Cities

Stimulating thoughts

Green stimulus: Where can the money go, and how fast?

In his radio address on Sunday, Obama sketched a progressive stimulus spending package that’s kicked up quite a bit of chatter. Some transit advocates were ticked off that roads and bridges got a shout-out but there was no mention of transit. Michael O’Hare goes so far as to say that "Obama has, on the whole, dropped the ball on climate change; he’s not anti-science or anti-environment, but he’s failing a big test here." Ryan Avent says to chill: the road stuff is likely about repairing existing road infrastructure, not laying new roads. I’d add that transit’s been mentioned by Obama’s …

Always

What should be done with the empty big box?

Last month, Circuit City announced that it would close 155 of its stores, most of them big boxes: those 50,000- to almost 300,000-square-foot warehouse-like structures, often built far from city centers. By one estimate, there are almost 3,000 vacant big boxes littering the American landscape, with more to come as major retailers falter. Makes Wal-Mart’s logo, that “Always” emblazoned on their façades, seem ironic: what’s really permanent is the big box as retail grave. The environmental impacts of big box stores are well documented — among other things, they consume green space, encourage driving, and soak up public funds. But …

I looked up 'redundant' in the dictionary and it said: 'see: redundant'

Better Place comes to Hawaii

Hawaii is now a Better Place.

Notable quotable

Supertrain a-comin’

“There’s a reason when you turned on the Olympics to watch them this past summer, you saw mag-lev trains going over 200 miles an hour in supposedly a third world country [i.e., China] in terms of its economy, blowing into town, dealing with environmental problems they have as well as transporting people in a way that we don’t even come close to being able to do. And as Barack has pointed out, and John Corzine knows, I may have a bit of a pro-rail bias. I think of the jobs we can create in both construction and innovation if we …

Never doubt that a single crank can change the world

SanFran anti-transit activist puts $1 million between the city and bike infrastructure

Streetsblog brings word of a bafflesome episode in the life of San Francisco: Two-and-a-half years after a judge issued an injunction preventing the city from adding any new bicycle infrastructure to its streets, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the San Francisco Planning Department have released a 1353-page Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the San Francisco Bicycle Plan. At a cost of more than $1 million, the city has attempted to demonstrate in excruciating detail what would seem to be obvious: better bicycle amenities contribute to increased cycling and an improved environment. Apparently SanFran undertook this research …

Connect the dots

For stronger cities, build better connections

Infrastructure is a dull business. The guy talking about pipes and wires is not generally the life of the party (to my chagrin). But infrastructure is all the rage these days, with economists calling for broad stimulus, and Barack Obama’s transition team planning big investments in the American economy. The excitement seems to be catching. Even staid legislators are feeling energized by the new push to rebuild America. Last week, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) introduced the High-Speed Rail for America Act, a bill that would authorize $23 billion in bond sales to fund rail infrastructure generally, …

Giving thanks ... for links

Some leftovers to browse before T-Giving

I’ve got about 40 tabs open in my browser, and that’s no way to go into a holiday weekend. Time for an old-fashioned link-fest! —– I never managed to say anything about it, but novelist Ian McEwan had a delightfully literary and readable essay on Obama and climate change in The Guardian. Definitely worth reading. The Wall Street Journal has a special package on Obama’s green challenge, with a focus on reducing demand in light of falling oil prices. With video! I know Gristians got no love for biofuels, even the cellulosic variety, but this story describes some very cool …

L.A. will go big with solar power under mayor’s plan

Los Angeles will source one-tenth of its energy from solar power by 2020 under a plan unveiled Monday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Considering the town’s many celebrities, a plan to tap star power is certainly forthcoming.

Reusing big boxes

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while: on Slate, Julia Christensen has a slideshow essay showing how some communities have repurposed abandoned big box retail spaces. My favorite is the one in Austin, Minn., where they renovated an abandoned K-Mart to become a Spam museum. Yes, a Spam museum. And not the email kind either.

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