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September 4, 2007 at 10:05 pm (Planning, Politics)

The O calls for Vancouver to be brought into Metro’s jurisdiction.

Enough already with playing coy; it’s time for a stable relationship. After all, marriage would simply recognize a pre-existing condition. We’ve been living together for years.

Personally, I think this is a great f*cking idea. Too bad it will never, ever happen. Go ahead, call me a cynic.

UPDATE: Links to the article you are citing are always good.

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Portland City Storage

August 11, 2007 at 12:07 am (Planning, Portland)

Two Very Large Towers are about to be built on the east bank of the Willamette River.  Condos?  Nope, boat storage!  (responding to demand from condo owners)  This will be the biggest single addition to the city skyline since the Fremont Bridge, in my opinion.  Check it out, I think it’s sweet.  The view from the inside (which, apparently is only available on the brochure…imagine a hollow vertical tube with thousands of individual slots accessed by a robotic elevator arm) is straight out of The Matrix.  I want to buy a boat, simply so I can ride down the boat launching system.

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World Transit Systems

August 10, 2007 at 11:45 pm (Planning)

Here is an interesting website that shows the world’s major heavy rail transit systems on the same scale.  Notably, systems in American cities such as LA, Chicago, and San Francisco have really good geographic coverage, compared to cities like Tokyo, Paris and Stockholm.  It makes us look good.  But I would love to see this overlaid with population and employment density; it would probably show that despite that, potential riders and destinations are far less dense, therefore negating the efficacy of those systems.  Love that sprawl!

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Property wrongs

February 13, 2007 at 4:59 am (Planning, Politics)

Washingtonians should thank the Freaking Lord that Initiative 933 failed.  I wonder how many voters would have chosen to take an ideological anti-government stand if they knew it would have meant unrestricted open-pit gravel mines?

Three Measure 37 claims nearly surround Warrick’s 56-acre vineyard. The first, a 160-acre housing development, is adjacent to his property; the second, for another housing development on less than 50 acres, is directly across the road. The third claim, about three miles away, proposes a 20-acre mine for aggregate rock on the banks of the Applegate River.

Homeowner complaints could potentially shut down the winery, Warrick says. And the mine, he fears, could create traffic issues on the small, winding two-lane road that accesses the Wooldridge Winery.

As the law stands now, there is little Oregon farmers can do to protect their businesses from Measure 37 claims.

“Where do we go for compensation?” he asks.

Nowhere.  That was never the intention.  The whole charade about “property rights” was a blatant power grab by big development interests, pure and simple.  This kind of stuff makes me angry beyond words.

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Fix Measure 37

January 19, 2007 at 6:19 am (Planning, Quote of the day)

Click here.

That brings me to today’s quote of the day:

“I can barely sleep at night knowing that the same people who made “Dancing With The Stars” the top rated television program for 2006 are the people who also make our land use laws and elect our local and national political leaders.”

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Decision Theater

November 30, 2006 at 8:10 pm (Planning, Random)

This is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

When I was a kid, I had an idea for an invention called The What If Machine.  This is pretty much it.

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On architcture and urban design

October 20, 2006 at 9:02 pm (Planning, Portland)

Here is my latest 1-page masterpiece for my landscape architecture class:

Few could plausibly argue against the notion that the era of auto-oriented, strip commercial development has introduced a bland monotony to the American landscape.  Endless rows of fast food restaurants, large retail stores, and gas stations are found in virtually every metropolitan area, and they are nearly indistinguishable from each other.  It isn’t that those places lack a sense of place per se, but rather that the sense of place they embody is unpalatable to most academics, environmentalists, and design professionals.  In much of America, however, shopping malls and Wal-Marts have become the new town commons.  In West Virginia, where I grew up, these establishments are where you must go to purchase virtually everything, where people can find a job, where teenagers congregate and socialize.  They are the corporatized, 21st Century version of Market Street.

Despite this, if the soul of a culture is reflected in its landscape design, as Lewis suggests, then a transplant to America might think that we are a somewhat vacuous society.  Our metropolitan areas seem to lack variety, originality, or any real defining characteristics.  This is true not only of suburban housing and commercial developments, which bear the brunt of criticism, but also of our cities.  Many American cities are lacking in architectural variety.  This is particularly true of western cities, where urbanization has occurred relatively recently.  Portland is unique in that our “grid” creates unusually small blocks, but otherwise we exemplify this trend.

Increasing density and revitalizing the urban core are laudable goals, but the Pearl District and South Waterfront are typical cookie-cutter, “McCondo” developments.  The Pearl District is San Diego’s Gaslight District, with shorter buildings.  South Waterfront is Vancouver’s Coal Harbor.  These urban condo canyons, adjacent to freeways and technologically identical, are becoming the new strip developments, uninspiring, varying only slightly in shape and color, universally exportable.  They are havens for the rich, investment properties, insipid representations of a desired urban experience.  Building a trolley, a faux-wetland, or even a baseball stadium cannot obscure this reality.

It remains to be seen if these experiments in urban renewal will be deemed successful.  In 40 years how will we view the South Waterfront?  How do we view South Auditorium district today?  I look at this Corbusian design and wonder only what used to be there.  I doubt that many people will lament the loss of empty warehouses and an abandoned railyard, but I also have serious concerns whether the standard alternative is providing this city with the heart and soul, the sense if identity, that it seems to be so desperately seeking.

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Coming soon to a freeway median near you

May 11, 2006 at 5:09 am (Planning, Portland)

Trimet introduces new MAX train design features.

The new trains have a streamlined look with larger windows and 12 more seats per car, since there is only one operator cab per train. Each car will have a total of 76 seats; current low-floor trains have 64 seats. Each new MAX train costs about $3.5 million. The new cars will begin service when the I-205/Portland Mall project opens in September 2009.

"One operator cab per train" means that the new trains, when not coupled, are not bidirectional. That is, the operator can't simply walk to the other end; the train must physically turn around at the end of the line. The new transit mall alignment will have a turnaround at the south end, but that means that these new trains will have to be dedicated to the line, or always have 2 car consists, both of which represent changes to current Trimet policy. And what happens when the Milwaukie line opens and the mall alignment is extended? Isn't that incredibly short sighted?

I know I have a bunch of dorky Portland planning types reading this thing; now is your chance to shine.

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‘Burg update

May 10, 2006 at 7:00 am (Parkersburg, Planning)

Who knew?

Transit levy in Parkersburg (where I grew up) passes by over 70%.

Joe Lockhart, general manager of the transit authority, said the landslide approval of the levy was the largest margin in years and perhaps the largest in the city’s history.

Wood County schools use biodiesel.

“The new fuel helped knock the crud out of the engines, which of course meant we had to replace the filters within the first month of use,” said Todd Bloss, director of transportation for Wood County Schools.

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From the “Nobody Cares but Me” department

April 25, 2006 at 7:55 pm (Planning)

Author Jane Jacobs dies at age 89.

Jacobs' seminal work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, published in 1961, is still required reading in urban design classes. So-called "New Urbanism" wouldn't exist without her.

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