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Here is your shot of fresh planning news providing town leaders, planners, and commissioners with the knowledge and energy necessary to make the tough land use, planning, and community design decisions. The Morning Cup of Planning places the latest planning news at the fingertips of local government officials who turn that knowledge into action.

Missing middle housing: Responding to demand for urban living

The mismatch between current US housing stock and shifting demographics, combined with the growing demand for walkable urban living, has been poignantly defined by recent research and publications by the likes of Christopher Nelson and Chris Leinberger and most recently by the Urban Land Institute's publication, What's Next: Real Estate in the New Economy. Now it is time to stop talking about the problem and start generating immediate solutions! Are you ready to be part of the solution?

 

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The Closed Street as a Living Street  

 

On sunny days, Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. is filled with people. Tourists snap pictures of the White House behind them. Bicyclists and pedestrians enjoy a space where they, not cars, have the right of way. Although the two-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to car traffic for security reasons, it has become similar to what the Dutch call a woonerf (plural woonerven, which translates roughly to "living street"). A woonerf is a low-speed street where pedestrians and cyclists have legal priority over drivers. In practice, cars, bikes and people on foot mix freely. Unlike a standard woonerf, Pennsylvania Avenue doesn't have regular drivers, but it has taken on many of the elements of the woonerf. Security needs can also close them at a moment's notice. Therefore, I like to call this a "security woonerf."

 

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In the Age of the Creative Economy, Parks Boost Cities' Competitiveness

 

Last month, Amazon.com spent more than $600 million to acquire three adjacent parcels in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood for its new headquarters campus. The parcels are within brief walking distance of South Lake Union Park, a new destination park and the focal point of the burgeoning neighborhood. Creative and technology firms respond to their employees' preferences by locating in vibrant cities near destination public spaces. This trend can be observed across the country, from the growing tech cluster in Boulder, CO to Google's recently-opened New York City offices, located one block from the High Line.

 

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The True Cost of Unwalkable Streets 


Perhaps the single most alarming public health trend in the United States today is the dramatic rise in the number of people who are overweight and obese, bringing serious risks of heart disease, diabetes and other consequences leading to life impairment and premature death. This is bad enough as it is, but I contend that it is particularly unfortunate that we do not sufficiently recognize the extent to which these trends are caused by environmental factors, particularly the shape of our built environment.

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The Distinctive City  

 

Around the world, cities are seeking the recipe for economic success in a rapidly changing global marketplace. Indispensable assets in a post-industrial economy include: well-educated people, the ability to generate new ideas and to turn those ideas into commercial realities, connectivity to global markets, and multi-modal transportation infrastructure. Another critical-but often forgotten-asset is community distinctiveness. If I have learned anything from my career in urban planning, it is this: a community's appeal drives economic prosperity. I have also learned that, while change is inevitable, the destruction of a community's unique character and identity is not. Progress does not demand degraded surroundings. Communities can grow without destroying the things that people love.

 

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In This Issue
Better! Cities & Towns
Next American City
city parks blog
The Atlantic Cities
Urban Land Institute
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