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Daily Durning: Jane Jacobs Graphic Legacy

May 4, 2016

From Curbed:


Click to enlarge

Daily Scot: Vancouver Envy and Regret

May 4, 2016

From our eclectic reader, Daily Scot:



Many longtime residents of San Francisco, Miami and other hot U.S. cities complain of “Manhattanization” when developers put up 20- or 30-story apartment complexes. In Portland, Oregon, they’re debating the wisdom of 40 stories.

They should try 100 stories on for size — or not, if they value the amenities of urban life. That’s the height of a megatower proposed for downtown Seattle. It was “downsized” from 102 stories after aviation authorities warned the tower could interfere with air traffic. …

What’s so terrible about megatowers? They cause wind tunnels at ground level. They block out the sun, putting huge swaths of city in shadow. They create canyons trapping air pollution and heat in summer. They kill others’ views.

Michael Mehaffy, an architectural critic based in Portland, Oregon, has likened super-tall residential buildings to vertical gated communities cut off from the neighbors far below. Furthermore, the buildings are often half empty.

That’s because these ultra-expensive spaces are being marketed to a global elite seeking a safe place to stash their money. Billions are pouring in from Russia, China,Saudi Arabia and Latin America. …

Seattle’s proposed 4/C megatower — so named for its location at Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street — would be the tallest building on the West Coast. Why would Seattleites want such an outlandishly high structure?

“Vancouver envy,” Mehaffy responds, referring to the tower-crazed Canadian city about 150 miles to the north. “The irony of that is a lot of people there are upset at the development.”

Such discontent may explain one Vancouver developer’s announcement that his project’s $18 million penthouse would be sold only to a local resident. …

The theme this campaign season is ordinary Americans’ wanting their power back. That should extend to politics on the very local level. Residents have a right to determine the destiny of their neighborhoods.

The real estate barons often call the shots in America’s city halls. The people must tell the politicians inside that there will be consequences to ignoring their opinions.



Item from Ian: Different city, same issue?

May 4, 2016

From San Francisco Business Times:


More than a third of Bay Area residents recently polled by the Bay Area Councilsaid they are planning to leave the region, as skyrocketing housing costs, terrible commutes and an increasingly high cost of living make the area very difficult to afford.

In addition, over half of the residents polled in San Francisco County said the region was headed in the wrong direction, a massive leap from the only 28 percent who felt the same way last year. You can read the full report here. …

Overall, the poll painted a gloomy picture for the Bay Area, with 22 percent of those who answered saying high housing costs are their biggest concern, followed by traffic at 17 percent and cost of living at 9 percent.

The council said it considers the study to be a “canary in a coal mine” and called on local civic and business leaders to work to address the issues to keep the region from experiencing a mass exodus.

“Residents’ discontent is palpable, and we can’t ignore it,” Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council president and CEO, told the San Francisco Business Times. “Traffic is horrific. Our housing shortage is pricing workers, families and others out of their homes and out of the region. Together, these problems threaten to erode our economic vitality and diminish our quality of life.”

A Face – and a Voice – For TransLink

May 4, 2016

kevin-desmondWith the hiring of Kevin Desmond as the new CEO of TransLink, the question was whether he could provide an identifiable – and hence more accountable – face to TransLink, with the ability to respond and, ideally, set the debate for the future of the organization.

This is a good sign: recognition of the issues while defending the organization.


From News1130:



VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The CEO of TransLink is hoping the federal government keeps its promise to contribute some of the money needed to fix transit issues.

Kevin Desmond says customer experience will only improve if we invest in the system, otherwise, there just isn’t any way to address issues like under serviced routes and overcrowding.

“That is going to require as well some new funding going forward, so I am focused on how to improve the customer experience both within the resources that TransLink has and hopefully if we can obtain new funding to grow the system; that is where the real customer relief is going to be.”

“That would include a 50 per cent contribution to the TransLink regional transit needs and that is a big boost from the prior 33 per cent assumption of federal revenue,” he explains.

Desmond believes people will always be critical of a company that serves so many but is quick to point out TransLink runs a system that is envied by many cities in the world.

Jane Jacobs at 100

May 4, 2016

The Google Doodle announces Jane Jacobs’s 100th birthday.

Jacobs 2


And The Guardian posts a celebratory piece and a pic of Jane on her bike:.



Here’s one of my most prized possessions: a first-edition paperback of her most famous book, signed by Jacobs in 2002 when she was visiting Vancouver’s mayor, Philip Owen.

Jacobs 3


I still use it when leading a Jane’s Walk through the West End, which pretty much meets all the criteria for a successful urban district.

Public Art – “F Grass” by Ai Weiwei

May 4, 2016

You might miss this installation (and its point) unless you know where and what it is, since this is what it looks like to passersby at Bute and Hastings:




This, however, is what it looks like from above:

weiwei 2


It’s F Grass, by “China’s most internationally celebrated artist and social activist, Ai Weiwei.”  After two years of persuasion, the Vancouver Biennale was able to secure this public-art installation created specifically for this section of Harbour Green Park where it will reside for a year.

F Grass uses industrial cast iron “grass” to shape an elegant calligraphic “F”.  It’s an enigma that a Vancouver audience might interpret as symbolic of the recreational crop we’re most famous for and our laissez faire attitude towards the laws that prohibit it, but the meaning is more about the relationship between the individual and the collective and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of Chinese government censorship, control and secrecy.

More here at the Vancouver Biennale site.

Jane Jacobs, the Ivy and Me

May 4, 2016
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Sandy James Planner

quote-cities-have-the-capability-of-providing-something-for-everybody-only-because-and-only-jane-jacobs-39-44-02May 4 2016 is the one hundredth anniversary of Jane Jacob’s birth. She was a remarkable lady, a Canadian who moved to New York City in the 1930’s and bucked the trend to go to suburbia, choosing to raise her three children in the gritty Greenwich Village and later in Brooklyn. And she wrote about planning and architecture, and had a clear sense of what was good and what was bad for people and for cities.

I have felt forever aligned with Jane Jacobs. I loved her  style of direct, concise writing, her unalienable belief that inner cities were places of beauty and people, and her tenacity taking on Robert Moses, the Darth Vader of  early 20th century New York City  road building.

In the early 1980’s, there were few women that had written, lectured in planning and of course had scolded Robert Moses. She came to speak at Robson…

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