Currently viewing the tag: "livable cities"

I just finished reading the 2010 Emerging Trends in Real Estate.  Now in its 31st year, this report is jointly produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). This is the first time I have read this report, but I am very impressed. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers webpage this report:

is the oldest, most highly regarded annual industry outlook for the real estate and land use industry and includes interviews and survey responses from more than 900 leading real estate experts, including investors, developers, property company representatives, lenders, brokers and consultants.”

The report is downright bearish on real estate development for 2010.The report goes on the say that real estate developers are “largely dead” and that “builders can leave on long sabbaticals”. They don’t foresee construction picking up until 2012, but when it does, most construction will be focused on urban infill development.

This is great news for those of us that believe that our cities are our future. Below are some of my favorite excerpts from this report:

Next generation projects will orient to infill, urbanizing suburbs, and transit-oriented development. Smaller housing units-close to mass transit, work and 24 hour amenities-gain favor over large houses on big lots at the suburban edge.  People will continue to see greater convenience and want to reduce energy expenses, shorter commutes and smaller heating bills make up for high infill real estate costs.” (Page 12)

Infill vs. Suburbs. Road congestion, higher energy costs, and climate change concerns combine to alter people’s thinking about where they decide to live and work.  ‘It’s a fundamental shift.’ The lifestyle cost-of-living equation starts to swing away more dramatically from bigger houses on bigger lots at the suburban edge to great convenience and efficiencies gained from infill housing closer to work. These homes maybe more expensive on a price-per-pound basis, but reduced driving costs and lower heating/cooling bills provide offsets. And time saved avoiding traffic hassles moderates stress and enhances productivity. ‘Two-hour commutes reach a tipping point with higher energy costs’ and ‘near-in suburbs will do well especially if they link to business cores by mass transportation.” (Page 32)

Investors tend to favor the following:

  • Global gateway markets on East and West coasts- featuring international airports, ports and major commercial centers.
  • Cities and urbanizing infill suburbs with 24-hour attributes-upscale, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, convenient office, retail, entertainment, and recreation districts; mass transit alternatives to driving; good schools (public and/private); and relatively safe streets.
  • Brainpower centers-places that offer dynamic combination of colleges and universities, high paying industries-high tech, biotech, finance, and health cars (medical centers drug companies)- and government offices.” (Page 27)

Denver metro area wins points for building out its light-rail network, encouraging transit –oriented mixed-use projects around stations.” (Page 35)

So what does this mean for Miami’s future?

  • We should hold the Urban Development Boundary, this report confirms that 2 hour commutes are out of vogue.
  • Miami 21 should be implemented immediately and not delayed any further.
  • A large scale light rail system, including Baylink, is long overdue
  • If Miami wants to become a competitive city we need to diversify our economy as much as possible in order to become a brainpower center. A service economy based predominantly on tourism will not attract educated people seeking high paying jobs.

You can view the special City Commission Meeting regarding Miami 21 here.

Hats off to Commissioner Marc Sarnoff for working with Coconut Grove residents, business leaders, and advocates for pushing the livable streets agenda forward. Starting on July 4th, Commodore Plaza will be closed to cars and opened to pedestrians, cafes seating, and live music. Each closure will take place for five consecutive weekend from Saturday at 6pm to early Sunday morning. This pilot project will help determine whether or not closing Commodore more permanently is feasible. Please contact Commissioner Sarnoff  (My Commissioner tab above for more info) to let him know that you appreciate the effort.  More importantly, go out and experience the urbanism!


A street mural being chalked on Commodore Plaza during the early hours of Bike Miami Days.

Regurgitating some news here-mostly from the Herald- and adding a layer of commentary.

  • Bicycle Advocates, led by the Green Mobility Network are inserting themselves into the planning process in South Miami. Click here to catch up with the effort to make Sunset Drive more amenable to bicyclists. This is a worthy initiative, and one that has some direct spin-off from the work being already accomplished in the City of Miami.  Realtor Lisa Fox is states “We should be doing things like what the mayor of Miami did,” referring to Bike Miami Days as a potential event alternative to widening Sunset for Bicycle Lanes.  Agreed, but South Miamians should not be distracted, this street needs better access for bicyclists with lanes that could transition into shared use lane marking once entering the core of the city’s commercial district.
  • FPL’s attempt to place high voltage lines in South-Dade is  inspiring opposition. Beyond being a real blight on the landscape, and promising potential adverse health impacts, the present plan places the lines along the M-Path/Metrorail corridor. Yes, just what we need after finally getting some funding to fix this long neglected recreation corridor…I can see it now, the M-Path gets fixed only to be torn up by power line construction. Stay tuned and involved on this issue, its bound to be big fight. A “Residents Against FPL Transmission Lines” has been set up on Facebook.
  • It seems a large chunk of Miami-Dade’s stimulus money ($87 million)  is going to be spent on maximizing the size of the Dolphin/Palmetto Interchange. This one really gets under my skin. If you read the story(warning: the before and after images are shocking), the plan is to spend nearly 600 million dollars on fixing an interchange that when first built was ill-designed. While I agree the original design is dysfunctional, I am not a whole lot more confident that this time around the result will be any different. Indeed, years and years of research demonstrate that by adding capacity only induces demand as users who sought alternatives return to the system sensing it will be improved for the long term-a classic problem with conventional traffic engineering thought. Once completed, look for congestion to return within a year of completion. Oh, and the $180 million they spent on right-of-way acquisition likely takes formerly tax positive land uses off the roles. That means the cost is even greater for the taxpayer in the long run. Surely that money could be better spent on projects thatactually increase tax dollar revenue, improve access and mobility, and which do not further promote the unchecked use of fossil fuels. A few underfunded transit projects do come to mind, alas…
  • Finally, news from a city that is getting it right. New York City has officially pedestrianized Times Square. Click here and here for some livable streets porn.

This Disney cartoon from 1950 (!) places Goofy in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario whereas Mr. Walker (pedestrian) is perpetually threatened by Mr. Wheeler ‘s (driver) quest for roadway supremacy.

Sadly, not much has changed…

Thanks to Felipe Azenha for the tip.

By all accounts Bike Miami was a total success! Some estimates claim nearly 2,000 bicyclists, joggers, walkers, dogs, dancers and skaters in attendance. I have a feeling it may have been a little more, but regardless, downtown was full of smiling people enjoying their city in a new way.

The two hot spots were undoubtedly Mary Brickell Village and Bayfront park, the two bookends of the route where people flocked in droves. In fact, South Miami Avenue was much more like an urban plaza than a street. Did you notice how the cafe seating and active retail edges allowed people to watch the active participants promenade through what became more a stage than a street? It was a beautiful event and instructive. Indeed, I have never seen such an exercise of urbanism within downtown Miami. The event clearly demonstrates the wonderful potential of downtown Miami and I think the event’s organizers and participants now understand what livable streets can mean for the health of downtown Miami.

At 11am Miami Mayor Manny Diaz gave a short speech about making Miami a more bicycle friendly city. His commitment to such a goal has been more than evident in the past 9 months and we should all thank him, his staff (especially Kathryn Moore!) the Bicycle Action Committee and all the other city departments who made Bike Miami so successful. As Mayor Diaz also pointed out, yesterday’s event would not have been possible without the volunteer effort of the city’s police force who were wonderful, if not a bit surprised at the masses of people using the city’s streets in such an innovative way. Thanks to all!

Please know that all those involved in organizing the event are now aiming to make Bike Miami occur on a regular basis, perhaps even monthly as the mayor mentioned to me yesterday. However, before doing so, we would like to hear from you. What did you like? Did you have any problems? Do you have any suggestions for a route change or possible extension? Share your feedback by visiting the Bike Miami homepage and filling out a quick survey.

We will do our best to make Bike Miami even better for you in the future. All we ask in return is that you contact your local representatives, the Mayor’s office and/or your local news outlets etc (Especially the Miami Herald who ignored the event in today’s coverage!). to share your support and positive feedback. This is a grassroots event. Be the roots.

Now for a few photos.

Mayor Manny Diaz speaks to hundreds of participants at the Bike Miami rally.

Mr. Clucky, an erstwhile bicycle activist looks on.

Families were some of the most active participants at Bike Miami.

Flagler Street was teaming with activity all day long.

South Miami Avenue at Mary Brickell Village.

Go Green Miami.

This morning the Miami City Commission unanimously passed the Miami Bicycle Action Plan! This is a momentous day for Miami, one that should mark a new approach to bicycling in a city that was recently ranked as one of America’s three worst cities in which to ride.

Comprehensive in its scope, the Action Plan calls for the continued expansion of Miami’s on-street facilities, as well as classroom education and public awareness campaigns. The Action Plan is the product of a tremendous effort by several like-minded organizations and advocates, as well as multiple City and County departments. Those who read this blog know the usual suspects.

Above all, we at Transit Miami have to thank Mayor Diaz and his staff for their strong and continued support. From day one they were behind this effort and they continue to commit the City to becoming more livable. Bike Miami anyone?!

Check out a few photos from this morning’s rally below. Commissioner Sanchez, Sarnoff and Diaz were on hand, as well as dozens of other city employees and bicycle advocates. In the coming weeks Transit Miami will delve into the plan with more detail, and show you the City’s Bicycle Action plan as it relates to implementing new infrastructure all across the City.

City officials, commissioners, Police officers and citizens prepare to ride to City Hall in support of the Miami Bicycle Action Plan.

Mayor Diaz takes a practice spin on his new three wheel throne!

Heading down Bayshore Drive to the entrance of City Hall’s Pan American Drive, Mayor Diaz, Commissioner Sarnoff and Comissioner Sanchez lead the pack.

A host of media reporters and photographers were on hand to document the sunny approach to City Hall.

Photo-op in progress.

From left: Robert Ruano, Director of Sustainable Initiatives, Commissioner Sarnoff, Mayor Diaz, Commissioner Sanchez and in the back right, Police Chief John Timoney. Looks like they are having fun, huh?

“People have always lived on streets. They have been the places where children first learned about the world, where neighbors met, the social centers of towns and cities, the rallying points for revolts, the scenes of repression… The street has always been the scene of this conflict, between living and access, between resident and traveler, between street life and the threat of death.”

-Donald Appleyard

For the last month or so, we’ve been posting videos showing how Bogota, Colombia has made remarkable strides becoming less car dependent and more transit-oriented. Our friends over at StreetFilms (Streetsblog) have just finish their final video in the series about Bogota, which highlights the city’s recent efforts creating cycle paths, pedestrian plazas, and other livable streets improvements. It’s really amazing — it just goes to show that if a city like Bogota without a lot of money can accomplish this much, imagine what Miami could do!

To view the video, click here.

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Today’s quote comes from a phenomenal short video put together by our friends over at Street Films and the Project for Public Spaces on the vibrancy and quality of life of the streets of Havana. Although we agree Havana is not the ideal city to emulate, we could learn a lot from the beautiful urban streets, clearly designed for social interaction rather than vehicular dominance. Each narrow street of Old Havana is bustling with life as every ground level structure is opened up to the pedestrian realm. Meanwhile, the wide boulevards provide ample park space, recreational space, and plenty of foliage. The film clearly shows how this type of construction, for people rather than vehicles, promotes neighborhood and societal values, something we should be certainly promoting across Miami. To watch the whole film, click here

“If children playing in the streets is an indicator of the success of a city, then Havana’s streets may be some of the most successful in the world.”
-Ethan Kent

Former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, Enrique Penalosa, is internationally renowned for his progressive transit and bike-oriented urban planning policies that have helped transform the Colombia capital from a congested car-centric nightmare to a much more livable city in less than decade. Earlier this week, Penalosa came to New York to speak in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal that holds the power to make NYC an even more livable city by forcing cars to pay $8 to enter Manhattan anywhere below 60th St from 6am-6pm. Thanks to our friends over at Streetsblog, who created this video, we can see that from Copenhagen to New York, Vancouver to Bogota, the livable cities movement is in full gear.

To see the video above in its entirety, click here.

To see the video of Penalosa’s recent NYC speech supporting congestion pricing and transport equity, click here.

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