Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Best posts from 2017

I've been blogging for about 13 years and heretofore I haven't produced an annual sum up piece, listing what I think are the best or more important or innovative pieces I've written over the course of the past year.

This year, the blog was named one of the top 100 blogs in urban planning by Feedspot.  Given that other blogs named include Human Transit, Price Tags, and Urbanophile, I am in august company.

Writing output.  I continue to write less than I used to, for two reasons. First, I feel that when I've written about a topic many times before, do I need to write about it again?

As the Talking Heads sang in "Psychokiller," "say something once, why say it again?," although because a topic is still so new to so many people, it does often bear repeating.

Second, because I've been blogging for so long, my own expectations and standards for what I write have continued to grow/escalate so now the pieces I want to write can take upwards of 10 hours--or more--and it's difficult to find that kind of time.

It's unfortunate, because I still have a lot I want to communicate. It's also unfortunate that if I don't knock out a piece once I start it, conduct an interview, or am thinking about it, I am less likely to finish it.

Important pieces I have not yet written.  I have 75 pieces in draft form that are in various stages, many of which I'll never finish. And others not necessarily have made it that far, some which may just be notes or ideas include:

-- #2 piece on Trump infrastructure, following up on "Trump Administration Infrastructure Program Priority List: Part One, the list," from January, although that piece will finally come out in January, because the Trump Administration is supposed to be releasing their plan

-- a piece about James (Jim) Brainard, Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, a Republican mayor who believes in addressing climate change, and and has initiated many high-profile pro-urban projects in his city, projects which have pushed nearby communities like Fishers to respond similarly.

-- How WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, the premier station of the Scripps Media group of television stations as it is based in their headquarters city, has an unsurpassed/unparalleled digital local news operation that is a model that for profit television stations need to emulate.  Thank you Mike Canan, editor in chief of the digital news operation, for talking with me, I just need to read Making Local News to finish the piece.

-- the Streetlight Data traffic analysis system

-- the revitalization and anti-poverty initiative in Richmond, Virginia's East End

-- rethinking Jane Jacobs' point about successful "cities" needing "a large stock of old buildings" in the context of real estate and development systems in the 21st century, especially wrt differences between center city and suburban settings

-- Hurricanes, disaster recovery, building regulation in hurricane zones, and the failure of disaster recovery in Puerto Rico

-- improved transit access to deal with food access issues, featuring a transit shuttle by Rabbit Transit (York/Central Pennsylvania) funded in part by a local supermarket chain, along with the new "Community Bus" being developed by Bloomington (IL) Transit.  Thanks to Richard Farr director of the Central Pennsylvania Transit Authority for speaking with me!

-- how "urban" and "suburban" are increasingly unspecific terms that aren't particularly helpful in defining land use

-- I didn't manage to write a "Back to School" piece in September as an excuse to write about education issues.  One of the concepts I want to lay out is schools as centers of community/culture centers along the lines of what I have written about libraries, using Montreal's combined library and cultural centers as an example

-- Mixed program libraries, using Salt Lake City's Marmalade and Glendale branches as an example, countered by DC examples including the Woodridge library designed by Bing Thom and the new West End library (in short, Salt Lake City does a much better job).  I have a private memo on using the mixed and cultural program approach to a rebuilding of the library in DC's Southwest quadrant. 

In August, the Salt Lake City Library system set up for me a high level meeting and tour--thank you Andrew Shaw, communications manager--where I got to sit down with the Director, Deputy Director, space manager, project director for the architecture firm, director of the Community Writing Center, and the director and a host from the NPR station based in the library complex and

-- DC's new Wharf development in Southwest DC which opened in November as well as some discussion of waterfront revitalization issues generally, especially Chicago

-- NYC's subway issues (just as the Silver Line stressed the Metrorail system beyond its equilibrium, the same thing has happened with NYC because of significant ridership increases, matched with effects from Superstorm Sandy and the separate failure to upgrade signaling systems which would increase reliability and allow for more trains)

-- planning for the second phase of a commercial district's revitalization (H Street NE, Columbia Heights, etc.)

-- the impact of the Republican tax plan on cities

-- the impact of the Republican tax plan on progressive civil society

-- the ongoing funding and management issues concerning WMATA, the metropolitan subway and regional bus system in the Washington, DC area

-- opportunities for Southern California in strengthening their sustainable mobility platform using the Olympics in 2028 as the "priming element"

-- creating an urban beach at the RFK Campus in DC (that's written up in a memo, it just needs to be converted to a blog entry)

-- book reviews...

-- accessory dwelling units, etc.

But writing less is relative, I have over 10,000 pieces, and over the course of this year I will publish as many as 300 finished pieces, although some are merely photo posts or very short, even if the majority are long.

Paul Meissner's graphic skills and Washington area transit mapping. Over the summer, transit advocate Paul Meissner was kind enough to develop with me a graphic map of the current rail system, integrating railroads into the current subway map, as well as a fantasy map of future possibilities. THANK YOU.  (Paul is on the Metrorail Riders Advisory Committee, but this project is independent of that.)

It was a push and pull endeavor, we each had our own ideas and there are some compromises on my part (e.g., no fully complete Purple Line, no merged Blue and Brown lines according to my old fantasy map, produced years ago by David Alpert).  But it wasn't merely drawing lines on a map, a goodly number of recommendations were driven by past approved but speculative transportation plans.

Original Purple Line concept.  Sierra Club graphic.
Purple Line Map  DC Metro

I used Paul's map in writing up proposed comprehensive transit network improvement plans in association with the Purple Line light rail in Suburban Maryland and the Silver Line Metrorail in Northern Virginia, but speaking of two pieces I haven't written, I haven't yet done a full write up using this map wrt Maryland and DC. 

Or to respond to WMATA's recent announcement that they are beginning planning of a second rail station and crossing in Rosslyn ("A second Metro station for Rosslyn?," Washington Post).

Integrated rail transit map for the Washington DC Metropolitan area, including the Purple Line light rail routing
Integrated rail transit map for the Washington DC Metropolitan area, including the Purple Line light rail routing. Graphic design by Paul Meissner.

Conceptual Future integrated rail transit service network for the Washington DC National Capitol Region. Design by Paul J. Meissner.  Concept by Richard Layman and Paul Meissner.
Conceptual Future integrated rail transit service network for the Washington DC National Capitol Region. Design by Paul J. Meissner. Concept by Richard Layman and Paul Meissner. This map adds 22 Metrorail stations to Northern Virginia, 27 stations in DC, and 21 new Metrorail stations in Maryland.

Thank you, correspondents and commenters, for your contributions, which make my ideas and writing better.  As always, to the handful of commenters (the way I write doesn't seem to invite comment, even though I want it), I always appreciate your careful and provoking comments, which push me to better develop and present concepts and ideas. 

Thanks also to my e-correspondents, many of whom remain outwardly anonymous, I appreciate that you take the time to think of me and to send along items of interest, many of which I end up writing about.

Best/most important planning pieces of the year
I am putting an artificial limit of 20 topics on this list (normally I am not fond of arbitrary limits).

1.  TPAPs/Transformational Projects Action Plans.  I would say the most important piece of the year is on the concept of what I am now calling "Transformational Projects Action Plans" as an element of Comprehensive Plans/Master Plans. 

This concept grew from basic planning principles, includes learnings from Europe such as how Bilbao and Liverpool have pursued revitalization planning ("Economic restructuring success and failure: Detroit compared to Bilbao, Liverpool, and Pittsburgh," 2014), my Signature Streets concept (embedded in this entry, "Town-City Management: We are all asset managers now," 2014), and the work by Toronto area planner Joe Berridge (referenced in the entry).

-- "(Big Hairy) Projects Action Plan(s) as an element of Comprehensive/Master Plans," (June), maybe a month or two later, I retitled the concept as "Transformational Projects Action Plans"

2.  WMATA funding/regional transportation planning and transit operation. I originally had this topic ranked third, but in terms of "new ideas" this isn't #3 on that basis.   It went down to #10, but then coming back to this piece:

-- "Wrongsizing is not rightsizing: WMATA transit system service cuts" (March)

a response to truly wrong-headed thinking within WMATA that illustrates how I've come to think what I think about WMATA puts this topic at #2, even if the rest of the articles may not rise to #2.  (Remember, I have high standards.)

My sense is that too much of the analysis and proscriptions provided for WMATA are circumscribed or constrained and lack consensus support (the subject of an as yet written post). The analyses haven't looked at the overall transit network, just WMATA, and suffer as a result.

-- "The real question to ask isn't "What to do about WMATA?": The maps"
-- "The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authority," (March) based on models from Germany, London, and Paris
-- "What to do about WMATA?, the DC area transit system: the Federal City Council says create a Control Board" (March)
-- "Don't over focus on "fixing" the WMATA Compact. Instead create a new Regional Transit Compact, of which WMATA is one component" (March)
-- "Funding WMATA by a regional sales tax" (August)

Note that the State of Virginia has taken the lead in trying to forge a new "consensus" on WMATA, but interestingly, they have similar problems with the transit agency in the Hampton Roads area.

-- "Interestingly, Hampton Roads Transit seems to be having the same kinds of financing problems as WMATA" (September)

Relatedly, this article is deserving of its own category but is relevant here (and in the design thinking item).

-- "Will buses ever be cool? Boston versus the Raleigh-Durham's GoTransit Model" (January)

That article influenced my thinking too about "complementary improvements across a transit network".

3.  Design thinking as an integral element of land use, revitalization, and transportation planning.  This has to do with the application of design thinking to "rational planning," including this year's break out idea of treating "night time" as a design product.

-- "Night time as a daypart and a design product" (December)
-- "I didn't even know that today is World Usability Day" (November)
-- "Part 7 | Using the Purple Line to rebrand Montgomery and Prince George's Counties as Design Forward" (June)
-- "Information design -- graphic presentation of information by government: sewer pipe flow quality in Bellevue, Nebraska" (October)
-- "5 new forms: is that all you got?" (October)
-- "Design for maintenance: what to do when award-winning architecture makes for a sub-optimal user experience" (April)
-- "Interesting transit map #2: London Underground walking map" (March)
-- "A design idea for public outdoor swimming pools" (February)

This idea is influenced too by how Transport for London has "product design managers" for each of its modes.

Relatedly, this article is deserving of its own category but is relevant here (and in the WMATA section).

-- "Will buses ever be cool? Boston versus the Raleigh-Durham's GoTransit Model" (January)

That article influenced my thinking too about "complementary improvements across a transit network".

4.  Private sector planning failures.  Neoliberalism exalts the power and superiority of the private sector over government action.  But frequently the private sector gets things wrong, especially in dealing with services that seem public such as operating transit services or parking, or the way that so-called public-private partnerships work generally.

Boston Properties massive failures around the introduction of paid parking at the privately-owned Reston Town Center are a case in point.

-- "Reston Town Center parking issue as a "planning failure" by the private sector" (February)
-- "Boston Properties backs down in Reston" (June)

5. Sustainable mobility and land use planning vs. automobile-centric planning. My best writings on this topic pre-date 2017. But a DC Court of Appeals ruling allowed me to restate and update the general points. The biggest problem is that in most North American center cities except New York City, automobile-centric planning paradigms still reign supreme, even by people who consider themselves "urban."

-- "A massive example of re/urbanization failure in DC: DC Court of Appeals fosters automobile-centricity" (April)
-- "Revitalization, re/urbanization and cohort-generational attitudes" (April)

Similarly, suburban residents have a difficult time rethinking the suburbanity paradigm for the 21st century.  In short center cities need to intensify their urbanness, and the suburbs need to get more urban.

-- "Sub/urban land use and political development: Bethesda and Montgomery County, Maryland" (January)

6. School reform. In DC, it's been a mess and therefore is deserving of its own category separate from the one that follows.

-- "Fawning coverage of DC school "reform" doesn't push better practice forward" (January)

7.  Governments and a lack of willingness to challenge conventions. One of the reasons skills around program improvement are uncommon in government is that governments tend to not want to hire or keep around people who have those skills. (I know this from personal experience.) Critical analysis is uncomfortable for the people who are analyzed.

-- "For a lot of "urban problems" the issue isn't knowledge about what to do, but willingness to engage that knowledge" (July)
-- "I get tired of all the talk about rewarding "failure" because it shows people are trying, and won't be penalized for it" (May)
-- "Three examples of L'etat c'est moi/Not invented here/Executive authority (in DC local governent)" (April)

Note that this piece is about an outcome generated by the "innovation lab" featured in the original post:

-- "5 new forms: is that all you got?" (October)

8.  Leveraging the Purple Line light rail project to drive complementary improvements across the area transit network.  I am super proud of this work, which started with the idea that "if we are going to spend billions of dollars building new transit infrastructure, why don't we go all out, and create a full program of complementary improvements to fully leverage the investment, to get much faster successful results and higher ROI?"

It did incorporate previous writings, and ended up in a series with seven parts, and part five, on Silver Spring as an example became a seven part sub-series of its own.

-- Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success: Part 1 | simultaneously introduce improvements to other elements of the transit network
-- Part 2 |   the program (macro changes)
-- Part 3 |   influences
-- Part 4 |   Making over New Carrollton as a transit-centric urban center and Prince George's County's "New Downtown"
-- PL #5: Creating a Silver Spring "Sustainable Mobility District"
- Part 1: Setting the stage
- Part 2: Program items 1- 9
- Part 3: Program items 10-18
- Part 4: Conclusion
- Map for the Silver Spring Sustainable Mobility District
- (Big Hairy) Projects Action Plan(s) as an element of Comprehensive/Master Plans
- Creating the Silver Spring/Montgomery County Arena and Recreation Center
-- Part 6 |  Creating a transportation development authority in Montgomery and Prince George's County to effectuate placemaking, retail development, and housing programs in association with the Purple Line
-- Part 7 | Using the Purple Line to rebrand Montgomery and Prince George's Counties as Design Forward

9.  Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland as a Sustainable Mobility and Innovation District.  This started out as an example within item #20 of the proposed transit network improvement program to complement the Purple Line

What I wrote originally within item #20 was how roads serving the light rail stations can be reconceived as complementary sustainable mobility corridors, using Fenton Street and Wayne Avenue as examples.

But an email afterwards from a Silver Spring-Takoma resident challenged me to flesh out the idea, which became much more innovative, transformational, and systems oriented, the more time I spent doing "field work," which was about 10 weeks, growing into a much more "network-oriented" concept and vision.

The challenge is how to get it on the land use and transportation planning agenda for Silver Spring/Montgomery County.  Being sick at the time, I missed the deadline to submit a proposal for the upcoming MoCo conference, Makeover Montgomery 4, to be held in May 2018.

-- PL #5: Creating a Silver Spring "Sustainable Mobility District"- Part 1: Setting the stage
- Part 2: Program items 1- 9- Part 3: Program items 10-18
- Part 4: Conclusion
- Map for the Silver Spring Sustainable Mobility District
- (Big Hairy) Projects Action Plan(s) as an element of Comprehensive/Master Plans
- Creating the Silver Spring/Montgomery County Arena and Recreation Center

Note that I need to add a 19th item to the program, adding some playgrounds within the core, so that families and children are better accommodated (although there is the splash fountain on Ellsworth Drive).

10.  When small cities can succeed/the Bilbao Effect.  The first piece responded to an NYT article, and lays out characteristics of communities that seem to be succeeding against trends which favor large cities.  Re-reading the piece, there is an element I missed but it's nuanced.  Some "small cities" are successful because there isn't a very large center city close by, for example none of the cities in North Carolina are that large, or Spokane is pretty far east of Seattle. 

And are there "small cities" out there that succeed because they are close to larger cities?, that aren't university towns?

Related is a response to articles written on the 20th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and the rise of what is called "the Bilbao Effect," which is attributed to building an architecturally startling museum designed by a starchitect like Frank Gehry. 

Mostly, other cities have failed at this.  In writings of mine dating to 2013, building on the work of others of course, I identified how the Guggenheim Museum was merely one element of a larger plan and revitalization program.  In fact, learning about the regeneration process in Bilbao was the genesis of the "Transformational Projects Action Planning" concept.

-- "Small cities struggle" (October)
-- "Why can't "the Bilbao effect" be reproduced? | Bilbao as an example of Transformational Projects Action Planning" (October)

I am proud of my writings on Bilbao, as people there have told me that I have really captured what they have done and continue to do concerning revitalization.

11.  Spurring the merger of the VRE and MARC commuter railroad systems by merging one line to start, the VRE Fredericksburg Line and the MARC Penn Line. While I have written about this theoretically for more than 10 years, this particular notion to move the merger along came out of the ferment around working with Paul on the maps as well as my initial Purple Line program (this is item #14 in the PL program).

-- "A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines" (March)

12. 1% for placemaking as part of road/transportation projects. This piece is important from a conceptual standpoing, laying out the argument, based on previous programs, but expanding the concept, building on previous writings about "transportation infrastructure as an element of civic architecture."

-- "There should be a "1% for placemaking" program associated with road projects (separate from incorporating sustainable mobility infrastructure)" (August)

13.  A complementary transit network improvement program for Northern Virginia.  The PL piece and Paul's map spurred a similar article on the Silver Line in Northern Virginia, using Paul's map and the concepts of the separated Silver Line and a new Pink Line starting out within the Columbia Pike corridor in Arlington, and extensions of the Yellow Line to Fort Belvoir (although why not out to Woodbridge, see "Update to the Paul J. Meissner produced integrated high capacity transit map for the Washington metropolitan area," September) and the Orange Line to Centreville.

-- "Using the Silver Line as the priming event, what would a transit network improvement program look like for NoVA?" (April)

14.  Weaponization of environmental review processes. EIS processes extend the development and realization process to unbelievably long time frames and provide multiple opportunities for people to file lawsuits against the project, with the aim of scuttling it. Fear of lawsuits shapes the (un)willingness of government officials to consider projects to begin with.

15.  Biking articles.  One of the things I like to do is use a special recognition event, like "Library Week," back to school in September, or "Arbor Day" etc., as a way to pull together writing/thinking about those issues.  The last couple years I've tried to do that with Bike to Work Day, in May, because May is "National Bike Month" and it provides an opportunity to think "more bigly" and assess the position of "biking as transportation."

The first article is a re-visiting of a piece I wrote in 2008, where I laid out a program to "make cycling irresistible in DC," but also an assessment of the state of biking within DC.

-- "Making cycling irresistible in DC 2.0" (March)

Other pieces build from that one.  An important concept there is to create a metropolitan-scale network of secure biking facilities comparable to the Parkiteer network in Greater Melbourne.

-- "Bike to Work Day as an opportunity to assess the state of bicycle planning: Part 1" (May)
-- "Bike to Work Day as an opportunity to assess the state of bicycle planning: Part 2, building a network of bike facilities at the regional scale" (May)
-- "Why not a bicycle hub at National Airport?, focused on capturing worker trips but open to all" (October)
-- "Oregon's excise tax for bikes: bring it on!" (July)
-- "Bicycling information systems for bikeways" (July)
-- "Free access to cargo bikes/e-cargo bikes as part of a mobility hub/sustainable mobility platform" (March)

16. Dealing with homelessness in part by building a lot more SRO housing and created structured and supported job systems.

-- "One of the "solutions" to the crisis of homelessness is a lot more SRO housing"
-- "One potential solution to the problem of "finding work" for homeless adults"

17.  Cultural planning.  Can't leave this category unrepresented, even if my best efforts date to previous years.

-- "Leveraging music as cultural heritage for economic development: part two, popular music" (March)
-- "
Leveraging music for cultural and economic development: part one, opera" (March)

18.  (DC and) strong residential real estate markets.  My best writings on this topic pre-date 2017, but in terms of the point that most people still don't understand the issues, these articles merit special acknowledgement.

-- "What people don't get about the DC housing market: supply is much less than demand, so prices keep rising (a/k/a basic economics)" (February)
-- "The nature of high value ("strong") residential real estate markets" (December)

19.  How to create a combined arena and recreation center in Silver Spring/Montgomery County.  This piece is part of the PL/Silver Spring series, but also reflects my wide body of writings on parks, recreation, and culture planning.

Montgomery County put out an RFP to the private sector for the creation of an arena in Silver Spring, and no one responded.  This lays out a way to do it working with Montgomery College, the County's recreation and parks departments, and the private sector.  It also suggests building an outdoor field on the roof of the Town Center Parking Garage.

- "Creating the Silver Spring/Montgomery County Arena and Recreation Center"

20.  DC/Tourism issues.

-- "Some DC tourism issues and National Tourism Week" (May)
-- "National Tourism Week (May 7th - 13th), Public Diplomacy, National Heritage Areas, etc." (May)


At 9:31 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Hmm, re-reading the housing articles, they should be ranked much higher, not necessarily because they're brilliant, but because the other writing on the issue tends to miss the major characteristics and elements and conditions shaping the market.

At 10:58 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Richard, first thanks. Even though we don't see eye to eye on many issues you do a great job of making thing clearer.

I'd say the only thing missing -- and please don't add ! -- is that lists like this give you a map, but you still need a guide.

Sometimes simple works.

1. Ed Lee is SF. I am not sure what his legacy would be but would interesting to analyze. Much like Tony Williams was he a breath of fresh air?

2. The Toronto transit chief taking over the MTA:

Leading from success

3. Why do we value cities?

4. Conversely, what the country is really like:

5. Will the changes in SALT deductions put pressure on cities to actually be more efficient ? As Larry Littlefied says public employees are a giant sucking machine that needs to be controlled.

Typical white homeowner in DC is paying about 12K in District taxes, maybe another 6000 in property taxes. That is going to be a very different view when you can only deduct 10K of that.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

As you know I appreciate your careful reading and commenting over the years, especially in how you help to improve my own ideas and thoughts!

1. Yes, about taxes, that's one of the stories I want to write. But the thing is that there is a difference between efficiency, stated preferences, and the amount of money to achieve it, plus unions.

2. eg. with the + unions part, finally, on Friday, the NYT published a reasonably definitive article on why subway construction is so costly in NYC compared to other cities.

- as many as 4x the number of workers
- lack of accountability in how worker requirements are negotiated with companies, but without input from the transit agency
- no national health insurance (10% of the cost of labor is for this)
- way more money spent on design and consultants (arguably some of this is due to overambitious EIS requirements)

3. wrt how value cities + Williams/Lee, very important. We don't articulate that very well, this gets to the point in the list about urbanism/suburbanism. It needs to be constantly reiterated and explained. Otherwise, tons of noise.

e.g., in my 'hood, am on an ANC committee concerning infrastructure and we're dealing with "finishing" the MBT up here. Very difficult because most of the ANC commissioners drive, are older, can't conceive of biking being anything more than occasional recreation.

But until you have highly visible biking infrastructure, you can't substantively make the shift.

(DC's goal is 12% of trips. It's 5% now, so a 140% increase is required to achieve goal. OTOH, some core neighborhoods already exceed the goal, so 12% is achievable.)

For years and years I've argued the biggest mistake after the Comp Plan was passed was not doing a couple year road show about what it means, to build a consensus for the future of the city.

Now I think the same is true of the MoveDC plan (which I re-read some sections recently preparing for a job interview). I can't imagine the average DC citizen is an advocate for sustainable mobility or thinks about it that much (outside of the current problems with WMATA).

vis a vis the core vs. outer city argument (again, some of my greatest writing) if you don't have consensus about what the city is supposed to be and what is appropriate and what isn't, etc., it's almost impossible to go forward.

I haven't been reading GGW for about 7 months, but I checked in the other day and they listed their Brookland Manor piece(s) as some of their best writing from 2017. The arguments in that piece aren't particular noteworthy and lack a nuanced understanding of the dynamics of the market.

In short, as long as you constrain density in significant ways, how can you possibly build your way out of a supply shortage?

4. With Lee I don't think that people would say good things because his openness to the IT companies and their subsequent moving into the city accelerated "supergentrification" and "capital deepening."

(The lawsuit about Union Market which I haven't written about yet is out of this kind of thinking too: )

WRT Williams, there was a lot of good, but still a lot of resentment to the changes, and definitely govt. got the shock treatment, but it still needs a ways to go.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

... back to (transit) unions for a sec.

Obviously, the WMATA impasse is partly over Republicans in VA and MD thinking most of the problem with the system is unions. Whereas that is partly an issue in terms of pensions, and maybe other stuff, but it's not responsible for the majority of problems with the system.

That being said, Unions don't think they are part of the problem and that they should have to give up part of the benefits they've rec'd in the past to get the system "back to good."

Another article I haven't written is a comparison of the transit union responses to issues in Winnipeg, NYC, and DC.

The unions in the other places have been much more focused on substantive ways to improve things (excepting the recent NYT article and the issues it raised) while the DC transit union, trying to make a case with riders, is focused on calling for cheaper fares, but making no substantive recommendations on operations based on their experience as workers within the system.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

about SF, after being there I don't know in 2011, I think, I think I wrote a piece suggesting a way to bring about absorption of all those empty buildings on Market St. would be to get in on the Silicon Valley action.

But yes, because of a lack of housing supply, the shift upward in demand led to a hyper escalation of housing prices.

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Charlie said...

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

that is some graphic/document. Thx.

I see works like that sometimes, and feel like a piker when it comes to the creation of various frameworks by me.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

of potential interest:


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