In previous posts, I’ve discussed the economic challenges facing Montgomery County: stagnant wage growth, an aging workforce and increasing poverty. I’ve also highlighted our assets, including high incomes, low unemployment and a highly educated workforce. I’ve pointed out that high housing costs are the result of limited supply and that both businesses and residents of all ages prefer neighborhoods that look and feel “urban,” even if they aren’t located near transit or in major city centers. I hope that I have been successful in showing how and why real estate development is essential to economic development. In particular, the supply of housing (at every price point and including both subsidized/regulated projects and market-rate units) is crucial to attracting and retaining the mix of workers … Continue reading
Montgomery County master plans recommend ways of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries By David Anspacher and Jessica McVary
If you think implementing Vision Zero to eliminate traffic fatalities in your city is challenging, try starting a program in the suburbs where communities were designed for the automobile and largely devoid of concern for walking, bicycling and transit use!
While more than 40 cities in North America have endorsed Vision Zero, only one suburban jurisdiction – Montgomery County, Maryland – has embraced this strategy to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries by 2030 while increasing mobility. Montgomery County is attempting to demonstrate that realizing Vision Zero is not just possible in San Francisco and Washington DC, but also … Continue reading
Reimagining suburbs in the 21st century draws on the best of the past
The communities that started the trend of 20th-century suburbanism shared a number of common traits. Many of them were focused on rail or trolley lines. Most had some retail uses in close proximity – corner stores or small retail blocks. They connected to nature through tree-lined curvilinear streets and small neighborhood parks and open spaces. Montgomery County’s earliest suburbs – Chevy Chase, Kensington and Takoma Park — all exhibit these features.
As suburbs grew and the areas between the rail and trolley lines filled in with auto-centric swaths of single-family homes, some of the essential traits of the older, original suburbs were lost.
Now, in the … Continue reading
It’s not news that the suburbs are changing. Mom works, Dad may be at home, and kids, when they’re not strapped into their car seats, are scheduled to the max.
But there are other changes as well, as documented in this Washington Post interactive map tracking racial changes in the ‘burbs. The map allows you to see the mix of people in the region as well as in various census tracts.
It also shows change since 1990, and not surprisingly, some places change very little. The quick pattern I see is that most tracts are less exclusively white than they used to be, but overall patterns in the region are the same.
As the Post points out, it’s still … Continue reading
Scientific American’s special issue on cities covers nearly every urban topic you can think of, from the not so lost aromas of New York’s Fulton Fish Market to the history of the toilet and its influence on the growth of cities. From China to Saudi Arabia, from street markets to solar energy, the issue examines technological and social aspects of urban settlements.
Closer to home, one article asks “Can Suburbs be Designed to Do Away with the Car,” using King Farm in Rockville as an example of the challenges inmaking suburbs and suburbanites transit-friendly. There are plenty of reader comments with the usual claims of elitism and happiness; see where your ideas fall.
We have a Greek cousin who tried to explain our front lawn to his friends.
“Do they park their cars there,” they asked? “Do they grow food, do they sit there?”
“No, it’s just grass,” he said. “They don’t do anything with it.”
And when our Greek uncle built a little villitsa by the seashore, in true lord of the manor style, he fronted it with a lawn. But he couldn’t let the rectangular grass strip alone and planted shrubs right down the middle, a somewhat confused aesthetic.
In Edible Estates: An Attack on the Front Lawn , Fritz Haeg unpacks the front lawn—why are we mowing instead of growing?
In various essays, landscapers, designers, and gardeners point out … Continue reading