October 7, 2010[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31i-rRUnMc8 285 234]
October 4, 2010Late last month, Washington, D.C. launched its Capital Bikeshare ("CaBi" to its groupies) program to much acclaim from the usual suspects -- New Urbanists and bicycle imperialists. For those uninitiated, contemporary bike-sharing programs involve the placement of controlled bicycle racks (usually by government or through large government-financed private operators) around a city so that residents, tourists, and commuters can rent bikes for a fixed period of time and then return them to other racks around the city. All for a nominal, generally subsidized fee.
New Urbanists and Greens love these programs because, for them, any government intervention that puts more people on bikes is a good one. After all, they've already spent a lot of political capital zoning out parking and narrowing car lanes to construct special bicycle lanes. They might as well try to get people to use their "...
September 21, 2010
The Obama administration, having succeeded in bringing about economic recovery and having nation-built a democratic Afghanistan, has set its sights on another pressing issue: driving while distracted. Today in Washington, the Department of Transportation is holding its second annual Distracted Driving Summit. This meeting of the minds brings together finger-waving bureaucrats and activists from across the country to devise strategies on how to make another molehill into a mountain....
August 31, 2010[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqm5RRBCmiw 285 234]
August 12, 2010
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo v. New London decision, significant attention has been paid to the way government interacts in the property development realm. The case centered on a comprehensive redevelopment plan meant to augment pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s new research and development campus (Pfizer announced construction in 1998 and decided to close the facility in 2009). The city devised a plan, financed in part by $15 million in bonds, which included financing for the Fort Trumbull State Park and a mixed-use development adjacent to the Pfizer campus. City planners estimated that the project would create 1,000 jobs and bring in new tax revenue.
After several homeowners refused to sell, the city of New London,...
August 3, 2010
The Twin Cities have a long history of expensive, poorly planned development projects. Notable cases include the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis’ Downtown East neighborhood, St. Paul’s downtown revitalization efforts, and various aborted urban renewal projects in impoverished north Minneapolis. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area is home to approximately 2.87 million people, with less than a quarter of them residing in Minneapolis and St. Paul proper. City officials see this as a problem, and have launched several development public-private partnerships designed to attract new residents, businesses, and retail customers from the suburbs as well as from other regions.
Downtown Minneapolis’ Block E remains one of the most controversial...
July 22, 2010
The retail and entertainment development formerly known as Xanadu Meadowlands—recently renamed The Meadowlands—has been plagued with problems since the planning stage. The East Rutherford megamall is located on the site of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, about seven miles west of Midtown Manhattan in Bergen County, and would be the largest retail and entertainment complex in the United States. In addition to the shopping mall, Xanadu was to include an indoor ski jump, a basketball arena, a ballpark, a luxury hotel, and office towers. When the...
July 7, 2010Beekeeping is an ancient human practice, with some anthropological evidence suggesting that primitive forms of honey bee domestication go back more than 4,000 years. Apiarists have perfected their techniques and mankind's honey pot hath overfloweth ever since. While industrialized commercial beekeeping dominates the honey market in the United States, apiculture has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to the so-called "urban homesteading movement." Urban homesteaders are back-to-the-landers, but the land at issue is located in dense cities rather than rural areas.
Advocates and practitioners of this lifestyle ran into problems recently, as they discovered that several major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, specifically prohibited the keeping of bees within city limits. Other cities created...
June 23, 2010Today--this June 23--marks the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's wrongheaded ruling in Kelo v. New London. Here's my piece on Kelo+5 in The Daily Caller. The reasoning behind the opinion relied primarily on three past (although modern) Supreme Court decisions involving definitions of "public use":
- Berman v. Parker (1954) -- This case upheld the right of municipalities to declare entire areas blighted, even if the property in question isn't blighted. It also accepted Washington, D.C.'s argument that the area condemnation was necessary to prevent future blight. An all around terrible decision.
- Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff (1984) -- This case involved redistribution of land titles in Hawaii. When the state moved to seize the properties, 49 percent...
May 27, 2010
In 1958, Chicago opened the 7.8-mile Chicago Skyway, an elevated tollway linking the downtown Chicago Loop with the Indiana Toll Road. Due to poor transportation planning and fiscal mismanagement, the city was unable to repay construction revenue bonds into the 1990s. After years of heated debate, the city finalized a $1.83 billion 99-year concession agreement in 2005 with a consortium consisting of Macquarie and Cintra, a Spanish infrastructure developer.
The $1.83 billion infusion to City of Chicago coffers allowed the city to repay $855 million in debt, fill a $375 million budget shortfall, and improve its debt rating to save millions annually in interest payments. It...