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Join Abby Kinney, Chuck Marohn, and occasional surprise guests to talk in depth about just one big story from the week in the Strong Towns conversation, right when you want it: now.

Upzoned Strong Towns

    • 非営利

Join Abby Kinney, Chuck Marohn, and occasional surprise guests to talk in depth about just one big story from the week in the Strong Towns conversation, right when you want it: now.

    Help Shape the Future of the Strong Towns Podcasts

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    Fill out our survey at strongtowns.org/survey and you can be entered in a drawing to win a free signed copy of Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity. 
     
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    • 1分
    How Do You Solve a Problem Like Housing Prices?

    How Do You Solve a Problem Like Housing Prices?

    Roger Valdez is the director of a housing advocacy organization in Seattle “promoting more housing, of all types, in every neighborhood, and for all levels of income.” In a recent Forbes article, Valdez summarized the results of a study he’s done on the long-term effects of rent control. According to his analysis, rent control policies have historically been introduced as emergency measures...but they have a pesky way of outlasting the crises that prompted them.
     
    Valdez warns that, if we’re not careful, communities may experience something similar with the pandemic:

    The endlessly beguiling temptation of trying to fix or democratize prices is once again dancing in front of politicians eager to please during COVID-19 response…
     
    The COVID-19 crisis could end up leading to price controls on housing that outlive the pandemic. Already in many states, including my own state of Washington, state and local government have imposed price freezes on residential and commercial rents. One can easily see, based on the history I cover in the analysis, how these freezes may become permanent, and lead to making eviction bans permanent too.

    Rent control is one of those conversations that reminds us of just how complex the affordable housing problem is. In fact, it’s so complex, it probably can’t be called a “problem” at all. As host Abby Kinney says in this week’s episode of Upzoned, problems have solutions; there is no easy solution for the housing crisis.
     
    In this episode, Abby and regular cohost Chuck Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, talk about Valdez’s article, about how the housing predicament becomes even more challenging during the pandemic, and how Strong Towns advocates should respond. They discuss the temptation to apply blanket policies to complex systems, the importance of feedback loops, and why we can’t just build our way out of the crisis. They also identify a first step cities can take that would be a quantum leap forward in bringing sanity back to the housing market.
     
    Then in the Downzone, Chuck, still recovering from his boating accident, discusses his recent deep dive into World War II history. And Abby recommends the essential book The Geography of Nowhere, by our friend James Howard Kunstler.
    Additional Show Notes:

    “Analysis: The Covid-19 Emergency Should Not Lead To Rent Control,” by Roger Valdez


    Abby Kinney (Twitter)


    Chuck Marohn (Twitter)


    Gould Evans Studio for City Design


    Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom (Soundcloud)


    Select Strong Towns articles and podcasts on renting, rent control, and the housing crisis:

    “What Happens When a Third of U.S. Tenants Don’t Pay Rent” (Podcast)


    “Can We Afford to Care About Design in a Housing Crisis?” by Daniel Herriges


    “Statewide Rent Control: Solution or Distraction?”


    “A Real-World Look at How Rent Control Hurts Tenants,” by Steven Greenhut


    “Winners and Losers from Rent Control,” by Joe Cortright


    “The Challenges of Building More Rental Housing,” by Spencer Gardner

    • 32分
    Down to Earth: Time to Re-examine the Hype around Skyscrapers

    Down to Earth: Time to Re-examine the Hype around Skyscrapers

    "If no one ever built a skyscraper ever again, anywhere, who would truly miss them?”
     
    That’s how architecture critic Rowan Moore begins his recent article in The Guardian, on his way to calling skyscrapers outmoded, damaging, and wasteful. Skyscrapers, he says, aren’t necessary to achieve the kind of density city advocates want for their urban core. Moore also punctures one of the longstanding arguments in favor of skyscrapers: that they are friendlier to the environment. Speaking about embodied energy, he writes: “Tall buildings are more structurally demanding than lower ones—it takes a lot of effort, for example, to stop them swaying—and so require more steel and concrete.”
     
    Each week on Upzoned, we take a look at one big story in the news that touches on then Strong Towns conversation and we “upzone” it — examining it in light of the Strong Towns approach to building more financially resilient cities. This week, host Abby Kinney, an urban planner in Kansas City, is joined by cohost Chuck Marohn, the founder and president of Strong Towns. They discuss Moore’s article and explore the question:
     
    A skyline full of skyscrapers makes for a nice postcard…but do skyscrapers actually make our cities stronger?
     
    Abby and Chuck compare the “vertical sprawl” of skyscrapers to the density found in iconic cities like Paris. They discuss the problems of building all-at-once to a finished state, why skyscrapers are ultimately a pass/fail test, and the power and beauty of incremental ownership. 
     
    Then in the Downzone, Chuck recommends a novel about Pearl Harbor by Jeff Shaara and the TV series Yellowstone, and he gives an update on his recovery from a boating accident. Then, Abby talks about Drawing the Landscape, a book she’s using to prepare to begin painting again this winter.
    Additional Shownotes

    “Wasteful, damaging and outmoded: is it time to stop building skyscrapers?” by Rowan Moore


    Abby Kinney (Twitter)


    Chuck Marohn (Twitter)


    Gould Evans Studio for City Design


    Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom (Soundcloud)


    Recent Strong Towns articles about urban design

    “What Is Traditional Development?” by Daniel Herriges


    “A City Shaped by Many Hands,” by Daniel Herriges


    “The Streets of Paris,” by Charles Marohn


    “Greetings from Anywhere: Supporting Postcard-Worthy Places,” by Joe Minicozzi


    “Why Urban Design Should Come from the Bottom Up,” by Nolan Gray


    “Deadwood and Strong Towns,” by DJ Sullivan

    • 30分
    A Better Use of Federal Infrastructure Spending

    A Better Use of Federal Infrastructure Spending

    Heading into general election season, Americans are about to be deluged with ads, speeches, debates, articles and commentaries about all the ways in which President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden—the two presumptive major-party nominees—differ on the issues. But there is at least one thing on which the candidates agree: both want to try to jumpstart the economy by spending trillions on infrastructure.
    This point of agreement is no surprise to us here at Strong Towns. We even gave it a name: the “Infrastructure Cult.” As Strong Towns president Chuck Marohn wrote in the Strong Towns book, “Our collective belief in the power of infrastructure spending is now so deeply embedded within our society that we struggle to identify it as belief, let alone systematically question it. We take it as truth, unequivocally.”
    Still, there are hopeful signs that the devotion to infrastructure spending may be eroding. One of the latest is an opinion piece published last week in the New York Times. Entitled “Stop Building More Roads,” the authors—two engineering professors, one at the University of Toronto, and the other at Cambridge—write that “the economic benefits of expansion are marginal and the downsides significant.” The first step to recovery, they say, should be focused on job creation, “but without saddling it to shortsighted, status quo projects we will later regret—highways, for example.”

    The same goes for projects that emphasize technological  infrastructure, which risks becoming rapidly obsolete. Such projects should be “shovel ready” and “shovel worthy,” and sufficiently funded so that they don’t linger in aspirational planning documents. In the immediate term, this means emphasizing lots of small projects. They can quickly be planned, discussed and constructed once virus spread conditions allow. This will look different than 1930s New Deal images of heavy construction everywhere.

    That article, “Stop Building More Roads,” is the subject of this week’s episode of Upzoned. Host Abby Kinney, an urban planner in Kansas City, is joined by Strong Towns Program Director Rachel Quednau. They discuss where Dr. Shoshanna Saxe and Dr. Kristen MacAskill’s alternatives for federal stimulus spending dovetails with a Strong Towns approach. They also talk about why the Infrastructure Cult has been economically (and socially) ruinous, why it’s time to reimagine what “progress” looks like, and what a much better use would be for all that stimulus money.
    Then in the Downzone, Rachel recommends an excellent novel about Nigerian immigrants in the US and UK, as well as a TV show about the personal computing revolution. And Abby describes making the most of her opportunities to be outside before we’re all forced back inside by cold weather and COVID-19.
    Additional Show Notes:

    “Stop Building New Roads,” by Shoshanna Saxe and Kristen MacAskill


    “Use stimulus to maintain viable infrastructure, not build more,” by Dennis Strait


    Abby Kinney (Twitter)


    Gould Evans Studio for City Design


    Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom (Soundcloud)


    Select Strong Towns articles about #NoNewRoads

    “You Were Mentioned on the Floor of Congress,” by John Pattison


    “A $7.5 Billion Boondoggle Advances in Austin,” by Daniel Herriges


    “Just Say No,” by Charles Marohn


    “The Fight For #NoNewRoads Is Alive and Well in Washington State”


    “#NoNewRoads Gains Traction in D.C.”

    • 23分
    The U.S. Has An Affordable Housing Problem. Are Dead Shopping Malls the Solution?

    The U.S. Has An Affordable Housing Problem. Are Dead Shopping Malls the Solution?

    You’ve probably seen them: photos of malls that seemed to be thriving just a few years ago but which now stand lifeless — along with their many acres of parking — except for the odd tree growing up where a sunglasses kiosk used to be. These are the fossils of the “retail apocalypse,” the long trend (now accelerated by COVID-19) that has seen the shuttering of thousands of brick-and-mortar retail stores over the last 20 years.
    Cities, planners, architects, developers, and residents alike have wondered what can be done, if anything, with America’s growing stock of abandoned malls. One idea gaining traction — including offers of federal assistance — is to retrofit dying mall sites into something new: apartments. Each week on Upzoned, host Abby Kinney, an urban planner in Kansas City, takes a news story that touches the Strong Towns conversations and she “upzones” it, examining it in light of the Strong Towns approach to growing stronger and more financially resilient cities. This week, Abby and her regular cohost, Strong Towns president Chuck Marohn, look at a recent article by Patrick Sisson in Bloomberg CityLab, entitled "The Dying Mall’s New Lease on Life: Apartments.”
    Together, Abby and Chuck discuss plans by the Trump administration to help convert old malls into affordable housing. Is this a good use of federal stimulus funds? They talk about the problems with top-down approaches to affordable housing, the “psychology of previous investment” (a phrase coined by our friend James Howard Kunstler), and why the U.S. keeps pumping money into “Big.” They also look at an example of someone who is trying to redevelop an old mall site from the bottom-up, but then ask: Can that approach scale?
    Then in the Downzone, Chuck talks about becoming a surprise boat owner. And Abby recommends Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood, the new book by Colin Woodard.
    Additional Show Notes:

    "The Dying Mall’s New Lease on Life: Apartments,” by Patrick Sisson


    Abby Kinney (Twitter)


    Chuck Marohn (Twitter)


    Gould Evans Studio for City Design


    Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom (Soundcloud)


    Other Strong Towns articles about shopping malls
    "The Real Reason Your Local Mall is Failing,” by Charles Marohn

    "Just when you thought the end of malls couldn't get any worse…," by Rachel Quednau


    ”The Shopping Mall Death Spiral," Charles Marohn


    ”The End of Big Malls Means Big Problems," by Rachel Quednau


     

    • 30分
    Time to Tear Down L.A. Freeways?

    Time to Tear Down L.A. Freeways?

    All around the United States, monuments deemed to be racist are being officially removed or—as was the case with a George Washington statue in Portland—toppled. This trend led Matthew Fleischer, senior digital editor at the Los Angeles Times, to suggest the demolition of what he called “one of the most noxious monuments to racism and segregation in the country”: Los Angeles freeways.
    Our own Daniel Herriges wrote back in 2017:

    America has a long and shameful history of ramming ill-conceived freeways through—almost always—low-income neighborhoods populated largely by people of color. These projects have invariably destroyed and displaced whole communities, devastated the tax base of cities while subsidizing suburban commuters, and created unseemly “moats” of high-speed traffic and polluted air that ruined the urban fabric of city neighborhoods for a generation or more. 

    In his op-ed, Fleischer gives highlights from L.A.’s chapter in this national tragedy. And he says that while Americans are “[tearing] down insidious monuments to racism and segregation,” Los Angeles freeways should be bulldozed too.
    On this week’s episode of Upzoned, host Abby Kinney, a planner in Kansas City, and regular co-host Chuck Marohn, president of Strong Towns, discuss Fleischer’s op-ed and the problem of urban freeways. They talk about the past and future of urban freeways, including how feasible it is to actually tear down or repurpose them. They also discuss how the U.S. freeway system is different from its counterpart in European cities, how North America has doubled-down on the commuter mentality, and why we should measure highways by travel time rather than speed.
    Then in the Downzone, Chuck recommends an audiobook from comedian Tom Papa. And Abby talks about listening to—and playing—more music.
    Additional Show Notes:

    “Opinion: Want to tear down insidious monuments to racism and segregation? Bulldoze L.A. freeways,” by Matthew Fleischer


    Abby Kinney (Twitter)


    Chuck Marohn (Twitter)


    Gould Evans Studio for City Design


    Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom (Soundcloud)


    Select Strong Towns articles about Urban Highways

    "‘Kansas City's Blitz’": How Freeway-Building Blew Up Urban Wealth,” by Daniel Herriges


    “A Highway (Used to) Run Through It,” by Arian Horbovetz


    ”Want to Understand How Freeways Destroyed U.S. Cities? Watch This Guy Play Cities:Skylines.”


    “The History of Urban Freeways: Who Counts?” by Daniel Herriges


    “Who supports this inner city highway and why?” by Rachel Quednau

    • 25分

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