Streets.MN is the culmination of a lot of work by some great land use and transport thinkers in Minnesota. I’m please to be part of this project. Today the new website was launched so please head on over and check it out.
Regular readers know I’m interested in how to use LEED ND as a tool for assessing regional development suitability. I’ve been tardy in relaying news about good work being done in other regions. Back in January, Jason Woycke contacted me about replicating the analysis for King County, in the Seattle region. Jason is the President of Cascadia Planning and at the time was a Masters student in the planning program at the University of Washington.
The Cascade Land Conservancy was Jason’s client for the project, and according to Jason’s website, the maps will “help the Cascade Land Conservancy visually communicate the need for careful planning of where growth should be accommodated in the region and where growth should be avoided”.
Jason finished the analysis (I think near the end of spring semester 2011), and it looks great. He generously agreed to provide me with a copy of the full report, which you can see here (large pdf). Jason was awarded the UW Department of Urban Design and Planning 2011 Professionals Council Outstanding Professional Project Award for his work.
The analysis Jason used for King County appears to be very similar to my approach for the Twin Cities – focusing on the Smart Location and Linkage prerequisites. I don’t believe any of the Neighborhood Pattern and Design prerequisites were included, which is a minor difference between the two approaches.
Is Chicagoland next?
More recently, I’ve heard from another aspiring urban planning masters student who is exploring the possibility of replicating this analysis for the Chicago region. If this analysis happens, it will be complete in spring of 2012.
The slides from two sessions I presented at the 2011 Minnesota APA conference are now online:
All the maps and analysis that was used to develop the LEED ND presentation can be found here.
Tim De Chant at Per Square Mile comments on a study on the relationship of humans ability to tolerate, and benefit from, living in dense groups and the advantages that conferred for our species “colonization” of the globe.
Density itself wasn’t directly responsible for the first forays out of Africa. Those groups were were too small and dispersed to receive a substantial boost from density. They faced the worst the natural world had to offer, and many probably couldn’t hack it.
Where population density conferred its advantages was when subsequent waves of colonizers followed. Density allowed those people to thrive. They joined the initial groups, growing more populous and drawing more resources from the land. This made groups more stable both physically and socially—full bellies lead to happier and healthier people. As each group’s numbers grew larger, their social bonds grew stronger and their chances of regional extinction plummeted. In other words, once people worked together to establish themselves, they were likely there to stay.
The degree of our sociality has allowed us to bend the curve of population density in our favor. If early humans had been an entirely selfish species—each individual requiring as much or more land than the previous—β would be equal to one or greater. We wouldn’t have lived at higher densities as our populations grew, and early forays beyond the savanna might have petered out. Instead of conquering the globe, we’d have been a footnote of evolution.¹
And here is where we can consider how this affects our modern lives. Population density may have aided our sojourn out of Africa, but it’s clear there are limits. Hunter-gatherer populations appear to be limited to around 1,000 people, depending on the carrying capacity of the ecosystem. Technology has raised carrying capacities beyond that number—as evinced by the last few millennia of human history—but we don’t know it’s limits. A scaling exponent equal to ¾ may have helped our rise to dominance, but it also could hasten our downfall. Technology may be able to smooth the path to beyond 7 billion, but what if it can’t? What if ¾ is an unbreakable rule? What happens if we reach a point where density can no longer save us from ourselves?
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!
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.
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 (email@example.com) and Carissa Schively Slotterback, Urban & Regional Planning Program, Humphrey School of Public Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
The City of Edmonton has completed a study of the long-term fiscal impact of new suburban development. The results are not good.
Suburban sprawl will cost the City of Edmonton and its taxpayers much more than it provides in revenues.
New neighbourhoods do not pay for themselves, and the financial gap is staggering. Over the next 30 years, just 17 of more than 40 developing and future neighbourhoods will cost the city more than $500 million more than they provide in taxes, user fees and other revenues.
This includes one neighbourhood with a relatively high concentration of commercialindustrial lands, which will provide net revenues over $400 million. If we ignore this one and only look at the planned residential neighbourhoods, the red ink is close to $1 billion.
It gets worse. After the first 30 years, the annual net cost goes up as aging infrastructure needs to be replaced. The net cost rises to over $100 million per year, every year. So the following 30 years will cost us over $3 billion. If you ignored the commercial neighbourhood, over those 30 years the bill would hit almost $4 billion.
I’ve looked, but I can’t seem to find the actually report. The closest I can come up with is this presentation about the report. I also can’t seem to view the city’s zoning map because they require some weird SVG viewer. If anyone else has better luck, let me know.
I don’t frequently do the “link list” post, but blogging has not been at the top of the priority list lately and I didn’t want to deprive all the dear readers of the good stuff I’ve been seeing. Each deserves longer comment then I’m giving here.
- The University of Minnesota will begin using RFID tags to track when bikers enter campus. They plan to offer incentives for people biking to campus. This type of system could be great for data gathering, infrastructure prioritization or tolling.
- Finance and Commerce reports on a shift in land use patterns over the last decade towards denser development in the core.
- Overall, the density of residential land development has only increased by 0.11 units per acre since the 90’s, but Met Council is calling this significant.
- MIT has developed an “urban network analysis tool” for GIS. It measures “Reach; Gravity; Betweenness; Closeness; and Straightness”. I have not tried it yet.
- Electric cars won’t need giant batteries if the roads are electrified. Pity the non-auto users.
- The Transportationist suggests a financially sustainable model for transit systems (that I think could also be applied to roads). Be sure to read the comments.
- Way back in 2010, Kaid Benfield reviewed an even easier way to use LEED ND to find location efficient places. Not sure how I missed this one.