Paging Max Baucus

Well Put Clive:

The current [homeowner mortgage] deduction costs nearly $80 billion a year in forgone federal revenues. It is available only to the minority of households—typically affluent— that itemize their taxes. Households at the margin of choosing between renting and owning are not, for the most part, itemizers. The deduction has no effect on […]

The Limited Utility of Urban Lakes

Echo Park, Los Angeles photo by newsphotog2.

I was in Echo Park (the gentrifying neighborhood of LA) today and was struck by how hobbled Echo Park (the park) is by it’s gigantic lake that easily takes up 90% of the park’s area. Absurd! Among the 50 largest US cities, Los Angeles ranks 41st […]

Begging: Not actually a mean thing that poor people do to rich people to annoy them

Sadly, today my hopes that public transit would be a panacea for anti-social behavior were, once again, dashed. PT: not a sufficient condition for people to develop enough affinity for their fellow man to avoid being mean to beggers.

Today, as I left the metro a woman was asking for money for food. Not uncommon. […]

An Unreasonably Attractive Candidate

Apparently all the cool kids are running for President (Despite being an academic, nonhuman, and British respectively — not exactly a group that screams electable, or even “legally electable”), but I’m going to take a different tack and declare for National Zoning Czar. True, it doesn’t have the same aura of “President” — or exist […]

Pure Evil

Two firetrucks just roared down my street (Why? Well, where there’s trucks, there’s fire, as the saying goes, but no inferno is apparent), setting off half a dozen car alarms, and seriously sapping my faith in the fundamental goodness of humanity. There ought to be a law…

Great Urban Planning Explanations

The reason the Venice canals have a steep vertical rather than a gradual slope: ducks pooped on the slope, and “…who wants a slimy, defecated slope instead of a nice one you could moor your boat against.”

Sounds reasonable, but I wish we could have arrived at a better solution to a problem animal than […]

Suburban Racism Googling

Crazy shit from 2006 from my wife’s research into racism in LA housing:

I am 34, married with 2 kids and have accepted a new job in Los Angeles. I’d like to live in a White suburb, do you have any recommendations?

Oh no he didn’t! And then:

I turned down the job.

After […]

Flashback of Wrongness

From the Bad Futurist Pantheon: The End of Tall Buildings

Not that they don’t make a convincing case, but if anything we have entered an accelerated period of tower construction since 9/11. Even in LA, home of the earthquake, we’re racing up as fast as we can. An example of the wonderful city of tomorrow, […]

Let Malibu Burn

It’s on fire again today, and while I hope everyone got out safely, it seems like a good time to remember: The Case for Letting Malibu Burn.

Light Pollution

The International Dark-Sky Association (warning: garish site design) defines light pollution as:

Any adverse effect of artificial light, including sky glow, glare, light trespass, light clutter, decreased visibility at night, and energy waste.

I first heard about these guys when a commenter in Architectural Record complained that a picture caption that lauded a building for […]

Where the phallacies have no name

…except, possibly “U2 Tower.” <Cringe>

It’s like the gods could tell I was looking for content and sent Pax Corey, prophet that he is, along to proclaim the wonder attrocity that is this planned Dublin development. Of course it’s not so much phallic as cheese-grater-ish, but regardless represents a huge departure (at least in this […]

Four-Story Limit

I realized I neglected to quote Alexander’s actual design pattern about building height during Christopher Alexander Day, so here it is:

In any urban area, no matter how dense, keep the majority of buildings four stories high or less. It is possible that certain buildings should exceed this limit, but they should never be buildings […]

The Jeely Piece Song

To continue my skyscraper hating, here’s a humorous song quoted in A Pattern Language to allow the children of Glasgow to explain why tall buildings are less than ideal. Note that “to fling a ‘piece,’ a slice of bread and jam, from a window down to a child in the street below has been a […]

Critiquing Skyscrapers

I make fun of skyscrapers a lot, so I thought I should back up my scorn with some substantive arguments. Here they are:

Their is abundant evidence to show that high buildings make people crazy.

High buildings have no genuine advantages, except in speculative gains for banks and landowners. They are not cheaper, they […]

Soft Shell is Hardcore

This is a hilarious email forwarded to me by a friend, who received it on their grad school listserv. My only comment is that Cameron Millard better watch out, as he stole Harry Reid’s nickname. I am very sad I missed it:

THE THROWDOWN IN TINSELTOWN

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Plan Voisin

And here’s the picture of Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin for Paris that I was just talking about:

Also,the Affordable Housing Institute (from whence this picture comes) has a nice (if old) blog post on Reinventing Public Housing.