Phonehenge West creator jailed: When folk art and building codes collide –

The builder of a fantastical fortress in the Mojave Desert has been sentenced to jail for failing to pay for the demolition of his lifes work. Why art isnt sacred in the eyes of code enforcers.

via Phonehenge West creator jailed: When folk art and building codes collide –


How the Tea Party Is Upending Urban Planning – Politics – The Atlantic Cities

Planners would do well to listen to Tea Party activists, not because they are funded by big interests and mega huge corporations, but because they can be a counterpoint to unmitigated coercive planning. As a planner, I was not trained to impose my viewpoint on the majority, on property owners or on anyone else. My training and practice has always involved inviting all stakeholders to the table to discuss and negotiate outcomes. Planning is a give and take between differing interests and viewpoints to arrive at the best possible solution for most of the community. While not everyone can be pleased, or ever will be pleased, neither developers nor city officials have carte blanche to impose regulations or projects. Fortunately, regulations reflect agreements, or should reflect agreements between different sectors of a community. When they no longer reflect these inherent agreements, they should be changed. Closer inspection by affected individuals should lead these to determine whether community regulations matter, whether they reflect the vision of the community. When they cease to reflect the true vision of the community at large, they become coercive. It is at this point that they should be revamped, community by community. Regulations are not one-size-fits-all. They must be customized if need be.

In the spring of 1968, Jane Jacobs walked into a high school auditorium in the Lower East Side and addressed a rowdy crowd opposed to the Lower Manhattan Expressway, a 10-lane highway proposed by Robert Moses that would have blasted through what we now know as SoHo.

The public hearing was a sham, she said. The city and state officials had already made all the decisions to move ahead – they were just collecting neighborhood opinions so they could fulfill the obligation to get citizen input. After leading a defiant march in front of the transportation bureaucrats, somebody ripped up the stenotype roll and threw it in the air like confetti.

For her trouble, Jacobs was arrested for inciting a riot and driven away in a squad car. The charges were knocked down to a misdemeanor, but one of the author’s greatest legacies grew out of that night: that when it comes to our homes and communities, the power should be with the people. Citizens must be truly involved with plans and projects, not just told that proposals will be good for them and society. A generation of planners and environmentalists has grown up dedicated to the notion of civic participation.

So it is with particular angst that many of these same planners now are forced to reckon with the modern-day Jane Jacobs, at least in terms of tactics and a libertarian streak: the Tea Party.

via How the Tea Party Is Upending Urban Planning – Politics – The Atlantic Cities.

New Jersey agonizes over whether to rebuild shore –

The phrase “Jersey Shore” is taking on a new meaning, emblematic of disaster recovery.

…environmentalists and shoreline planners urged the state to think about how – and if – to redevelop the shoreline as it faces an even greater threat of extreme weather.

“The next 50 to 100 years are going to be very different than what we’ve seen in the past 50 years,” said S. Jeffress Williams, a scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts.

The sea level is rising fast, and destructive storms are occurring more frequently, said Williams, who expects things to get even worse.

He and other shoreline advocates say the state should consider how to protect coastal areas from furious storms when they rebuild it, such as relocating homes and businesses farther from the shore, building more seawalls and keeping sand dunes high.

How to rebuild after the disaster is becoming an issue even as New Jersey assesses its damage.

via New Jersey agonizes over whether to rebuild shore –

City: Christians can’t give water to thirsty

City codes are necessary, but when they interfere with life and liberty, we need to take a step back and let life prevail:

“Phoenix officials have until next Friday to apologize for the actions of a code enforcement officer after he stopped Christians from giving out water bottles to city festival participants on a day that reached 112 degrees.”

via City: Christians cant give water to thirsty.


Bans on plastic bags harm the environment | Just Facts Daily

“…paper bags have a worse effect on the environment than plastic bags in all nine impact categories, which include global warming potential, abiotic depletion, acidification, eutrophication, human toxicity, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity, and photochemical oxidation.

via Bans on plastic bags harm the environment | Just Facts Daily.

Court rules for Tolmas tract neighbors in Metairie, against developer |

Court rules for Tolmas tract neighbors in Metairie, against developer |

This provides a good lesson in the power and use of zoning codes to preserve green spaces and the integrity of a neighborhood. An appelate court ruled in favor of the local parish, or county, to enact zoning ordinances for the benefit of the local community. Way to go!

Low vitamin D in children behind current explosion of new diabetes cases

Low vitamin D in children behind current explosion of new diabetes cases.

Children require lots of sunshine. Our great-grandmothers knew this. However, children are now plunked down in front of video games and Wii starting at an early age.

Part of this is because our neighborhoods are no longer designed with child’s play in mind. Parks are becoming larger and difficult to get to. Kids are discouraged from playing in lots and courtyards, and no trespassing signs are everywhere. Streets are designed for fast-moving automobiles and sidewalks are inaccessible, in disrepair, or non-existent.

Apartment dwellers are hard-pressed to find smooth surfaces free of auto-pedestrian interaction on which to set their children free on bicycles. Kids are no longer allowed to play with the neighbors’ children for fear of their safety. The list is incredibly long and points to the need to go back to basics. Design streets with children in mind. Not only will this benefit our children, but the future adults of our society as well. Healthy children grow up into healthy adults. Let’s work to eradicate illness. Let’s design our neighborhoods to be child friendly.

Free Lemonade Meets Resistance From Farmers’ Market President |

Free Lemonade Meets Resistance From Farmers’ Market President |

People are really losing their way around the public realm as the public sphere erodes into sundry pointless private fiefdoms. This article shows layers of issues that one must unravel to arrive at the basic issue that concerns the spirit of our humanity. Perhaps our friend on the sidewalk would have fared better with the so-called president of t-island had he offered lemonade made from organic lemons grown in his backyard. More germane to the discussion would be the question, “Where may the children sell lemonade?” Cities around the country had better hunker down and define “seller” and “vendor” to exclude small doe-eyed children who still have hope for the future, lest hope die with their lemonade dreams.