San Francisco’s Better Streets Plan: A Model for Street Design & Delivery
By Jeremy Nelson and Adam Varat
The San Francisco Better Streets Plan recently made the cover of the Winter 2013 issue of the California Planner in an article written by Adam Varat of the San Francisco Planning Department and Nelson\Nygaard’s own Jeremy Nelson as a contributing author. Nelson\Nygaard supported Community Design + Architecture on the technical street design work and led the innovative community outreach for the project. The plan was adopted unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, won a CNU Charter Award, and it principles have been implemented on projects throughout the city.
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NYC and Water: A Changing Relationship
By David Fields, AICP
What's Health Got to Do With It? A Primer for Planning Commissioners
A planners inside view of Superstorm Sandy, New York City resident David Fields talks about climate change escalation and how our relationship to the rising water must change with it.
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By Jeremy Nelson and Kara Vuicich
Jeremy Nelson and Kara Vuicich recently co-authored an article — along with Max Richardson and Galatea King from the California Environmental Health Tracking Program — on new data sources and performance tools for planning officials that want to integrate public health into their communities' planning decisions. Also highlighted are success stories from a number of communities of all sizes that have prioritized "healthy planning." The article will appear in the next issue of APA's Planning Commissioner.
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Cumulative Impacts of Carsharing and Unbundled Parking on Vehicle Ownership & Mode Choice
By Jessica ter Schure, Francesca Napolitan and Rick Hutchinson
Nelson\Nygaard staff recently authored "Cumulative Impacts of Carsharing and Unbundled Parking on Vehicle Ownership and Mode Choice" for the 2012 Transportation Research Board annual conference. This article summarizes the findings of a study conducted in 2010 that surveyed residents living in 13 buildings in downtown San Francisco to determine what, if any, differences exist between residents living in buildings with both carsharing and unbundled parking and those living in buildings with neither in terms of vehicle ownership, commute patterns, and carshare vehicle usage. While the independent effects of carsharing and unbundled parking have been studied, there is a lack of research on these two measures’ joint effects on parking demand and vehicle usage, which this study examines.
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Smart Parking Revisited
By Jeremy Nelson and Jason Schrieber, AICP
Nelson\Nygaard staff recently authored "Smart Parking Revisited: Lessons from the Pioneers" for the May issue of APA's Planning Magazine (www.planning.org/planning/default.htm).
This article summarizes some of the lessons learned from 7 "early adopters" or parking reforms, and shares some of the available before and after data and the perspectives of past and present parking managers in these communities. The seven communities highlighted include: San Francisco (Jay Primus), Redwood City CA (Dan Zack), Washington DC (Ellen Jones), Oak Park IL (Cara Pavlicek), Ventura (Tom Mericle), Los Angeles (Dan Mitchell), and Chicago.
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Crowdsourcing and virtual town halls: New ways to engage
By Kara Vuicich, with Phil Olmstead, Elizabeth Romero, and Valerie Taylor
Public participation is vital and necessary to planning and decision-making. It helps planners, decisionmakers, and the public process their concerns and engage in effective and meaningful discourse.
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Using Taxicabs for Public Transportation Services
By David Koffman and Ellen Oettinger
The Transportation Research Board has just published a new report by Nelson\Nygaard Principal, David Koffman, with help from Associate Project Planner, Ellen Oettinger. It’s about all the ways that public agencies use taxicabs for public transport services. The report includes 23 case studies and provides a dozen recommendations for what public agencies can do to make arrangements with taxicabs work better. It includes chapters about:
- General public dial-a-ride
- Demand responsive service for seniors or people with disabilities
- Subsidized taxi rides
- Wheelchair accessible taxicabs
- Non-emergency medical transportation
- Guaranteed ride home
- Student transportation
- 911 transport
The official title of the report is “Research Results Digest 366: Local and State Partnerships with Taxicab Companies.” It can be downloaded for free at:
Necessity is the mother of [sustainable] transportation systems
By Holly Parker and David Fields, AICP
Imagine a city where everyone works for the municipality. The city provides housing for anyone who wants to live nearby, a bus system, and parking for anyone who chooses to drive. It embraces all three aspects of sustainability — economics, environment, and equity — and it favors growth. But with major financial limitations, air quality issues, and shrinking land availability, how is all this possible?
This is the position in which many U.S. universities have found themselves in the last 10 years. Intentions to grow, but nowhere to go. Acres of parking where cars are stored all day (and demands for more), but no room for classrooms, offices, athletic fields, or the active uses that define education and research institutions. Plus a mission to "be green" without a plan for getting there.
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By Mike King
In 2010 Nelson\Nygaard assisted the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy and Gehl Architects author the booklet Our Cities Ourselves, the companion piece to an exhibition of the same name. The booklet illustrates ten principles for sustainable transportation planning and is a must read for urbanists, planners and designers. It is projected that within 20 years, 60 percent of the world’s people will live in cities – equal to the five billion currently inhabiting the planet. For our children and grandchildren to have anything approaching a meaningful and livable existence, we must reform the way we plan, design and operate cities. This booklets sets out the ground rules:
1. Walk the walk: Create great pedestrian environments
2. Powered by people: Create a great environment for bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles
3. Get on the bus: Provide great, cost-effective public transport
4. Cruise control: Provide access for clean passenger vehicles at safe speeds and in significantly reduced numbers
5. Deliver the goods: Service the city in the cleanest and safest manner.
6. Mix it up: Mix people and activities, buildings and spaces.
7. Fill it in: Build dense, people and transit oriented urban districts that are desirable.
8. Get real: Preserve and enhance the local, natural, cultural, social and historical assets.
9. Connect the blocks: Make walking trips more direct, interesting and productive with small-size, permeable buildings and blocks.
10. Make it last: Build for the long term. Sustainable cities bridge generations. They are memorable, malleable, built from quality materials, and well maintained.
Read the book (pdf download)
Check out the website
The Green Connection:
More Affordable Housing = Less Traffic
By Jeremy Nelson
A wide range of national studies suggest
that low-income households are less likely
to own a private vehicle and most likely to
take transit. When these groups do travel by
car, on average they make fewer and shorter
vehicle trips and are more likely to travel
during off-peak hours when road capacity
is generally unconstrained. Similar to these
national findings, local studies show that
affordable housing in the Bay Area is also
"low traffic" housing.
Despite these research findings, the
conventional methods used by transportation
planners to estimate auto parking demand
and vehicle trips can overlook the "low traffic"
of affordable housing. As a result, parking
requirements are often too high for affordable
housing, meaning that money that could have
been spent on constructing more affordable
homes may be wasted on unneeded parking.
In addition, many communities prohibit
"unbundled parking" (which allows for
parking to be paid for separately from the
price of housing, without increasing the total
cost of both), meaning that low-income
households often pay for parking spaces they
don't want or need.
Read the article (page 14 and 15 of the article)
Parking Management: A Key to Revitalizing Massachusetts Downtowns
By Lisa Jacobson
You think picking up your dry cleaning will be an easy task, a quick stop en route to work. But
when you get to the dry cleaner downtown, there are no on-street spaces to be found in front,
across the street, or anywhere in sight. You circle around, once, twice, three times hoping a spot
will open up. All you have to do is run in and grab your dry cleaning — a 10-minute endeavor at
most — but the search for parking is taking longer than the errand itself. Without a spot available,
your options are to park too far away, risk a ticket and double-park, or start thinking about finding
another dry cleaner.
This is just one example of a common frustration on a typical New England main street. Many
destination main streets in Massachusetts — High Street in Medford, Washington Street in
Haverhill, Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington, Holland Street in Somerville, Washington Street in
Salem, and the list goes on — are often plagued with high demand for front-door parking, while
off-street lots and on-street spaces a short walk away remain empty all day.
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Muni's Billion Dollar Problem
By Jeremy Nelson and Jay Primus
Muni's fiscal crisis
Muni is in the midst of a financial crisis. For the last five years, Muni has been able to patch over its
structural deficit, primarily via a combination of one-time revenues, belt tightening, fare increases, and
This year, an improving economy and more one-time windfalls may get Muni through
another year, but these short-term solutions do not address Muni's real long-term issue:
If Muni's structural deficit is not addressed head-on, in the years to come Muni may
have no choice but to increase fares and cut more service.
This scenario is unacceptable: Muni needs to improve dramatically, not simply perpetuate the
status quo. To make Muni the first-class transit system that San Francisco residents can rely on,
City and MTA leadership must chart a course that will allow Muni to escape from its downward
spiral of fare increases, service cuts, and dwindling ridership.
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Bursting the Bubble
Determining the Transit-Oriented
Development's Walkable Limits
By Brian Canepa
Transit-oriented developments (TODs) in the United States have been
modeled almost exclusively with a half-mile radius as a reliable limit for
pedestrian walkability from and to a light rail station. New research has
emerged to challenge this standard, with data indicating that transit
users may be apt to walk greater distances than previously estimated.
Variables such as housing density, employment density, and urban design
all significantly affect walking patterns. Those factors are analyzed as
expanders or contractors of the TOD radius, and the implications that
a fluctuating boundary might have on the future of urban growth are
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Are Parking Minimums a Political Third Rail?
By Tom Brown
A clear consensus has emerged among city planners that removing minimum parking requirements is one of the most effective ways to promote healthier, more active and economically vibrant downtowns.
Despite this, the broad elimination of parking requirements continues to be a political third rail or practical impossibility in many places. Where minimum requirements trigger investments in public parking or other public investments (via "in lieu fees" or similar), broad removal may have even more barriers and fewer local cheerleaders.
Read the article from Parking Today (See pages 18-20)
Cycling = Livability
By Michael King, assisted by Ed Hernandez
“In the past decade there has been a semi-revolution in the world of cycling in North America. Through various means and for various reasons, cities have been investing more in cycling programs and infrastructure. Cities with heavy investment in cycling are consistently rated among the best places to live, the most economically rewarding, and the most progressive -- the choice of the ‘creative class.’”
The article makes the case that, because cycling is safer with more cyclists, the goal of a cycling program should be to increase the number of cyclists. This will be done by understanding the needs of potential cyclists (as opposed to people who already ride).
Read the whole article from the TDP Newsletter
Washington DC Re-Thinks Parking Requirements
By Thomas Brown and David Fields, AICP
Anyone who sees municipal parking requirements simply as an issue of parking supply is missing the bigger picture. Parking requirements proscribed within zoning codes are a powerful tool for directingand shaping a city’s complete transportation framework. Such requirements can guide the aestheticand functional qualities of off-street parking facilities — ensuring that buildings play nice with thestreetscape and direct their traffic away from primary pedestrian, bicycle, and transit routes; require or incentivize support for sustainable modes of access;require or incentivize transportation demand management program commitments; and outline strategies for reducing the cost of accommodating vehicles — which in turn can lower the cost of the goods, services, and or housing being offered. As the world continues to develop and populations continue to urbanize, the collective ability of communities to use zoning and other tools to shape local transportation conditions around common shared values will have increasingly far-reaching impacts.
Read the whole article from the TDP News - A Publication of the Transportation Planning Division of the American Planning Association
By David Fields, AICP, and Tom Brown
Article posted on http://www.planning.org
Minimum parking requirements for new developments have been the standard in U.S. zoning codes for over 50 years. But the minimum requirements have several unintended consequences. They encourage driving and discourage the use of transit. They increase the cost of building housing by as much as 25 percent. They discourage the reuse of historic structures that cannot provide parking. And of course they foster sprawl by sending developers in search of greenfield sites.
Recent innovations in parking management philosophy — demand-responsive pricing of commercial spaces and residential permit parking, for instance — have called into question the need for minimum requirements. Many planners are beginning to ask the fundamental question: If on-street management can be improved to ensure availability, could minimum off-street requirements soon be obsolete?
In cities across the country, the answer could well be yes. Here are three approaches:
- Tailoring minimum parking requirements to geographic context and demographic characteristics. Seattle allows reductions in minimum requirements in developments that provide affordable or senior housing, dedicated car-sharing spaces, or transportation demand management programs.
- Eliminating minimum requirements, especially in downtowns or central business districts. Fort Myers, Florida, has eliminated parking minimums for downtown commercial and multifamily residential development.
- Establishing maximum thresholds to restrict traffic generated by new development, promote alternatives to the private automobile, and preserve open space. Parking maximums have been adopted in San Francisco and San Antonio, and are being considered in Washington, D.C., and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Link to the Article
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