Tag Archives: cities

Los Angeles updates zoning in Hollywood – moving towards metro-centric city

A plan that could dramatically remake the Hollywood skyline and form the blueprint for denser development around the city’s growing rail network has won unanimous approval from the Los Angeles City Council.

Revised zoning guidelines for Sunset Boulevard and surrounding streets will make it easier for developers to build bigger and taller buildings, especially around subway stations and along bus routes. Supporters say the plan is a visionary change that will allow Hollywood to complete a 20-year-transformation from a seedy haven for drug dealing and prostitution into a more vibrant, cosmopolitan center of residential towers, jobs, entertainment and public transportation.

“If we’re going to spend billions of dollars to build a rapid-transit system, it only makes sense to put development there,” he said.

Learn more – L.A. council OKs plan to concentrate growth in Hollywood

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11 documentaries about cities – streaming on Netflix

Here are 11 new and new-ish documentaries now streaming that offer interesting, frustrating and downright sad stories about cities.

 

Bill Cunningham New York
2010, 84 minutes
Directed by Richard Press

A film about octogenarian and New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, who rides his bike around New York City taking pictures of clothes and the people – both ordinary and extraordinary – who wear them. A unique look at the changing fashions of one of the world’s centers of culture.

 

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Walkability raises housing value by $4,000 – $34,000

Can you walk to stores, schools and a park from your home? If so, your house or condo may be worth substantially more than those in more isolated, pedestrian-hostile neighborhoods.

That’s the finding of “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities,” a study by Joseph Cortright that analyzed data from 94,000 real estate transactions in 15 major markets provided by ZipRealty and found that in 13 of the 15 markets, higher levels of walkability, as measured by Walk Score, were directly linked to higher home value.

The report found, in short, that walkability is more than just a pleasant amenity. Homes located in more walkable neighborhoods—those with a mix of common daily shopping and social destinations within a short distance—command a price premium over otherwise similar homes in less walkable areas. Houses with the above-average levels of walkability command a premium of about $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with just average levels of walkability in the typical metropolitan areas studied.

via Designing Healthy Communities

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Top 3 Reasons To Choose Airbnb Over Hotels

Airbnb is disrupting the hotel industry.

As of February 2012, 5 million guest nights have been booked worldwide since the site’s launch in 2007, with a 500% growth in the past year and accommodations in over 19,000 cities.

 

Airbnb Global Growth Infographic

 

I’ve now stayed at two properties (one in San Diego and one in Santa Barbara) and I’m officially on the Airbnb bandwagon. Here’s why:

1. Comfort: After traveling so much in my career, I’ve grown weary of the generic, cookie cutter look and feel of hotel rooms, even 5-star accommodations. Staying at an AirBnb is like staying at a friend’s house, with all the comforts and spaciousness of a home, like a kitchen and a comfy living room with books and magazines to peruse.

2. Amenities: I’ve started to deplore how hotels nickel and dime guests, especially when it comes to wifi and water. Both Airbnbs I’ve stayed at offered free, secure wifi and purified drinking water. It might sound trivial, but I feel like water and wifi should be included in a guest’s stay. And at our Santa Barbara rental, the owner provided two bikes, with bike locks and helmets for guests. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to arrive and jump right onto the bike to explore the city. Plus, there was free street parking just feet away from the entrances at both properties.

3. Cost: Bottom line, you get a lot more for a lot less at an Airbnb. And you don’t have to pay for all the hidden costs of hotels.

Not all people will love Airbnb (especially those enamored by turn-down and room service). But I get a feeling a growing number of folks will like what Airbnb has to offer (on both the demand and supply side) and it’s going to take a big bite out of the hotel industry pie.

Housing recovery hits some areas – top growth in U.S. cities

Metros with the Most Construction Permits in 2011

  1. Houston, TX – 31,271
  2. Dallas, TX – 18,686
  3. Washington, DC – 16,501
  4. New York, NY – 13,973
  5. Austin, TX – 10,239
  6. Los Angeles, CA – 9,895
  7. Phoenix, AZ – 9,081
  8. Seattle, WA – 8,664
  9. Atlanta, GA – 8,634
  10. San Antonio, TX – 7,127

More permits were issued in the Houston metro area than in any other metro, by far. Four of the top ten metros were in Texas. But this list is dominated by large metro areas, and we’d expect bigger areas to have more construction activity. Looking instead at the number of permits issued per 1,000 existing housing units…here are the top metro areas by construction activity:

Most Construction Activity (per 1,000 existing units)

  1. El Paso, TX – 15.36
  2. Austin, TX – 14.49
  3. Raleigh, NC – 13.66
  4. Houston, TX – 13.55
  5. Charleston, SC – 12.80
  6. Dallas, TX – 11.26
  7. Little Rock, AR – 10.53
  8. Baton Rouge, LA – 9.51
  9. Washington, DC – 9.44
  10. Columbia, SC – 8.74

via – The Top U.S. Cities for New Home Construction - which includes cities with least construction activity

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Why Amsterdam, Copenhagen are bike friendly cities

“The bicycle was regarded, more than most places in the world — as ‘good for society,’” he writes in an email. “After the bicycle boom in the late 1800s, many cycling clubs merged and then many of them merged again, morphing into cyclist ‘unions’, with political goals. What happened in most countries in the early 20th century was that sports cycling organizations were formed to further cycling as sport…. Not so in Denmark and the Netherlands. The cyclist unions — meaning organizations for promoting cycling as transport, etc. — stayed strong and separate and they gained political influence.”

Still, that didn’t stop planners from ripping out cycle tracks and starting to design streets for cars as Europe modernized in the wake of World War II. By the early 1960s, much of the cycling infrastructure that had existed in the pre-war era was gone, and the percentage of the population using bicycles for transportation fell to an all-time low of 10 percent.

Then history intervened. “The energy crisis in 1973 hit Denmark hard. Very hard,” writes Colville-Andersen. “Car-free Sundays were introduced in order to save fuel. Every second streetlight was turned off in order to save energy. A groundswell of public discontent started to form. People wanted to be able to ride their bicycles again — safely. Protests took place…. The energy crisis faded, but then returned in 1979. More protests. One form of protest/awareness was painting white crosses on the asphalt where cyclists had been killed. This time, things happened. We started to rebuild our cycle track network in the early 1980s. Fatalities and injuries started falling. The network was expanded.

learn more about bikes in each city, and a video, atThe Atlantic Cities

 

// Photo – Moyan_brenn

The top 10 cities for travel in 2012 – from Lonely Planet

  1. London
  2. Muscat, Oman
  3. Bengaluru (Bangalore), India
  4. Cádiz, Spain
  5. Stockholm, Sweden
  6. Guimarães, Portugal
  7. Santiago, Chile
  8. Hong Kong
  9. Orlando, Florida
  10. Darwin, Australia

A few of the explanations:

Bengaluru - The undisputed Elvis of South Asian megacities, Bengaluru is in a class of its own when it comes to redefining flamboyance. Perpetually drunk on the good life, this South Indian metropolis packs in the best brews, the scrummiest cuisines, and the liveliest arts and music scene, not to mention the hippest population you could hang out with. This year, evenings in the ‘capital of cool’ are poised to get even more intoxicating. And if the maddening traffic has always been your concern, take heart: Bengaluru’s new high-speed Metro network now ensures that your favourite watering hole is easier to reach than ever. There’s only one thing you could say to that: ‘Chill maadi!’

Stockholm – The film release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo might have prompted a new wave of Stieg Larsson fans to look for the grimy side of Stockholm. Unfortunately they’ll have to look quite hard, because Stockholm looks as perfect as it’s ever been. This is as seductive a capital city as can be imagined – cosy yet cosmopolitan, wilfully alternative and effortlessly picturesque. With its trendy design shops and bohemian bars, the island of Södermalm is one of the coolest kids on the block, while the stately parks of Djurgården make it the best island for an evening stroll. Admittedly Stockholm has never been a cheap date. But even if Stockholm leaves you with a lighter wallet, you’ll inevitably still leave it with a heavy heart.

Read more at Lonely Planet

Stockholm

 

// Thx to Shashi Bellamkonda