Parks and Planning Work to Replace Trees Ravaged by the Emerald Ash Borer

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Small but extremely destructive bugs from Asia are causing major disruptions to our tree canopy. In 2016, the Montgomery County Department of Parks started removing potentially hazardous ash trees from parkland owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.  These trees had to be cut down because they were infected by an exotic, invasive insect known as the emerald ash borer. The larvae from this metallic-green beetle can quickly bore into an ash tree, feed on its inner bark and kill it in one to three years, so the dead tree becomes dangerous to people and property. Insecticide treatments cannot save the tree, so the best strategy is to remove it and get rid of the infected wood. Although… Read more »

Planning for Access to Parks

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Yesterday the Planning Board discussed a draft Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan (PROS Plan) that lays out a strategy to ensure access to open space for County residents: The purpose of the 2012 PROS Plan is to estimate the future needs for park and recreation facilities and natural, historic and agricultural resource preservation and to develop specific service delivery strategies to meet future needs through the year 2022 and beyond. This broad-ranging Plan covers traditional park and trail facilities on public and private land, but also delves into preservation and enhancement of historic, cultural, and agricultural resources. Like the recently created Parkscore system established by the Trust for Public Land, important parts of the PROS Plan are establishing: a… Read more »

How far can you get on transit in 10, 30, 45 minutes?

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What a fun toy!  Mapnificent shows you how far you can travel on transit from any address for several cities around the world. You can choose the travel time along a sliding bar and choose specific addresses or drag a pin on the map around.  Here’s the blob from the Planning Department’s address set at 30 minutes: I was able to quickly look at Chicago and Philadelphia, two cities I’ll be visiting soon, and the times looked about like I’ve experienced before (as does Silver Spring’s).  Nothing for Providence, another city I’ll be visiting this summer, although I know RIPTA has a decent system. Maybe more soon. More info and examples were posted on The Atlantic Cities site.

A Learning Opportunity from NCPC: Contemporary Design, Historic City

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What: 2011 NCPC Speaker Series Contemporary Design, Historic City: The Balancing Act Between Innovation & Preservation When: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 6:30 – 8:00 PM Where: Koubek Auditorium – Crough Center for Architectural Studies School of Architecture and Planning Catholic University of America RSVP here. As a city filled with historic structures and landmarks, architectural preservation in the nation’s capital receives a lot of attention. Yet, as Washington continues to evolve, there exists a growing need for new development and a desire for more modern and inventive architecture. Making sure the two can successfully co-exist is the responsibility of the agencies involved in the planning and design review process. Join a panel of distinguished design and planning experts as they explore… Read more »

learning with legos at NBM

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The ongoing Lego (R) exhibit, Towering Ambition, at the National Building Museum has some very cool models of famous buildings, but also provides a play area for kids and families. More interesting than the models, however, are the prompts about land use and community planning hanging around and adorning the space where kids (and adults) can play with the Legos. Rather than focus on cool buildings, like the exhibit, these prompts ask budding designers to think about places beyond the bounds of an individual building, to think like a town planner (and a rather progressive one at that). Unfortunately the prompts still relegate land uses to separate building forms, but do suggest locating them near one another. I think their… Read more »

A New Model for Mixed-Use Parking (Part 1 of 2: Goals and Precedents)

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Parking is one of the single-most controversial aspects of development splitting generally along the lines of “we don’t require enough” versus “we require too much”. Parking management is an issue that affects congestion, pollution, pedestrian comfort & safety, potential for open space and green areas, business revitalization feasibility, and many other topics.  With so many factors being effected, it’s probable that no model we develop will make everyone (or maybe anyone) completely happy.  But it is our task to try. As many know, the parking ratios we apply to commercial uses have not been updated for decades. And our shared-use model is still based on maximum demand. With this in mind, the County’s DOT and MNCPPC were directed to work… Read more »

Plant Chicago: more on the apparent topic of the day.

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Adaptive reuse of existing buildings for agriculture: Plant Chicago – vertical farming and industrial reuse. Take a quick look at their philosophy in 2 minutes. Don’t think we’d have any 40-story buildings, but what if we used less and converted … i don’t know … some of our numerous self-storage facilities to vertical farms?

See planning history in Greenbelt by bike

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When it comes to the built environment, the Washington region has long been one of the proving grounds for Planning. From the first-ever National Planning Conference in 1909 to the demonstration of New Urbanism at Kentlands, Washington has benefited from planning ideas that often seemed far-fetched at the time. Greenbelt, Maryland is no exception. It’s the best-preserved example of New Deal-era utopian town planning in the United States, and has been named a National Planning Landmark. This Saturday, I’m leading a bike tour of the community (details below). I hope you can make it. About Greenbelt: Faced with housing shortages, a decimated economy, and deteriorating conditions in cities, the Roosevelt Administration, as a part of the New Deal, set out… Read more »

How can planning influence climate change numbers?

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As we start writing the code for the new zoning ordinance, a “big picture” view seems in order. The biggest-picture formula in climate change, called the Kaya identity, is: F=Pgef F = Global CO2 emissions (combustion, flaring of natural gas, cement production, oxidation of nonfuel hydrocarbons, and transport) P = Global population (total number of human beings) g = Consumption per person (gross world product divided by population) e = Energy intensity of gross world product (global energy consumption divided by gross world product) f = Carbon used to make energy (global carbon dioxide emissions divided by global energy consumption) The most obvious thing about this equation – if you remember even grade-school math – is that to reduce F… Read more »

A Few Links Found While Cleaning Out My Inbox

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On communities having more input. Not sure I’m down with the program advocated in all – or even most – cases.  But important for particularly important locations and projects, e.g., civic buildings and open spaces. An example of the grassroots process advocated above that did work:  Paint Your Faith. Paint Your Faith Video On artists taking to the streets. But what isn’t more fun in Rome? Share something in your local park. This is what the right to assembly is all about – knowledge pursued in public spaces. Last, as if Rybczynski didn’t explain why our cities aren’t like Europe’s well enough – we’re still experimenting with ways to integrate bike transportation.