The cone of uncertainty

One of the elements that makes prediction difficult is uncertainty. In one of the chapters of Donald Shoup’s High Cost of Free Parking (adapted for Access here), Professor Shoup poses the question:

HOW FAR IS IT from San Diego to San Francisco? An estimate of 632.125 miles is precise—but not accurate. An estimate of somewhere between 400

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Prediction is hard - so why do we make key decisions based on bad information?

Comparison of USDOT predictions for Vehicle Miles Traveled, compared to actual values. Chart from SSTI.

Back in December, David Levinson put up a wonderful post with graphical representations looking to match predictions to reality. The results aren’t good for the predictors. Lots of official forecasts call for increased vehicle travel, while many places have seen

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Decreasing opportunities for incremental development in American neighborhoods

Several months ago, Charlie Gardner had an excellent, thought-provoking post asking why have American cities seen the demise of the duplex? In a time when growing cities are bursting at the seams and facing severe affordability challenges, an incremental kind of development might be welcome in many cities, offering new housing while allowing an evolutionary pace

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Affordable housing and the law of supply and demand

CC image from Thomas Hawk.

Some great articles on the challenges to affordable housing in high-demand cities over the past few days, worthy of some reflection:

San Francisco’s Housing Crisis Explained – an epic long-form article from Tech Crunch looking at just about every angle of San Francisco’s affordability issues.
The Spectre Haunting San Francisco – Ryan Avent’s

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The zoning straightjacket

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

DC is nearing the end of a lengthy process to re-write the city’s zoning code. The re-write is mostly a reorganization, combining overlays and base zones in an effort to rationalize a text that’s been edited constantly over the better part of half a century. While

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Updating the reading list

CC image from carnagenyc.

Reading and writing about Vishaan Chakrabarti’s A Country of Cities reminded me that I need to add a few titles to the reading list. I’ve read several of these in the past year but since I haven’t been the most diligent in updating the list, there are also several that I’ve

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A country of hyperdense cities

“How to build good cities,” from Vishaan Chakrabarti’s ‘A Country of Cities.’

Well, that was fast.

Based on the heft of my gift, I expected to take more time to read through Vishaan Chakrabarti’s A Country of Cities. The book, however, is wonderfully illustrated and laid out, thanks to Chakrabarti’s firm, SHoP (for a sampling of the illustrations and an essay

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Fearing 'hyperdensity' in urban areas

Aerial view of Toronto. CC image from rene_beignet.

One of the books I picked up through the rounds of exchanging holiday gifts is Vishaan Chakrabarti’s A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America. I’ve read an excerpt of the book published in Design Observer and watched Chakrabarti’s accompanying lecture; I’m looking forward to reading

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646,449 - DC's population continues to grow

Cranes. CC image from Daniel Foster.

The latest state-level population estimates show another year of 2%+ growth for DC, bringing the city’s estimated population to 646,449. Former Mayor Tony Williams set a goal in 2003 of adding 100,000 new residents to the city back when the city’s population growth was essentially nil, following decades of population

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Challenges to affordable housing in growing cities and regions

Suburban Apartments and Estates – Now Renting. CC image from moominsean.

Call it gentrification, call it renewal, call it anything you like. Intense demand for city living is putting tremendous pressure on urban housing markets. Meeting that demand with new development reshapes the physical fabric of the city, but preserving the physical status quo in

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