Urben Field Notes

Urben Field Notes explores the evolving landscape of urban planning in America, examining policies, projects, and challenges in housing, transportation, and urban development. It critiques traditional and emerging approaches, highlighting innovative solutions and potential pitfalls in the quest for sustainable, equitable urban growth.

Urban Planning Housing Policies Transportation Gentrification Urban Development Projects Sustainable Development Public Policy Infrastructure

The hottest Substack posts of Urben Field Notes

And their main takeaways
37 implied HN points • 12 Mar 24
  1. California cities are shifting from anti-housing to pro-housing development, seen in proposed high-rise projects like the one in Menlo Park.
  2. The traditional NIMBY urban development paradigm focused on context, community engagement, and preservation, while the emerging YIMBY paradigm prioritizes building housing in urban areas.
  3. Balancing high-density housing needs and historic preservation presents challenges in urban development, requiring creative solutions and a new consensus in public policy.
32 implied HN points • 05 Mar 24
  1. California Forever, a tech-billionaire funded city in the Bay Area, is planning to include transit connections to improve accessibility and reduce reliance on cars.
  2. The lead urban designer behind California Forever is aiming to integrate rail systems to connect the new city to Sacramento and the Bay Area, highlighting the importance of regional transit connections.
  3. The proposed transit plans involve challenges such as negotiating with Union Pacific for track usage, but the project envisions a cohesive urban ecosystem with high-quality transit services and a compact urban form for easy access.
32 implied HN points • 26 Feb 24
  1. Long-distance trains are nostalgic but may not be the most efficient way to provide rail service to small towns and neglected regions.
  2. Expanding long-distance train routes could reach more Americans, but issues include unreliable trip durations, inconvenient schedules, and high costs.
  3. Optimizing rail routes by focusing on shorter, higher-demand trips could be a more cost-effective and efficient way to improve passenger rail service in America.
32 implied HN points • 15 Feb 24
  1. Covering urban freeways with parks through freeway caps is a popular urban planning trend, but it may not fully address the deeper issues of routing heavy traffic through dense neighborhoods.
  2. Freeway caps can be politically attractive solutions, especially in high-traffic areas, but may not be the most imaginative or effective options in all cases, potentially entrenching urban freeways for generations.
  3. Transportation planning often prioritizes vehicles over transit alternatives, showcasing a need for a shift towards more comprehensive approaches like full freeway removal projects, leading to better urban planning and community connectivity.
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43 implied HN points • 04 Jan 24
  1. The housing crisis is not just in cities, but also in suburbs where banal cityscapes are treated as architectural gems.
  2. Historic preservation policies in expensive cities like New York often benefit elite areas while ignoring the suburbs and banal neighborhoods.
  3. Efforts to address housing shortages in major cities like New York require redeveloping existing structures and involving suburbs in housing solutions.
37 implied HN points • 11 Jan 24
  1. Some trendy neighborhoods are experiencing potential de-gentrification, with shifts in economic fortunes and high crime rates.
  2. Urban neighborhoods are constantly evolving due to various social and economic factors, leading to their identities being fleeting and dynamic.
  3. De-gentrification is not solely about crime and economic decline; it can lead to opportunities for new businesses and residents as neighborhoods change.
27 implied HN points • 20 Sep 23
  1. Electrified trains can decrease travel times and increase transportation capacity in urban areas.
  2. Caltrain's electrification project will significantly reduce travel times and increase service.
  3. Rail electrification projects can serve as superior transportation technology and improve mobility.
48 implied HN points • 17 May 23
  1. Gentrification can have different meanings to different people, leading to a complex perspective on urban change.
  2. Historically, gentrification has roots in the ideologies and actions of the first-wave gentrifiers in Brooklyn.
  3. The narrative around gentrification has been influenced by brownstoners, shaping the understanding of urban inequality and development.
27 implied HN points • 11 Aug 23
  1. The decisions made now by San Francisco and California about robotaxis will have a significant impact.
  2. Implementing specific regulations for robotaxis can help in managing traffic congestion and improving city transportation.
  3. There is a need for regulations like congestion pricing, robotaxi-free corridors, and designated pickup spots to enhance the integration of robotaxis in city transportation systems.
27 implied HN points • 05 Jun 23
  1. California is facing a transportation crisis that could lead to serious service cuts and canceled bus lines.
  2. New York recently passed a multi-billion dollar transit rescue package, highlighting the stark difference in funding support for transit between California and New York.
  3. The future of transit in California will have broad implications for the state's policy commitments and urban identity.
27 implied HN points • 13 Dec 22
  1. The housing crisis in America is caused by both restrictive regulations and lack of funding for affordable housing.
  2. Minimum housing standards and government-funded affordable housing need to work together for a comprehensive solution.
  3. Striking a balance between housing regulation and government support is crucial to prevent house famines and homelessness.
10 implied HN points • 12 Apr 23
  1. Pioneering freeway removal projects are being completed, but more difficult challenges remain
  2. There's a need for a stronger response to concerns about displacement and gentrification in freeway removal projects
  3. There is a lack of attention on the pollution and public health impacts of urban freeways, requiring clear data for advocacy
3 HN points • 26 Oct 23
  1. Improved conventional rail is becoming more widespread across the country.
  2. State-initiated projects are significantly upgrading passenger rail services in various states.
  3. Potential for growth and modernization exists in various regions, making passenger rail a viable transportation option.
1 HN point • 18 Jan 24
  1. The new city California Forever lacks regional transit planning, which is a significant flaw.
  2. The city focuses on good urban design, such as mixed-use buildings, bike lanes, and bus-rapid transit corridors.
  3. Despite thoughtful transportation planning within the city, the project neglects regional transportation solutions, missing opportunities for better transit connectivity.
3 HN points • 05 Feb 23
  1. Houston's permissive housing policies contribute to affordability and dense housing stock.
  2. Houston's lack of zoning regulations has both positive and negative impacts on development.
  3. Houston's diverse townhouse architecture and development patterns offer lessons for other cities to ensure balanced and equitable growth.