Streets.mn

In the near future, a group of smart and attractive Twin Cities bloggers will be launching a new site dedicated to Minnesota land use and transportation commentary and analysis called Streets.mn.  We’re hoping to improve the quality and quantity of discussion around city-building issues.

We’re also hoping to build some economies of scale, tapping many great individual blogs to provide content in one location, providing more consistency in post frequency and hopefully increasing readership and impact.

For now, that URL redirects to tcstreetsforpeople.org, a predecessor to Streets.mn.  Much or all of the content you see on that site will continue with a new design and mission.

Watch for greater fanfare after the start of the new year.  For now, click over to Streets.mn for a flavor and be sure to follow us on Facebook.

MNAPA conference presentations

The slides from two sessions I presented at the 2011 Minnesota APA conference are now online:

Developing and Implementing An Energy and Greenhouse Gas Plan

Planning for Sustainable Regional Growth – LEED ND and Location Efficiency

All the maps and analysis that was used to develop the LEED ND presentation can be found here.

Twin Cities Urban Sustainability Forum – Nov 2 & 3

I have a family obligation to promote the Twin Cities Urban Sustainability Forum on November 2nd and 3rd.  The forum is bringing together academics and practitioners to explore the connection between urban sustainability, what planners and practitioners often work on, and urban ecosystems, which I think is a way for the St. Paul campus folks to get involved in cities.

Twin Cities Urban Sustainability Forum, Nov. 2-3, 2011

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!

Registration website

Updated (10-12) agenda, including speakers and panels

Cost: $25  general $10 students

Continuing education: AICP and PDH credits available
Location:  U of M Continuing Education Center, St. Paul campus.

ABOUT THE FORUM The Forum will highlight emerging outcomes of sustainability research and cutting edge trends in sustainability practice and policy. Presentations by leading national and international speakers will address:

· Connecting urban ecosystem science with social and economic sustainability

· Federal and state-level sustainability policy

· Overcoming disconnects between sustainability research and practice

Insightful panels and networking opportunities will inform a translational research agenda – to ensure a closer connection between re-search priorities and urban sustainability practice.

HIGHLIGHTS
Speakers from the federal Sustainable Communities Partnership and state agencies will highlight emerging policy directions in sustainability. Researchers from the University of Oregon, University of Colorado, Virginia Tech, and the University of Minnesota will highlight cutting edge research addressing urban infrastructure, energy, air quality, health, and natural resource issues. U of MN research center directors, including CURA and CTS, will explore new approaches to connecting research and practice around sustainability.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?  Planners, water and natural resource managers, engineers, urban ecologists, and others interested in urban sustainability practice or research.

For more information: Contact co-organizers Lawrence A. Baker, Dept. of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering (baker127@umn.edu) and Carissa Schively Slotterback, Urban & Regional Planning Program, Humphrey School of Public Affairs (cschively@umn.edu).

The event is funded by the McKnight Foundation, National Science Foundation, U of M Center for Transportation Studies, and U of M Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.

Should local transit just be built by the states?

One of my new favorite snarks, Lisa Schweitzer at Sustainable Cities and Transport, discusses whether local transit funding shouldn’t just “devolve” to the states.

Federal involvement in transit also has led to a heavy capital bias in transit investment, prompting local and regional agencies to build transit projects, again and again, that they can’t afford to run with any frequency. This leads to a wider geographic coverage for transit–which probably still isn’t wide enough to deal with spreading regions–and with lower frequencies than really make for high service quality. (And sprawl is bad, bad, bad, evil and terrible! The worst thing ever! There? Will that sentence keep some of you land-use people outta my grill for the purposes of this post? Can I talk about something else now? Thanks.)

Transit has been on the teeter-tottery edge of those issues and criticisms for a long time. Why can’t New York pay for its own subways? Or Los Angeles? Or anywhere? That’s why we have local taxes and general funds, right? If you want transit, don’t go holler at the feds. Make it happen if you want it. Perhaps there would be a greater chance of that self-helping if leaders know that the buck really began and stopped with them, and they might instead be much more careful to match investments to operations.

The US Congress is overly dominated by rural interests, and many of us for years have argued that this creates a hostile environment for transit funding in the first place, as many rural senators wonder: “what’s in it for my constituents?” and the ineffectual spreading of scarce resources around to systems that aren’t particularly viable or worth investing in. Porky McPorktown.

The key drawback to devolution? Locals might not have the stomach for a local gas tax to replace the federal one.

So if places like California, New York, Illinois, and Minnesota were running their own budgetary shop, they could keep the revenues they are currently sending to Portland and Memphis and Charlotte.

Here’s the glitch: these donor state are only fiscally better off with Federal gas tax elimination or erosion if those donor states prove capable of passing a gas tax on its residents equal to or better than the 18 cents a gallon [- whatever the Feds give away to other jurisdictions]. And I’m not seeing that happen, at least not in California. Maybe in Minnesota. Maybe in New York, or Massachusetts. Maybe.

First Open Streets in Minneapolis

Yesterday, June 6th, was the first Open Streets event in Minneapolis.  It was organized by the Minneapolis Bike Coalition, with lots of hard work.  From everyone I’ve talked to and all the tweets I’ve read, it seemed to be a rollicking success.  But how can people not like cruising up and down Lyndale and saying hi to their neighbors and friends?

Below are a few photos the wife and I snapped.  Check out the Open Streets page for more.

LEED ND for regional planning at Twin Cities Research Group

Net Density has been on a little bit of a hiatus lately, mostly because of the deluge of summer-time activities.  In Minnesota, we have to take advantage of the weather while we can.  No one is indoors reading planning blogs, right?

Well, if you aren’t out riding your bike or drinking beer on a dock somewhere and you need some planning wonk, you can see me presenting on LEED ND for Regional Planning at the Twin Cities Research Group next Wednesday, June 8th.

TCRG Brown Bag Speaker Series:

Wednesday, June 8, Noon to 1:00 p.m.

Topic: Location Efficiency in the Twin Cities: Using LEED-ND for Regional Planning

How can our region accommodate the expected addition of a million people between now and 2030 while protecting critical natural systems, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, using infrastructure efficiently and building vibrant and economically competitive communities? This presentation demonstrates that the principles of LEED-ND (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development rating system) can be applied to develop more effective regional planning and growth management policies. GIS analysis was used to show what areas of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region are eligible for LEED-ND based on location requirements and existing built form.

Featured Speaker: Brendon Slotterback, AICP, LEED AP, is a Sustainability Program Coordinator at City of Minneapolis

Where: Wilder Foundation, Room 2610, 451 Lexington Parkway (at University Ave), Saint Paul, MN 55114

Map with the meeting’s location is at www.TwinCitiesResearch.org

Event is FREE.  Wilder’s parking ramp is FREE.  Bring your own brown-bag lunch.

As always, we will have an open discussion with the presenter at the end of the hour. Join us to participate with your ideas, questions, and suggestions.

Minnesota GO: 50-year trends presentation

MN/DOT is conducting a process, which they’re calling Minnesota GO, to develop a 50-year vision for all types of transportation in the state .  I was asked to present in April at an advisory group meeting, and I talked about 50-year trends from a planner’s perspective.

The advisory group video page has some other great presentations from folks who more accurately fit the title of “expert” like Michael Noble on energy and Michael Huber on health.  The video interview page also has some good ones, including David Levinson and Frank Douma.  While you’re at the site, don’t forget to put in your two cents.

Open Streets are coming to Minneapolis!

ciclovia Bogota

Scenes from open streets (ciclovia) in Bogota

Thanks to the great work of the Minneapolis Bike Coalition and support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Open Streets are coming to Minneapolis this summer!  On June 12th, Lyndale Avenue will be closed from 22nd Street to 42nd street from 10 am to 2 pm.  From the Open Streets Mpls website:

Starting in 2011, Minneapolis residents will have the opportunity to explore and enjoy their neighborhood streets by biking, walking, and skating without the presence of motorized traffic.

An Open Streets event (based on the Ciclovía from Bogotá, Colombia) will bring together families and neighbors to mingle, recreate, and shop in their communities in a safe, car-free environment.

Open Streets are not races.  Participants can begin/stop/restart/change direction at any time.

Open Streets are free!

In addition to biking, walking and skating, there are programmed recreational activities along the streets including yoga, dance lessons, aerobics, and games.  There are also musical performances and classes on bike safety and repair.

Open Streets promote:

  • Sustainable transportation choices, including walking, bicycling and transit.
  • Public health, bringing healthy physical activity to communities in need.
  • Local business, drawing foot traffic past the front doors.
  • Public space, helping residents see our streets as places where we can all come together and take pride in our city.

 

Kids in the city presentation available

A big thanks to everyone who attended the ULI Minnesota Kids in the City Program on March 10th.  The panel was excellent and the discussion was great.  Below is the intro presentation that was given during the event.

ULI YLG Kid-Friendly Cities 3-10-10

Baby & Hood: Studies suggest urban areas are less risky for children

CrossWalking

As an ongoing promotion for the upcoming ULI Minnesota YLG Annual Program on March 10th, I’m posting a number of articles related to the topic: kid-friendly cities.  Today’s link, from the National Post, is about safety, the perception of safety and how families choose a neighborhood.  Enjoy, and I hope to see you at the program.

Families like Ms. Roux-Vlachova’s say they find safety in their tightly packed urban communities, where tiny lots mean neighbours keep a watchful eye, where condominiums are staffed with security guards and parents can walk to most stores, schools and playgrounds.

Their arguments are bolstered by a growing body of research showing that the traditional family dream home — a large house on a big lot in a quiet suburb — may actually be more dangerous for children than many inner-city neighbourhoods.

While many parents worry that city living could mean their children will be abducted or caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting, it is exceedingly rare for children to be harmed or murdered by strangers, says William Lucy, a University of Virginia urban planning professor whose studies on safe communities are most often quoted by parents arguing for city living.

Perceptions about urban safety are still “lagging well behind reality,” Mr. Lucy says.

In reality, the greatest risk to children is car crashes, which are more likely to occur in the suburbs, where children spend more time in cars or playing next to busy roads.

“In terms of traffic fatalities versus homicides by strangers, it’s almost a 13-to-one ratio,” he says.