Monthly Archives: March 2010

Rollin’ on my segway

My colleague Catie Burke is coming to my class on Monday to discuss podcars. Now, I”m not sure how I feel about PRT. But this little buglike city zoomer from General Motors strikes me as being pretty darn cute.


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Filed under cars

Gary Painter and Zhou Yu on Immigrants and home ownership

One of my favorite colleague, Gary Painter, has a new manuscript on home ownership and immigrants that you may access from the Lusk Center website.

From the abstract:

The recent trend of immigrants arriving in mid-size metropolitan areas has received
growing attention in the literature. This study examines the success of immigrants in the
housing markets of a sample 60 metropolitan areas using Census microdata in both 2000
and 2005. The results suggest that immigrants are less successful in achieving
homeownership and more likely to live in overcrowded conditions than native-born
whites of non-Hispanic origin. The immigrant effect on homeownership differs by
geography and by immigrant group. Finally, we find evidence that immigrant networks
increase the likelihood of becoming a homeowner.

Technorati Claim code: M9BN482C3A6H


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Filed under housing, social inclusion

The Green Line and Transit-Oriented Development

The County of Los Angeles has partnered with the Urban Land Institute to conduct an intensive one-day study of the Green Line Vermont Station and surrounding community by a panel of experts and to make recommendations for enhancing the Vermont Station Transit Oriented District.

You are invited to attend the Urban Land Institute’s Community Presentation relating to their recommendations, to be held on:

Friday, March 26, 2010 – 4:30 PM

Lennox Sheriff’s Station

Audrey & Sydney Irmas Youth Activity Center

11911 Vermont Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90044

Free parking available at the Youth Activity Center

Please feel free to distribute this email and attached flyers to any person or group that would be interested. Contact me with any questions you may have.

Thank you,

Rich Morallo

Transit Operations Community Relations

Office 213 922 1341 or 310 354-1645

Fax 310 354-1611

The meeting location is well served by Metro Bus Lines: 204, 206, 209, 754, and Gardena Line 2


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Filed under talks and lectures, urban design

The art of industrial tower at WebUrbanist

Towering Achievements: Incredible Industrial Towers | Design + Ideas on WU

Take a look.


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Filed under aesthetics

Who gets the foreclosure bail-out money?

NYTimes.com has a story on the tough choices ahead to figure out how to disperse homeowner relief in Arizona. Here’s the story: Microcosm of the Housing Crisis on an Arizona Street

I am trying to be convinced that foreclosure relief is a good idea. I have enormous respect for the real estate economists in my school, and in general, they support foreclosure relief based on the externality argument: ie, that foreclosures cause home values to fall in the neighborhood, and thus are an externality. There is some empirical work out there measuring the externality, but I am often unconvinced by externality arguments that don’t actually involve physical environmental problems. External costs and benefits get bandied around too often in the public sphere as code for “this is something I want/don’t want, so it will benefit/cost everybody” instead of really reflecting the downstream phenomenon the concept should.

Here’s why I can’t get on board.

1. People tell me that the reason I shouldn’t fret about poor people is that housing filters down to them as houses age and prices fall. But if we are keeping people in their houses and making housing a can’t-lose investment, which will increase or at least stabilize house prices, how does that filtering happen?

2. Nobody was complaining about externalities when their neighbor’s inappropriately high housing sale value was inflating their own home prices. Is this really a market failure, or is this just a painful reversal of neighborhood effects?

3. How is it that we are in housing crisis now but not when housing prices were higher?

It seems to me that the means test for justice here is that we can and should help out struggling homeowners, but that the program should be more like guaranteed student loans than operating subsidies to households. I mean, hell, Section 8 housing doesn’t get this kind of love. The government ponies up the money to help out the owner and keep them in their house, but that money has to be paid back. Just like student loans, you can apply for a forbearance on the repayment if you remain unemployed or fall ill. But it’s to be at a subsidized rate after a certain amount of time.

Why isn’t that enough?

The one place I don’t see such a plan working is for elder housing. There I can see a rationale for a straight compensation.


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Filed under housing

How we’ve already geo-engineered the Earth

Wired.com has a photo essay up on how we are already geoengineering the earth, which should prompt the valid question of if it’s acceptable to people to allow the existing geo-hacks go on, at least in the mainstream, why are people so wound up about geo-hacking to prevent climate change?

However, we should note that none of the we currently do under as geo-engineering here is a smart thing to do. So? One does not legitimize the other; it is instead big list of things we should knock off.




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Filed under climate change

ACORN’s slide into bankruptcy and poopheads with videocameras

Or, How to Destroy a Community-based Organization 101.

According to the New York Times, Acorn is on Brink of Bankruptcy. The organization points to sabotage on the part of conservative activists who recorded video of ACORN reps giving tax advice on how to hide money from prostitution. The organization was later cleared of any wrongdoing, but the damage is done.

I warn you: the following is a rant, the rant of a person who thinks it wrong to shame and hurt people for your own expediency.

This videotaping under false pretenses is an invasion of privacy, it’s grossly unfair, and I’m sick of it being bandied around as “evidence.” It’s not. We have no idea what has been done to video or email “evidence” before it goes viral. And even if this James Elliott Moore III character could be trusted (which he obviously can’t because he lies to get his way), for all we know, what he taped was a one-time thing. It was wrong and mean-spirited when Michael Moore kept the cameras rolling on an addled Charleston Heston for Bowling for Columbine, but at least Moore didn’t appear to lie to anybody to get his face time with Heston.* That just makes this ACORN stuff all the more wrong.

Civil disobedience is exactly that. Sitting in the front of the bus instead of the back of the bus hurts nobody. Sitting in the whites only section of a cafe is reasonable thing to do. Stopping traffic? Sitting in? No real damage to anybody. It’s not like I don’t think transgressing social norms to expose wrongs shouldn’t be done; it has to be done. But there’s a big difference between civil disobedience and creating viral videos. The first can be brave and socially significant, the second seems almost always self-indulgent and fame-seeking.

This is why more people should be expected to study film because way too many people walk around thinking if they’ve seen something on video, it’s just like an eyewitness account. It’s not. It’s framed. It’s edited. Sound can be removed or added.

ROWR!!!!

*Heston’s handlers should have looked out for him better, but still. Did we get any smarter watching that?


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Filed under Uncategorized

Institute for Policy and Governance at Virginia Tech–New Blog

The Institute for Policy and Governance | Virginia Tech has a new, extremely good blog. Go take a look!


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Filed under community development

Bill Gates and nuclear power

via Slashdot this morning, this BBC News Story on Bill Gates and Toshiba discussions to create a different mode for nuclear energy, based on mini-reactors. They would use spent uranium and create energy, completely changing the model envisioned for a nuclear future. Nuclear is usually envisioned on a large-scale, run by experts. This is distributed energy.

What do you think?


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Filed under energy

Thing I am not going to worry about

Rich People Things: The National Plastic Surgery Recession – The Awl


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Filed under Uncategorized