Wed, 23 July 2014
Welcome to Episode 29 of the Talking Headways podcast. In it, we evaluate the potential of Boston's attempt to "gentrification-proof" the Fairmount Line, building affordable housing to keep transit from displacing people with low incomes. Too often, the allure of transit raises rents, bringing in a new demographic of people who can pay them -- and who, ironically, usually have cars.
One innovative way to build affordable housing -- and keep your not-quite-grown kids under your watch at the same time -- is to build accessory dwelling units, or backyard cottages. They're a great way to increase density without bringing a lot of cars into the neighborhood, but see if you agree with our conclusion that they have limited utility.
On the other side of the spectrum is the McMansion, object of desire and scorn in equal measure. You might be surprised to hear Jeff's defense of the 3,000-square-foot house. And as a bonus, you'll get his distance runner's analysis of the difference between runability and walkability, in which he circles back yet again to the idyllic nature of his McMansiony suburban upbringing.
Tue, 15 July 2014
All the buzz is about Arlington, Virginia, these days -- the Washington, DC suburb has seen its population rise and its car traffic drop at the same time. How did they do it? It could be a lesson for Palo Alto, California, which is considering various growth proposals, including one that would invite greater density as long as it comes with no additional driving, carbon emissions, or water use.
Denser, more transit-oriented development would be a big win for Palo Alto, but ironically, California's environmental law has long penalized projects like that for diminishing "level of service" for vehicle traffic. A new basketball stadium came to the rescue, however, and the state has dumped level of service as a metric for judging development projects. That change could potentially slow down highways like "level of service" used to slow down smart growth and transit projects. It's a whole new world.