Talking Headways: A Streetsblog Podcast (urban )

This week Ann Cheng of the California Transportation Advocacy Group Transform joins me to talk about their Green Trip program.   Ann, a planner, the former Mayor of El Cerrito California, as well as one of San Francisco Business Times “40 Under Forty” in 2014 discusses how housing developers can build less parking and more housing by giving residents better travel options through Green Trip Certification.

Direct download: TalkingHeadwaysGreenTrip02252015.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 6:19am EST

Episode 42: I'm Not a Scientist

Do you ever think about the ecology of the city you live in? Not just the parks and the smog. Scientists are starting to examine urban ecosystems more holistically: the trees and the concrete, natural gas lines and soil, water pipes and rivers. The natural and the synthetic feed off each other in surprising ways. We're not scientists, but we found it interesting.

Then we move from the ecosystem to the highway system -- specifically, the argument made by Evan Jenkins in The Week to abolish the National Highway System. Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns thinks it's a good idea (which should be a surprise to nobody). Jeff and I aren't so sure. Could rail really pick up the slack? Would states make better decisions? What funding source would replace the federal gas tax? 

Enjoy this, our 42nd episode of Talking Headways. Find us on the Twitters already. And oh yeah, also on iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed.

Direct download: final_mix_podcast_111414_2930.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 12:26pm EST

Episode 32: Crown Prince of Fresh Air

What would you think of a city planner, out ruffling feathers with his bold ideas about density and urbanism -- who commutes to work an hour each way from his ranch way outside the city? Ironic -- or hypocritical? That's the question we wrestle with in our discussion of Brad Buchanan, the head honcho at Denver's Department of Community Planning and Development. 

And then we head from Denver to Dallas, where MPO chief Michael Morris has unilaterally declared that the plan to convert I-345 into a boulevard is going nowhere. Trouble is, he doesn't actually have the authority to say that, and his facts are wrong. But by asserting it, will he make it true? 

Say your piece in the comments. And subscribe to this podcast on iTunesStitcher, or our RSS feed.

Direct download: podcast_final_081514.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 11:18am EST

Episode 31: Zoned Out

Welcome to the dog days of summer! Before skipping town, Congress passed a transportation funding patch so they wouldn't have to deal with the real problem of the unsustainable way our nation builds and pays for infrastructure. I give the briefest possible rundown of where we are now before Jeff and I launch into discussions about the issues of the day: zoning and ride-share.

Houston is famous for its wild-west attitude toward zoning, but that laissez-faire approach was put to the test recently when residents of a single-family neighborhood protested the construction of a 23-story apartment building. No matter how the situation resolved itself, it was bound to have ripple effects through the development community. 

We also talk about new services offered by Lyft and Uber that bring them a little closer to true ride-sharing -- though, as we note, they're still a far cry from the platonic ideal: hitchhiking.

The comments section is open for your witty comebacks and retorts. Check us out on iTunes and Stitcher, or sign up for our RSS feed.

Direct download: final3_fix_podcast_0807-1314.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 11:38am EST

Episode 30: Poor Door Von Spreckelsen

In this week's podcast, Jeff and I take on the infamous New York City "poor door," designed to keep tenants of affordable units segregated from the wealthy residents that occupy the rest of the high-rise at 40 Riverside. In the process, we take on the assumptions and methods that cities use to provide housing, and by the time we're done, we've blown a hole in the whole capitalist system.

Then we investigate the reasons behind the assertion that "restaurants really can determine the fate of cities and neighborhoods." We determine that food is mostly a proxy for other needs people have related to where they live, but we do love a good pupusa.

And finally, we wrestle with the paradox that if we love nature, we should live in cities.

Argue with our take on urbanism, economic justice, and burrito justice in the comments. Subscribe on iTunesStitcher, or our RSS feed.

Direct download: 072414_final_podcast.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 11:48am EST

Episode 29: Square Footage

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.

Tell us about your childhood and your square footage in the comments. Check us out on iTunes and Stitcher, or sign up for our RSS feed.

Direct download: podcast_071714_final_mix.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 11:41am EST

Episode 27: Walt Disney, City Planner

While most people know Walt Disney as the creator of lovable characters like Mickey Mouse and movies like Snow White and Fantasia, Disney doesn't get as much credit for his design of Disneyland. Turns out Disney made himself an expert on the subject.    

 

This podcast isn't a typical Talking Headways conversation. It's a 45-minute episode, produced by Jeff for the Overhead Wire, on one topic: the history and ideas of Walt Disney the planner. Guests Sam Gennawey, an urban planner and author of three books on Walt Disney, and Tim Halburdirector of communications for the Congress for the New Urbanism, discuss in detail Walt’s focus on planning places for people in Disneyland, Disney World, and Celebration Florida. 

 

We hope you’ll take a listen and enjoy. We'll be back next week with your regular dose of news and banter from Talking Headways.

 

As always, you can subscribe to the Talking Headways Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher or by signing up for our RSS feed, and we always love hearing from you in the comments. 

Direct download: disney_session_Mixdown_final.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 5:08pm EST

Episode 24: A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings In the Metro

The metro is coming to Loudon County. Eventually.

The Silver Line expansion that opens this summer will only go as far as Reston, but by 2018 it'll be in Loudon, one of the nation's fastest-growing -- and wealthiest -- counties.

As the county continues to add population density -- in large part by growing its communities of color -- will it hit 800 people per square mile, which is the threshold at which places magically turn from Republican to Democrat? And if it does, will it turn Virginia from purple to blue? And with such an important swing state shifting solidly to one camp, does that change the national political balance? And what is it with the number 800 anyway? 

We try to figure it all out on this week's Talking Headways. Plus, Stephen Miller, my colleague from Streetsblog New York, joins us to talk about what is -- and what isn't -- moving forward as part of the city's Vision Zero plan. 

And: Detroit is tearing down more than 20 percent of its housing stock to reduce blight and still splurges on roads. Is that the way to revitalize a city? The comments section awaits your comments.

Don't miss a minute: Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or by signing up for our RSS feed

And thanks to all who donated during our pledge drive! Your support keeps us going, in more ways than one. 

Direct download: podcast_060614_mixdown_final_3700.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 1:33pm EST

Episode 18: Let Them Drive Cars

Quick quiz: What city is the world leader in highway teardowns? San Francisco? Portland? Madrid?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's Seoul, South Korea, which has removed 15 urban highways -- and is about to remove another. In this week's Talking Headways episode, Jeff and I talk about what can take the place of a freeway in a city and why it's worth it.

We also debunk the argument, made in Atlantic Cities and the Washington Post last week, that promoting car access will benefit people with low incomes. The whole concept is based on a study that basically said that in the 90s you needed a car to get around the suburbs. Not exactly a persuasive justification for automobile subsidies in today's cities.

We wander down Saffron Avenue and Nutmeg Lane to investigate whether it's true that cities are losing their smell -- and whether that's really such a bad thing. Then we accidentally trip into a conversation about pheromones and good-smelling men.

What's your favorite smell in your city? Let us know in the comments.

We're working on getting the podcast available on Stitcher, which apparently is a thing that exists, but for now you can subscribe on iTunes or follow the RSS feed.

Direct download: podcat_mixdown_finalx3_3346_040714.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 10:13am EST

Episode 17: Play the Gray Away

Jeff and Tanya had a great time this week, getting all outraged at the short-sighted move by the Tennessee Senate to ban dedicated lanes for transit and high and mighty about cities that devote too much space to surface parking, at the expense of just about everything else. And then we treat ourselves to a fun conversation about the origin of the American playground -- and whether the entire city should be the playground.

We think you'll enjoy this one.

Meanwhile, have you subscribed to the Talking Headways podcast on iTunes yet? Well, why the hell not? And while you're at it, you know we'd love a little bit of listener feedback. Oh, you can also follow the RSS feed. And we love your comments, below.

Direct download: Mixdown_033114_final_3445.mp3
Category:urban -- posted at: 3:39pm EST