Sunday, November 3, 2013

NIMBY wrap-up for the past few weeks

We haven't posed in a while because we have been really busy with this. Sorry!

Anyway, here are some links we bookmarked in the past few weeks.

As part of our research for Rebuild by Design, we recently took a tour of Sandy-damaged Highlands, NJ. Our tour guide showed us a 2.5-mile stretch of the popular Henry Hudson Trail that the storm had damaged, and explained that the restoration of the trail was being held up by adjacent homeowners who were arguing that repairing the trail would increase their vulnerability to future storms. Needless to say, this sounded fishy, and when we looked it up we learned, much to our disappointment, that one of the two adjacent homeowners was Bruce Springsteen's drummer Max Weinberg. 

Fortunately, it looks like a legal threat made by Weinberg and Atlantic Highlands Muncipal Judge Peter Locascio didn't go anywhere, and it looks like the trail will reopen soon.

From Atlantic Cities, here's a very interesting piece about a "gender mainstreaming" initiative of city planners in Vienna, Austria. This sounds a little scary, and there's a good case to be made that it reinforces traditional gender roles, but it appears to have produced some unarguably positive outcomes. According to the article, gender mainstreaming "means city administrators create laws, rules and regulations that benefit men and women equally. The goal is to provide equal access to city resources." What's most interesting is that it is informed by an empirical analysis of everyday life in the city. As one planner put it, "You need to know who is using the space, how many people, and what are their aims. Once you’ve analyzed the patterns of use of public space, you start to define the needs and interests of the people using it. . . Then planning can be used to meet these needs." Sounds simple enough, but this kind of empirical observation is too often lacking in planning, where assumptions are made about how people use space, and where providing equal access usually means merely removing obstacles. Pilot projects include a Women-Work-City, a playground redesign that manipulated landscape, hardscape, and programming as a means of attracting more girls, and streetscape improvements such as increased lighting and widened sidewalks.    

Here's a funny story from the NYTimes about the Preservation Society of Newport's struggle to build an accessible visitor's center on the grounds of the Breakers, a former Vanderbilt family mansion that is open to the public.

Here's a very inspiring story from the NYTimes about Dayton, Ohio's vote to make the city "Immigrant Friendly" as a means of "fighting back from the ravages of industrial decline." (We write about IMMIGRANT RECRUITMENT in our forthcoming book.) The NYTimes article links to Dayton's amazing immigrant-friendly website, Welcome Dayton, which "promotes immigrant integration into the greater Dayton region by encouraging business and economic development; providing access to education, government, health and social services; ensuring equity in the justice system; and promoting an appreciation of arts and culture." Go Dayton!  

Here's a depressing story from Pro Publica about an unfortunate trend, namely, as the headline bluntly puts it, "Public Universities Ramp[ing] Up Aid for the Wealthy, Leaving the Poor Behind."

Here's a picture of Americans and Mexicans playing volleyball over the border in Arizona. That's all.

Anyone who follows this blog knows that we have been doing a lot of research about beach accessibility. Here's a story about the ridiculous practice of hiring beefy bouncers to check for beach badges. The picture at the top of the article is priceless.

From Atlantic Cities, here's a controversial article about a sociologist's "case for culs-de-sac." Our quick take: it's not surprising that, as the sociologist in question claims, people who live in traditional bulb culs-de-sac "have the highest levels of attitudinal and behavioral cohesion," and that "people who live on your average residential through-street have the lowest levels." But this doesn't make a case for the cul-de-sac. The article describes how the sociologist encountered the social cohesion of culs-de-sac when he "wandered into one in Connecticut with his clipboard and polo shirt, and someone called the cops," something that never happened on the other types of streets he was studying, where "it would turn out the neighbors didn't know each other as well, and it was less clear who 'belonged.'" This is the problem! Overfamiliarity can breed exclusion. We're reminded of a line from our pal Jerry Frug's book City Making: "suburb after suburb and neighborhood after neighborhood are organized in terms of a multitude of ‘we’ feelings, each of which defines itself in opposition to outsiders."  



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