are private mass transit companies in Japan and Hong Kong, and obviously private ownership was widespread during the period of major expansion around the turn of the last century. However, I will grant you that allowing new private mass transit would require a certain amount of vision and good governance that Mexico doesn’t seem to possess. Perhaps when the US stops forcing Mexico to fight its drug war, though, things will change…although I fear that won’t be for quite a while.

  • Jeff Jacobberger

    The Dukakis Center’s report compares 1990 and 2000 census data for areas near transit stations opened during the 1990s. However, about 1/3 of the stations studied opened in 1995 or later (a couple opened in late 1999), which suggests that most of the demographic changes at those stations have nothing to with the TOD. The study looked at the Castro Valley BART station, which happens to be located in the middle of a freeway, with an entrance surrounded by a fairly large parking lot. A look at GoogleEarth suggests that, even 10 years later, there is almost no development near the station that could remotely be considered transit-oriented and it is a bleak pedestrian environment. Moreover, the Castro Valley is very close to the San Mateo Bridge and 880 Freeway, which provide access to what was, during the 1990s, the booming high-tech Silicon Valley, which has very poor transit service. Any change in commute mode seems likely to be explained by a change in commute patterns that is wholly independent of and outweighed the presence of a new BART station. I wonder how many other stations studied are mid-freeway, suburban locations where land uses had not yet had time to adjust to the new transit station.