Public transit

For over two weeks I’ve been meaning to link to this post on public transit from Michael O’Hare and say something interesting about it. So as not to delay it indefinitely, I’m dropping the "say something interesting about it" requirement. Just go read it.

Connecting land use and global warming

California takes the lead

California is once again taking the lead: California Attorney General Jerry Brown has sued San Bernardino County, the largest in area in the contiguous USA and one of the fastest growing, for failing to account for greenhouse gases when updating its 25-year blueprint for growth. “It’s groundbreaking. California is just leading the way for other states and jurisdictions that will ultimately follow,” says Richard Frank of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. … If the suit is successful, California cities and counties could be forced to take steps to limit sprawl, promote compact …

Trying to let go of the weekend

It’s been sunny, clear, and hot in Seattle. My shoulders are sunburnt! My weekend was capped by two great experiences yesterday. First, I got to test drive BioD’s new rig. Wow. You really can’t imagine all the new horizons an electric bike opens up until you’re on one — especially an electric bike with enough power to pin your ears back. Then I saw Knocked Up, which I can’t recommend highly enough. It manages to be funny without being crass or mean, and touching without being treacly. The most satisfying movie I’ve seen in ages. Guess it’s back to work …

Visualizing density

Images of dense development

Just wanted to point out a great website, "Visualizing Density," a product of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LILP). I'm not feeling like my usual prolix self today, so I'll let them do the talking: Sprawl is bad. Density is good. Americans need to stop spreading out and live closer together. Well ... that's the theory, anyway. But, as anyone who has tried to build compact development recently will tell you, if there's one thing Americans hate more than sprawl, it's density ... One reason people reject density is that they don't know much about it -- what it looks like, how to build it, or whether it's something they can call home. We have very rational ways of measuring density, but our perception of it is anything but rational.

Hybrid bike design optimization

Ultimate Seattle hybrid plug-in

Well, I spent last weekend building the ultimate electric hybrid bicycle for Seattle riding. My first bike was more or less a prototype that taught me all I needed to know to put this one together.

The real cost of property regulations

Regulations may increase rather than decrease property value

UPDATE 6/8/07: The study I mentioned in this post was was based on data collected and analyzed by two researchers at Oregon State University. Those researchers, William Jaeger and Andrew Plantinga, have produced a more complete report (pdf) containing a full economic analysis and no editorializing. The conclusion, however, is basically the same: there's no evidence to support the claim that Oregon's growth management protections have harmed property values, at least in aggregate. When Measure 37 was up for a vote in 2004, supporters claimed that Oregon's planning laws were so draconian they reduced property values by $5.4 billion per year. That eye-popping figure may be one of the central reasons voters were inclined to support the measure. (Voter support has since severely evaporated.) As it turns out, however, that $5.4 billion cost to Oregon's property owners was a chimera. To unmask the $5.4 billion illusion, Georgetown University's Law Center just published a rigorous empirical study of trends in Oregon property values and found that all those land-use regulations have cost, well, not much at all. In fact, they may have added value, at least on average. I won't walk blog readers through the whole study, but the Georgetown report should be required reading for those following the issue closely: it represents by far the best-researched examination of the question to date. Perhaps the most damning finding is one of the simplest: a comparison between property values in Oregon and other states from 1965 to 2005. As it turns out, Oregon's highly-regulated property slightly outperformed values in neighboring California and Washington, though it lagged Idaho by a little. Oregon also outperformed the national average.