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VOLUME 26 // SPRING 2018

Front Cover: Photo by Fronteras Desk. Tijuana Suburbs 5. October 18, 2013. The Commons, Flickr.



his year marks my first as the chair of the PennDesign Department of City and Regional Planning, and I could not be more proud of the work our students are doing. Every day in our classrooms and out in the field, they apply new technology to vexing problems, challenge conventional theory, and build the kind of toolkits they need to improve our world. The unique political moment we’re living in has highlighted challenges in which planners must play important roles, and our students are diving right in. From climate change to women’s rights to immigration, this issue of Panorama highlights the ways our students have taken the skills and perspectives they’ve developed here at Penn and applied them to the most pressing problems of our time, both domestically and internationally. This year’s edition of Panorama, which includes articles from across Penn’s School of Design, illustrates the reach, range, and collaborative nature of the field of planning. From the streets of Kigali to the plains of northern Alaska; the use of eminent domain in lower north Philadelphia to financing green stormwater infrastructure, if planning is involved, so are our students. The 2018 edition of Panorama is packed full of examples of the work Penn students take on every day. I hope you’ll enjoy this issue of Panorama as much as I have. It’s my honor to work with so many talented students, and this journal is proof positive that good work will move the needle.

Lisa J. Servon Chair, Department of City and Regional Planning

Lisa Servon was previously Professor of Management and Urban Policy at The New School, where she also served as Dean at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. She conducts research in the areas of urban poverty, community development, economic development, and issues of gender and race. Specific areas of expertise include economic insecurity, consumer financial services, and financial justice. Servon holds a BA in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College, an MA in History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Urban Planning from UC Berkeley.



elcome to the 26th edition of Panorama, PennDesign’s City and Regional Planning student journal. As a student-run publication, we strive to represent the very best work of the School of Design. This year is no exception. The work included in the 2018 edition of Panorama explores international and domestic planning issues — planning for people, physical and environmental health, innovation in infrastructure, climate change, informal settlements, and planning’s mental health responsibility, amongst others. These exceedingly challenging issues, investigated within this journal, represent the future of planning. In addition, this journal represents several City Planning studios. This year the studios ranged from a study of gentrification across the United States to a plan for Philadelphia in 2060 to master plans for a wetland outside Bogotá to a national transportation investment strategy. These studios, representative of domestic and international planning challenges, highlight students’ hunger to tackle such issues. We include a study, performed by several City Planning students, using eye-trackers to understand cycling habits on the protected bike lane on Chestnut Street in University City. While the topics in this year’s Panorama may be broad, they epitomize the exciting scale and scope of the future of planning. It is our pleasure to share the 2018 Panorama journal with you. Yours, The Panorama Editors (left to right) Annie Streetman, Senior Copy Editor Sarah Halle, Senior Copy Editor Jessica Klion, Copy Editor

Danielle Lake, Graphics Editor Alexandra Zazula, Copy Editor Robert I. Romo, Senior Graphics Editor

Sarah Halle is a Senior Copy Editor for Panorama and second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student in the Community and Economic Development concentration, with a particular interest in community resilience. She is originally from northwestern Connecticut, and uses running as her favorite way to learn about cities.

Jessica Klion is a Copy Editor for Panorama and a first-year Master of City and Regional Planning student with a concentration in transportation. She is especially interested in how transportation technology can create more sustainable cities. A native of Dallas, Jessica loves learning about new cities and their cultures by trying their local delicacies and wandering through their streets. Danielle Lake is a Graphics Editor for Panorama and a first-year Master of City and Regional Planning student in the Urban Design concentration. With a background in architecture, she is most interested in designing equitable spaces within the public realm. As a military brat, Danielle moved around the country frequently, but she now claims North Carolina (and its delicious barbeque) as home. She is always looking for an excuse to travel the globe, listen to live music, take photos, try exciting foods, find hidden streets to walk, and explore her new city of Philadelphia. Robert I. Romo is a Senior Graphics Editor for Panorama and a second-year dual Master of City and Regional Planning and Master of Architecture student. He previously studied international affairs at the George Washington University. Robert is passionate about the intersection of architecture and urban politics, and the sometimes obscene, sometime beautiful, products that this intersection creates. When he is not in studio, Robert enjoys reading (non-fiction or science fiction mostly), taking photos, and running. Annie Streetman is a Senior Copy Editor for Panorama and a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Land Use and Environmental Planning. She is especially interested in how data-driven analysis can inform local policy, placemaking, and resilience efforts. Originally from the Boston area, Annie’s background is in classical archaeology. In her spare time, she can be found planning her next travel adventure or pretending she’s on the Great British Baking Show. Alexandra Zazula is a Copy Editor for Panorama, and a first-year Master of City and Regional Planning student trying her hand at Urban Design. She simply wants to make people’s lives easier through thoughtful planning and design, and is committed to green spaces and Double Stuf Oreos alike. She can’t wait for warm weather so that her bike lock will stop freezing and she can read books in Fairmount Park.



Claudia Elzey


Mohona Siddique







Scott Betz



Iris Kim and Nikita Jathan


8 14 22 30 36 38 42 48 54 58 70 72






ARE PROTECTED BIKE LANES MORE COMFORTABLE? A DATA-DRIVEN METHODOLOGY Jake Berman, Rachel Finfer, Tim Haney, Thomas Orgren, and Carrie Sauer


74 82 92 98 108 110 118 122

Angus Page





Figure 1: John “Cody� Jackson of the U.S. Border Patrol and Dan Bell, a cattle rancher, ride along the border with Mexico in Nogales, Arizona.



mmigration debates in the U.S. commonly revolve around just a few topics. The first is an economic calculus: how likely are immigrants to be self-sufficient workers or even entrepreneurs, versus liabilities to the public purse and competitors for American jobs? Another topic for debate is the extent of the U.S.’s moral responsibility to accept immigrants and especially refugees; once they arrive, the question becomes how best to go about societal integration. Recently, illegal immigration — both its effects and possible responses at multiple levels of government — has been hotly debated. Given the monopoly of these topics over public dialogue, arguments linking immigrants with the environment can seem obscure. Yet of the two major intersections of immigration and the environment in popular discourse, one is deeply embedded in the history of the U.S. environmental movement, and the other is emerging as a topic of global concern. Both connect immigration with the very sustainability of human life on earth. And though each intersection has generated a great deal of thought and argument on its own, they have yet to be compared in any meaningful way.

restrictionism,” used by Professor John Hultgren of Bennington College, describes the position that immigration adversely affects the environment, and therefore ought to be limited (Hultgren, 2012). It rests on the idea that since native-born Americans’ fertility has fallen to near replacement level, immigration drives the majority of U.S. population growth. And population growth is a direct threat to our environmental resources. But immigration to the U.S. doesn’t only degrade the American environment, restrictionists say, it also harms the entire planet. The Center for Immigration Studies, a prominent restrictionist organization, reported in 2008 that “on average, immigrants increase their [carbon dioxide] emissions four-fold by coming to America” (Kamarota and Kolankiewicz, 2008). Immigrants also acquire American consumption habits, which come at a global environmental cost, thanks to the outsourcing of production. Some restrictionists go further, claiming that when the U.S. accepts immigrants from more populous nations, it also disables a negative feedback loop that would otherwise curb excessive population growth in those places.

The first environment-immigration debate concerns immigrants’ effect on the environment, or in other words, how immigration policy might also be environmental policy. With American environmentalism so deeply associated with the political left, it is unsurprising that most environmentalists easily reconcile environmental protection and porous borders. Yet a faction within the environmental movement rejected this reconciliation and (briefly) managed to voice its dissent on a national stage. The term “environmental

Arguments along these lines have been made both within and outside of the American environmental movement, beginning with the 1968 publication of Paul Ehrlich’s grim prognosis in The Population Bomb. So powerful were they that in 1978, the Sierra Club urged Congress to study the impact of immigration policy on population growth and the demand for environmental resources. A decade later, the group issued a formal statement declaring that “immigration to the United States should be no greater than that which will permit achievement


of population stabilization” and that “Sierra Club statements will always make the connection between immigration, population increase in the U.S., and the environmental consequences thereof ” (Kunofsky, 1989). In a special 2010 report called Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism, and the Hypocrisy of Hate, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) framed environmental restrictionists as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” In other words, they are white nationalists who infiltrated the environmental movement in order to co-opt its audience and insulate themselves from accusations of racism. The SPLC points out that many of the organizations generating environmental rationale for limiting immigration are certified hate groups and can be linked to one man, John Tanton (Beirich, 2010). When he has not been busy planting trees or beekeeping, Tanton spent his time raising millions of dollars to fund organizations like the Federation for American Immigration Reform and its spin-off, the Center for Immigration Studies. These groups originally pledged to maintain a centrist outlook, but they alienated liberal supporters (including Warren Buffett) when Tanton began voicing fears that immigrants were endangering America’s environment not only in sheer numbers, but also by their proneness to high fertility and other supposedly inassimilable cultural practices (DeParle, 2011). Tanton’s brand of environmental restrictionism was largely discredited in 1998, when Sierra Club members voted to reject an anti-immigration stance. Yet restrictionist groups stubbornly continued using environmental rhetoric. In 2008, an alliance of several restrictionist groups ran ads in prominent newspapers including The New York Times and The Nation associating immigrants with rising traffic congestion, energy usage, and greenhouse gas emissions (Adler, 2008). So are concerns about immigration harming the environment just bad-faith attempts to seduce environmentalists to the nativist cause? John Hultgren, who may be the leading authority on environmental restrictionism, argues the contrary. As he sees it, such concerns are ingrained in the way Americans perceive nature as constrained by national borders and also subtly racialized. For example, the romantic ideal of the “wideopen” or “empty” frontier ignored the presence of Native Americans and Hispanics, as well as the claims of African Americans. Later, preservation of the great American wilderness was considered a white accomplishment, contrasted with failures in Africa or India to hem in teeming slums and protect environmental resources (a view that conveniently overlooks the track record of colonialism in those countries). These aspects internal to environmentalism were then effortlessly appropriated by anti-immigrant advocates. From ideals of a pristine, protected wilderness and fears



of a savage, overpopulated Third World, it was only a short leap to calls for closed borders (Hultgren, 2015). Liberal environmentalists have responded to restrictionist arguments mainly by pointing out that the causal link between immigrants and environmental degradation is far from sure. The boom in U.S. carbon emissions has far outpaced both immigration and population growth. This implies that immigration is a red herring in the quest for sustainability, and that Americans’ consumption-based lifestyles and the irresponsibility of the top one percent might be more suitable targets for reform. The authors of a 2012 study based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Census found that “in contrast to popular opinion and population pressure positions…immigration [did] not contribute to local air pollution levels” for any of the seven measures of pollution they considered. Instead, immigrants often have a smaller ecological footprint than nativeborn residents, and they are more likely to conserve water and cut back on meat consumption. Further, the “Latino Paradox” holds that as immigrants move into depressed neighborhoods, they revive social institutions and create the capacity necessary to tackle communal problems like environmental harm (Price and Feldmeyer, 2012). Another line of argument admits that immigrants emit and consume more once they enter American society. However, policies that try to keep them in their home countries do little to address the root causes of global environmental degradation, i.e., deepening global inequality and the outsourcing of environmental harm. With the spotlight trained on higher fertility rates among immigrant women from poor countries, restrictionists can also ignore the poorer working conditions, lower wages, and patriarchal authority these women may be trying to flee. Nothing is said about the chain of foreign female labor that Americans depend on for their own child and eldercare. But blaming immigrants for environmental harm is not only racist and sexist, it is also counterproductive. Well-known women’s rights advocate Betsy Hartmann writes: “[b]y shifting the the proverbial dark-skinned Other, [environmental restrictionism] prevented many Americans from taking a deeper look at their own causing environmental degradation at home and abroad...It alienated people of color and immigrants from the environmental movement” (Hartmann, 2010). Interestingly, these assertions do not deny that immigration and the environment are connected. They actually posit a profound relationship between the two. What makes them different from the arguments of environmental restrictionism is the emphasis is on environmental harms and other inequities causing immigration instead of the other way around. This brings us

Figure 2: Seventeen people from Tuvalu and Kiribati, which are low-lying islands in the Central Pacific, have made refugee claims in New Zealand, citing rising sea levels. None have been successful as of 2017.

neatly to the second immigration-environment debate considered in this paper: the climate migration debate. In late 2016, the New York Times began running a series of articles exploring how climate change impacts migration. One article discussed how the Chinese government had relocated some 300,000 residents from desertifying regions in the northern part of the country, making it “the world’s largest environmental migration project” (Wong and Haner, 2016). Another told the story of migrants passing through the Nigerian town of Agadez, enduring the abuse of smugglers for a chance to escape the harsh droughts and increasingly erratic rains of their homelands (Sengupta and Haner, 2016). In April 2017, the newspaper published a map overlaying temperature change data from NASA with U.N. tallies for ‘persons of concern’ (refugees, asylum-seekers, and the internally displaced). An ominous caption reads: “Climate displacement is becoming one of the world’s most powerful — and destabilizing — geopolitical forces” (Benko, 2017). All of these articles make the same point: that human-wrought changes to the environment are now uprooting people all over the world, and our immigration policies and international conventions remain ill-prepared to handle or even acknowledge them. As these concerns begin to penetrate the collective consciousness, a new debate over immigration and the environment is emerging. Namely, how best can the world deal with ‘climate refugees’? The protection of people fleeing environmental change currently has no international legal basis. In 2015, New Zealand courts heard the case of Ioane Teitiota, who said that rising seas made it so dangerous to return to his home on the Central Pacific island nation of Kiribati that he should receive the same treatment as those fleeing war or persecution (McDonald, 2015). Teitiota’s fears are well founded; the Kiribati government’s official climate change website confirms that coastal erosion is already causing severe overcrowding, while larger

and more frequent waves destroy the coral reefs, sweep away farmland, and contaminate wells (Republic of Kiribati, n.d.). The problem is that the 1951 Refugee Convention defines a ‘refugee’ as a person who cannot return to his or her country “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” (UNHCR, 2010). Thus, to claim refugee status, Teitiota would have to prove that the environmental damage to Kiribati is discriminatory, specifically targeting people of his race, religion, and so on. This would be almost impossible to do since the impacts of climate change are tied to geography, not personal attributes. Also, even if Teitiota could establish a persecutor, it would logically be the wealthy industrialized nations that emit the most greenhouse gases. These are the very countries he is trying to flee into, not away from (McAdam, 2012). Finding no evidence of persecution, New Zealand rejected Mr. Teitiota’s claims and deported him to Kiribati. The debate is, therefore, over how best to respond to a global phenomenon for which there is no accommodation in international law. In an article for the International Journal of Refugee Law, Lauren Nishimura (the Legal Coordinator of Myanmar) described the several different international solutions that have been proposed: the adoption of a new international convention on climate change displacement; a new protocol to the Refugee Convention; a new legal tool to enforce the UN Framework for Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC); or a “soft law framework” that adapts current international agreements to include a right to a safe environment. Yet little progress has been made toward any of these. A major difficulty is that international power rests with developed countries, which are often the least vulnerable to climate change and have little desire to create a whole new category of refugees that they will have to protect. In addition, the UNHCR — which would be tasked with administering a new refugee regime — is already strapped for funds and personnel. Finally, international action has been complicated by the very nature of climate change, which is a slow, stealthy process whose impacts are felt very differently in different contexts (Nishimura, 2015). The contours of the debate concerning international immigration policy’s response to environmental change are just taking shape. Yet it is already possible to discern important continuities with the earlier debate over how to reconcile immigration and environmental protection. In both cases, complex causality frustrates unilateral solutions. Environmental restrictionists drew a simple causal sequence from immigration to population growth to environmental degradation. Their opponents were able to tear this logic apart because it ignored the ripple effects of Americans’



Figure 3: The Cucapá River People rely on fish from the Colorado River, which has been drying up due to American dams and water consumption.

own behavior. John Hultgren’s profile of the Cucapá River People makes an excellent example (2015). This indigenous fishing community in northern Mexico has built its culture and livelihood on the Colorado River. But thanks to American dams, heavy water consumption, and “flawed political institutions” like the Colorado River Compact, the once-mighty river no longer sends water all the way to its mouth at the Gulf of California. What little water is left when the river enters Mexico is diverted for industry and for the Mapimí Biosphere Reserve; the state has denied the Cucapá community their fishing rights on environmental grounds. These conditions have forced the Cucapá and others in the Colorado River Basin to migrate northwards, into the very nation that robbed them of their sustenance. Hultgren proposes that in the context of such a “complex web of sociological connection,” real solutions must establish bilateral agreements between countries, not police immigration at the border (citing Muehlmann, 2013). Similarly, there is no easy equation in which environmental degradation equals climate change equals migration. This means that a top-down solution like an international climate refugee convention may overlook important forms of protection, exclude some of the people most vulnerable to climate change, and perhaps even undermine local adaptations. Once again, flexible regional agreements may be the best way forward. What can this parallel teach us as we seek environmentally sound immigration policy at the national and international levels? Perhaps the greatest lesson is to be wary of simple explanations. The relationship between immigration and



environment is not linear, and making it conform to a linear equation is an endeavor fraught with pitfalls like racism and xenophobia. Immigration policy, even where it intersects so vast a system as the planetary climate, must not reduce people to numbers, victims, or breeding machines. This essay also demonstrates the value of situating current debates in deep historical context. John Hultgren’s landmark book revealed how the construction of concepts like nature and sovereignty shaped environmental restrictionism and its opposite. So far, no similar investigation has been applied to the climate-migration debate. How do our concepts of climate, refugee rights, and the scope of international intervention inform (and restrict) the solutions we propose? Understanding this is crucial to escaping the bounds of conventional thought. Perhaps a new paradigm of global citizenship, sovereign environmental regions, or permanently porous borders awaits the world, lurking at the edges of our consciousness.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Claudia Elzey grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia and is completing a Master of City and Regional Planning with a concentration in Community and Economic Development. This semester, she is writing a thesis on regional approaches to solving the nation’s affordable housing crisis. Claudia speaks French and German and will practice them on anyone who shows the least sign of weakness.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Adler, Ben. “Anti-Immigration Groups Go Green.” Politico, July 26, 2008. Beirich, Heidi. “Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism and the Hypocrisy of Hate.” Montgomery, Alabama: Southern Poverty Law Center, July 2010. Benko, Jessica. “Heat, Hunger, and War Force Africans onto a ‘Road of Fire.’” The New York Times, April 19, 2017. Camarota, Stephen, and Leon Kolankiewicz. “Immigration to the United States and Worldwide Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” Center for Immigration Studies, August 2008. DeParle, Jason. “The Anti-Immigration Crusader.” The New York Times, April 17, 2011.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (2010). basic/3b66c2aa10/convention-protocol-relating-statusrefugees.html. Wong, Edward, and Josh Haner. “Resettling China’s ‘Ecological Migrants.’” The New York Times, October 25, 2016. Figure 1: Photo by John Moore/Getty Images, March 2013. Figure 2: Photo by Erin Magee/Wikimedia Commons, April 2011. Figure 3: Photo by Octavia Aburto, 2016.

“Effects: Coastal Erosion. Kiribati Climate Change.” Office of the President, Republic of Kiribati, n.d. http://www.climate. Hartmann, Betsy. “The Greening of Hate.” In Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism and the Hypocrisy of Hate, edited by Mark Potok. Montgomery, Alabama: Southern Poverty Law Center, 2010. Hultgren, John. American Environmentalism, Sovereignty, and the Immigration ‘Problem’, Ph.D. diss., Colorado State University, 2012 (Fort Collins), 8. Hultgren, John. Border Walls Gone Green: Nature and AntiImmigrant Politics in America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. Kunofsky, Judy. “Sierra Club Population Report.” Sierra Club Population Committee, Spring 1989. history/popreport1989.html. McAdam, Jane. Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. McDonald, Tim. “The Man Who Would Be the First Climate Change Refugee.” BBC News, November 5, 2015. Muehlmann, Shaylih. Where the River Ends: Contested Indigeneity in the Mexican Colorado Delta. Duke University Press, 2013. Nishimura, Lauren. “‘Climate Change Migrants’: Impediments to a Protection Framework and the Need to Incorporate Migration into Climate Change Adaptation Strategies.” International Journal of Refugee Law 27, no. 1 (2015): 107–34. Price, Carmel, and Ben Feldmeyer. “The Environmental Impact of Immigration: An Analysis of the Effects of Immigrant Concentration on Air Pollution Levels.” Population Research and Policy Review 31, no. 1 (February 2012): 119–40. Sengupta, Somini, and Josh Haner. “Heat, Hunger, and War Force Africans onto a ‘Road of Fire.’” The New York Times, December 15, 2016.



Figure 1: Pro-choice activists awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion access in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 27, 2016.



n January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court offered its landmark decision on Roe v. Wade. The court ruled that a constitutional right to privacy extended to a woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions, including the decision to have an abortion (Planned Parenthood, 2018). To this day, the Roe v. Wade decision and access to abortion remains one of the most controversial issues in American history, and one of the most contentious issues in the public consciousness. Since the court’s decision, overturning this case and limiting women’s access to abortion has been the centerpiece for policymakers ranging from the President of the U.S. to governors and mayors around the country. Despite the ruling’s passage being over 45 years ago, the debate is still highly contemporary. In October 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and the argument has trickled down from the federal level into town halls and statehouses across the country (Tatum, 2017). The scope of this issue is highly gendered, and arguments surrounding access to abortion float between gender and power in political decisionmaking, to the public/private nature of legislating healthcare, to local building restriction of abortion facilities. Due to the overwhelming legal, policy, and healthcare slant of the debate over women’s access to abortion, the primary battles addressing this issue are fought within the fields of law, public health, and public policy. The academic literature surrounding abortion rights remains siloed within these fields as well. However, components of the fight for abortion access overlap with the localized

and land use nature of abortion opponents’ legislation, mobility issues concerning accessing abortion, and public/private intersections within the debate. Land use, mobility, and public/private intersections are widely considered planning issues, prompting one to ponder the role of urban planning within the conversation for abortion access. Why has this issue not broken more aggressively into the field of urban planning? Can planning provide solutions to women’s constitutional right to access abortion services? How does the abortion debate illuminate the intersections around planning and gender? This paper aims to address these questions. First, by examining current thought in leadership and literature, it will provide an overview of where traditional planning and women’s access to abortion overlap through Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) legislation and overall mobility. Secondly, it will examine feminist planning theory arguments of the public and private spheres as they relate to abortion. Lastly, it will reflect on the importance of urban planning in protecting women’s constitutional rights to abortion services.

LAND USE AND MOBILITY INTERSECTIONS WITH ACCESS TO ABORTION Access to abortion can be difficult for women partly due to legislative decision-making that overtly restricts access, and partly due to issues such as distance to services. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research policy organization committed







































Does not have TRAP Laws Has TRAP Laws


Pending a Final decision in the Courts



Figure 2: This map shows states that employ Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws to restrict women’s access to health care services.

to advancing sexual and reproductive health in the U.S., there have been over a thousand attempts at the state and local levels to restrict women’s access to abortion services since the passage of Roe v. Wade (Guttmacher Institute, 2016). Many of these attempts have overlapped deeply with planning issues. This section examines how specific planning interventions have restricted abortion access through evaluating TRAP laws, mobility, and proximity issues concerning abortion access.

TRAP LAWS In June 2014 the headline for Vice News read: “Abortion Clinics Are Closing Because Their Doorways Aren’t Big Enough.” It was a true statement. In July 2014 Northern Alabama’s only abortion clinic was forced to close due to failure to comply with a 2013 law that went into effect July 1 (Becker, 2014). The law, signed by Alabama governor Robert Bentley, required abortion clinics to use doctors with hospital admitting privileges in the same city where they practice. The law also imposed heavy building code requirements. The law demanded abortion clinics meet the same building safety code standards as ambulatory surgical centers, which requires clinic hallways to be of a certain width (Carson, 2013). Unable to cost-effectively change the width of their corridors, the clinic was forced to close its doors. This law in



Alabama is an example of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, more commonly known as TRAP laws. TRAP laws rely heavily on land use planning interventions for their efficacy and are implemented at the state and local level rather than at the federal level. Specifically, they use clinic regulation and zoning and building code requirements to shut down clinics or service providers under the pretense of patient safety. The purpose of TRAP laws is to create barriers through zoning and licensing processes that make it impossible for abortion provider facilities to exist. Necessary changes to comply with TRAP laws can be cost-prohibitive or may impose unnecessary requirements that are impossible to meet, resulting in clinic shut-down (Carson, 2013). TRAP laws are perhaps the most direct way that the abortion debate overlaps with traditional urban planning; through the regulation of physical space by zoning and land use regulation to result in the closing of abortion facilities. The scope and utility of TRAP laws in the U.S. are staggering. According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of January 1, 2018 there are currently 23 states in the U.S. that employ some variety of TRAP legislation (Figure 2). Of these 23 states, 21 use planning-related regulation. Specifically, the types of regulations are related to building code restrictions such as making structural standards






































Corridor Width Not Specified Corridor Width Specified


Pending a Final Decision in the Courts



Figure 3: This map shows states that regulate abortion facilities based on corridor width specifications.

comparable to those for surgical centers, designating procedure room size, specifying corridor width (Figure 3), and limiting maximum distance to a hospital. As seen in the case of Northern Alabama’s clinic, specific land use and building code limitations result in the closure of many clinics across the country. Between 2011 and 2014 the number of abortion clinics across the U.S. declined by six percent, due primarily to TRAP legislation (North, 2017). The ramifications of TRAP legislation can be crippling for access to abortion. For example, in Kentucky, the last abortion clinic, the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, is in the throes of a legal battle to stay open due to failure to comply with TRAP legislation. The closure of this clinic would make Kentucky the only state in the union to have zero abortion clinics; all a result of TRAP legislation. While the constitutionality of TRAP laws is often a battle that is fought within the legal sphere, the overlap between certain types of TRAP laws with urban planning and the legislation of physical space is undeniable. Further, the resulting outcomes from closings of clinics because of TRAP laws create an additional urban planning problem of access and mobility, which is discussed in the next section.

MOBILITY According to senior research scientist Dr. Jonathan Bearak of the Guttmacher Institute, “how far a woman has to travel for an abortion is a key measure of access [to an abortion]” (Sifferlin, 2017). Mobility and access are central topics for understanding urban planning as a field, and they are a crucial component to understanding how planning and access to abortion overlap. Specifically, mobility and access to abortion clinics are a significant barrier for women who need services such as abortion. Perhaps the most compelling argument examining the relationship between mobility and access to abortion clinics is in a recent study by Bearak and his colleagues, who in the fall of 2017 published a study analyzing geographic access to abortion. Drawing from 2011-2014 data on the location of public access abortion providers, Bearak and his team matched women by census block to their nearest abortion provider. They then calculated the driving distance to that facility. The authors found that women in the U.S. have to travel a median distance of ten to 79 miles to reach the nearest abortion clinic (Bearak, 2017). The paper also revealed substantial differences between states and counties. Perhaps most striking, a deeper dive into the data reveals that there are states where access to abortion requires a woman to travel TRAPPED IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE


over 100 miles. In Alaska, one in five women has to travel 154 miles or further to receive abortion access, while women in certain counties in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas have to travel over 180 miles (Scutti, 2018). Tying these findings to the previous section, heightened regulations, such as TRAP laws that aim to close clinics, exacerbate the problem of access. They increase the number of miles women in certain states needs to travel to gain access to abortion services. Ultimately urban planning and abortion intersect around this idea of access and mobility. The geographic relationship is a burgeoning field, demonstrated by the recent publication of articles such as Dr. Bearak’s. The relationship is worth examining in more depth.

Traditionally, understanding gender in urban planning is understood through the emergence of a “city of separate spheres” where the female sphere was perceived to be the home, and a man’s sphere was in the public realm, including the decisionmaking process (Sandercock and Forsyth, 1992). This dynamic is visible both within the built environment and within the political world. Concerning the built environment, gender has shaped contemporary urban spatial form with “masculine cities and feminine suburbs,” reinforcing the notion of separate spheres (Sandercock and Forsyth, 1992). Spatially, it restricts women to the home, while men are given greater degrees of mobility between public space and private space. Politically, there are ramifications of this dichotomy. Women have been traditionally excluded from decision-making and political conversations. While the feminist political struggle of recent decades has amplified women’s rights to be actors in the public domain, workplace, and home, there is a great deal of inequality.

“...[P]lanners have a set of tools at their fingertips to assist women in the fight for access to abortion: land use regulation, mobility and access, and increased visibility in the public sphere.”

FEMINIST PLANNING THEORY, ABORTION, AND THE PUBLIC/ PRIVATE DOMAINS The feminist struggle with abortion has been a decades-long fight, and interests with planning in two ways: first, through the feminist planning principles of the distinction between the public and private spheres, and second, through the principles of private decision-making being regulated and reprimanded in public space. Feminist planners such as Leonie Sandercock and Ann Forsyth posit that the abortion debate takes a traditionally private issue of women’s autonomy over her own body and places it in the public sphere, until exposure of oppressive policies results in making it a wholly private issue again (Sandercock and Forsyth, 1992). However, this analysis reveals an overarching problem with utilizing the public sphere as a mechanism for reclaiming women’s medical decisions as private decisions: the underlying assumption that the public sphere as it exists is capable of equitably solving a wholly gendered issue. This section will briefly define the public and private spheres related to gender and argue that placing the abortion debate within the public sphere makes it subject to gendered political dynamics.



It is the scope of gender inequality within politics and public decision-making that is the crux of the problem of increasing access to abortion within the public sphere. Specifically, women are still lagging concerning political power across all forms of government. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, out of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate only 22 are occupied by women (Center for American Women and Politics, 2018). The percentages drop as one gets to smaller districts and levels of government. Of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, only 84 (19.1 percent) are held by women (Center for American Women and Politics, 2018). At the municipal level, for cities with populations over 30,000, only 18.9 percent of the mayors are women (Center for American Women and Politics, 2018). The decision-making around abortion and the private decisions around women’s access to health services are determined in the public sphere, primarily by men. While the numbers are not on hand, it would be appropriate to speculate that the masculine reign over the public sphere extends to hyperlocal decision-making as well in the form of who is sitting on planning commission boards, City Councils, and serving as selectpersons.

Figure 4: A Healthcare for All rally in Washington, D.C. in June 2017.

Ultimately, this feminist planning framework to understanding the public and private spheres illuminates the role of gender and planning in the debate around abortion access. The issue, a private and personal issue, is forced into the public sphere for debate upon regulation. However, at this point in contemporary politics, public decision-making is still a primarily male-dominated sphere. There is evidence, however, that this dynamic is changing. According to the progressive organization Emily’s List, whose mission is to recruit and elect pro-choice candidates to political office, the number of women expressing interest in running for office has increased dramatically. In 2017 alone, over 16,000 women reached out to the organization with the hopes of running for state, local, and federal positions (Emily’s List, 2017). In the interest of increasing access to abortion and women’s health care, it is beneficial that this trend continues.

WHERE DO PLANNERS GO FROM HERE? While the battles around women’s access to abortion are fought primarily within law, public policy, and public health, we can see there is significant overlap between this debate and urban planning. The topics covered within planning range from “purer” planning principles, such as land use

regulation and mobility, to more theoretical feminist planning thought leadership. These planning principles are present in land use legislation such as TRAP laws, mobility and transportation issues around access, and the understanding of the public and private spheres of the built environment and political power and decision-making. They also illuminate how planners have a set of tools at their fingertips to assist women in the fight for access to abortion: land use regulation, mobility and access, and increased visibility in the public sphere. The first tool planners should implement is assuring that land use regulations at state and local levels should not be used to restrict women’s access to healthcare. While changing local zoning codes happens primarily at the city council or mayoral level, zoning code changes that restrict women’s access to health care can be dealt with, first, by requiring that zoning and planning changes to health facilities, such as changes to corridor width, or location of abortion clinics, go through a robust public zoning process. Further, land use can be used to overwhelmingly protect women’s physical safety and access to abortion clinics using “buffer zones” that protect women seeking services from potentially hostile protesters and harassers. While some buffer zones have faced legal criticism in recent years as restricting first amendment rights to protest, the



use of bounding physical space to protect women’s access to health has been a boon for women accessing services in many states. The second tool planners should lean on is their ability to increase mobility through access to transportation and accommodations. Several states that have particularly high travel distances to resources are seeing non-profit sector initiatives that aim to increase access to transportation and accommodation services for women needing abortions. For example, the Clinic Access Support Network, an all-volunteer group started in the Houston, Texas area, provides rides to abortion clinics, as well as financial support if women need overnight accommodations (Asgarian, 2016). While the political realities of implementing similar publicsector services are unlikely in certain states, planners can advocate for long-distance health-related transportation initiatives. These are successfully implemented in states such as Massachusetts, where regional transit authorities provide long-distance medical shuttle service to a series of hospitals and clinics across the state (, 2018). Within more concentrated urban areas, planners can advocate for multimodal transportation services that will allow for greater accessibility to women’s health services. Perhaps most importantly, planners can change the gendered political and planning structures that exist within decision-making to creating lasting change, and make sure women have access to the health services they need. These changes can be made purely in the political spectrum, as evidenced by the changing tide of more women in office. But planners can change the tenor of decision-making in the place-making world by advocating for more women on zoning commissions, design review commissions, and within the community and development mitigation and benefits processes. By assuring that women have a seat at the table during decision-making processes that may limit access to abortion services, such as zoning decisions about a clinic placement or building code decisions such as abortion provider corridor widths, women can exert a degree of power within the public sphere that can create lasting built-environment decisions. When examining the role of planning in increasing access to women’s health services, it is important to note that this paper does not cover all related topics. Some of these include race and income level differences in access to services and economic implications of abortion access. Further, there are necessary place-based conversations around access to contraception, as well as sex education, that intersects planning and abortion access. The research and dialogue around this issue are highly contemporary and continually evolving with political events, which are arguably swinging towards a more conservative approach to women’s access to health care. Undoubtedly, this rightward



trajectory may prompt further restrictions on women’s access to healthcare. However, it may also prompt further research into the importance of women’s access to abortion services. As the dialogue progresses, planners have the unique opportunity to play a critical role in advocating for women’s rights by exercising the tools they have at their disposal, as well as a key role in broadening the research field around women’s access to abortion services, and women’s health in general.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mohona Siddique is a second-year in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the University of Pennsylvania. Mohona graduated from Wellesley College in 2010, and prior to coming to Penn, she worked for the City of Boston. Her work focuses on the intersections of race, place, and gender.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Asgarian, Roxanna. “In the Fight for Abortion Clinic Access, a Houston Nonprofit Offers a Helping Hand - And a Passenger Seat.” Houstonia, September 9, 2016. Bearak, Jonathan M., Kristen Lagasse Burke, and Rachel K. Jones. “Disparities and change over time in distance women would need to travel to have an abortion in the USA: a spatial analysis.” The Lancet Public Health2, no. 11 (2017). Becker, Olivia. “Abortion Clinics Are Closing Because Their Doorways Aren’t Big Enough.” VICE News. June 26, 2014. Accessed January 2, 2018. abortion-clinics-are-closing-because-their-doorw ays-arentbig-enough. Cason, Mike. “Gov. Robert Bentley signs bill setting new rules for abortion clinics (updated, video).” April 09, 2013. Accessed January 2, 2018. wire/2013/04/gov_robert_bentley_signs_bill.html.

“Women Mayors in U.S. Cities 2016.” Women Mayors in U.S. Cities 2016 | CAWP. Accessed January 2, 2018. http:// “Women in the U.S. Senate 2018.” Women in the U.S. Senate 2018 | CAWP. Accessed January 2, 2018. http://www.cawp. Figure 1: Photo by Rena Schild / 2016. Figure 2: Map by Mohona Siddique, Olivia Mobayed, and the Guttmacher Institute. 2017. Figure 3: Map by Mohona Siddique, Olivia Mobayed, and the Guttmacher Institute. 2017. Figure 4: Photo by Ted Eytan / Flickr. 2017.

Emily’s List “25,000 Reasons to Be Excited for 2018.” December 2017. Accessed February 22, 2018. https://www.emilyslist. org/news/entry/emilys-list-announces-that-20000-womenare-ready-to-run-for-office. Guttmacher Institute. “In Just the Last Four Years, States Have Enacted 231 Abortion Restrictions.” December 06, 2016. Accessed January 06, 2018. article/2015/01/just-last-four-years-states-have-enacted231-abortion-restrictions. “” Accessed February 26, 2018. https:// North, Anna. “Abortion clinics are closing in rural America. So are maternity wards.” Vox. September 07, 2017. Planned Parenthood. “Roe v. Wade.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Accessed January 02, 2018. https://www. Sandercock, Leonie, and Ann Forsyth. “A Gender Agenda: New Directions for Planning Theory.” Journal of the American Planning Association58, no. 1 (1992): 49-59. Scutti, Susan. “How far women travel for an abortion in the US.” CNN. October 04, 2017. Accessed January 2, 2018. Sifferlin, Alexandra. “This Is How Far Women in the US Have to Travel for Abortions.” Time. how-far-american-women-travel-for-abortion/. Tatum, Sophie. “House passes ban on abortion after 20 weeks.” CNN. October 03, 2017. Accessed January 2, 2018. http:// “Women in the U.S. House of Representatives 2018.” Women in the U.S. House of Representatives 2018 | CAWP. Accessed January 06, 2018.



Figure 1: Nearly 50 years after the Norman Blumberg Towers were constructed, they were imploded in March 2016. Today, much of the site remains vacant and is being prepared for the construction of rental and homeownership units.



n the center of the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Sharswood is the site of the Norman Blumberg Apartments, a Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) complex constructed during the time of urban renewal. The site consisted of three high-rise and fifteen low-rise buildings, containing 510 housing units. PHA had long considered Blumberg its most distressed housing complex, with poverty rates approximately double the citywide average (Colaneri, 2016). In 2014, PHA initiated a Choice Neighborhoods Transformation planning process for Blumberg and the surrounding Sharswood neighborhood with a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). By 2016, PHA had imploded two high-rises and completed the first of a ten-phase redevelopment effort consisting of housing and neighborhood anchor institutions at a total cost of $675 million. The City claims to be “making a strong statement about its commitment to this long-neglected part of [Philadelphia]” (PHA, 2017). However, parts of the plan are reminiscent of urban renewal, “like eminent domain and blight clearance — with the promise of a different result” (Hahn, 2016). This is particularly concerning given Philadelphia’s history of urban renewal projects, which displaced approximately 13,500 families, 72 percent of which were families of color (Nelson and Ayers, 2018). The City has expressed its commitment to positively impacting the lives of current Sharswood residents by planning for the whole neighborhood, rather than just one housing complex. Furthermore, Philadelphia is tracking resident outcomes to ensure that Blumberg residents are benefitting from the City’s investment. However, PHA’s use of eminent domain has led

many to be concerned about the project. While the City’s attempt to deconcentrate poverty and provide economic opportunity in the neighborhood is a positive one, PHA must balance dedication to these efforts with protection from the development pressures surrounding Sharswood. Urban renewal and HOPE VI demonstrate that a long-range, data-driven view of planning efforts are necessary to understand the real impacts on residents.

URBAN RENEWAL IN PHILADELPHIA Urban renewal’s large-scale redevelopment projects were designed to make cities competitive during the period of mass suburbanization. Urban renewal was articulated as an effort “to save downtown business, or to clear up traffic congestion, or to restore worn-out areas to the tax rolls, or to create the City Beautiful, or to get rid of unsightly slum buildings” (Isenberg, 2004). Implicit in these motives were racial and economic prejudice that ultimately caused widespread displacement of residents in the name of “slum clearance.” By 1965, Philadelphia had received “more federal urban renewal grant funding…than anywhere else in the country besides New York” (Ammon, 2016). Similar to its peers, Philadelphia focused on both residential and commercial projects that were kept distinctly separate. What set Philadelphia apart was that it often utilized selective demolition, rather than wholesale clearance, in combination with targeted historic preservation efforts to maintain the appearance of “cultural heritage.” Urban renewal projects often failed to provide affordable


Broad Street Line


Market-Frankford Line

Figure 2: Sharswood is a neighborhood in North Philadelphia, bounded by Cecil B. Moore Avenue to the north, Poplar Street to the south, 27th Street to the west and 19th Street to the east.

housing to low-income residents, even if that was their stated aim. In East Poplar, the City planned to replace the “blighted” neighborhood with affordable housing for displaced residents, but “not everyone could afford these new rates” and “new slums formed around the perimeter to house lowerincome displacees” (Ammon, 2016). Not all urban renewal housing projects even attempted to provide affordable units. For example, Society Hill, the most famous of Philadelphia’s urban renewal efforts, is frequently hailed as a success. However, this project “offered an early example of gentrification” as “largely Eastern European and African American



renters...were replaced with more affluent owners who were able to afford the costs of single-family home rehabilitation” (Ammon, 2016). The history of urban renewal in Philadelphia raises the question of how planners can learn from the City’s past. In planning for future redevelopment projects, how can resident displacement be avoided, housing be kept affordable, and commercial projects bring lasting economic development? In the 1990s, HUD launched the HOPE VI program to begin to address these questions.

Figure 3: New townhomes and stacked flats as part of the Choice Neighborhoods plan were designed as high-quality units that maintain the scale and character of the neighborhood. Units front the sidewalk and are a maximum of three stories in height.

HOPE VI’S MIXED RESULTS HUD created HOPE VI in 1992 as a result of the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, which “concluded that roughly 86,000 of the 1.3 million public housing units nationwide qualified as severely distressed and that a new and comprehensive approach would be required to address the range of problems existing at these developments” (HUD, 1992). The subsequent creation of the HOPE VI program focused on replacing distressed public housing with mixedincome neighborhoods, due to the recognition that “the overconcentration of profoundly poor, nonworking households was a major contributor to the high levels of social problems in distressed public housing” (Popkin et al., 2004). In addition to deconcentrating poverty, HOPE VI shifted public housing design principles from modernism to New Urbanism. Urban renewal housing was “often huge developments, featuring either looming high-rises or sprawling, barracks-style townhouses” that had deteriorated due to the concentration of poverty, poor management, and a lack of maintenance funds (Popkin et al., 2004). HOPE VI “sought to transform these sites into smaller, lower-density developments,” which involved providing wellbuilt, human-scale housing, redesigning the street grid, fronting homes to the street, and providing

more private and semi-public space (Popkin et al., 2004). HOPE VI had demolished nearly 100,000 distressed public housing units between 1993 and 2010, but only 85 percent of replacement units were public or affordable housing (Gress et al., 2016). Criticisms of the HOPE VI program include that original residents have not always been the beneficiaries of redevelopment, given that they occupied approximately 21 percent of replacement units (Gress et al., 2016). However, an “absence of definitive data and evaluation results” makes the full impact of HOPE VI difficult to assess (Popkin et al., 2004). HUD began to address the key criticisms of HOPE VI in 2010 with the introduction of the Choice Neighborhoods Program.

THE CHOICE NEIGHBORHOODS PROGRAM Choice Neighborhoods succeeded HOPE VI and seeks to respond to many of its criticisms by recognizing that a housing development must be planned for within the context of its entire neighborhood. The program offers neighborhood transformation planning grants, as well as implementation grants to fund the redevelopment of public housing. Choice Neighborhood transformation plans have three primary sections: Housing, People, and Neighborhood. The Housing



section is similar to HOPE VI, in that it focuses on “[replacing] distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed-income housing” that follows new urbanist design principles (HUD, 2017). However, it requires a one-for-one replacement rate of HUD-assisted housing units and establishes a “right of return” for former residents (Couch, 2014). Replacement housing units must be provided both on- and off-site to further deconcentrate public housing. The People section seeks to “improve educational outcomes and intergenerational mobility for youth with supportive services delivered directly to youth and their families” (HUD, 2017). This plan can include interventions such as siting a Head Start near the housing complex or providing healthcare facilities. Lastly, the Neighborhood section focuses on “[creating] the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets…that are important to families’ choices about their

catalyst demonstrates PHA’s desire to move away from urban renewal by breaking up the superblock, integrating the site into the neighborhood, and constructing human-scale housing. There are three People catalysts of the plan, the first of which includes workforce development efforts, such as training programs, youth apprenticeships, and reentry counseling (PHA, 2015). Second, the plan seeks to create jobs, which PHA has reinforced its commitment to by siting their new headquarters along Ridge Avenue. The last People catalyst addresses educational outcomes through reopening a neighborhood school. The Neighborhood catalysts focus on creating an environment that encourages investment. First, the plan emphasizes the need to “revitalize commercial activity on the Ridge Avenue Corridor,” capitalizing on the highly-traversed transportation route (PHA, 2015). Additionally, the plan suggests “a Comprehensive Public Safety program that reduces crime” through installing

“The Sharswood-Blumberg Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan differs from urban renewal because it focuses on deconcentrating poverty and utilizes lower-density, higher-quality development.”

community” (HUD, 2017). These interventions can include public safety programs, transportation plans, and efforts to catalyze commercial activity. Choice Neighborhoods Plans seek to be comprehensive and target both the revitalization of a distressed public housing site and its surrounding neighborhood.

THE SIX CATALYSTS OF THE SHARSWOOD-BLUMBERG CHOICE NEIGHBORHOODS TRANSFORMATION PLAN The Sharswood-Blumberg Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan differs from urban renewal because it focuses on deconcentrating poverty and utilizes lower-density, higher-quality development. Furthermore, it expands on HOPE VI by planning for both replacement housing for the Blumberg apartments and investments throughout Sharswood. The plan is summarized by its “Six Catalysts of Revitalization,” which are intended to spur public and private investments in the community (PHA, 2015). The Housing catalyst transforms the Blumberg site, “through demolition of existing family housing units, rehabilitation of the existing Senior Tower, and reconfiguration of street layouts and redevelopment of new lower-density, energy efficiency units” (PHA, 2015). The language of this



lighting and call boxes, increasing cooperation between PHA and the Police Department, and creating a neighborhood watch (PHA, 2015). The Sharswood-Blumberg Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan reaches beyond housing to address economic opportunity, education, and safety. Implementation of the plan is phased over ten years, and, therefore, the outcomes will not be clear until well into the future.

DATA-DRIVEN EVALUATION The Sharswood-Blumberg Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan diverges from both urban renewal and HOPE VI in that PHA is seeking to collect data to evaluate the results of the program. One of the most famous studies of public housing intervention outcomes in recent years has been Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, and Lawrence Katz’s study of the HUD Moving to Opportunity program (MTO). MTO “offered randomly selected families living in high-poverty housing vouchers to move to lowerpoverty neighborhoods” (Chetty et al., 2015). The study found that giving families the resources to move significantly improved college attendance rates and earnings for children, if they were under age thirteen when they moved. This study was widely praised for its long-term approach to assessing how public housing interventions changed the lives of residents.

Figure 4: The juxtaposition of the new housing units (in the front) with the remaining senior housing tower (behind) demonstrates the difference in scale and design between urban renewal era and Choice Neighborhood housing.

The Sharswood evaluation process would use a similar longitudinal method, but for a project that is investing in a neighborhood rather than relocating its residents (Culhane et al., 2017). To evaluate the Sharswood-Blumberg plan, PHA contracted the University of Pennsylvania’s Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy Initiative. Actionable Intelligence utilized a de-identified dataset of subsidized housing residents in Philadelphia to create treatment and control groups. The treatment group is comprised of Sharswood residents, whether they choose to move back to the neighborhood or relocate. The control group consists of PHA residents that are similar to those living in Sharswood (Culhane et al., 2017). The researchers first determined the differences between Sharswood residents and PHA residents overall, and they will “continue to monitor the effects of the housing authorities policies” over time (Blumgart, 2017). PHA’s commitment to data collection and analysis is a major departure from urban renewal and HOPE VI. By allowing researchers to assess PHA data, the City is better equipped to determine whether its interventions improve outcomes and lower poverty rates for Sharswood residents.

SHARSWOOD’S USE OF EMINENT DOMAIN The takings clause of the 5th Amendment states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” (Ellickson et al., 2013). Eminent domain constitutes a taking of private property, and its legal validity can be challenged on two separate grounds. First, whether the taking is for “public use” and second, whether the compensation given to the property owner is “just.” In the Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo v. New London decision, Justice Clarence Thomas explained that the court’s historically broad definition of “public use” empowered cities to undertake many “Urban Renewal projects [that] have long been associated with the displacement of blacks” (Ellickson et al., 2013). One of the biggest criticisms of the Sharswood-Blumberg plan is that it is imilar to urban renewal in its use of eminent domain. In 2015, PHA seized 500 publicly-owned and 800 privately-owned Sharswood properties in the name of implementing the Transformation Plan (Swanson, 2017). The seizure of the properties has not been legally challenged, as utilizing eminent domain for SHARSWOOD-BLUMBERG


urban renewal projects has long been considered an allowable “public use” under the Constitution (Ellickson et al., 2013). However, several residents of the 150 homes that were occupied at the time of the taking believe that PHA did not provide them with “just compensation.” As of December 2017, “only 10 percent of the privately-owned properties seized have been paid for,” as many owners are trying to negotiate a higher price (Vargas, 2017). The concern cited in many of these cases is the “wildly varying amounts” offered for similar properties, most of which are valued below the City’s tax assessments (Vargas, 2017). The fact that PHA has failed to meet compensation requirements of owners in a neighborhood with a considerably lower medianincome than the City average is of serious concern. If the City is to rise above the previous criticisms of urban renewal, it should ensure that displaced residents receive a fair price for their homes.

CONCLUSION The Sharswood-Blumberg Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan took many lessons from urban renewal and HOPE VI, but it has further to go before it can be called a success. The plan responds to past housing policy by actively deconcentrating poverty, redesigning the Blumberg site, and providing supportive services and economic opportunity in the neighborhood. Furthermore, Philadelphia has committed to a longitudinal study of resident outcomes, to ensure PHA’s investment in this plan truly benefits residents of Sharswood. These are positive steps; however, the City must be wary of how it handles sources of displacement. Sharswood is surrounded on several sides by neighborhoods experiencing development pressure; and therefore, PHA must actively monitor housing prices and ensure that existing residents are not priced out. Furthermore, Philadelphia must fairly compensate low-income residents that were displaced through eminent domain if they are going to claim a commitment to improving current resident outcomes. Both urban renewal and HOPE VI show that a long-term view is necessary to fully determine the success of a public housing redevelopment.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jordan Butz is a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student with a concentration in Land Use and Environmental Planning. She received her B.A. in History at the University of Virginia in 2013. Before moving to Philadelphia for grad school, Jordan lived in D.C. for three years and worked in public affairs. Her interests include sheet masks, Netflix Christmas movies, and O’Chatto sliced beef noodle soup.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Ammon, Francesca. “Urban Renewal.” The Encyclopedia of Philadelphia, Rutgers University. 2016. http:// Blumgart, Jake. “Remaking Sharswood: Studying how the neighborhood transformation plan affects former Blumberg tenants.” PlanPhilly. June 26, 2017, articles/2017/06/26/remaking-sharswood-studying-howthe-neighborhood-transformation-plan-affects-formerblumberg-tenants. Chetty, Raj, Nathaniel Hendren, and Lawrence Katz. “The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Project.” American Economic Review 106 (4). 2016. https://scholar. “Choice Neighborhoods.” Department of Housing and Urban Development, Colaneri, Katie. “Remaking Sharswood: Rise and Fall of the Norman Blumberg Apartments.” PlanPhilly. March 22, 2016. remaking-sharswood-rise-and-fall-of-the-norman-blumbergapartments. Couch, Linda. “Public Housing: Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and HOPE VI.” National Low-Income Housing Coalition. pdf. Culhane, Dennis, Vincent Reina, and Ken Steif. “Establishing a baseline to test the effect of the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Sharswood housing and neighborhood intervention.” Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy and Urban Spatial. June 2016. portfolio/sharswood-a-baseline-evaluation-of-a-place-basedintervention-in-philadelphia/.

The National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing. “The Final Report: A Report to the Congress and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.” August 1992. PDF. “PHA Begins Construction of its Consolidated Headquarters in Sharswood/Blumberg.” Philadelphia Housing Authority. June 21, 2017. Popkin, Susan, Bruce Katz, Mary K. Cunningham, Karen D. Brown, Jeremy Gustafson, and Margery A. Turner. “A DECADE OF HOPE VI: Research Findings and Policy Challenges.” The Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. May 2004. files/publication/43756/411002_HOPEVI.pdf. “Sharswood Blumberg Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan.” Philadelphia Housing Authority. November 2015. transformation_-_web23.pdf. Vargas, Claudia. “Philly Housing Authority took their homes two years ago. They are still waiting to get paid.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. December 7, 2017. news/sharswood-redevelopment-philly-housing-authorityeminent-domain-owners-waiting-for-money-20171207.html. Figure 1: Photo by Jordan Butz. February, 2017. Figure 2: Photo by Jordan Butz. February, 2017. Figure 3: Photo by Jordan Butz. February, 2017. Figure 4: Photo by Jordan Butz. February, 2017.

Digital Scholarship Lab. “Renewing Inequality.” American Panorama. ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers. http:// am&city=philadelphiaPA&loc=11/39.9611/-75.1633. Ellickson, Robert, Vicki Been, Roderick Hills, Christopher Serkin. Land Use Controls: Cases and Materials, 902. New York: Wolters Kluwer. 2013. Gress, Taryn, Seungjong Cho, and Mark Joseph. “HOPE VI Data Compilation and Analysis.” PD&R Research Partnerships. September 2016. portal/sites/default/files/pdf/HOPE-VI-Data-Compilationand-Analysis.pdf. Hahn, Ashley. “Remaking Sharswood.” PlanPhilly. February 22, 2016. remaking-sharswood. Isenberg, Alison. Downtown America: A History of the Place and the People Who Made it. University of Chicago Press, 2004.



Figure 1: The Trans Alaskan Pipeline System makes the production on oil in Northern Alaska possible. In recent years, declining oil production in northern Alaska has led to dwindling pipeline usage.


by Michael Kevin Larson


n Friday, December 22nd, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 into law. Passed by Congress under the budget reconciliation process and along party lines, many laws embedded within this legislation have only a tangential relationship to government spending and revenues. One such inclusion, at the behest of the Alaskan delegation, is the opening of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration. This provision is important as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee expects revenues from the sale of government energy leases in the Refuge to help subsidize tax decreases across the rest of the tax plan. However, the ANWR provision is controversial, as there are serious environmental concerns associated with extraction, and many energy analysists do not see the Refuge as being investment-worthy given the country’s current oil glut. Even if the Alaska delegation and the Energy Committee are correct in their estimates, the anticipated $1 billion in additional revenues from lease sales will hardly save the U.S. from a fiscal crisis (Eilperin, 2017). ANWR’s presence in this tax law was never about partisanship or the Federal budget. Instead, it is about saving Alaska.

BETWEEN WILDERNESS AND OIL The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been a topic of political debate in Congress ever since it was established. As early as 1900, environmentalists recognized northern Alaska for its ecological and cultural resources. But it was not until 1960 that the Truman administration issued Public Land Order 2214 and designated 8.9 million acres of northeast

Alaska as the Arctic National Wildlife Range. This was a significant step towards preserving one of the last untouched coastlines in the United States, a vital habitat for the Porcupine caribou herd, as well as wolves, bears, moose, and hundreds of bird species (Palmer, 2016). However, almost as soon as the land was preserved, another group began to lobby for access — the petroleum industry. In the 1960s, oil was discovered in the central part of Alaska’s northern coastal plain, near Prudhoe Bay. Referred to as the North Slope, the sedimentary strata across this geologic formation contained some of the largest crude oil reserves in the United States. By 1978 the Trans Alaskan Pipeline connected the North Slope to the ice-free port of Valdez and oil companies were looking to expand production capacity, specifically into ANWR. Despite the increasing commercial pressure to expand oil production into ANWR, through the late 1970s President Carter and a Democratic Congress resisted, seeking to expand the Range and designate it a Refuge to reflect its unique stature. However, congressional Republicans and Alaska’s senators delayed voting on the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act until after the 1980 elections, where a conservative uprising elected Ronald Reagan and gave Republicans control of the Senate. With it becoming clear that the conservation bill would never pass in the next Senate session, compromises were made to push the legislation through. In exchange for expanding the preserved area to its current size of 19.3 million acres, Congress was granted the authority to control


Figure 2: ANRW is the largest tract of preserved land in the U.S., and the marked 1002 area shows the proposed site for oil extraction along the Alaskan Coastal Plain. However, the nearby National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA) has seen little commercial interest despite its recent opening to exploration. The Trans Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) provides vital logistics infrastructure for moving oil to ice-free ports further south.

all commercial activity within a coastal portion of the Refuge, known as the 1002 Area.

Democrats, as the minority, could do little to stop the process from occurring.

Since then, Republicans in Congress have been trying to open ANWR to commercial activity. During the Reagan administration, efforts to open the coastal plain of ANWR were limited due to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in 1989, which galvanized the nation against the energy industry (Shogren, 2005). In 1995, Republicans tried to pass approval in an appropriations bill, only to have it vetoed by President Clinton. Again in 2005, Senate Republicans unsuccessfully tried to pass approval by including it in a defense spending bill, but filibusters and strong Democratic resistance prevented the bill from attaining the sixty-vote mark needed to pass (Branigin, 2005). Under Obama, Congress made little movement to open ANWR to exploration after it became clear that he would veto any such legislation.

Because of ANWR’s political history, and the tax bill’s seemingly unanimous support amongst Congressional Republicans, many people assume that it is a partisan issue. While it might have been at one point, today it is not. Over two-thirds of voters across the United States support leaving ANWR as is, and their congressional representatives must be aware of that (Leiserowitz, et al., 2017). Canada even sent a letter via their ambassador urging the U.S. not to open any part of the Refuge (Brehmer, 2018). While the energy lobby may push for its opening, many industry analysts believe that firms are not serious about exploration there, given record low oil prices (Worland, 2017). Outside of Alaska, the policy is only truly supported by politicians with deep ties to the energy sector or those who are out of touch with both energy realities in the United States and the public sentiment. Increasingly it makes little sense to expend political capital on a subject that is both unpopular and unlikely to do much fiscally for the country. Many Republican representatives even spoke out against its inclusion in the tax bill, yet the provision remained when the bill received Executive Branch approval (McPherson, 2017). In the end, most, if not all, of these politicians voted for the bill despite their reservations — exactly as intended.

CLOSER THAN EVER TO ANWR EXPLORATION? With the Trump administration touting its goal of establishing U.S. “energy dominance,” the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge once again returned to public debate as part of the Congressional Republican’s tax plan (Trump, 2017). But why are the provisions to open the coastal plain, known as the 1002 area, in ANWR included in this new bill on government revenues? Republicans passed this year’s tax bill using a process called Budget Reconciliation. While not exactly what it was intended for, this process eases the passage of almost any bill if it relates to tax collections and works to shrink the Federal deficit. This type of legislation prohibits filibusters and only requires a simple majority in the House and the Senate, meaning



ALASKA NEEDS CASH NOW As with the defense bill in 2005, the current Arctic National Wildlife Refuge provision was included in the 2017 tax bill not because it is the most pressing matter for congressional Republicans, nor particularly vital to the U.S.’s defense or deficit. President Trump has even admitted that

Figure 3: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge spans over 30,000 square miles and is divided by the Brooks Range, the northernmost mountain range in Alaska.

he, “really didn’t care” about opening a portion of ANWR to exploration (Joling, 2018). Instead, the provision was included at the behest of the Alaskan representatives, as it ensured the state’s representative and two senator’s support for the overall legislation (Killough and Barrett, 2017). This was particularly important in the Senate, as it would have taken only three Republicans voting against the measure to ensure its defeat. In debate, most Republicans showed themselves to be more interested in issues like Obamacare, tax cuts, or tax deductions for dependents, ANWR is not at all related to what the rest of the tax bill was about (Rapperport and Kaplan, 2017). Experts think that the 1002 Area might not see any drilling until 2030, meaning the revenues meant to balance the budget through 2028 would arrive too late. Despite their potential reservations about opening the Refuge, Republicans voted for the overall legislation nonetheless because it included other issues for which they cared more. ANWR was never the reason for the bill’s broad partisan support. Senator Murkowski, like her father before her, has been the loudest political proponent of opening ANWR, and it was because of her leadership on the Senate Energy Committee that the ANWR provision was even included in the tax bill in the first place (Eilperin, 2017). However, her inclusion of the ANWR provision was not because it will raise enough cash to fix the deficit — it will not — nor because it is vital to the Republican agenda.

They are clearly focused on other things because Alaska needs the revenue at home (Dlouhy and Nussbaum, 2017). While the majority of Americans may support leaving ANWR as is, opening it to exploration has considerably higher support within the state of Alaska. This is in large part due to the need for the taxes and jobs that exploration there would bring (Rexford, 2017). For decades, assessments on the oil and gas industry have provided most of Alaska’s state budget. Recently, almost 85 percent of the budget has come from energy revenue (Semuels, 2015). However, oil production in Alaska has fallen from a high of over two billion barrels per day in the 1980s to under 500 million barrels per day as of late. Furthermore, expensive arctic production must compete with low-cost oil produced elsewhere in the country from fracking. Alaska only recently avoided a government shutdown by closing a $2.5 billion deficit using savings (Demer and Hanlon, 2017). While this may have worked for fiscal year 2017, the state faces a credit downgrade if they continue to fund public services from savings. With the U.S. Geological Survey estimating ANWR’s oil reserves at over ten billion barrels, opening the Refuge is an alluring prospect for a state whose residents are normalized to paying little in taxes for their public services (Bird and Houseknecht, 2002). Recently, Alaskan Governor Bill Walker, an Independent, praised the proposed legislation saying, “with an oil pipeline that is three-quarters empty and an over $3



billion budget deficit, drilling in [ANWR] would fill TAPS [Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System] and bring much-needed revenue to our state coffers” (Office of the Governor: Bill Walker, 2017).

A BETTER ALTERNATIVE The fact that approval for commercial lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge needed to be embedded in a budget reconciliation bill to be passed says volumes about how badly Alaska wants the investment. Despite this process seeming sneaky, it is hard to fault Alaska’s political representation, specifically Murkowski, for trying anything possible to pass it. Alaska desperately needs additional revenue and new jobs for its citizens to counter increasing unemployment and state-wide social issues. However, the refuge was initially protected for a reason, and there are already other oil reserves in Alaska opening for investment. Even so, the new availability of alternative reserves has not been met by the investor excitement initially expected, and recent sales in these areas have fallen flat (Grandoni, 2017). Even though Congress has opened ANWR to extraction, they still cannot force companies to move there and to hire people, so this is not the panacea that proponents tout for fixing Alaska’s economy. In 2015, Shell announced that they were ending arctic oil exploration and now there is no supermajor currently drilling new wells in that region of Alaska. New investments in Arctic oil extraction just make little sense when the U.S. is already producing cheap oil and exporting more than it ever has in history (Kumar and Parraga, 2017). Instead, Alaska’s political leadership should focus their efforts on other projects and stop seeking to prolong the state’s dependence on oil production. Projects like the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline, with its guaranteed funding stream, are perhaps a better use of political energy (Hatch, 2017). With the Governor of Alaska already signing an agreement with the Chinese government, the remaining Alaskan politicians might be better off focusing on guiding this liquified natural gas (LNG) pipeline to completion instead of continuing to mire themselves in the ANWR debate, which is nationally unpopular. Recently, the Director of the International Energy Agency told Congress that he thought the future of Alaska would be natural gas, noting that Alaska’s proximity to gas-hungry Asia would make it competitive for exports. While this project will be contentious and face significant National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) hurdles before it can be completed, it would benefit hugely from congressional support and provide Alaska with a revenue source based on more modern energy demands. With the project estimated to cost over $40 billion, that is a significant amount of Chinese funding that will be sunk into the state’s economy, spurring economic and employment growth (Yushkov, 2017). It is also money that can be used


to reverse the resource curse that put Alaska in this financial position in the first place. Instead of looking to continue the state’s dependence on oil, the Alaska delegation needs to focus their efforts away from ANWR and instead towards moving the state into a diversified economy that can stand on its own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Kevin Larson is a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student at the University of Pennsylvania. His coursework at Penn focuses on publicprivate development and energy policy. Mike spent this past summer working in development services for Denham Wolf Real Estate, an advisory firm that supports New York City nonprofits. Prior to graduate school, he worked for a farmland preservation company in upstate New York and for a planning commission in central New Hampshire. Mike holds a Bachelors of Science from the College of William & Mary with a double major in Geology and Government.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Bird, Kenneth, and David Houseknecht. “U.S. Geological Survey 2002 Petroleum Resource Assessment of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA).” USGS Fact Sheet 045-02. Edited by Peter Stauffer, & James Hendley III. U.S. Geological Survey, 2002.

Office of the Governor: Bill Walker. “Governor Walker Applauds Efforts by Sens. Murkowski And Sullivan To Open ANWR.” January 5, 2017. https://gov.alaska. gov/newsroom/2017/01/governor-walker-applauds-effortsby-sens-murkowski-and-sullivan-to-open-anwr/.

Branigin, William. “Senate Blocks Arcic Drilling Provision.” The Washington Post, December 21, 2005.

Palmer, Brian. The Long, Long Battle for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. July 13, 2016. stories/long-long-battle-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge.

Brehmer, Elwood. “Sullican: Forces aligning for Alaska.” Alaska Journal of Commerce, January 3, 2018. Demer, Lisa, and Tegan Hanlon. “The Alaska Legislature passed a budget and avoided a government shutdown. What happens now?” The Anchorage Daily News, December 2, 2017. Dlouhy, Jennifer, and Alex Nussbaum. “Low Oil Prices Dim GOP Bid for Budget Bonanza in Arctic.” Bloomberg Politics. October 31, 2017. articles/2017-10-31/arctic-refuge-oil-bonanza-more-likelyto-be-bust-for-gop-budget. Eilperin, Juliet. “Murkowski bill calls for at least two major lease sales in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” The Washington Post, November 2017, 2017. —. “Senate votes to raise revenue by drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” The Washington Post, October 19, 2017. Grandoni, Dino. “The Energy 202: ‘Large and unprecedented’ Alaska oil sale falls flat as Congress readies Arctic refuge drilling.” The Washington Post, December 8, 2017. Hatch, Caslon. “More details on Alaska-China gas deal released.” 2 KTUU. November 21, 2017. http://www.ktuu. com/content/news/More-details-on-Alaska-China-gasproject-released--459121813.html. Joling, Dan. “Trump explains support for oil drilling in Arctic refuge.” The Denver Post, February 1, 2018.

Rapperport, Alan, and Thomas Kaplan. “Frenzy of Talks In Final Sprint To a Tax Vote.” The New York Times, December 13, 2017. Rexford, Mathew. “Alaskans say ‘yes’ to ANWR drilling.” Juneau Empire, October 1, 2017. Semuels, Alana. “The Stingiest State in the Union.” The Atlantic, August 31, 2015. Shogren, Elizabeth. “For 30 Years, a Political Battle Over Oil and ANWR.” NPR All Things Considered. NPR, November 10, 2005. Trump, Donald. “President Trump at the Unleashing American Energy Event.” The White House, June 29, 2017. Worland, Justin. “Republicans Want to Allow Drilling in an Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. But Oil Companies Might Not be Interested.” Times, November 6, 2017. Yushkov, Igor. “”Eastern balance”: China to offset Russian gas with Alaska LNG.” EurAsia Daily. November 10, 2017. Figure 1: Carol M. Highsmith via Flickr. Figure 2: U.S. Geological Survey. Figure 3: Hillebrand/USFWS via Flickr.

Killough, Ashley, and Ted Barrett. “Lisa Murkowski saved Obamacare. But here’s why she may not abandon Republicans on taxes.” CNN Politics. November 20, 2017. https://www. Kumar, Devika Krishna, and Marianna Parraga. “Why record U.S. oil exports are poised for even more growth.” Reuters, July 27, 2017. Leiserowitz, Anthony, Edward Maibach, Seth Rosenthal, and Connie Roser-Renouf. “Americans oppose drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. New Haven, CT, December 4, 2017. McPherson, Lindsey. “12 House Republicans Sign Letter Opposing Arctic Drilling.” Roll Call, November 30, 2017.




Instructor: Eileen Divringi Additional Instructor: Woo Kim

Students: Marcus Artusio Zoe Axelrod Brett Davis Danielle Dong Claudia Elzey Joanna Joye Alana Kim Justine Kone Gabriella Nelson Katherine Randall Alexandra San Roman


Faculty Lead: John Landis

The Comparative Gentrification Policy Studio framework.





D The Comparative Gentrification Policy Studio website interface. Visit their website at


entrification, a form of neighborhood change in which an influx of capital into urban neighborhoods prompts a shift in socioeconomic demographics, too often benefits newcomers to the detriment of existing communities and residents. This phenomenon is the latest in a series of forced displacements of the U.S.’ most vulnerable populations, who can face housing instability and homelessness as a result.

mixed-income neighborhoods. Since many of the conditions for gentrifying areas have been created by national policy, the site also presents a national policy agenda that aims to transform the country’s conception of fair housing and equitable development. The students also presented their findings in a working paper, intended for academic audiences, which can be found on the website.

This studio investigated the conditions of five case-study American cities — Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle — to illustrate the commonalities of this country’s most at-risk neighborhoods, as well as to distinguish the diverse local variables that influence the causes and consequences of gentrification. Drawing on these cities’ lessons, students envisioned a radical alternative to the present situation, in which growing American cities and regions develop equitably and empower vulnerable residents to shape their communities and live where they choose. As a final product, this studio developed a website, “Dealing with Gentrification: A Toolkit for Equitable Development.” Designed for community members, advocates, and policymakers, the site features an interactive map of populations vulnerable to displacement and an interactive programmatic toolkit that can be used to harness neighborhood change to create sustainably

RENTERS The Comparative Gentrification Policy Studio team.



illuminate. by Alana Kim, Nate Klass, and Esther Ng


lluminate is a final project for the City Planning class entitled Sensing the City, taught by Professor Allison Lassiter. Students learn about the types of sensors (both input and output) used in urban contexts as well as how to program the sensors. Illuminate is a smart lighting system for better placemaking, expanding the usefulness of public spaces around the city by activating them after sundown.

WHAT IS THE ISSUE? The problem as we see it is two-fold. Dark parks lead to feelings of unsafety, and are not activated as places people want to be. Today, the issue is that many public spaces are under-lit, leading to under-use, which is why many feel unsafe in parks at night. Here in Philadelphia, this is experienced particularly in smaller neighborhood parks more than larger parks like Fairmount Park.

THE SAFETY QUESTION: According to the Project for Public Spaces, lighting can be used to provide a broader range of time in which the park is accessible for use. People feel safer when they can see ahead and around themselves. A lack of lighting is related to the issue of illegibility. Dark parks are illegible to users, which means that the environments in these parks are not easily understood. Recognizing a park with ease is an essential method for feeling safe and secure. Improved lighting in smaller portions of a park when people are present makes it more legible.



Figure 1: Targeted outdoor space intervention at Malcolm X Park (5100 Pine Street, Philadelphia).

THE ACTIVATION QUESTION: Studies have found that uneven and dark lighting lead to unfavorable experiences in public spaces after dark. People do not want to spend time in parks that feel unsafe. For parks right near commercial corridors, such as 52nd Street, unactivated spaces are a waste. At night, restaurants can benefit from more people feeling safe and secure being on the street and out in the public realm.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION? This project efficiently creates additional park lighting that is ambient, intentional, and very directed: Illuminate forms small rooms of light. By using LED light strips, we can draw the little power needed for this project right from the utility power source. This is not a replacement for light poles — it is an addition to them. Traditional light poles light

and activate pathways in the park, leaving grassy areas of the park dark and useless once the sun goes down. Using existing lighting infrastructure and adding to it, Illuminate will sense people entering the “room” and create atmospheric lighting to make being in the space more enjoyable at night. More light in the park will be both a boost in safety and place-making. Opening this space up to activity, especially right off of the 52nd Street commercial corridor, can create more useful public space for residents in the area.

WHERE DO WE SEE THIS IMPLEMENTED? We were interested in place-making and were thinking about how to find ways to improve public spaces with small interventions that have out-sized effects. This lighting system creates rooms of light in public spaces, after sensing activity and illuminating parts of a park in use. For our case study, we looked at Malcolm X Park in West Philadelphia at the corner of Pine Street and 51st Street. We chose this location because it could be a precedent to many other parks like it, such as Carroll Park at West Girard and 59th Street. To build a working prototype, we wanted to simulate two “rooms” in the park. We chose the northeast corner of the park as our prototype boundary and built a model to match.

WHAT DOES THIS PROJECT LOOK LIKE IN ITS IMPLEMENTATION? For this project, existing light poles will have sensors attached to them that communicate with the string lights. Sensors are pointed across the “boundary” and can see when people enter the “room.” Each room’s lighting temperature and brightness is based on the activity sensed in the room.

HOW DOES IT WORK? First, light is only added to the park when needed. Our sensor system detects when ambient light levels drop below a pre-set level, initially set at 50 lux, the recommended light level for activities in public space. When the ambient light falls below this level, our system kicks in and the entire park lights up to our base level. The base level is variable, depending on the time of day. If, for instance, the lights turn on at 4:00PM (as they would in winter), it would turn on to our base level. Each hour, the lights would increase to a new baseline that is brighter than the previous hour, to a maximum level of 150 lux. This baseline is maintained until the park closes and the system turns off entirely at 10:00PM. By activating the system for only a limited time, it will have minimal effect on light pollution. ILLUMINATE


SOMEONE ENTERS ROOM 1: Within each hour, the sensor readings will adjust the light in two ways — in warmth and brightness. As more people enter the room, the light changes from a cooler white to a warmer white. The sensors would work similarly for brightness: light brightness will increase as more activity is sensed entering the room.

WHAT DOES THIS PRODUCT LOOK LIKE? The proximity sensor is placed on the outside of a box that can be attached to current light poles, about four to five feet off the ground. The box will contain both the Arduino board and a Wifi breakout board. Being attached to the light pole will allow the box, filled with boards and sensors, to be easily hooked into the municipal power supply.

HOW CAN THIS PROJECT HELP IMPROVE PARKS? Including a Wifi breakout board in the product box allows for the collection of data about park usage. The organizations that install the system can use this data. The data sent back to the server might include: • • • • • • •

The paths in a park that lead more people to a specific “room.” Which “rooms” are most active. When “rooms” are active. The total amount of activity in a “room” after dark. The total amount of activity in a park after dark. Compare activity detected across “rooms.” Compare parks, and compare a park across days.

This can ultimately inform Philadelphia on how to better allocate park funding and manage resources. They can better answer questions such as why do people use the park as they do? What makes those sections more popular? How can activation be improved in a park? These questions led us to attempt to understand our potential operator. For whom is this product best suited? We see this system being best suited for municipal organizations like the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department or a Business Improvement District like the Center City District. These organizations have a vested interest in activating public spaces. By installing a system like Illuminate, these groups can activate public spaces after dark, by bringing people to the area. We hope this product can add more significant benefits to businesses on nearby commercial corridors.

Figure 3: Testing the prototype for Illuminate.



Illuminate also serves neighborhood residents! They benefit from having a larger space to gather and connect, during more hours of the day. We see this project having potential to quickly and easily boost the public realm in areas that do not always see civic investment.

Figure 5: Using a Wifi breakout board to track park usage.







Figure 6: Malcolm X Park Proposal. String lights outline the perimeter of “rooms” within the park that are controlled by sensors attached to existing light poles to detect movement (activity) across the park to adjust light accordingly. 1) At night sensor detects ambient light levels dropping to 50 lux, 2) light system activated, 3) movement is detected crossing into “Room 1,” 4) Light pattern runs along the line of lights that was crossed, 5) More movement detected (3x) light intensity increases, 6) More movement detected (5x) light temperature becomes warmer and increases in intensity.



Figure 1: Various subway travelers wait either anxiously or patiently for the train to their destination.


by Alexandra Zazula


’ve always been an avid people watcher, and my curiosity connects me to the city and its people around me. Transportation brings vitality to the city’s circulation and, in turn, functionality, with various bus routes, subway lines, and crowded streets providing pathways and connections to labor and housing. People seem to view public transportation as a mindless vehicle to get from one place to the next, as a mundane though necessary evil to execute the facets of their day. Rather than accept this mindset, I observe subway stations as public spaces where people gather and actively use for more than just commuting. To delve into the subway as an experience, I studied a New York subway line for three hours with the following questions in mind: While waiting for and riding the subway, how do people utilize that specific time and space? How do they maximize or minimize the time they must spend waiting for a train to arrive at their station? What sorts of interactions do these physical spaces foster, or prevent? To answer these questions, I attempt to compartmentalize findings from my field notes in a logical way that highlights the trends in my observation.

In an attempt to capture more people commuting to and from their place of work, I chose the 42nd Street-Bryant Park BDFM station as my first and primary site of observation. Bryant Park is surrounded by massive amounts of office space as well as convenient chain cafés that serve the corporate population from Times Square to Lexington Avenue. With a large public park, library, a surrounding mix of uses, and minimal residential space, I felt that Bryant Park’s primary subway station at 5:15 on a Friday evening would provide

a diverse set of workers traveling away from their places of employment. Within the Bryant Park station, I split my time between the Downtown and Uptown tracks, though found little difference between the behaviors on each platform. After completing my platform observation, I boarded the downtown F train to participate in the ride until turning around five stops into Brooklyn, making my work multi-sited. As I took a seat on the Downtown-bound platform, I immediately sensed the different paces at which people moved throughout the station. The moment I sat down, I observed a young woman in relatively casual clothes anxiously leaning over the ledge of the platform, checking every fifteen seconds to see if the train was arriving. There seemed to be two distinct types of people that moved at two different paces, one far more restless than the other. Most people strutted quickly past me, on a mission to either get a good, clear spot to wait for the train or take the stairs to exit the station. Their fast pace and high energy were tangible before they found their space along the platform without crossing the yellow line at the platform’s edge. I came to call these people the strutters, those who would anxiously check for the train as the first woman did, tapping their feet, glancing up and down from their phones. Trains came so often that only a few seemed concerned or rushed despite their brisk walk through the station. I began referring to the other type of walker as the stroller. They did not have headphones in as often as the strutters did. Instead, they seemed far more aware of their surroundings: looking around


Figure 2: Weighed down by their belongings, people sink further into their own personal spheres as they wait to board the train.

the station and examining the people around them. They were the only group that seemed to notice that I had been watching them; I felt ‘discovered’ as an observer when they’d make eye contact with me and then scan my body down to my notebook. Two of the most notable strollers simply sat down directly next to me on the bench and started reading a newspaper, letting their respective trains come and go once before getting on the next one toward their destinations. The occasionally-anxious strutters and the leisurely strollers represent two extremes of how people approach their commute, or perhaps represent a difference in destination type. Scanning the traveling population, I saw a symphony of headphones and downcast eyes glued to phones. One usually accompanied the other, although people without headphones tended to gaze down at their phones more frequently than others. With the exception of the strollers, there seemed to be an overwhelming need to make the time pass speedily, whether by reading articles, scrolling through photos, or listening to music. In addition to a cell phone in hand, nearly everyone in the station was carrying something else aside from their primary purse or bag: an umbrella, a tote of athletic clothing, a stuffed Duane Reade bag, a frappuccino from Starbucks, paper shopping bags from Zara. Each person seemed to be made heavy by the things they carried for their full day of work,



with no time to stop home between destinations or commitments. This observation hints at the heavily consumeristic nature of New York City, as well as the active, hyper-mobile lifestyle associated with living and working in a geographically vast metropolis. Technological distractions and added physical weight seemed to influence people’s spatial relations as well. Headphones put up a sort of wall, preventing interactions and catalyzing an occupation of distinctly personal space. People generally stood between two and three feet away from one another, lining the edges of the platform. Those who followed created an informal second row using the same spatial organization. Those arriving after the edges had been lined rarely chose to squeeze into the edge’s open space. Instead, they stood slightly behind the open spaces between those in the first row. The only organic interactions were suitcasewielding travelers frantically asking a stroller for directions. Pairs or small groups traveling together spoke to one another, providing the only chatter that arose once every few minutes. Each person in the pair seemed to match the other in both appearance and demeanor, giving the platform a slight air of companionship, if not romance. Ultimately, the platform united all travelers through the common necessity of movement, yet the space still seemed to be lined by chains of silent personal spheres.

Figure 3: More space became available as rush hour faded and the train passed out of Manhattan, giving people the opportunity to sit and rest rather than vie for room in a train teeming with commuters.

As I boarded the Downtown-bound F train, the general silence continued. A young woman in business casual clothing slowly flipped through a massive anthology perched on her lap. A large man standing in the corner stood innocently smiling at his iPhone, headphones in. The train started out crowded with at least two people per pole, grasping for balance. A woman accidentally placed her hand on another woman’s hand, then began to nervously laugh, “I was wondering why my hand was on a lump.” Her reaction revealed the sheer uncommonness of strangers interacting on the train, despite their tightly-shared space during rush hour rides. There were few noticeable changes in behavior from the platform to the moving train in terms of entertaining or occupying oneself, however, people seemed to have a heightened spatial awareness as they were forced closer together. The crowd whittled down as we drew closer to Brooklyn. As we crossed under the water, an air of calm seemed to fall over the remaining passengers, as if settling into a more natural environment.

I decided to break the silence. I asked the quiet young man next to me, a stroller sans headphones or means of entertainment, if I could ask him a few questions for a paper. He immediately responded by teasingly asking if that’s why I’d been scribbling in a notebook. I first asked basic questions, like where he was going and from where he was coming. I then inquired why he didn’t bring anything to do while on the train. He said he’d been commuting to high school and college in Manhattan for seven years, and simply ran out of ways to pass the time. He listened, he read, and now he watches. He started to notice patterns, the way I had, after settling in and paying attention to his surroundings. He said he’d heard “the same panhandlers telling a different story every day,” and that he feels like he’s “seen it all.” I got off with him at his stop, which was the fifth stop after crossing into Brooklyn. Before going on his way, he told me to go to the very midpoint of the platform and look for a hanging slab of metal with diagonal black stripes on it. “The conductor is required to point at the metal slab before starting to move again,” he explained, which he only learned after paying attention to the conductors and asking



Figure 4: A man reads quietly as trains pass by, prioritizing experience over expediency.

them what they were doing. I waited at the midpoint for the train back to Manhattan, only to see the conductor point at the metal slab and drive off with a wink. The young man was able to take himself out of the mindset of most commuters and view the subway as a space for thought and discovery, using proximity and sustained exposure to others as a means for knowledge. Despite trends throughout my observation, patterns often changed from one minute to the next, and there were exceptions to every rule. Due to the variation in both behaviors and types of people, I found that examining a transportation hub is one of the best ways to view a cross-section of the



city’s inhabitants and observe how transportation can be used to maximize productivity or squeeze leisure into lives. People’s self-concerned attitudes, the figurative walls they erected, and the linear design of the station and train seemed to foster little socialization, aside from brief encounters amongst the strollers least concerned with productivity or entertainment. The variety in behaviors and types of travelers helped me understand that the subway experience is simply what each of us makes it. In conclusion, it is up to each individual to defy the monotony of silence and embrace the journey as an opportunity for human interaction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexandra Zazula is a Copy Editor for Panorama, and a first-year Master of City and Regional Planning student trying her hand at Urban Design. She simply wants to make people’s lives easier through thoughtful planning and design, and is committed to green spaces and Double Stuf Oreos alike. She can’t wait for warm weather so that her bike lock will stop freezing and she can read books in Fairmount Park.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Figure 1: Photo by Will Lewis, 2018. Figure 2: Photo by Will Lewis, 2018. Figure 3: Photo by Will Lewis, 2018. Figure 4: Photo by Will Lewis, 2018.



Figure 1: Tenement laws required light and air wells to address poor living conditions, evolving the buildings into a ‘dumbbell’ shape.



hroughout the evolution of American landscape architecture and environmental planning there is a common thread: the belief that the natural landscape has a healing power that should be preserved, replicated, and absorbed. Running parallel to the evolution of this faith is the history of mental health in the United States and its effect on the urban environment. While these two discourses have shared roots in health, physical determinism, and public obligation, they remain ignorant of one another. Public health specialists and policymakers continue to look for solutions in medicines and prison sentences, and landscape architects remain convinced that the mental stresses in cities are still just noise and polluted air. This paper seeks to trace these two parallel threads in American landscape thinking, to call attention to the gap between them, and to inspire a woven solution.

TOWARD A HEALING LANDSCAPE The theoretical tradition of landscape architecture in the United States has, throughout its history, traced a discourse of the healing power of landscapes. For American writers and practitioners, well-designed landscapes not only have the capacity to contain and sustain natural ecosystems; but the ability to cure man of the sicknesses of his very nature. Although the spaces they define are quite different, American landscape architects and theorists share the pursuit of the perfect landscape, a place that not only harbors man from the ills of

the world, but heals him of them. Of course, the discourse of healing landscapes is not a uniquely American phenomenon. Since the advent of the city, there has been a tradition of escaping it in favor of the healing power of the countryside. Although the conviction that a city harbors disease in a way that a landscape does not predates modern epidemiology, it is formalized by European public health discoveries in the 19th century. In particular, Edwin Chadwick’s 1844 discovery that residents of the countryside lived longer than their urban counterparts and John Snow’s 1853 discovery that cholera was transmitted through London’s water pumps confirmed the belief that there is something fundamentally unhealthy about urban spaces. It is in this context of urban death and disease that American thinkers begin their pursuit of a healing landscape in the late 19th century. Tenement laws and redesigns in the 1860s and 1870s stressed the existence of light and air wells, as if fresh air alone had the power to overcome the effects of cramming dozens of people into a tiny apartment. The belief that a natural city is a healthy city is then picked up by utopian landscape theorists of the 1890s. While Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City and George Pullman’s Company Town proposed different urban forms, they both operated under the assumption that a man could be healthier and more productive if his environment were more natural. Even Daniel Burnham’s White City presented a model for the sterility of a city that is integrated with water and nature. It is this theoretical foundation that continues to insist that the American utopian


city be a natural one. The pursuit of, and belief in, the healing landscape is not just carried by urban planners and thinkers, but is also picked up by the designers of landscapes themselves. While Frederick Law Olmsted’s designs for Central Park in New York City and the Emerald Necklace in Boston are picturesque in execution, they are functional in intent. By Olmsted’s own omission “all turf, trees, flowers, fences, walks, water, paint, plaster, posts and pillars in or under which there is not a purpose of direct utility or service are inartistic if not barbarous” (Olmsted, 1895). His pastoral landscapes were designed to provide the critical mass of nature to heal city-dwellers of the ills of urban life. Decades later, Lawrence Halprin and Garrett Eckbo’s modernist landscapes were also designed to improve health by encouraging play in and through their geometric waterfalls and curvilinear greenspaces. Even today, landscape architecture is obsessed with crafting a landscape that heals the ills of contemporary life. Landscape Urbanism operates under the assumption that every surface — from overpasses to railroad tracks, rooftops to sports stadiums — can and should be greened. City planners are likewise convinced that bioswales and street trees should line every block. In this way, modern landscape architects and city planners have doubled down on the theory of the healing landscape. Today, natural landscapes in urban environments are not only expected to provide the fresh air and recreation space to heal every urban dweller’s body, an expectation consistent over the history of the field. Today, natural landscapes must also heal a sickened world; their power now extends to absorbing carbon emissions, controlling urban heat island, and protecting from storm surge. While perhaps this faith is placed by scientific understanding — if anything has the power to simultaneously heal people and the world it is the equilibrium-seeking ecosystems of Nature — more likely it is a reflection of the hold that the discourse of the healing landscape has on the American tradition.

Figure 2: In 1853, John Snow discovered cholera was transmitted by water pump by mapping the outbreak instances across London.

THE AMERICAN URBAN INFORMALITY The history of mental health in the United States is perhaps the only story as fundamental to the evolution of urban form as the mythos of the healing landscape. From the founding of the first cities to the contemporary discourse of the ‘inner-city’, mental illness and how to alleviate its appearance has been a fundamental concern of American cities. As early as the 17th century, American cities were concerned with the prevalence of mental illness in urban space and the provision of public services to address it. Soon after their founding, cities like Boston and New York established public and working houses to “shelter the drunks and the idiots” and reduce the number of beggars out on the street. These institutions developed in conjunction with prisons and hospitals; the housing of the mentally ill became an essential function of the state, as much a public obligation as punishing criminals and healing the sick.

Figure 3: Olmsted’s Central Park design attempted to give New York’s residents the benefits of living in the countryside by providing an immersive natural landscape.



Figure 4: To reduce the public obligation, immigrants who were found to have physical or mental illness were refused entry at Ellis Island.

The relationship between the city and the mentally ill did not remain one of benevolent provision for long. As waves of new immigrants began to grow in the 18th and 19th centuries, the alienation and criminalization of the mentally ill became an equally expected public provision. Medical professionals were quickly dispatched to immigrant ports like Ellis Island to inspect every new American, immediately rejecting anyone who might burden the public by requiring institutionalization or welfare. These efforts did little to stem the tide and by the 20th century, nearly every urban area had a state-run mental hospital. By then, housing and restraining the mentally ill was a critical function of the post-Depression welfare state, making this part of the American population largely invisible to cities. It is not until the deinstitutionalization efforts of the 1960s that mental health is once again a forming force in American cities. Following the invention of anti-psychotic drugs and reports of poor conditions in state asylums, there was a

movement in the 1950s to move away from largescale psychiatric institutions towards a communitybased approach to mental health. While the intent may have been noble, the deinstitutionalization of mental health facilities in the 1950s wreaked havoc on American cities. By 1960 the number of state psychiatric hospital beds per 100,000 people had fallen from 339 to just 22 (Lamb, 2005). As urban areas had been the site of state hospitals and offered walkable access to public amenities, cities became the new home of America’s mentally ill population, pushing the capacity of nearly every public service — from police forces to emergency rooms — to its limit. While strides have been made to provide services to mentally ill populations, the most prominent contemporary problems of American cities still have their roots in mental illness. Every white-flight suburbanite’s list of reasons for leaving, every 21st century comprehensive plan, and every newspaper article about ‘inner cities’ identifies the same two fundamental problems of today’s cities: drugs and crime. At the heart of the opioid epidemic, gang violence escalations, and mass






2015 0

Figure 5: Drug Overdose Deaths per 100,000 between 2000 and 2015.

killing sprees are complex webs of depression, addiction, violence, and desperation. But these complex reasons are all mental health concerns and continuing the tradition of alienating the mentally ill and ignoring mental illness only serves to ignore the shared fate of mental health and the urban form.

THE CASE TO DESIGN FOR WELLNESS If mental health concerns are one of the greatest challenges facing contemporary cities and the American landscape tradition insists that designing nature has the power to improve health, why is landscape architecture wholly unconcerned with mental health? Perhaps mental health, unlike physical well-being, is too abstract to be solved through landscape design. But is it more abstract than beauty, or goodness, or nature itself ? One of the great powers of the field of landscape architecture is its ability to solve complex problems irrespective of whether the problems are fully understood. Italian piazzas fostered community and Japanese gardens demanded silence long before psychology understood the relationships between those places and the emotions they spark. Design, then, could create parks that improve emergency response



time and sidewalks that blur gang territories before addiction and violence are completely understood. Perhaps, instead, the problem is that landscape has bigger issues to be concerned with. Certainly, sea levels are rising and biomes are shifting, and it seems that every year the list of problems a well-designed space must solve grows longer. But whom do landscapes serve? If they are designed to serve people as Olmsted’s Central Park, Howard’s Garden City, and even James Corner’s High Line claim to, then shouldn’t they fix the problems affecting the most people first? Last year more than 15,000 people were killed by gun violence and more than 50,000 died of drug overdose (Gun Violence Archive, 2018) (Center For Disease Control, 2017). While one day we will surely be able to measure the cost of ignoring climate change or ruining ecosystems, keeping mental health concerns out of the landscape architecture and environmental planning traditions costs us exactly 178 lives every day. This paper, then, is a call to action. A call to landscape architects and environmental planners to recognize their history and accept this challenge, to embrace designing for mental wellness as the next logical chapter in American landscape thinking.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathleen Hanley is a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Urban Design. Originally from Northern California, she loves using design to make transportation fun for people who don’t like transportation. Although she is still very young, regular Panorama readers will note that Kathleen now has two sentences of things to include in her bio.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Centers for Disease Control. (2017). Provisional Counts of Drug Overdose Deaths, as of 8/6/2017. nchs/data/health_policy/monthly-drug-overdose-deathestimates.pdf. Gun Violence Archive. (2018). Past Summary Ledgers. http:// Lamb, H.R.L., Weinberger, L.E. (2005). The shift of psychiatric inpatient care from hospitals to jails and prisons. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law, 33: 529-34.Olmstead, Frederick. Manuscript Fragment. Frederick Law Olmsted Papers, Library of Congress. Figure 1: Photo by Unknown, Airshaft of a dumbbell tenement, New York City, taken from the roof. The United States National Archives, New York. Available From: Wikimedia Commons, File:Airshaft_of_a_dumbbell_tenement,_New_York_City,_ taken_from_the_roof,_ca._1900_-_NARA_-_535468.jpg. Figure 2: Photo by John Snow [map]. In: John Snow, On the Mode of Communication of Cholera. London, England: New Burlington Street, 1855. Available From: Wikimedia Commons, File:Snow-cholera-map-1.jpg. Figure 3: Photo by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, Central Park. In: Thirteenth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. New York, 1869. Available From: Wikimedia Commons, https:// Olmstead_Map_of_Central_Park,_New_York_City_-_ Geographicus_-_CentralPark-CentralPark-1869.jpg. Figure 4: Photo by Edwin Levick, Medical inspection of men. 1902-1910, Photograph. From: The New York Public Library Digital Archives, items/6191646f-18f6-432a-e040-e00a18063fa6. Figure 5: Maps by Kathleen Hanley, 2018.







he Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that asthma costs $3,300 annually for each of the 25 million Americans living with the chronic illness (Centers for Disease Control, 2011). Physician, Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, pioneered a technique of identifying buildings where “super utilizer” patients live, called medical hotspotting. Super utilizer patients are the five percent of Americans who account for approximately 50 percent of total healthcare expenditures (Mitchel, 2015). Dr. Brenner found geographic hotspots that exhibit poverty and environmental conditions that contribute to these patients’ chronic illness (Gawande, 2017). He also found that the cost of responding to environmental factors is often less expensive than treating frequent asthma flare-ups.

Though the World Health Organization states that the air within 0.3 miles of highways and 0.2 miles of certain industrial operations is typically highly polluted and a likely asthmatic trigger, other common triggers, like mold spores and cockroach secretions, come from non-point-sources at home (Krzyzankowski et al., 2005). Home repair financing programs and building inspections are tools cities use to ameliorate indoor air quality issues, though prioritizing resources for this is a challenge. Medical hotspotting is not a readily available tool for city governments given privacy restrictions of health data. However most city governments collect information that can be used to create their own datasets.

Figure 1: Mapping asthma hotspots in Cincinnatti with data collected from the Fire Department, Hamilton County Auditor, and 311 service hotline. HEALTH-BASED HOTSPOTTING FOR MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS



ASTHMA-RELATED 911 CALLS (2015-2017)

HOTSPOT ANALYSIS (Inverse Distance Weighted)

DWELLING UNIT DENSITY (Hamilton County Auditor)


MOLD + ROACH 311 CALLS (2015-2017)

Figure 2: CoKriging Predictive Model.

The City of Cincinnati Health Department and Building Department receive formal complaints every year from tenants reporting landlords’ failure to ameliorate mold and cockroaches (City of Cincinnati, n.d.). By processing this data with asthma-related 911 call data, and housing stock data, the Building Department and Health Department can prioritize rental-property inspections (City of Cincinnati, n.d.) (Hamilton County Auditor, n.d.).

correlated with mold and cockroach complaints than proximity to a high-traffic road. A pattern did emerge around certain class 2 roads but not around highways. CoKriging predictive modeling was used to create the prediction map of asthma hotspots. The results of the prediction map were then overlaid with property data to produce a prioritized list of residential properties located in predicted asthma hotspots.

To map asthma hotspots in Cincinnati, data from the Cincinnati Fire Department dispatch records were queried for all asthma-related calls and combined with data from the Hamilton County Auditor on the number of dwelling units per individual property and property distance to the nearest class 1 and class 2 roads. This data was further combined with data from the City of Cincinnati’s 311 service hotline on residential cockroach and mold-related complaints. A fishnet was used to aggregate all dwelling units, mold and cockroach complaints, and asthma responses within each 500-foot square across the city. These quantities were then used to run a linear regression to determine how correlated each factor is (Figure 3). Asthma-related 911 calls were found to be more

Figure 3: Linear Regression model.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scott Betz is a first-year in the Master of City and Regional Planning program, with a concentration in Land Use and Environmental Planning. He has an acute interest in forging big data tools for municipal governments to run more efficiently and effectively, an interest he developed while working in the architecture and construction field in Cincinnati prior to coming to Penn. As the climate changes, wealth stratifies, and population surges, the need for healthy and equitable cities has never been greater.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED CDC Vital Signs. 2011. Asthma in the US: Growing Every Year. Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services (OSELS), Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta: Office of the Associate Director for Communications. Mitchell, E. Concentration of Health Expenditures in the U.S. Noninstutionalized Population, 2014. Statistical Brief #497. November 2016. Agency for Healthcare and Quality, Rockville, MD. files/publications/st497/state497.pdf. Gawande, Atul. “Finding Medicine’s Hot Spots.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, magazine/2011/01/24/the-hot-spotters. Krzyzanowski, Michal, et al. Health Effects of TransportRelated Air Pollution. World Health Organization Regional Office Europe, 2005. “Cincinnati 311 (Non-Emergency) Service Requests.” City of Cincinnati. “Cincinnati Fire Incidents (CAD) (Including EMS: ALS/BLS).” City of Cincinnati. Safter-Streets/Cincinnati-Fire-Incidents-CAD-incluidngEMS-ALS-BL/vnas-a3wp. “Hamilton County Auditor Property Data.” Hamilton County Auditor.



Figure 1: Years of life lost in America. We see peaks in Appalachia and the American South but also in certain cities along the coast.



he following analysis explores the relationship between misery and density in America. It builds on research by Anne Case and Angus Deaton (2015, 2016, 2017), who first noted rising rates of suicides and suicidal behavior, by probing the role of density: is the problem of unhappiness—and its effect on life outcomes—primarily spatial or social? That is, could decisions made decades ago regarding where and how we live echo in twin crises of physical and mental health? If misery is an issue in America, it is incumbent upon planners to consider the consequences of settlement patterns on it. In accordance with the Easterlin Paradox, this study posits that more money is failing to purchase more happiness in the U.S. and that our spending patterns may relate to our settlement patterns. The claim here is that embedded into our density are myriad decisions that help or hurt wellbeing—and thus our happiness. Within density, there is mobility or immobility, heterogeneity or homogeneity, support systems or voids. Richard Easterlin (1974) notes that while money appears to buy happiness, in many countries the returns of money to happiness have been falling (Easterlin, 1974). Wealthier countries are indeed happier—the developing world is less happy than the developed world—but across countries at the top, the relationship is jumbled. Income, according to this research, is necessary but not sufficient for life satisfaction. Indeed, in the U.S., income contributes more to happiness than in nations like the United Kingdom or Germany. With a limited

benefits system, wealth buys health—and likely happiness—here. While our antecedent concern here is happiness, we approach it with a measure of misery (Weimann et al., 2015). In order to inform our analysis, we begin with an exploration of life outcomes in the U.S. Figure 1 plots the years of life lost in America. This measure consists of the total number of citizens who died before their 75th birthday, multiplied by how many years prior to then they died. Thus, a county of two people, with one dying at 65 and another at 70, has fifteen years of life lost. When plotting it stateby-state, in Figure 2, we see that some states have tight distributions — wherein most counties have the same number of years lost — while others have loose distributions — wherein disparate parts of the state have differing outcomes. With these plots, we can begin to form a narrative around public health in America, one that sees poor health in urban centers (spikes dot the coasts) and rural peripheries. In accordance with these maps, our hypothesis is that increases density are associated with increases in happiness, as determined by a measure that we construct.

THE PROBLEM: THE LIVES WE LIVE Our settlement patterns are implicated in how we spend both our money and our time. For example, commuting is one of the most unhappy activities we can undertake in a day (Layard, 2005). The U.S. ranks third in time spent commuting among European and North American nations — only Romanians and Hungarians commute


a full life in each state state

years of life lost, distributed across counties NA Wyoming Washington Virginia Utah Texas South Dakota Oregon North Dakota New Mexico Nevada Nebraska Montana Missouri Mississippi Minnesota Michigan Kansas Idaho Hawaii Georgia Colorado California Alaska Connecticut Rhode Island Massachusetts New Hampshire New Jersey Vermont New York Iowa Wisconsin Maine Maryland Pennsylvania Illinois Delaware Ohio District of Columbia Indiana Florida North Carolina Arizona South Carolina West Virginia Kentucky Louisiana Tennessee Arkansas Oklahoma Alabama 0




lost life

Figure 2: Years of life lost across States. States like California show multi-nodal distributions. States like Idaho are unimodal, suggesting the distributions suggest which states have the best outcomes that a people born and raised there will experience life outcomes around the mean, regardless of county.

for longer (Stutzer and Frey, 2008). More time committed to sitting in automobiles, according to Stutzer and Frey (2008), is associated with declines in happiness. Further, in what they coin the commuting paradox, the authors determine that commuters are not adequately compensated for their time. Others find that passengers are happier than drivers, while neither group feels as well off as bikers (Morris and Guerra, 2014). Stutzer and Frey (2008) as well as Morris and Guerra (2014) find higher negative valence for transit riders than for drivers. Literature on happiness also suggests that what Adam Smith called “fellow feeling” — our connection to others — is critical. One study found that stronger social ties result in less stress and higher life satisfaction (Fuller-Iglesias, 2015). This would seem to further implicate suburban and exurban living. Dispersed living, however, is not uniformly inculpated. Willits and Kanagy (1989) find no effect between rural and urban dwellers in happiness (Willits and Kanagy, 1989). Others,



citing results showing that increased density begets decreased wellbeing, posit the “savannah theory” of happiness — that natural milieux create happiness over unnatural ones (Li and Kanazawa, 2016). Indeed, studies in biophilia also demonstrate that connection to nature could give improvements to physical and mental health.

MEASURING THE UNMEASURABLE Happiness is the confluence of objective and subjective variables: not simply employment status or relationship status, but also one’s views thereof. This tension leads to a concern among social scientists about reliability when measuring happiness. Kahneman (2011) notes that when asked to report happiness, responses vary on average if an individual has been asked about his or her dating life (Kahneman, 2011). If individuals considered all variables at all times, the prompt would be meaningless.

money buys you this...

...but not so much of this.

physical health against income

mental health against income


mentally unhealthy days

physically unhealthy days










median income

Figure 3: Median income vs physically unhealthy days.

Yet research elucidates certain opportunities for estimation. To wit, Kahneman and Krueger find that unhappy people do indeed spend more time in unpleasant states (Kahneman and Krueger, 2006). This accords with Jeremy Bentham’s assertion that happiness is the sum of pleasures and pains. Krueger et al. (2009) develop this into a u-index — for “unpleasant” — that aggregates time spent in an unpleasant state (Krueger et al., 2009). Reasoning from first these principles, we attempt to construct an estimate for happiness inspired by this index. The variables we use are “days in poor mental health” and “days in poor physical health” per month. We confirm that these variables accord with earlier findings. Figures 3 and 4 examine the relationship posited by Easterlin and our variables, showing that although money matters little to happiness as wealth masses past a certain point, so too does it do less and less to curb unpleasantness. Along with giving credibility to our variables, this indicates that our findings will inform the Easterlin Paradox as it pertains to counties in this country, rather than between countries.

ESTIMATING THE INESTIMABLE We use ordinary least squares regression to explore the association between density and wellbeing. We then incorporate controls — 55 in total — to determine which factors moderate the effect of density on wellbeing. These include behavioral factors, like commuting and smoking, environmental factors, like access to food and care, and economic factors. For the full list of variables, see the Methods section. In investigating the relationship between sprawl and happiness, while interrogating additional links, we hope to shed light on whether density, per se, affects wellbeing, or if it merely packages other information.



median income

Figure 4: Median income vs mentally unhealthy days.

FINDINGS Our results show that increases in density correlate with decreases in our measure of unpleasantness. This suggests that proximity to others is good for the country while isolation poses problems. A linear model putting just density as a independent variable with unpleasantness as the dependent variable showed a model fit of 0.18, measured by adjusted r-squared, and the coefficient showed that a one percent increase in density corresponded to one fewer day spent in poor health — either mental or physical. When controlling for other factors, like environmental ones, density ceases to be a significant predictor of mental and physical illness. This suggests that density, as such, is not an issue; rather, densities involve various other aspects of wellbeing — like income or education. Indeed, inequality and unemployment have larger effects on unpleasantness than does density. Our results point to possible planning considerations. Planners can bypass fixed elements like settlement patterns in favor of more flexible ones, like access and opportunity for specific concerns. If the issue is primarily social, rather than spatial, improvements to health need not involve changes to the built environment. Thus, while we reject our hypothesis in favor of the null, determining that density is insignificant, there are important implications.

METHODS Our research design is a correlational, drawing on various quality of life indicators in order to study the relationship between population density and wellbeing in the U.S. The purpose of the analysis is to determine the best predictors of a population’s mental and physical health and explore how those predictors relate to population density. Moreover, in determining what associates



with unpleasantness, we seek to understand what role, if any, planners can play in achieving greater wellbeing in the U.S. To understand this association, we gathered seventy variables, each with 3,136 observations — one for each county in the country. Our unit of analysis, the county, allows us to see correlations related to regional urban policy along with variations in populations. Density in this study uses county population and area in meters, which we then convert to acres. Because density in America does not follow normal distribution, we log transform it. In using the county as the base unit, it should be noted that density is a largely urban phenomenon; we are looking at density that is embedded in the urban design of an entire urban area as opposed to that of a singular building or neighborhood. A primary assumption that this study makes is that the county density is a reflection of the urban structure and sprawl.

These predictors could indeed predict both mental health and physical health. These variables were collected from the county health ranking and roadmaps website, which is a collaborative website between Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. These indicators were reported by four agencies — National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BRFSS, Dartmouth University, and SAHIET — and in three formats: percentages, indexes and ratios, which we convert to percentages. Since this data was reported by different agencies, there is a potential for discrepancies due to biases, but for the purpose of the study, we have not considered any reporting bias in our model. We also identify that demographic data such as population above age 65 and below eighteen, race, female birth rate, mortality rate, education,

“The data indicate that, in terms of maximizing healthy days, growing and improving urban America is a much better investment than expanding our healthcare system.”

Layard et al. (2013) determine that mental and physical health are substantially more important in contributing to life satisfaction than is income (Layard et al., 2013a). The researchers conclude that the single biggest contribution to life satisfaction is mental health (Layard et al., 2013b). Physical health also contributes more than income. Thus, we use a synthetic conception of happiness grounded in mental and physical health. In line with research that finds a strong relationship between days in poor health and happiness, we also construct an index for wellbeing defined as the number of days in poor physical health multiplied by the number of days in poor mental health. This creates a “uindex” (Krueger et al., 2009). In limiting our analysis to these two components of happiness, we see costs and benefits. With an objective scale, these variables avoid validity issues; without subjective variables, the model cannot account for variations in disposition. This variable is our dependent variable. In addition to density, we use seventy other independent variables. As indicators of physical health, variables include rates of obesity, smoking, excessive drinking, and diabetes. As indicators of mental health, variables include rates of insufficient sleep, disconnected youth, and unemployment.



and employment will determine health, as they are likely associated with access to healthcare providers and other social determinants of health. These demographic indicators were collected from the Census Bureau and were transformed into percentages. Using these variables, we run a stepwise backward linear regression model to determine the correlation. We remove the non-significant variables from our model and are left with 55 of those seventy variables. Our final model deals with 55 variables and 1,714 counties. These variables allow us to control for, and draw out, the important and unimportant components contained within density. Our goal is to determine whether or not density, in and of itself, is associated with wellbeing, or if it is a proxy for other indicators. For example, if we were to find that people are happier and healthier in medium density, we do not know that low density creates pleasant communities. Instead, wealthier people might prefer certain densities, and those wealthier people may be healthier and happier.

Thus, for the purpose of deciphering the true impact of density, we introduced characteristic controls. We group the variables into five broad categories: • • • • •

Behavioral factors including indicators such as rates of smoking, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, and commuting alone. Environmental factors include presence of violent crimes, levels of particulate matter, longer commute times, severe housing problems, and food environment. Economic factors include variables such as unemployment rate along with rates of high school graduation, attending college, child poverty, and food insecurity. Demographic factors involve variables such as race, gender, and age, which we control for to determine the effect of density on those of working age. We also separate healthcare indicators like rates of primary care providers and mental health providers along with the insurance rate.

Along with these characteristic controls, we also apply age controls to each model. To do this, we introduced the percentage of people over 65 and under eighteen in a batch of regressions to see how age influenced the six different regression models.

We believe that both physical and mental health are associated with age; age also plays a pivotal role in housing decisions. As Paul and Dolan (2015) describe, the happiness “u-curve” that people tend to follow in life, with falling happiness through our middle decades and rising happiness in the later ones (Paul and Dolan, 2015). If populations — say, as they enter child-rearing age — select into communities, this would bias our result. Young populations, also on a specific section of the u-curve, are more likely to stay in city centers but are also likely to be physically healthier. With these controls, we run regressions testing the relationship between density and wellbeing, as measured by our u-index. We run five regressions — one for each category of control — along with one that uses every variable in to see what predictors remain significant.

FINDINGS Having processed the data, we execute an exploratory analysis to understand how each variable behaves in the presence of the others. We plot density against indicators such as violent crime, racial segregation, income disparity, obesity, diabetes, and life expectancy. The results show that as population density increases in cities, so too do violent crime, racial segregation, and income disparity. However, higher density is also linked to certain better health outcomes: lower rates of obesity

Segregation.Index Segregation.index Drug.Overdose.Mortality.Rate PCT.Non.Hispanic.White PCT.65.and.over Association.Rate MHP.Ratio PCT.Alcohol.Impaired Costs Preventable.Hosp..Rate PCT.Drive.Alone Average.Daily.PM2.5 Graduation.Rate PCT.Uninsured.1 PCT.Uninsured PCT.Limited.Access Area PCT.American.Indian.Alaskan.Native PCT...18 Infant.Mortality.Rate Child.Mortality.Rate PCT.Diabetic PCT.Physically.Inactive PCT.Obese MV.Mortality.Rate Injury.Death.Rate Firearm.Fatalities.Rate Age.Adjusted.Mortality Years.of.Potential.Life.Lost.Rate PCT.Smokers PCT.Frequent.Physical.Distress Physically.Unhealthy.Days QoL PCT.Frequent.Mental.Distress Mentally.Unhealthy.Days PCT.Fair.Poor Teen.Birth.Rate PCT.Free.or.Reduced.Lunch PCT.Disconnected.Youth PCT.Unemployed PCT.Rural Dentist.Ratio Homicide.Rate Chlamydia.Rate PCT.Food.Insecure PCT.Single.Parent.Households Violent.Crime.Rate Income.Ratio PCT.African.American PCT.LBW PCT.Insufficient.Sleep PCT.Female Other.PCP.Ratio PCT.Long.Commute...Drives.Alone PCP.Ratio PCT.Some.College PCT.With.Access PCT.Excessive.Drinking Household.Income Food.Environment.Index PCT.Mammography PCT.Receiving.HbA1c Population X..Mental.Health.Providers PCT.Asian Density HIV.Prevalence.Rate MHP.Rate PCT.Hispanic PCT.Severe.Housing.Problems PCT.Native.Hawaiian.Other.Pacific.Islander

Pearson Correlation 1.0 0.5 0.0 −0.5

PCT.Native.Hawaiian.Other.Pacific.Islander PCT.Severe.Housing.Problems PCT.Hispanic MHP.Rate HIV.Prevalence.Rate Density PCT.Asian X..Mental.Health.Providers Population PCT.Receiving.HbA1c PCT.Mammography Food.Environment.Index Household.Income PCT.Excessive.Drinking PCT.With.Access PCT.Some.College PCP.Ratio PCT.Long.Commute...Drives.Alone Other.PCP.Ratio PCT.Female PCT.Insufficient.Sleep PCT.LBW PCT.African.American Income.Ratio Violent.Crime.Rate PCT.Single.Parent.Households PCT.Food.Insecure Chlamydia.Rate Homicide.Rate Dentist.Ratio PCT.Rural PCT.Unemployed PCT.Disconnected.Youth PCT.Free.or.Reduced.Lunch Teen.Birth.Rate PCT.Fair.Poor Mentally.Unhealthy.Days PCT.Frequent.Mental.Distress QoL Physically.Unhealthy.Days PCT.Frequent.Physical.Distress PCT.Smokers Years.of.Potential.Life.Lost.Rate Age.Adjusted.Mortality Firearm.Fatalities.Rate Injury.Death.Rate MV.Mortality.Rate PCT.Obese PCT.Physically.Inactive PCT.Diabetic Child.Mortality.Rate Infant.Mortality.Rate PCT...18 PCT.American.Indian.Alaskan.Native Area PCT.Limited.Access PCT.Uninsured PCT.Uninsured.1 Graduation.Rate Average.Daily.PM2.5 PCT.Drive.Alone Preventable.Hosp..Rate Costs PCT.Alcohol.Impaired MHP.Ratio Association.Rate PCT.65.and.over PCT.Non.Hispanic.White Drug.Overdose.Mortality.Rate Segregation.index Segregation.Index


Figure 5: Correlation matrix of all variables of Quality of Life measures, as defined in this paper, can be seen in the yellow clustering in the center of the plot, which indicates that it co-occurs with many other variables.



mentally unhealthy days 100 75 50 25

Figure 6: The geography of mental health in America.

physically unhealthy days 100 75 50 25

Figure 7: The geography of physical health in America.

physically unhealthy days 100 75 50 25

Figure 8: The geography of density in America. Physical health and mental health co-vary across the country. Perhaps most striking about these maps are the state effects: with strong disjunctions across state lines, it suggests that some states are far better at providing health than others.



and diabetes, more active lifestyles, and higher life expectancy due to improved access to medical facilities. We also see here that increases in density correspond to decreases in unpleasantness. We then spatially plot density, days lost due to mental illness, and days lost due to physical illness to see if any spatial pattern is identifiable. (Figures 6 through 8) The figures show that urban areas such as Philadelphia, Boston, New York and San Francisco face worse mental and physical health outcomes, despite the correlation of density with higher accessibility and active lifestyles. It is worth noting that the Southeast consistently performs poorly on these measures. This may be a result of the data reporting method. Nonetheless, these maps and previously plotted diagrams assert our preliminary claim that density may relate to wellbeing. To buttress our claim, we run the regression with all potential health predictors. The results of a kitchen sink model indicate an adjusted r-squared of 0.87 as compared to 0.79 for the behavioral grouping, 0.67 for economic, 0.59 for environmental, 0.57 for healthcare environment, and 0.29 for the demographic grouping. Because the kitchen sink model incorporates all potential variables, the r-squared is highest for this model; however, for the same reason, the model reveals little useful information for this analysis. It may be overfit, but examining the residuals indicates that the model is homoscedastic and unbiased. The second highest adjusted r-squared model — the behavioral grouping — reveals the relatively high correlation between such behavioral factors and our measure of health outcomes, the response variable. The residuals demonstrate that the behavioral grouping model is also homoscedastic and unbiased. Of the significant variables, percent smokers, percent insufficient sleep, and percent socially disconnected youth are positively correlated with mentally and physically unhealthy days. Conversely, density, percent obese, percent excessive drinking, association rate, and percent of commuters who drive alone are negatively correlated with unhealthy days. All of the variables in the economic grouping are highly statistically significant, including density. The residual plot indicates that the model is unbiased and heteroscedastic. Of the statistically significant correlates, high school graduation rate, unemployment rate, percent of children in poverty, income ratio, and food insecurity rate are positively associated with unhealthy days. The percent of people with some college education, percent single parent households, household income, and percent free/reduced lunch are negatively correlated with unhealthy days.

significant are drinking water quality violations, percent long commute while driving alone, motor vehicle mortality rate, and the segregation index. The food environment index, percent with access to exercise opportunities, and percent with limited access to healthcare are all negatively correlated, whereas violent crime rate, injury death rate, average daily PM2.5 air quality, percent severe housing problems, and percent rural are all positively correlated with unhealthy days. The environmental model residuals indicate that the model is heteroscedastic. The primary care physician ratio, dentist ratio, and per capita healthcare expenditures are not statistically significant in the healthcare grouping model, whereas the rest of the variables are highly significant. The percent uninsured, mental health provider rate, and preventable hospitalization rate are significantly positively correlated with unhealthy days. The percent of diabetic Medicare enrollees receiving HbA1c test ad percentage of female Medicare enrollees having at least one mammogram in two years are significantly negatively correlated with unhealthy days. The healthcare residual indicates that the model is homoscedastic and unbiased. Percent of the population under eighteen, percent Asian, percent Hispanic, percent not proficient in English, and percent female are statistically significant predictor variables in the demographic grouping model. Percent not proficient in English and percent female are all positively correlated to unhealthy days, whereas percent under eighteen, percent Asian, percent Hispanic are significantly negative correlates in this model. The residuals indicate that the model is biased and homoscedastic. Density is included as a variable in all six of the models with the intention of examining how density interacts as a predictor in each of the groupings. Density is highly statistically significant in all of the models except for the environmental model. A separate round of regression models, which includes the variables percent of population under eighteen and percent over 65 in each of the six models, shows how age interacts with each variable grouping. Of the six regression models, the population under eighteen most significantly positively correlated with unhealthy days in the environmental grouping, whereas it significantly negatively correlated in the behavioral and demographic groupings. The population age 65 and older is most significantly positively correlated with unhealthy days in the behavioral and healthcare groupings, while it negatively correlated in the economic factor grouping.

The only variables in the environmental grouping model that are not highly statistically QUALITY OF LIFE IN AMERICA






0 −10




Figure 9. Density vs segregation index.

DISCUSSION Our results show that increases in density correlate with decreases in our measure of unpleasantness. When controlling for other factors, like economics and demographics, density continues to be a significant predictor of mental and physical illness; however, its effects vary based on the control group. This suggests that density is not acting alone; rather, densities involve various other aspects of wellbeing, like income or education. What becomes apparent in the data is that not all of the aspects of wellbeing are equally interacting with population health. For example, a population’s health is not as strongly correlated with wealth, demographics, or quality of healthcare as it is with healthy behaviors, and healthy behaviors are strongly correlated with population density. That density does not significantly correlate with unhealthy days in the environmental grouping while significantly correlating in all other groupings indicates that environmental factors, or the quality of urbanism, is a stronger predictor of health than density alone. A population’s healthy days are most influenced by healthy behaviors, and healthy behaviors are positively correlated with population density. Of the six models we built, the best at predicting unhealthy days is the behavioral grouping and thus we take the most stock in its coefficients. However, of the five variable groupings, behavioral factors are perhaps the most fraught with potential casualties; behaviors,



above all other factors, do not act independently and are highly influenced by environmental and economic factors. For example, the choice to drive to work alone is not independent of the weighted options that a person’s environment presents them. Additionally, extrapolating county-level health measures over the entire country has inherent issues that can sometimes divorce the effect a health measure has on a person from the effect it has on a population. For example, according to the behavioral regression model, a population’s excessive drinking, as defined by the Center for Disease Control, is a good positive predictor of a population’s healthy days. In other words, our regression model is pointing to a population’s collective excessive drinking as a positive correlate to population health, a claim that cannot be made at the scale of the individual person. Of the variables studied, population density is one of the best positive predictors of healthy days, except in the context of wealth, where it has the inverse effect. Controlling for wealth, health outcomes become worse as density increases. This is likely due to the disinvestment and concentrated poverty in U.S. cities that causes suburban density to be disproportionally represented as healthy. The majority of the nation’s middle class wealth resides in low-density suburbs, which inverts the density-health relationship emerging from the other regression models. The data also shows that the wealthier a county is, regardless of its population density, the better its health outcomes tend to be,











Figure 10. Density vs income ratio.

unless there is high income inequality. Income inequality was the most significant correlate, with the highest coefficient of any economic measure, and its effects are enhanced in the context of the economic grouping model. Income inequality is a good positive predictor of unhealthy days, regardless of density. That income inequality increases with density explains why the economic grouping model was the only model that showed a positive correlation between density and unhealthy days. Income inequality, more than median income, unemployment, and graduation rates, predicts the unhealthy days of a population. A county’s demographics are a very poor predictor of a population’s healthy days. In a separate round of regressions, percent under eighteen and percent over 65 are introduced to each model as a control in order to see how age affects each model. The first observation is that the two age groups are nearly always oppositely affecting health; when 65 and older has a positive coefficient, under eighteen has a negative. The second observation is that, in the behavioral grouping, above 65 is positively correlated with unhealthy days, whereas under eighteen is negative. The third salient observation is that above 65 is significantly positively correlated with unhealthy days when controlling for healthcare. These results tell an unsurprising story that people older than 65 tend to be associated with more unhealthy days than people under eighteen. This can have implications in counties with unusually high percentages of retirees, likely

causing a spike in unhealthy days. The addition of the age categories to the models only significantly raised the adjusted r-squared of the healthcare grouping, indicating that the healthcare grouping’s ability to predict health is greatly influenced by the presence of the elderly and that the elderly are associated with an increase in unhealthy days. Future iterations should control for age. Though healthcare becomes more accessible, albeit more expensive, with density, the availability and quality of healthcare is a relatively poor predictor of a population’s healthy days. This notion directly contradicts conventional wisdom that improving access to healthcare is the most effective way to improve population health. The data show several surprising results in regards to healthcare in the United States. The ratio of primary care physicians does not tend to lower healthcare costs or preventable emergency room visits; it in fact does the opposite in both cases. Beyond all other healthcare metrics in this study, the most significant correlate to the cost of healthcare is insurance enrollment rates: the lower a county’s uninsured rate, the cheaper their healthcare is per capita. Physician and mental health provider ratios all increase as a function of density as a result of proximity and agglomeration of urban areas. Most major healthcare campuses are in highly dense urban cores and draw patients from the larger region, which is likely why the cost of healthcare is inversely correlated with density. Health measures such as obesity and smokers were included in the QUALITY OF LIFE IN AMERICA


behavioral grouping instead of the healthcare grouping in an effort to profile the healthcare environment, which excludes health outcomes. This study assumes that, on a county population scale, health measures such as obesity, teen birth rate, and smokers are behavioral outcomes and not health inputs.

the essential element of wellbeing; variables that covary with density appear to erode its predictive ability. The addition of economic and demographic factors reduced the statistical significance of density, showing that density contains other aspects of society that act on mental and physical health, rather than acting on it alone.

Despite population density being a good predictor of a population’s healthy days, the quality of the urban environment is a much better predictor, and much of that quality is the result of planning. Though population density is correlated with health outcomes, the many effects of increased density also tend to be positive predictors of health. That density does not correlate with unhealthy days in the environmental grouping, but significantly correlates in all other groupings, tells a much more nuanced story about density as it relates to the quality of the urban environment. The data also shows that despite the disinvestment in American urban cores, health outcomes still tend to be better in those cores than in areas of lower density. People are a product of their environment, and many Americans are living in unhealthy environments. To respond to the rise in preventable chronic illnesses, the American healthcare industry has grown to around 20 percent of the economy. The U.S. continues to pour money into a healthcare system that, by our measure, is not the best path to improved population health. The data indicate that, in terms of maximizing healthy days, growing and improving urban America is a much better investment than expanding our healthcare system.

Yet the most successful model produced in this analysis was one which united density with human behavior, yielding an adjusted r-squared of 0.79. This runs counter to our initial expectations, which assumed that behavior — like commuting patterns — would be the instrument by which sprawl creates misery. That is, if density creates poor life outcomes by altering behavior, we should expect behavioral controls to mitigate its effect. That behaviors did not lessen the statistical significance of density in our regression suggests that our supposition was flawed. Further research is needed, but one possibility, illuminated by these controls, is that there is good density and bad density — be it low or high — and behaviors determine which is which.

CONCLUSION This analysis has explored the relationship between spatial and social variables in the production of human flourishing. The U.S. appears to have areas suffering from mental and physical illness — often simultaneously. We are experiencing a crisis of life dissatisfaction (Case and Deaton, 2015). We find that density, after controls, exerts a small but significant effect on unpleasantness and thus life satisfaction. The settlement patterns of a society are both fundamental and incremental: they define the terms of interaction but they occur through a natural process wherein no one person is to thank or to blame. Given this issue — high consequence with low responsibility — it is perhaps welcome that our analysis finds little to attribute to density as it contributes to mental and physical health. In isolation, density accounts for 20 percent of the variation in unpleasant feelings — be they mental or physical — across counties. Yet additional lines of inquiry show that density, per se, is not



The upshot of the literature and our study is that urban, suburban, or exurban—even rural living — can be a boon or a boondoggle: where we live can waste time or money, but this is not determined. While correlational, our investigation gives credence to both pleasure (drinking) and purpose (employment) in the pursuit of the good life. Communities need support systems, be they in the form of mental health facilities or families, in order to maximize pleasure and minimize pain; policies can also encourage better behavior, allowing citizens to thrive regardless of density.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Scott Betz, Dhruvi Kothari, and Andrew Renninger are firstyear Master of City and Regional Planning students with concentrations in Land Use and Environmental Planning, Transportation, and Smart Cities, respectively.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Annett, A. (2016). Human Flourishing, Common Good, and Catholic Social Teacher. In: J. Helliwell, R. Layard and J. Sachs, ed., World Happiness Report 2016, 1st ed. Becchetti, L., Corrado, L. and Sama, P. (2016). Inside the Life Satisfaction Black Box. In: J. Helliwell, R. Layard and J. Sachs, ed., World Happiness Report 2016, 1st ed.

Layard, R. (2005). Happiness. London: Centre for Economic Performance. Li,

N. and Kanazawa, S. (2016). Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How intelligence, population density, and friendship affect modern happiness. British Journal of Psychology, 107(4), pp.675-697.

Bruni, L. and Zamagni, S. (2016). The Challenge of Public Happiness. In: J. Helliwell, R. Layard and J. Sachs, ed., World Happiness Report 2016, 1st ed.

Luttmer, E. (2005). Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 120(3), pp.963-1002.

Case, A. and Deaton, A. (2015). Suicide, Age, and Wellbeing: an Empirical Investigation. NBER, Working Paper(No. 21279).

Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling Alone. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Crider, D., Willits, F. and Kanagy, C. (1989). Rurality and well-being during the middle years of life. Social Indicators Research, 24(3), pp.253-268.

Stutzer, A. and Frey, Doesn’t Pay: The Scandinavian Journal pp.339-366.

David, B. and Oswald, A. (2000). Well-being over time in Britain and the USA. NBER, Working Paper (No. 7487). Deaton, A. and Deaton, A. (2017). Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century. [online] Brookings. Available at: Dolan, P. and Kahneman, D. (2015). Happiness by design. London: Avery. Easterlin, Richard A. (1974). “Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot?” In Abramovitz, M., David, P. and Reder, M. (1974). Nations and households in economic growth. New York: Academic Press.


(2008). Stress that Commuting Paradox. of Economics, 110(2),

Figure 1: Map by Scott Betz, Dhruvi Kothari, Andrew Renninger, 2017. Figure 2-5: Charts by Scott Betz, Dhruvi Kothari, and Andrew Renninger, 2017. Figures 6-8: Maps by Scott Betz, Dhruvi Kothari, Andrew Renninger, 2017. Figures 9-10: Charts by Scott Betz, Dhruvi Kothari, Andrew Renninger, 2017.

Easterlin, R. (1995). Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 27(1), pp.35-47. Eric, M. and Erick, G. (2014). Mood and mode: does how we travel affect how we feel?. Transportation, 42(25). Friedman, B. (2015). The moral consequences of economic growth. New York: Vintage Books. Fuller-Iglesias, H. (2015). Social ties and psychological well-being in late life: the mediating role of relationship satisfaction. Aging & Mental Health, 19(12), pp.1103-1112. Hirsch, F. (1976). Social limits to growth. London: Routledge. Helliwell, J., Layard, R. and Sachs, J. ed., (2016). World Happiness Report 2016. 1st ed. Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kahneman, D. and Thaler, R. (2006). Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(1). Krueger, A., Kahneman, D., Schkade, D., Schwarz, N. and Stone, A. (2009). Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being. NBER.




ur studio asked how we might design a resilient future for South Boston, whose potential for flooding and other climate change-related risk is an imminent concern for the Boston area. RIPPLE EFFECT gives the citizens of South Boston the tools and framework of a microgrid-based community structure, one that harnesses hard infrastructural connections into built form and develops soft infrastructural ties. Our project’s objective is centered around two ideas: 1) Imagine new ways in which we experience energy in our daily life, and in which humans may be positioned as agents in our own energy future, and 2) Create a set of complementary ideas that can be replicated in different combinations throughout the neighborhood, city, and beyond.

informational render looking north

Boston is uniquely equipped to become an energy-independent district. It is geographically well-connected, and has potential for solar, tidal, and onshore wind energy. It even has a mix of uses that can balance one another in their varying levels of energy use and peak times. South Boston’s


terracing the landscape increases surface area for south-facing photovoltaic paver material, and simultaneously creates more usable and zoned spaces for public use


cutting the corner of our site to create a public space creates a thru-way; by adding a paver gradient, traffic slows and returns this area to the residential neighborhood

Innovation District is also contributing to the quickly-growing tech economy of the city. Tech companies’ tendencies to disregard the cities and geographies they use heavily influenced the site’s design. We asked: as tech continues to become a major part of the South Boston economy and landscape, how can a tech company concentrate its investment to benefit both private and public interests? And in response to South Boston’s vulnerability, how can tech use its big picture thinking to engage resilience at the level of both the system and its parts? Through connecting South Boston’s systems with the organizational framework of microgrids, one project can use the support of a growing tech industry to responsibly diversify the economy and plan communities for the future. Our site and program reflect how the utilization of tech can maximize a community’s ability to generate and distribute energy in a productive way, proving the viability of using architecture to think about our collective energy future.


while they produce some mechanical energy, these primarily symbolic features invite the public to the site to actively engage with the energy landscape, while also promoting health


Iris Kim (M.Arch ‘18) and Nikita Jathan (M.Arch ‘18)


photovoltaic petals perched on wind noodle stems bring a new kind of lush to our interactive energy garden, while also creating shaded spaces

pavement is made active through its use of photovoltaics to generate energy, while also embracing the kinetic act of walking to signify activity

the tidal barrage encloses the waterfront of the site, maintaining control over water level and taking advantage of daily tidal power in the reserve channel





human scale vibrating noodles use kinetic energy to generate mechanical energy, while providing interactive and actively working alternatives to a traditional landscape


a gradient-defined facade responds to optimal areas of sun exposure to simultaneously shade and collect solar energy through built-in photovoltaics

cross laminated timber construction represents longterm thinking in practice, both visually through defining a new energy aesthetic, as well as through cost and life cycle considerations


traditional photovoltaic panels take advantage of low, flat, southern exposure on the rooftops of both buildings, maximizing use of the roof space


Gr M an

tA g S ve n t

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Instructors: Steve Buckley Scott Page Jamie Granger Students: Jake Berman S. Jordan Butz Rachel Finfer Tim Haney Kathleen Hanley Nate Klass Ian Taeyoun Lee Maureen McQuilkin Olivia Moyabed Thomas Orgren Chloe Ge Qu Sarah Scott T. Andrew Simpson Annie Streetman Aaron Su

The Philly2060 team during their site visit. Not Pictured: Aaron Su.












re e


Ro a t


Eakins oval is transformed into a floodable water square and dynamic public space.


hilly2060 is a transportation and public realm plan focusing on four key factors shaping Philadelphia in 2060: Climate Change, Mobility, Streets, and Public Space. Today, transportation systems and public spaces are the resources residents use every day for commuting, connecting, and relaxing. But by 2060, these systems have the opportunity to do so much more. Looking beyond a typical planning cycle gives Philadelphia the opportunity to be visionary, to imagine how long-term trends will play out, and to plan independent of short-term constraints. Philly2060 identifies the outcomes that Philadelphia should be working toward and proposes 30 specific strategies for adapting to

climate change, increasing mobility, rethinking streets, and enhancing public space. Each section examines specific focus areas that illustrate how these strategies might be implemented in different parts of the city. The final chapter illustrates how combinations of interventions across all four sections might come together and play off one another along the city’s grand avenues of Broad Street, Market Street, and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Together, Philly2060 provides a vision of how the City can work to improve Philadelphia over the next 43 years to achieve a future Philadelphia where transportation systems and public spaces are more useful, resilient, and equitable.

Interventions at North Broad Street and 63rd Street.



Figure 1: Settlement Bruchfeldstrasse, public square with central building in background.



risis begets innovation. Following the devastation of the German economy and its housing stock during World War I, the city of Frankfurt pursued an ambitious reform and redevelopment program known as Das Neue Frankfurt, or The New Frankfurt, headed by the architect and planner Ernst May. May was heavily inspired by the British Garden City architect Raymond Unwin during his career. But, as the New Frankfurt progressed through the economic and political turmoil taking place in Germany during the Weimar Republic, the Unwin-inspired design principles were supplanted by ultra-rationalism and the influence of Arturo Soria y Mata. This paper will explore the root conditions of this shift and the ideals and theories on which the ultra-rational principles are based. When examining the entire New Frankfurt program and attempting to identify a single architectural expression that embodies this break with the past, one is presented with specific challenges. Chief among these challenges is the notable shift in both building form and scale that took place within the New Frankfurt program. This paper will explore this shift in design strategy away from the principles of the garden city and towards the Zeilenbau (super block) heliotropic form. This shift was a consequence of constrained financial resources, a reprioritization of dwelling necessities, and mounting pressure to adopt the minimum dwelling standard. In advancing the super block form, May and his team developed a form that drew inspiration from beyond Raymond Unwin, Ebenezer Howard, and the Garden City Movement, and instead drew inspiration directly

from an earlier urban theorist, Arturo Soria Y Mata and the Ciudad Lineal (Linear City). To understand the conditions that precipitated this shift, one must recognize the economic and political context during both the creation of the New Frankfurt program and its shift to the super block format. How the principles of the Garden City and May’s tutelage under Raymond Unwin shaped his Siedlungen (settlements) are explored.

HOUSING CRISIS IN GERMANY Some of the devastating impacts of Germany’s defeat to the Allied Powers in the first World War were not felt immediately. In the case of housing, it was not until five years after signing the Treaty of Versailles that the consequences of Germany’s surrender reached a crisis level. In Nicholas Bullock’s examination of the New Frankfurt, Bullock identifies three key factors that contributed to this crisis. First, was the alarming rate of new marriages following the war. From 1900 to 1910, Germany had witnessed around 500,000 marriages per year, yet in 1920, the rate rose to 900,000 (Bullock, 1978). Additional pressure on housing supply was caused by the movement of refugees, both new foreign and internally displaced Germans, to the cities (Bullock, 1978). Finally, the high cost of construction, a lingering consequence of the postwar economic devastation, made home building difficult and expensive (Bullock, 1978). To combat these forces and provide housing to the approximately one million households without a permanent dwelling, the Weimar Republic approved two new taxes on pre-war landowners (who were partly insulated from the turmoil of hyperinflation through their


property holdings) in 1924 (Bullock, 1978). These “rent taxes,” were used to fund ambitious housing provision programs, like the New Frankfurt, throughout the country. Under the leadership of the progressive mayor of Frankfurt, Ludwig Landmann, the city set out to address this crisis by creating multiple Trabantenstädte, or satellite settlements, surrounding Frankfurt that would each contain a population of 10,000 to 20,000 residents. Each satellite settlement would be linked together via a network of public transportation and high-speed highways (Bullock, 1978). To realize this goal, Landmann brought on board the architect planner Ernst May. More so than his work in Silesia, May’s credentials as an ardent promoter of Garden City ideals help him secure this position in Frankfurt. The global popularity of the British Garden City movement extended to Germany, and remained strong despite the rise of hostilities in the lead-up to World War I. Members of the British Garden City Association, during their annual exchange visit to Germany, had only just left the country when the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand set off the war (“The Garden City Idea,” 1978). In her exhaustive history on The New Frankfurt, Susan Henderson argues that “the importance of May’s apprenticeship in England with Raymond Unwin cannot be underestimated, seeming indicative of what Frankfurt might become under his hand” (Henderson, 2006). In 1910, May traveled back to England, where he had begun his architectural studies at the University

Figure 2: Entrance to Settlement Höhenblick.



College of London before finishing at the Technische Hochschule in Darmstadt, to pursue an apprenticeship with Unwin. Under Unwin, May was exposed to projects such as Letchworth and Hampstead, from which he drew design principles for a 1920 design contest to expand the city of Breslau (Bullock, 1978) May remained close to Unwin during his career, and the two exchanged letters throughout the interwar period. Throughout the life of the New Frankfurt, evidence of Unwin’s teachings on the principles of city design can be seen in the settlements May produced. Closer inspection of Unwin’s influence in the evolution of the settlement under May also creates a palate of characteristics to be compared while exploring the shift towards the super blockstyle settlement.

“GERMAN UNWIN” In critiquing several settlements, which in total made up the more than 10,000 dwellings assembled by the Hochbauamt (Frankfurt Office of City Architecture), one can identify clear traces of Unwin’s influence in May’s work. Examining two principles which were promoted in Unwin’s 1909 book — boundaries and enclosure — one can draw connections to the Höhenblick, Römerstadt, and Bruchfeldstrasse settlements. Compounding Howard’s broad principles and basic diagrams from “Garden Cities of Tomorrow,” with principles of town planning and urban design from Camillo Sitte, Unwin developed a concise

Figure 3: Settlement Römerstadt commerical building, designed by Carl Rudloff.

thesis for actualizing the garden city in the built environment. Throughout Unwin’s book, he asks the reader to look towards the medieval cities of Europe for inspiration on how to build the modern city. However, Unwin recognized that the system of values these old cities possess is a result of their time and cannot easily be replicated in the present. Unwin demonstrates this thought using the advent of printed press, which diminished the necessity of an agora, forum, or town square, to convene in public and share news (Unwin, 1909). Unwin does not ask the reader to abandon modern technology to recreate this experience, but instead suggests how to use modern technologies and practices of planned development to create cities that exhibit these coveted principles in town planning, such as a sense of community. Chief among Unwin’s concerns was the spread of unplanned development, which he felt would lead to “an irregular fringe of halfdeveloped suburb and half-spoiled country which forms such a hideous and depressing girdle around modern growing towns” (Unwin, 1909). Unwin argues that towns should have defined boundaries, like a greenbelt, which could be the “modern counterpart” to medieval walls (Unwin, 1909). In Settlement Höhenblick, Unwin’s principles are carried out through the employment of a greenbelt and a discrete built edge. Henderson describes how one would approach the Settlement (figure 2): “The small settlement of Höhenblick (Heights View), perched on the southern cliff edge of the Nidda Valley, was entered through two, brilliant red towers, blue walls extending from like shields to the sides ” (Henderson, 2013). Utilizing the topography

of a site to define an edge was also employed in the settlements. Römerstadt, recognized for its iconic commercial block building (Figure 3), utilized the contours of the land to define its edge. The commercial block and its series of port and horizontal windows steps up the hillside to meet the street, reinforcing this boundary. Furthermore, Unwin advocated for the clear definition of a center to order an enclosure as a central design principle (Unwin, 1909). This action was crucial no matter the size of the development, “even in districts, suburbs, parishes, and wards it is desirable that there should be some centre. There should be some place where the minor public buildings of the district may be grouped and where a definite central effect on a minor scale may be produced” (Unwin, 1909). May followed through with this principle at each possible moment, ensuring that settlements were built with accompanying civic, educational, and recreational facilities, components that were paramount to creating the Wohnkultur — referring to the new German socialist society May sought to create through his designs (Henderson, 2013).

GERMAN SORIA Y MATA After 1928, May’s designs no longer appeared to channel the principles of Unwin despite his strong influence. His work instead began to embrace that of Spanish theorist Arturo Soria y Mata. Criticism of The New Frankfurt abounded from all sides towards the end of the 1920s. From the rightwing, including the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, the project was exceedingly expensive and GARDEN CITY TO LINEAR CITY


Figure 4: Diagrammatic Painting of Settle Praunheim, lower Damaschkeanger Strasse, by Hans Leistikow.

much too obsessed with the design of the individual dwellings and the quality of their finishes. The iconic flat roofs omnipresent in each settlement were also seen as an affront to traditional German tastes. From the left, German communists saw the workers homestead (the combination of home and garden plot) as palliative and a distraction to the workers’ struggle against the bourgeoisie (Henderson, 2013). From the home-dwellers themselves, the innovative use of prefabricated concrete panels had yet to be perfected and resulted in “damp” homes among other technical problems (Henderson, 2013). However, the largest contributing factors to May’s transition to the super block-style settlement in 1928 were the failing economy and start of the Great Depression, coupled with the increased influence of the International Congress of Modern Architecture (CAIM). The super block that resulted represents May’s shift towards a design philosophy held less by his mentor Unwin and more by Arturo Soria y Mata.



Arturo Soria y Mata is best remembered for his contribution, the Linear City, which was first described in an essay in 1882. Soria y Mata, trained as a civil engineer and a staunch believer in geometric mysticism, produced essays addressing the potential growth capabilities of the Linear City more than its actual design. According to Soria y Mata: The point generates the line and this is the surface. Thus, if the house is the point of urban geometry, the immediate superior, logical, essential form is the linear city, the single street prolonged indefinitely. This is also the most appropriate form to the characteristic inventions of this century; the railways and trams for the fast transport of people and things; the telegraph and the distance in the communication of thought and of the word. Apart from being geometrically rational and an inevitable outcome of communication and

Figure 5: Residential path and green area, Settlement Westhausen.

transportation lines, the Linear City would also be a boon to public health. Soria y Mata believed this urban form could mitigate diseases prevalent at the time, like typhus and anemia, by the “ruralizing of the urban environment” (Collins, 1968). Though only diagrammatic, the illustrations that accompanied his Linear City proposal demonstrate building both setback and minimum lot size principles. These interventions would ensure an appropriate density to address the health concerns of the era (Collins, 1968) with professionals advocating for sunlight and open space between structures (Henderson, 2013).

ULTRA-RATIONALIZATION Before May and The New Frankfurt, the super block building typology that would embody this principle of ‘heliotropic’ design, would be executed elsewhere in Germany (Bullock, 1978). In 1919, both Heinrich de Fries and Theodor Fischer outside of Munich, would complete apartment blocks defined by their orientation on a north-south axis (Henderson, 2013). These apartment blocks would be organized in a parallel repetition of rows, include floor-through plan units extending light penetration through the entire space, and would not include any end units (Henderson, 2013). The super block soon became a troupe of modernism and would be employed by the likes of Le Corbusier in his 1922 unbuilt apartment block project, Immeubles Villas (Henderson, 2013).

Apart from its heliotropic qualities, the super block format was favored and heavily promoted by CIAM as the vessel for the minimum dwelling concept. This concept of a new minimum dwelling for all workers warranted so much attention that it appeared on the cover of the CIAM II conference held in Frankfurt. CIAM contributor Karel Teige was a proponent of the minimum dwelling, arguing that “the housing question is essentially a question of the general plan, and such can be solved only when social development and general economic activity are guided by a predetermined scientific plan” (Teige, 2002). Efforts to introduce a rationalized, uniform, and scientifically-driven plan had always been a part of the New Frankfurt project, most notably seen in the Frankfurt Kitchen designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. However, the minimum dwelling concept sought to go further and create the human absolute minimum standard for living to tackle the housing crisis (Teije, 2002). The Zeilenbau’s ease in replicating a single unit floor plan began to embody the statistically perfected minimum dwelling floor plan. Earlier settlements contained a variety of floor plans within each building that were color-coded depending on their orientation to the street and proximity to neighbors, as diagrammed by Hans Leistikow (seen in Figure 4) (Henderson, 2013). Along with color differentiation, pre-1928 developments were distinguished by the inclusion of a building that catered to many different programs. GARDEN CITY TO LINEAR CITY


By 1928 however, Hochbauamt (Frankfurt Office of City Architecture) funds for community facilities, schools and churches had all but vanished. Only an electric heating plant and laundry facility broke up the program differentiation of the Zeilenbau complexes (Henderson, 2013). The Hochbauamt had a clear financial incentive to transition to the Zeilenbau. By reproducing a single minimum dwelling floor plan, the office could significantly reduce the cost of building new projects and thus could build more units to alleviate the German housing shortage (Bullock, 1978). Similarly, the result of super blocktype units occupying the center of a vast green space, free from other structures, allowed May and his team to build fewer secondary and tertiary roads that would meander to meet each building (Bullock, 1978). As seen in Westhausen, a single road would approach the edge of a Zeilenbau and residents would walk from their units, down the greenway, to meet the road (Figure 5). While in some respects the Zeilenbau-type settlement did save the Hochbauamt costs in the short run, the legacy of the Zeilenbau would become a stain on the New Frankfurt. The image of towering apartment blocks, repeating into infinity, is a disturbing one that can elicit feelings of crushing authoritarian control (Figure 6). Architectural historian Hilde Heynen introduces the critique that the New Frankfurt can be viewed “as a step toward imposing increasing restraints and norms on social life rather than as an authentic contribution to the liberation of dwelling” (Heynen, 1999). Paradoxically, the argument has emerged that the repetition of this scheme was, in fact, the most democratic method of dwelling. Following the critique that the super block was irrespective of context, Henderson describes “its site plan an unrelieved grid on a flat site, was a diagrammatic

Figure 6: Westhausen, aerial view, 1929.



essay on the rationalization of garden city planning,” as if Soria y Mata’s Linear City, with the imbued geometric powers of the line to extend into infinity, had come to life in Germany (Henderson, 2013).

CONCLUSION Drawing upon the teachings of Raymond Unwin, Ernst May and his team built true Garden Cities in Frankfurt. During the lifetime of the New Frankfurt initiative, however, a noticeable shift in design strategy occurred, evidenced by the super block. How such a radical departure from the original garden city principles that guided the program could happen cannot be explained without recognizing the changing political climate in the Weimar Republic. The New Frankfurt’s surviving legacy as both a garden city and a linear city serves as a critical case study for architects and planners on how no design is insulated from politics. For Ernst May, the shift towards the ultra-rational super block was a compromise worth making.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert I. Romo is a second-year dual Master of City and Regional Planning and Master of Architecture student He previously studied international affairs, with a concentration in International Economics and Latin American Studies, at the George Washington University. Robert is passionate about the intersection of architecture and urban politics, and the sometimes obscene, sometime beautiful, products that this intersection creates.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED “The Garden City Idea: The German Connection.” The Architectural Review (Archive: 1896-2005), 163 (976), 333-334 (1978). https://proxy.library.upenn. edu/login?url= docview/1366918848?accountid=14707. Bullock, Nicholas. “Housing in Frankfurt 1925 to 1931 and the New Wohnkultur.” The Architectural Review (Archive: 18962005) 163 (976): 335-342 (1978). https://proxy.library.upenn. edu/login?url= docview/1366918863?accountid=14707. Collins, George R., Carlos Flores, Arturo Soria y Puig, and Arturo Soria y Mata. Arturo Soria y La Ciudad Lineal. Madrid: Revista de Occidents, 1968. Henderson, Susan R. Building Culture: Ernst May and the New Frankfurt am Main Initiative, 1926-1931. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc, 2013. Heynen, Hilde. Architecture and Modernity: A Critique. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1999. Teige, Karel. The Minimum Dwelling. Translated by Eric Dluhosch. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002. Unwin, Raymond. Town Planning in Practice: An Introduction to the Art of Designing Cities and Suburbs. London: Adelphi, 1909. Figure 1: Bruchfeldstrasse Settlement Square with central building in background. From: Das Neue Frankfurt: int. monatsschrift fur die probleme kultureller neugestaltung, 1930. frankfurt1930/0001. Figure 2: Höhenblick, entering Höhenblickstrasse, 1927. From: Henderson, Susan. Building Culture: Ernst May and the New Frankfurt am Main Initiative, 1926-1931. Bern: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. (2006), 47. Figure 3: Rudloff, Carl, Römerstadt, 1927. From: Henderson, Susan. Building Culture: Ernst May and the New Frankfurt am Main Initiative, 1926-1931. Bern: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. (2006), 66. Figure 4: Leistikow, Hans, Praunheim, lower Damaschkeanger Strasse, 1927. From: Das Neue Frankfurt: int. monatsschrift fur die probleme kultureller neugestaltung, 1930. http://digi. Figure 5: Westhausen, Residential path and green area. From: Ernst-May-Gesellschaft (The Ernst May Society). wohnsiedlungen/siedlung-westhausen.html. Figure 6: Westhausen, aerial view, 1929. From: Henderson, Susan. Building Culture: Ernst May and the New Frankfurt am Main Initiative, 1926-1931. Bern: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. (2006), 66.



Figure 1: The Tijuana Arch stretches across the skyline, welcoming visitors to the Mexican border city.


by Jennifer Gutierrez


ijuana is a city in the northwestern part of the state of Baja California in northwestern Mexico. Tijuana was established as a city in 1889 through the consolidation of several ranches. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, and San Diego, California to the north, Tijuana is a popular tourist destination and a strategic location for foreign companies looking to have greater access to the U.S. market at cheaper costs. It is one of the top manufacturing cities in Mexico, with “maquiladoras” — factories run by foreign companies — accounting for a large portion of the jobs available to Tijuanenses. In 2015 the population of Tijuana reached 1.6 million, continuing a period of rapid growth that began in the 1950s. Tijuana is one half of one of the world’s most notable binational megaregions. Its relationship with San Diego to the north has matured over the last century. Tijuana is popular among San Diegans because of its cuisine, nightlife, and entertainment, especially the area around Avenida Revolución. The San Ysidro Port of Entry is the busiest land border crossing in the western hemisphere (San Diego Regional EDC, 2012). San Diegans travel down to Tijuana for cheap medicines, and – particularly college students – the lower legal drinking age. The populations of Tijuana and San Diego overlap, as many people live in one city and work in the other, or they have family in one city or the other. Tijuana is situated where the first and third world meet and where cultures overlap, proving the porosity of the border.

Tijuana’s prime location along the U.S.Mexico border makes it an attractive choice for investors looking to get into the U.S. market, but it unfortunately also makes it a key location for drug cartels to move their products to American consumers. In the early 1990s, the Arrellano-Felix drug cartel arrived in Tijuana, causing turmoil that lasted for two decades. Although the cartel has finally been dismantled in the last few years, its influence on the culture and spatial development of Tijuana is still palpable. The cartel and other drug mafias were the masterminds behind sophisticated tunnels crossing meters below the border fence, facilitating the passage of both drugs and people. Following years of violence and dwindling tourism, Tijuana is in the midst of a renaissance. It was ranked number eight on The New York Times list of “52 Places to Go in 2017,” particularly for its burgeoning culinary scene (“52 Places to Go in 2017,” 2017). Tijuana is home to renowned chefs like Javier Plascencia, as well as a growing community of artists. In an interview with The New York Times, the owner of a boutique design shop said, “Tijuana lives a duality. On one side of the border, you have ‘the American dream,’ and on the other side, there’s roots with Mexican culture, full of blood and traditions” (Hruska, 2016). Tijuana is a place of contradiction. It is a transitory city, home to artists and politicians, migrants and Americans. Tijuana is the convergence of people from the extreme ends of the socioeconomic spectrum, from wealthy socialites to poor migrants.


Figure 2: The San Ysidro Port of Entry is one of the busiest land border crossings in the world, and people may wait to cross in their cars for hours. Here street vendors help them pass the time by offering food, souvenirs, and even American car insurance.

FORCES PROPELLING TIJUANA’S GROWTH There are several factors propelling Tijuana’s growth, most notably the manufacturing boom following the start of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. Yet Tijuana entered its current era of globalization with the passage of the Borders Industrialization Program (BIP) in 1965. BIP removed international tariff barriers and opened “Tijuana (as well as other border cities) up to the arrival of foreign maquiladora assembly plants, and setting the stage for the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement nearly thirty years later” (Kun et. al, 2012). Tijuana’s proximity to the U.S. has made it attractive to both foreign businesses looking to invest in manufacturing, and to migrants from continental Mexico and Latin America looking for jobs and a higher quality of life. The combination of BIP and NAFTA, along with the Programa Nacional Fronterizo (PRONAF), impacted Tijuana’s “identity as an emergent hub of globalized urbanism characterized by chronic population explosions, fragile urban infrastructures and... booming industrial parks” (Kun et. al, 2016). With a cheap labor force, attractive free trade policies, and proximity to the U.S., Tijuana has quickly become a manufacturing hub. Since NAFTA was established, Tijuana has experienced an increase in foreign direct



investment (FDI), and employment growth has been concentrated in the maquiladora industry. As of 2015, 28 percent of Tijuana’s workforce was in the manufacturing sector (San Diego Regional EDC, 2012). Manufacturing accounts for 71 percent of the FDI in Baja California, and the maquiladoras of Tijuana are a major contributor. Historically, manufacturing in Tijuana has focused on producing basic goods like paper, plastic, and metal parts. However, in recent years maquiladoras have shifted to more technical production, including medical devices, aerospace, and audio and video equipment. FDI, especially from the U.S., has grown to define Tijuana’s role in the binational border region. Maquiladoras in Tijuana are often complementary to businesses headquartered in San Diego. San Diego has a high number of aerospace technology, biotechnology, and biomedical device production companies, which influences the growth of manufacturing in those fields in Tijuana. In fact, the GDP of San Diego is correlated with manufacturing in Baja California, each “integrated in trade, services and in manufacturing activities closely related to the manufacturing industry” (Cota et. al, 2017). Tijuana is an important player in the global manufacturing industry and key in sustaining the economic dynamic of the Southern CaliforniaBaja California region. Much of Tijuana’s population growth can be attributed to an influx of migrants from continental Mexico and Latin America who come to Tijuana

Figure 3: Informal housing climbs the hills of Tijuana’s eastern fringe.

for manufacturing jobs, or who stay in Tijuana after failed attempts to enter the U.S. Millions of migrants come to Tijuana looking for work in one of the city’s thousands of maquiladoras. Tijuana has been described as “a waiting room for undocumented migrants from Latin America and continental Mexico,” a phenomenon that has placed great stress on the city’s resources and infrastructure (Kun et. al, 2012). Migrants often come to Tijuana in hopes of making it into the U.S., but “while many make it across, more do not, and for them, the maquiladoras are always waiting. The hillsides with views of San Diego and the shantytowns out beyond the official Tijuana city grid are waiting too” (Kun et. al, 2012). Tijuana’s growth is cyclical: the maquiladoras set up there because of favorable tariffs, cheap labor, and proximity to the border; migrants move there seeking jobs in the maquiladoras with hopes of crossing the border, providing cheap labor; as a result foreign businesses are further attracted to this influx of cheap labor. Despite Tijuana’s growth trend over the past 50 years, the city experienced a period of shrinkage and disinvestment due to the September 11th terrorist attacks, increased violence, and the economic recession. Following September 11th, Tijuana’s economic activity shrunk due to heightened border security and fear. Americans were discouraged from visiting Mexico due to official government warnings and through exponentially longer wait times at the border crossing. The increased border

security transformed San Diego into what architect Teddy Cruz describes as “the world’s largest gated community” (Cruz, 2012). The border between Tijuana and San Diego became a zone of conflict and an amplification of the powerful forces miles away at the nation’s capital. September 11th was a reminder that despite the constant flows across the border, and the increasing investment in the San Diego-Tijuana megaregion, Tijuana was still a foreign city to be treated with caution as the U.S. insulated itself against foreign threats to its national security. During this same period, Tijuana experienced record-breaking violence. Drug-related violence peaked in Tijuana between 2008 and 2010, seriously weakening the already shrinking tourism industry, and even prompting many of the city’s wealthier families to flee north to San Diego. Tijuana’s economic transformation “helped turn the city into fertile soil for the economic desperation and social instability that drug cartels thrive on, and with the arrival of the Arellano-Felix cartel in the early 1990s, Tijuana’s pivotal position as a drug route between the United States and South America was secured” (Kun et. al, 2012). Tijuana’s murder rate reached an all-time high in 2008; Tijuana was considered the third most violent city in the country (Peralta, 2012). Kidnapping, vandalism, and bloody corpses in the street became daily occurrences. This period was marked by intense border security and a larger police presence, with military vehicles



frequently occupying Tijuana streets. In the last few years, however, the violence has decreased, and the city is beginning to grow again. Recently Tijuana’s growth can be attributed to renewed interest in its urban core and tourist areas, and in reclaiming the city’s identity after years of violence. Tijuana is reinventing itself as a hub of art and culture. In 2010 a group of artists from Tijuana “made public their desire for civic change in a proposal titled Plan de Cultura para Tijuana/Tijuana’s Plan for Culture 2010” (Peralta, 2012). The document presented five objectives including encouraging the dispersal of cultural programs and institutions throughout Tijuana as a way to decentralize staterun programs; and, more importantly, using art to culturally heal the community and public space, “which involves visual and auditory contamination and a cleansing of the city of discriminatory violent propaganda” (Peralta, 2012). Citizens are

citizens, are hoping to encourage mixed-use development in Zona Centro to both accommodate projected housing needs, and to renew interest and investment in Tijuana. Tijuana’s growth is not accompanied by the same level of human development, particularly for the most vulnerable members of society. While population growth has added diversity and size to the workforce, traditional benchmarks of human development, such as freedom from poverty and access to appropriate shelter and nutrition, have not been met equitably. Starting with the Bracero Program in 1942, “immigration quadrupled the city’s population in a decade and originated the phenomena that still plague it today: uncontrolled growth, informal development, and illegal immigration” (Peralta, 2012). Most migrants join Tijuana’s poorest population who have settled in the hills of the eastern part of the city, most often

“Tijuana is situated where the first and third worlds meet and where cultures overlap, proving the porosity of the border.”

motivated to recreate the thriving Tijuana of years past through a new approach to citizenship that is critical of established practices and history. Part of the revitalization of the urban core is through a partnership with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of San Diego/Tijuana that focuses on 27 blocks of the Zona Centro in downtown Tijuana. Special focus is on Avenida Revolución, a main street with bars, dance halls, and curios shops that was once the center of tourism in Tijuana. This focus area “has suffered from a lack of reinvestment since 2001 when U.S. tourism declined dramatically. Along Avenida Revolución, many businesses have left and empty storefronts are common” (ULI Technical Assistance Panel, 2013). The redevelopment aims to make the district safe and attractive for both locals and tourists, and to accommodate future growth. By 2025 the population of Tijuana is expected to reach 2.7 million, so the city will need about 300,000 more dwelling units, with about 10,000 in the focus area in the Zona Centro (ULI Technical Assistance Panel, 2013). This area is quickly becoming a hub for the creative class and an attractive location for coffee shops, breweries, start-ups, performance venues, and galleries. The ULI, along with activist



living in makeshift structures constructed from cardboard or other found materials. The developments in the eastern part of the city and along the Tijuana River include maquiladoras, shantytowns, and low-quality formal developer housing. Peripheral developments “lack basic urban services such as sewer infrastructure,” so they dump their waste into the Tijuana River Canal, mixing with the toxic waste from nearby manufacturing plants (Peralta, 2012). This has created a shared ecological crisis with San Diego, since the Tijuana River crosses the border before eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean, but despite proposals to remedy the sewage issue, the relationship between the river and Tijuana remains unresolved. The development in the eastern part of the city has been called “New Tijuana.” Maquiladoras spurred informal settlements in the eastern periphery, and private developers are constructing housing as well. These privately-developed buildings built as a form of social housing, however, are in actuality “serialized housing developments that even the UN has deemed unfit for dignified living” (Peralta, 2012). Compared to this type of new formal housing, some informal settlements improve over time and eventually form consolidated

communities. “New Tijuana”, and the shantytowns surrounding it has become a zone that encompasses some of the most crime-ridden areas of the city, becoming “host to drug cartel groups that take advantage of the larger rental housing stock used for operation centers, hostage detainment, and armories” (Peralta, 2012). While much of the recent revitalization of Tijuana has been focused on the economic revitalization of its downtown, the eastern periphery has remained a hotbed for poverty, environmental degradation, and crime.

SPATIAL DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS AND SENSE OF PLACE Tijuana’s geographic position creates interesting spatial sorting based primarily on class. The city’s wealthiest citizens live in exclusive gated neighborhoods (called “colonias”) like Colonia Chapultepec and Playas de Tijuana. Safe in their enclaves, the wealthy are shielded from the grit and grime of Tijuana’s farthest reaches. These enclaves border the city’s best amenities, including Club Campestre (the country club), the beach, and the entertainment district downtown. Much of Tijuana’s upper class live a binational lifestyle, often working in San Diego and sending their children to San Diego’s top private schools, and shopping there on the weekends. Tijuana’s poorest citizens live a binational lifestyle in a different capacity and to a lesser extent, often working in San Diego in the service industry for low wages. The lifestyle of Tijuana’s wealthiest citizens is like that of the average American. Looking at the state of housing, these wealthy enclaves are the exception and are concentrated in just a few areas of the city. What is most striking about Tijuana is that within a few miles, you can leave the first world and enter the third, as wealthy enclaves give way to monotonous mini tract homes, then maquiladora villages, and finally favela-like slums encroaching on the hills in the east. Tijuana is also sorted socially, as newcomers migrating from the south tend to cluster with people like themselves in the hills and along the river on the city’s eastern fringe. For many migrants without housing, the only option is to squat on unoccupied land. Recently, Tijuana has become home for thousands of Haitian refugees; after the 2010 earthquake, many Haitians traveled to South American countries like Brazil to start over. Unable to find jobs, they decided to travel north to the U.S., but due to stricter border control laws under the Trump administration, became trapped in Tijuana. These refugees are in a sort of limbo: neither Mexican nor American citizens yet still in need of housing and opportunities (SoulPancake, 2017). Although many of the Haitians and other migrants or deportees like them found housing in shelters or through missionaries or non-profit groups,

many end up establishing informal settlements in Tijuana’s eastern edge. Due to a lack of proper infrastructure, water and environmental quality are a problem for Tijuana. Because of its location at the border, the environmental problems of Tijuana become environmental problems for San Diego as well. Differences in the management of the natural environment present challenges for how the two cities address these problems. Growth further threatens Tijuana’s natural environment as more construction happens and the city continues to neglect the maintenance of the east-west running Tijuana River. Development along the Tijuana River was catalyzed by the federally-backed project to channel it. The Tijuana River Canal was created to control yearly flooding and informal development along its edge, but it also “violently divided the urban fabric in two areas and created a no-man’s land in its interior that today even police don’t dare to enter” (Peralta, 2012). Much of the working class and poor population live on ecologically compromised land, raising many questions about environmental justice. One working class area called “5 y 10” is “where investments in border industry cross paths with disinvestments in border ecology, health, and economic justice; its where low-wage workers employed by global corporations do their daily consuming before returning to homes without proper sewage and clean water (an estimated 40 percent of the city lacks proper sewage and water)” (Kun et. al, 2012). The city has proposed several sewage treatment plants, but only a few are operational. In recent years the city extended sewer infrastructure to squatter communities near the river, but officials must first address the causes of squatting if the city wishes to truly overhaul the relationship between the city and the river. Tijuana is in the midst of a cultural renaissance aimed at reinvigorating citizens’ sense of place, especially in the public realm. Tijuana has been for many years a city sustained by tourism, but in the wake of September 11th, “Tijuana’s historic entertainment district centered on Avenida Revolución has suffered a dramatic decline in tourism. The number of local visitors to the downtown has also declined as a result of an exodus to the suburban shopping districts and a perceived threat of crime and drug cartel violence” (ULI Technical Assistance Panel, 2013). In the last few years as drug cartel violence has decreased, the city is slowly coming back to life, and “a new wave of developers is bringing a fresh eye to old Tijuana, breathing life into decaying and abandoned buildings, and creating new ones. They talk of a city with art galleries, cafes, breweries, colorful murals, bike stations, collaborative work spaces, markets with organic produce” (Dibble, 2016). The city



Figure 4: Encouraged by the federal government, and often affiliated with maquiladoras, thousands of identical American-style houses offer affordable housing for Tijuana’s middle class, but also threaten the city’s traditionally heterogenous building typology.

is planning to launch new transportation options and to update development rules to accommodate mixed-use plans that would facilitate the kind of vision developers are proposing. Much of the proposed development is focused on recapturing the spirit of Tijuana that was damaged by the years of violence. Architect Jorge Gracia, founder of the Escuela Libre de Arquitectura in the downtown area Zona Norte, said “Tijuana’s residents needed to change the city’s narrative: ‘We felt that our history, our souls were taken by this mafia, and after everything calmed down, the good people felt the necessity of expressing in arts, music, restaurants” (Dibble, 2016). Developers are investing in the architectural quality of their projects in order to rehabilitate the face of downtown Tijuana. While much of the recent development has been focused on Tijuana’s downtown, the city has been negatively impacted by both informal and formal sprawl settlements. As the poorest residents were priced out of Tijuana proper, the slums developed along the eastern fringe on topography least suitable for construction. Responding to incredible population growth in the 1990s and 2000s, “the federal government encouraged vast development projects that brought tens of thousands of tiny houses to the city periphery. But Mexico has since dramatically changed course with efforts aimed at encouraging greater density”



(Dibble, 2016). Thus, the city’s planners have done so as well. Architect Teddy Cruz presents a thoughtful critique of Tijuana’s growth, emphasizing how San Diego’s sprawl and Tijuana’s slums present two types of suburbia, which are “emblematic of the incremental division of the contemporary city and the territory between enclaves of megawealth and the rings of poverty that surround them” (Cruz, 2012). Cruz recognizes that the flows across the border are not just people, products, and ideas, but building typologies and planning patterns as well. In Tijuana, land-use regulations are being reinterpreted by newcomers who adapt structures and parcels for different uses; Cruz calls this type of infill and adaptation “pixilation” (Cruz, 2012). San Diego’s waste flows into Tijuana as tools to build the new periphery of Tijuana. For example, whole postwar bungalows move south and are set atop one-story metal frames, leaving space below for future uses. In Tijuana’s peripheral settlements, “dense inhabitation happens so that incremental small infrastructure can follow… After months of construction and community organization, the neighborhood begins to request municipal services” (Cruz, 2012). In this way, informal communities are growing faster than the urban core. Tijuana’s sprawl through formal development is strikingly similar to the pattern of sprawl in its neighbor to the north, San Diego. The government-

Figure 5: “Tijuana improves if its people do it.” Tijuana’s artists and activists are taking the lead in beautifying their city and reclaiming its identity.

endorsed development projects have created a sea of homogeneity that are at odds with Tijuana’s history of varied, piecemeal development. Cruz states, “[t]hese diminutive 250-square-foot dwellings come equipped with all the clichés and conventions: manicured landscaping, gate houses, model units, banners and flags, mini-setbacks, front and backyards” (Cruz, 2012). This new American style of construction poses both an opportunity and a threat. On the one hand, it brings a more modern, affordable style of housing to the city’s middle class; on the other hand, it may threaten Tijuana’s tradition of heterogeneous building typology and mixed-use infill. The slums of Tijuana meet all the criteria presented in the UN-HABITAT definition of a slum. Inhabitants of Tijuana’s slums lack durable, permanent housing; they lack sufficient living space; they often do not have access to safe water; they typically lack access to adequate sanitation; and the squatters in particular do not have security of tenure (Landis, 2017). Sprawl is a problem in Tijuana, but it has not occurred for the same reasons as it has in the U.S. Tijuana’s sprawl is characterized by both unchecked informal settlements and formal developments. While sprawl in the U.S. occurred for reasons like the desire for privacy in the suburbs, white flight, and government subsidies, sprawl in Tijuana is happening primarily because the edges of the city are the only undeveloped land. Sprawl in Tijuana

is not so much aligned with middle- and upperclass dreams of escaping the strife of the urban core. Rather, sprawl in Tijuana is the opposite, with wealthy residents closer to the center and poorer residents at the periphery. Urban growth in Tijuana does not occur in succession, with residents gradually moving outward. Growth is already happening in Tijuana’s outer ring, and densities are increasing across all zones.

INFLUENTIAL PUBLIC AND PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS The most influential public institution affecting Tijuana’s growth and development is the city’s planning agency, Instituto Metropolitano de Planeación (IMPLAN). The agency produces development plans for the city every few years; the most recent once, Plan Municipal de Desarrollo 2017-2019, was released in April 2017. It was created with the input of thousands of citizens and is to be the guiding document to manage Tijuana’s growth. Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum stressed that the plan would guide the administration in its commitment to work with the community to make Tijuana the best city in Mexico. In the private sector, the most influential institutions affecting Tijuana’s growth and development are foreign investors, companies, and real estate developers. Without question, the proliferation of maquiladoras in Tijuana



was influential in the city’s growth. At a smaller scale, Tijuana’s growth and development have been affected by (primarily American) real estate developers. American real estate interests play a prominent role in Tijuana’s development in recent history. For example, during Prohibition in the U.S., Tijuana became “an oasis of bars and liquor stores… to meet the intoxicating needs of the gringo,” which Tijuana embraced as a business opportunity (Peralta, 2012). In 1928, American entrepreneurs founded the Agua Caliente casino in Tijuana. A precursor to Las Vegas, the casino catered to Hollywood elite and even mafia boss Al Capone. In its eleven years of operation, the Agua Caliente casino “created enough tax revenue for the total budget of the Northern Territory of Baja California” (Peralta, 2012). Although the casino closed almost 80 years ago, it sparked a pattern of American investment that has continued to today. In 2013 the Urban Land Institute’s district council for San Diego and Tijuana coordinated an advisory group of San Diego developers and designers to explore ways to revitalize Tijuana’s downtown, especially Avenida Revolución. This renewed interest in Tijuana for developers like Greg Strangman, who is renovating a hotel on Avenida Revolución in the hopes of attracting cross-border clientele. From groups like the ULI to private developers, Americans have an influential role in determining Tijuana’s future growth. Following the period of violence in the last decade, everyday citizens have stepped up to actively shape Tijuana’s growth. Tired of not seeing notable development, citizens and private companies have encouraged reinvestment in Tijuana in the hopes of not only sparking tourism once again, but also to reclaim Tijuana after several turbulent years. Tijuana developer Sergio Rosas Bustamante said, “[y]ou’re waiting for the government or some big investor to do a major development that’s going to change things. But nothing’s been done, and I don’t think government’s going to do anything. Change has to come from within, from us. If we don’t do it by ourselves, it’s going to stay the same for years to come” (Dibble, 2016). Similarly, residents of Tijuana’s informal settlements are taking matters into their own hands to supply much-needed housing. Hundreds of people descend upon vacant properties and construct dwellings from found materials like rubber tires, garage doors, and wooden crates, all often the rejected debris of San Diegans that has made its way across the border. Cruz describes this process as “temporal, nomadic urbanism that is supported by a very sophisticated choreography of neighborhood participation” (Cruz, 2012). Eventually the city will supply municipal services like water and electricity to limited locations, leaving the community to pirate the rest. In Tijuana, the informal developments are growing at a much faster rate than the formal



developments at the city’s core. Although citizens were involved to some extent in the development of the city’s Municipal Development Plan, it doesn’t appear that they are involved much in formal growth and development decisions, and thus take charge through both formal real estate projects and informal settlements.

CONCLUSION: A PLANNING AGENDA Tijuana is a dynamic and unique city. Its location subjects its economy and spatial development to the effects of FDI and U.S. interests, yet the city continues to thrive. After surviving years of turmoil, it is increasingly important for the citizens of Tijuana to feel that they are a part of reclaiming the city’s identity. The first step in planning Tijuana’s next ten years is to involve its citizens in the planning process. The city should continue enhancing its manufacturing sector by attracting a diverse set of employers, while expanding its economic profile by supporting the growing innovation cluster and the highly-skilled entrepreneurs in STEM-intensive fields. The city’s economic opportunities will continue to bring in migrants from Mexico and Latin America at large, making it ever more important to address housing affordability and connect residents of informal settlements to the city’s infrastructure. The city can increase the amount of affordable housing through zoning measures, including inclusionary zoning and revising the densities and uses (promoting mixeduse) throughout the city. Tijuana should sustain its relationship with San Diego to strengthen the two cities as one binational megaregion. The two cities need to find common ground when it comes to planning, especially when considering environmental planning. Since both cities are guided by different economies and different national regulations, they should turn to non-governmental groups like the ULI to facilitate dialogue apart from politics. Tijuana’s planning institutions and citizens have taken on the challenge to reclaim its perception and identity from years of violence, and continue to fight for equitable growth and opportunity for both existing and future residents.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Gutierrez is a first-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Land Use and Environmental Planning. She majored in Architecture and Community Design and minored in Urban Agriculture at the University of San Francisco. Originally from San Diego, Jennifer is interested in planning for climate change resiliency and exploring the interplay of the built and natural environment through regenerative design and regional cooperation.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED “52 Places to Go in 2017.” The New York Timesonline. Last modified January 4, 2017. interactive/2017/travel/places-to-visit.html. Cota, Jorge Eduardo Mendoza. “Economic Integration and Cross-Border Economic Organizations: The Case of San Diego-Tijuana.” Estudios Fronterizos, vol. 18, no. 35 (2017). Cruz, Teddy. “Practices of Encroachment: Urban Waste Moves Southbound; Illegal Zoning Seeps into North.” In Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border, edited by Josh Kun and FiammaMontezemolo. Duke University Press, 2012. Dibble, Sandra. “Builders Target Tijuana’s Stagnant Areas.” The San Diego Union Tribune: News/Baja Californiaonline. Last modified April 26, 2016. http://www. sdut-tijuana-redevelopment-projects-2016apr26-story.html.

Figure 3: Photo by O’Bright, Josh. Slums of Downtown Tijuana. June 19, 2011. The Commons, Flickr. com/photos/joshobrightphotography/6402255799/in/ faves-155696291@N04/. Figure 4: Photo by Fronteras Desk. Tijuana Suburbs 5. October 18, 2013. The Commons, Flickr. photos/fronterasdesk/11469628834/in/faves-155696291@ N04/. Figure 5: Photo by Turisa Libre. Reacciona. June 23, 2010. The Commons, Flickr. turistalibre/4837116728/in/faves-155696291@N04/.

Hruska, Jordan. “The Store Putting Tijuana on the Design Map.” The New York Times Style Magazineonline. Last modified October 31, 2016. t-magazine/design/object-design-store-tijuana.html. Kun, Josh, Fiamma Montezemolo. “Introduction: The Factory of Dreams.” In Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border, edited by Josh Kun and Fiamma Montezemolo. Duke University Press, 2012. Landis, John D. Lectures: CPLN 510 Urban and Planning Theory. University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Fall 2017. Peralta, René. “Illicit Acts of Urbanism.” In Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border, edited by Josh Kun and Fiamma Montezemolo. Duke University Press, 2012. San Diego Regional EDC. “Tijuana Regional Profile.” Tijuana Regional Profile: A Data-Driven Summary of the City’s Economic Drivers.Last modified February 22, 2017. http:// Regional%20Profile%202017.pdf. SoulPancake. “The Reason Rainn Wilson Goes to Tijuana for Haitian Food.” YouTube video, 15:45. Posted [October 2017]. ULI Technical Assistance Panel. Downtown Tijuana, B.C., Mexico Revitalization Concept Plan. Urban Land Institute San Diego/Tijuana, June 2013. uploads/ULI-Documents/ULI-TAPS-Report-vTijuana.pdf. Figure 1: Photo by Prayitno. Arch of Tijuana. July 8, 2012. The Commons, Flickr. prayitnophotography/7585129958/in/faves-155696291@ N04/. Figure 2: Photo by Ray. Tijuana. April 17, 2010. The Commons, Flickr. stingrayintl/4669875732/in/faves-155696291@N04/.



Figure 1: Informal settlements in Dhaka are often located in extremely precarious sites around the city. These residents must commute by makeshift boat to access the rest of the city.



limate change is predicted to increase the number of people living in extreme poverty by 100 million by 2030 and cities in the developing world face some of the highest risks from its impacts (World Bank, 2016). In these settings, the land market forces the urban poor to live in substandard housing in precarious areas, like floodplains, where land is cheaper. Furthermore, with many people employed in the informal economy, which is primarily comprised of micro and small enterprises, climate change encumbers people’s ability to save and accumulate assets, thus creating poverty traps for working citizens (World Bank, 2016). Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. While the city’s topography along the GangesBrahmaputra river delta has historically served as a natural drainage system, it is being impeded by poor planning and rapid growth (World Bank, 2015). Five thousand hectares were added to the city’s footprint between 1999 and 2014 to accommodate a rapidly growing population, most of which was made up of impervious surfaces (Atlas of Urban Expansion, 2016). Currently, the city’s population exceeds 22 million and over 400,000 new residents move to the city annually (World Bank, 2007). Furthermore, over seven million of the city’s residents live in informal settlements, and over ten million are employed in the informal sector (World Bank, 2015). Until now, inclusive development agendas have not been as actionable and specific, as they need to be to improve the resiliency of developing cities (World Bank, 2016). This essay explores how

the impacts of climate change have prohibited slum dwellers in Dhaka from improving their quality of life. It seeks to provide a base from which targeted interventions and place-based solutions can be formed to increase the resiliency of poor urban dwellers against climate change. Research for this paper was conducted using literature from development organizations, academic articles, and news and media reports in order to understand the challenges residents of Dhaka face holistically.

FLOODING HISTORY AND THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE Over the last 30 years, Dhaka has witnessed increasingly intense and frequent flooding events, which have disproportionately hurt the city’s poor. The large storm of 1988 flooded 85 percent of the city, cutting it off from the rest of the country. Unplanned urbanization has only exacerbated the impact of flooding as storms in 1998 resulted in areas of Dhaka being inundated for over ten weeks. In 2004 and 2007, flooding events impacted more than five million people despite lower amounts of rain as the water took even longer to drain. In 2009, rainfall occurred at record magnitude with almost 300 millimeters of rain falling in less than six hours, resulting in storm surges that impacted slum dwellers in the city more than any other population in Dhaka (World Bank, 2015). It is expected that the city of Dhaka will experience a sixteen percent increase in extreme 24hour precipitation by 2050 compared to the 2004 precipitation levels. Therefore, as precipitation is expected to intensify, and the city has proven


Figure 2: Dhaka is situated in the heart of the Ganges-Brahmaputra River Basin and is extremely low lying, exacerbating its vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

incompetent at managing inundation, residents, especially slum dwellers, face a higher risk from the impacts of climate change and environmental hazards (World Bank, 2015).

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE IN DHAKA EXACERBATES VULNERABILITY The government of Dhaka responded after the 1988 flood with a proposal for the Greater Dhaka Integrated Flood Protection Project (GDIFPP) – a two-phase project in conjunction with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The project, which targeted the western half of the city in the first phase and the eastern half of the city in the second phase, aimed to protect the city through infrastructure projects such as embankments (Lamb, 2014). However, the project was never completed due to resource constraints and only the embankment on the western, and more urbanized half of the city, was built. The city’s inability to follow through on the construction of the eastern embankment has had a considerable impact on the development pattern of informal settlements in the city. In the western half of Dhaka, the embankment construction led to speculative land development



in these areas that were perceived as safer. This pushed the informal settlements to the edge of the embankment, the area which was most likely to flood. These settlements were reconstructed using the base of the wall, weakening its capacity (Lamb, 2014). The eastern half of the city was not fully developed and, at the time, was primarily agricultural. As there had been no land use planning in this part of the city, the plans for the embankment led to extensive private land grabbing and speculative development. This, in turn, led to the conversion of pasture land and paddy fields to impervious areas, reducing the drainage capacity of the area. Furthermore, the poor residents were pushed farther east into more vulnerable areas (Lamb, 2014). The success of the Flood Protection Project was witnessed during the 1998 floods, where only 28 percent of the western half of the city flooded. However, flood levels were much higher throughout other parts of the city, especially in the eastern half, as there was no protection in this area (World Bank, 2015). The government’s response and mismanagement of resources during the GDIFPP have resulted in the development of informal settlements in more vulnerable locations, increasing their risk to climate hazards.

Figure 3: The contrast between the homes made of corrugated metal with bamboo stilts and the brick homes and concrete stilts, highlights the discrepancy of adaptive capacity within the settlement.

The Government of Bangladesh’s ministry of housing, RAJUK, released an affordable housing section of their Dhaka Plan which states that 70 percent of households in the city have no tenure security (RAJUK, 2016). Furthermore, 78 percent of the low-income population can’t afford market rate housing in the city, resulting in the prevalence of slum settlements. The government has suggested that the public sector ought to play a larger role in housing provision and slum upgrading and monitoring (RAJUK, 2016). However, no evidence of existing government interventions in slum upgrading has been found. Existing slum improvement programs are reliant on foreign assistance but have been largely unsuccessful at environmental resilience due to the lack of community outreach. Studies have shown that because many of the slum improvement projects that have occurred in Dhaka have not been contextspecific and did not consider local land conditions, they have led to increased waterlogging (Chowdhury et al., 2016). Overall, government programs related to housing and infrastructure intended to increase resiliency against environmental hazards have not been targeted at the poor. Other policies by the government, such as the 2005 National Adaptation Program of Action and the 2009 Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy, have largely ignored

the needs of the poor and focused primarily on infrastructure solutions (Abheuer et al., 2013). Minimal effort, especially on the municipal level, has been invested in ensuring residents of informal settlements are protected against the impacts of climate change.

HOW VULNERABLE ARE SLUMS? Sixty percent of informal settlements in Dhaka experience complete or partial flooding every monsoon (Lamb, 2014). However, government inaction has not inspired slum dwellers to upgrade their homes to mitigate damages that occur from inundation. Studies show that tenure insecurity is the primary deterrent dissuading residents from upgrading their homes. Land acquisition in the city of Dhaka is complicated by the political nexus with developers and slum lords. Citizens often require political connections to acquire land or settle within an informal settlement (World Bank, 2007). The political apathy towards the urban poor results in unannounced evictions, often without any resettlement agreement, pushing the poor to more precarious land around the city (World Bank, 2007). The constant fear of eviction and pressures from development serve as disincentives for slum dwellers



to upgrade their homes and invest in construction which may never actually benefit them (Iftekhar, 2014). Furthermore, slum lords may extort higher rents from households which show signs of wealth through upgrading. Tenure insecurity is further worsened by the risk posed by environmental hazards: as slum settlements are more exposed to risks from climatic events, the risk of displacement increases, further reducing the incentive to invest in upgrading (Lamb, 2014). Slum households do frequently invest in lowcost upgrading interventions that allow them to protect valuables within their homes. For example, installing sturdy shelves within their homes enables residents to store money, food, and other valuables at a higher elevation, reducing the risk of losing assets in a smaller flood (Braun, 2011). During the 1998 floods, severe rainfall and poor drainage resulted in flooding within slum houses. Certain slums experienced flooding in their homes of up to four feet and resorted to living on their roofs. With illegal electricity connections and wires, the risk of electrocution and fire was extremely high. Additionally, mosquito-transmitted diseases, snake bites, and fecal-contaminated waters worsened health risks. Finally, access to water was extremely limited, and the poor were often forced to walk miles and pay hefty sums for drinking water in flood events (Faiz, 2000). Despite dangerous living conditions during storm events, slums continue to proliferate on vulnerable land as they allow slum dwellers to access jobs in the city (Faiz, 2000). Both the health risks and the destruction of assets during storm events result in a large loss of savings as well as productive capital, inhibiting economic mobility amongst slum dwellers (Abheur et al., 2013). Slum upgrading, a method which would allow slum dwellers to mitigate damages to their homes and assets, is not a viable option as tenure insecurity is high.

INFORMAL LIVELIHOODS Flood events further reduce the potential for poverty alleviation amongst slum dwellers who work in the informal economy. In Dhaka, 49 percent of residents work in the informal economy pursuing jobs like transport laborers, vendors, agricultural workers, and domestic workers (World Bank, 2007). As these wages are conditional on daily work, inundation results in decreased earnings during and after the flood ends. As daily wages could not be captured, 74 percent of slum households lost all of their savings (Borris et al., 2011). Informal businesses, which are often the gateway out of poverty, are also extremely vulnerable as they rarely have forms of insurance or large enough savings to replace destroyed assets (World Bank, 2016). Overall, as flood events are likely to increase in



intensity and frequency, climate change serves as a poverty trap to slum dwellers and employees in the informal economy, which limits their ability to improve their quality of life.

INCLUSIVE PLANNING FOR A MORE RESILIENT FUTURE Dhaka faces severe challenges in the future as increasing glacial melt from the Himalaya Mountain Range, which flows into Bangladesh, is coupled with sea level rise and intensified precipitation (McPherson, 2015). The city is, and likely will continue to be, the primary destination for migrants, especially climate refugees, adding pressure to the already constrained resources in the city. The effects of climate change have been explicitly outlined, but their true impacts on the growing population living in floodplains and on vulnerable land in the city are yet to be seen. The municipality of Dhaka has been apathetic and unwilling to implement measures to assuage the stressors of climate change that trap slum dwellers in poverty. The municipality’s profitdriven development agenda and nexus with private developers and slum lords threaten tenure security for residents of slums, reducing the likelihood residents will upgrade their homes to protect their assets (Mahmud, 2015). These patterns, supplemented with the risks informal businesses face from extended periods of flooding in the city, trap many residents of informal settlements in poverty. Government structures in Bangladesh have historically treated informality as a problem that needs to be corrected. Revell (2010) argues that informality is “a new mode of urbanism,” especially in cities like Dhaka where a large share of the population lives and works within informality (Revel, 2010). In order to manage the enormous stress it faces from population growth and the impacts of climate change, Dhaka needs to begin to embrace informality and include it as part of the city’s agenda. Shifting perspectives to allow the most vulnerable populations to actively participate in the planning process will change the discourse around poverty and informality to one which highlights the structural barriers preventing poverty amelioration and allows for targeted interventions that are inclusive and resilient.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashali Bhandari is in her final year of the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing her BA in Geography from Middlebury College, she worked in Mumbai researching inclusive place making and chronic homelessness at Studio X Mumbai (part of the Columbia Global Centers, South Asia). At PennDesign, her work has focused on adaptation and resiliency planning in cities in the global south, especially in light of climate change.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Abheuer, Tibor, Insa Thiele-Eich and Boris Braun. Coping with the Impacts of Severe Flood Events in Dhaka’s Slums – The Role of Social Capital. Erdkunde 67.1, 2013.

World Bank. Climate and Disaster Resilience of Greater Dhaka Area: A Micro Level Analysis. Bangladesh Development Series Paper No. 32. Dhaka. November 2015.

Ahmed, Iftekhar. Factors in building resilience in urban slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. 4th International Conference on Building Resilience. September 8-10, 2014.

Figure 1: Photo by eGuide Travel. “Dhaka.” Flickr. August 19, 2010. eguidetravel/6058637715.s

Braun, Boris and Tibor Abheuer. Floods in megacity environments: vulnerability and coping strategies of slum dwellers in Dhaka/Bangladesh. Nat Hazards 58, 2011.

Figure 2: Map by Ashali Bhandari, 2017. Using imagery from Google Earth.

Chowdhury, Farhat Jahan and ATM Nurul Amin. Environmental assessment in slum improvement programs: Some evidence from a study on infrastructure projects in two Dhaka slums. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 26, 2006.

Figure 3: Photo by Michael Foley. “Precarious Living, Dhaka.” Flikr. June 14, 2007. photos/michaelfoleyphotog raphy/1301528406/in/ faves-142696583@N03/.

Dasgupta, Susmita, Asif Zaman, Subhendu Roy, Mainul Huq, Sarwar Jahan, and Ainun Nishat. Urban Flooding of Greater Dhaka in a Changing Climate: Building Local Resilience to Disaster Risk. Directions in Development. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015. Hallegatte, Stephane, Mook Bangalore, Laura Bonzanigo, Marianne Fay, Tamaro Kane, Ulf Narloch, Julie Rozenberg, David Treguer, and Adrien Vogt-Schilb. Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. Climate Change and Development Series. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016. Hulme, David, Joseph Hanlon, Manoj Roy. Bangladesh Confronts Climate Change: Keeping Our Heads Above Water. Anthem Press, 2016. Lamb, Zachary. Embanked: Climate Vulnerability and the Paradoxes of Flood Protection in Dhaka, 2014. Mahmud, Faisal. Low-lying areas in Dhaka face risk of floods The Independent. July 21, 2015. McPherson, Poppy Dhaka: the city where climate refugees are already a reality. The Guardian. December 1, 2015. https:// RAJUK. Housing for All. Dhaka Structure Plan 2016-2035. Rashid, Sabina Faiz The Urban Poor in Dhaka City: Their Struggles and Coping Strategies during the Floods of 1998 Disasters 24(3), 2000. Revel, Kristy. Working with informality: increasing resilience in cities of the Global South. ISOCARP Congress, 2010. UN Habitat, NYU Stern, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Atlas of Urban Expansion: Dhaka. Last modified 2016. http:// World Bank. Dhaka: Improving Living Conditions for the Urban Poor. Bangladesh Development Series Paper No. 17. Dhaka, June 2007.



Figure 1: Downtown Kigali following government investment in industry, making it a vibrant economic center for the country.



igali, the capital and largest city in Rwanda, is located in the central region of the country and constitutes the main “economic and employment node” of the nation (Joshi, 2013). Rwanda is a rural country, and 80 percent of its population lives in non-urban areas (Francioni, n.d.) However, the country has shown continuous urban population growth, with rates ranging from six to twenty percent in the past 20 years. (The World Bank, 2015). The leading force in this demographic shift has a political and historical origin. The story of Rwanda and the story of Kigali can only be understood through a “before and after” framework with the 1994 genocide at its center (Mucyo, 2016). Kigali, as Rwanda’s capital, was the “epicenter” of the mass murder of one million Tutsi (an ethnic minority) in 100 days (Sewpaul, 2007). Today, Kigali plays a central role in a redemptive economic plan of making Rwanda an urbanized nation. In the recent past, the Government of Rwanda has established national urban policies, and the City of Kigali is pursuing a long-term masterplan with the vision of becoming a center of urban excellence that attracts foreign investors. The road to achieving these grand scheme visions is long, but the steps that Kigali and Rwanda are making in economic growth and security are significant, especially for a region that faced genocide and civil war only two decades ago. Kigali’s recent large-scale plans must be recognized not only as part of a process of (re) construction of infrastructure and establishment of a stronger economy, but also as an attempt to form a larger unified national identity. Rwanda is composed of three ethnic groups: the Hutu, which

represent 84 percent of the population, the Tutsi, which account for fifteen percent, and the Twa, which amount to only one percent of the Rwandan population. Despite current authorities’ claims that a unified identity existed before the European colonization in the 1900s, historical accounts show that Rwanda was always an ethnically stratified society (Pottier, 2002). The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the dissident party formed mainly by Tutsi who took control of the country after the genocide, is promoting a new narrative that restricts ethnicity as a subject from the past — citizens are required to only identify themselves as Rwandans. Current inequities show that erasing ethnic classifications from public discussion is not sufficient to bring unity while economic prosperity does not permeate all levels of society or ethnicities. The transformation of post-genocide Kigali is the result of political efforts under an overarching vision of achieving national economic prosperity. The new political establishment needed to develop a new national identity through the launch of radical goals. The very legitimacy of the RPF’s non-democratic government relies on the achievement of results, and economic growth has become the justification for some of their restrictive construction rules and oppressive expropriation policies. Kigali plays a central role in the RPF government’s vision — becoming the financial and technological hub of East Africa (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013). Concepts of reconstruction alone are not appropriate to describe what has occurred in this city, which was a large village of “densely packed shanty housing” before the genocide and has transformed into a “model” and “modern city”


— as recognized by UN-Habitat through the 2008 Scroll of Honour Award (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013) (UN-Habitat, 2008). Nonetheless, critics point out that urban prosperity and security in Kigali are being achieved at the detriment of poor rural populations. To describe Kigali’s urban metamorphosis, this report focuses on three different aspects: the historical forces that affected the city’s growth before the genocide, the post-genocide growth and development trends, and a description of the main institutions and agents leading spatial development changes. Following this comprehensive description, the report concludes with the current planning practices and proposes alternatives to direct Kigali not only towards growth but also equality.

HISTORIC FORCES AFFECTING PRE-GENOCIDE GROWTH Before the colonization of the 1900s, Rwanda was ruled by a quasi-nomadic Tutsi monarchy. The country had no urban centers, and most of its citizens lived in scattered dwellings across the irregular topographic landscape. Even though

markets existed at fixed places, these did not develop into economic centers and permanent settlements. Most citizens were subsistence farmers, relying on the cultivation of crops and the raising of small livestock for their survival. Families lived in dispersed rural properties not only seeking privacy but also the practical purpose of protecting their cultivation from theft (Human Rights Watch, 2001). Urbanization started during German colonization at the beginning of the 20th century when administrative offices were founded in Kigali and in other areas of the country. The administrative offices’ primary goal was to serve the colonial population that resided in these towns. As such, the establishment of a centralized administration in Kigali was not intended to develop the city. Rural to urban migration was discouraged by colonial authorities across the country (Human Rights Watch, 2001). After World War I, the League of Nations ceded the Rwandan territory to Belgian administration, which allowed the Tutsi King to remain in power. This power structure remained until King Mutara III Rudahigwa died in 1959. The death of the Tutsi king generated the insurgence of Hutu

Figure 2: Kigali’s Central Business District has grown and attracted new developments, but the economic growth of the city is not extending to the rest of the country. According to an UNDP report from 2007, inequality is becoming “increasingly rural and increasingly detrimental to the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society.”



Figure 3: New developments in the Ubumwe neighborhood in Kigali’s Central Business District. In 2008, after the enactment of the Expropriation Law of 2007, previous residents of the region were relocated to the fringes of the city despite their opposition.

who took control of the country’s leadership and persecuted the Tutsi — leading thousands to flee to neighboring countries (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013). Concurrently, the Belgians switched their previous support of Tutsi authorities to the new Hutu establishment. In 1962, the Hutu authorities successfully gained independence from Belgium, and Kigali became Rwanda’s capital (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013) (Republic of Rwanda-Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, 2000). Under the Hutu regime, Tutsi, who fled from ethnic violence in the cities and extreme poverty from the north of the country, were relocated by officials in paysannats— small rural settlements that relied on cash crops. Beyond this reactive measure, authorities did not develop large planning projects to organize rural or urban life (Human Rights Watch 2001). Before the genocide, Kigali did not experience significant economic or population growth, and there were no official efforts to stimulate development. In the 1990s, Kigali’s landscape was composed of informal and dense settlements, and it reached a population of 200,000 people (Goodfellow and Smith 2013). Despite being the capital of the country, Kigali did not have legislation

“pertaining to urban development” (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013).

POST-GENOCIDE GROWTH TRENDS AND POLITICAL FORCES The growth of Kigali after the genocide is subdivided into two periods: its immediate reconstruction, and its emergence through ambitious planning efforts at the start of the 21st century. Immediately after the genocide, political efforts were directed to the relocation of the thousands of refugees who returned to the country and the establishment of security for both citizens and the RPF regime (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013). The victory of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (the RPF’s army) initiated a wave of migration of refugees to Rwanda and specifically to Kigali. Kigali was a deserted city with vacant houses that previously belonged to the Tutsi who were murdered or to the Hutu who fled after the RPA took control of the region. Genocide survivors simply settled on property they did not own. The second wave of migrants came to Kigali two years later. As the government fought the Hutu



Figure 4: The topography of Kigali limits its possibility of growth, 31 percent is formed by slopes and nineteen percent of is composed of wetlands. As a result, the City and the National legislative power have set in place eviction practices and expropriation legislation to redirect the use of the available land for profitable development purposes.

militia that remained scattered in neighboring countries, it also forced Hutu refugees abroad to return to Rwanda. Ensuring security also required controlling dissidents, which could only be achieved within Rwanda’s territory. Fearing the repercussions of their crimes, Hutu refugees returned to Kigali in droves, as it provided them anonymity (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013). By 2013, the city achieved an area of 730 square kilometers and reached a population of 1.3 million people, a 550 percent growth since 1994 (Joshi, 2013). This growth is explained by the immediate migration after the genocide, but also due to the opportunities found in the capital. The demographic growth in Kigali is connected to the financial achievements of the city in recent years.

government and their “competence in financial management” allowed them to continue receiving funds throughout subsequent years (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013). Most aid was not intended for urban purposes, but the autonomy of the Rwandan government from their international donors allowed them to direct those resources to improve urban infrastructure. Approximately 40 percent of foreign capital was directed to Kigali’s infrastructure. For example, for the city’s Urban Infrastructure and City Management Project, the World Bank provided $23.7 million that was directed to the creation of “local roads and drainage in some lowincome areas of Kigali” (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013).

After the RPF established its legitimacy and international credibility, foreign aid was directed to the capital city. The transparency of the

In 2000, the national government established its development plan, Rwanda Vision 2020, in which it committed to foster urban growth through the



regular design of master plans for every town, and the development of urban infrastructure. It also set the goal of directing more resources to “nonagricultural sectors,” like telecommunications, tourism, and manufacturing. The report also emphasized the need for forming a “knowledgedriven” economy by investing in technical and scientific education. Part of the success of these efforts is already visible (Republic of Rwanda, 2000). The country has since experienced a GDP rise of six to eight percent every year (Campioni and Noack, 2012). Because of this constant economic growth, the Rwandan poverty rate dropped from 70 percent in 1994 to 56.9 percent in 2006 (United Nations Development Programme, 2013). In 2015, the country was recognized by the World Bank as the second-best place to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa due to its stable economic growth, reduction of bureaucratic boundaries, and cooperation with financial institutions and banks (The World Bank, n.d.)

resources taken from the neighboring country (Lezhnev and Prendergast, 2013).

SPATIAL DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS AND POLITICAL FORCES Kigali achieved order in the midst of new migration and population through strict government control and policies. The first grand response of the government to the migration of refugees happened in 1996 with the establishment of the National Habitat Policy. This comprehensive land policy covered the designation of new centralized residential areas, the resettlement of refugees, and agrarian reform.

Through the new economic model established in Rwanda Vision 2020, Rwanda is attempting to shift from its dependency on foreign assistance to a strong independent economy. The shift requires a focus on attracting investors to urban areas and establish service industries that can use the human capital of the country. As a result, economic growth has shown a geographical concentration in urban areas — mainly Kigali. While prosperity is great for the city and its residents, the resultant regional inequities and exclusion are extremely dangerous for a post-conflict country. The United Nations Development Programme in Rwanda, pointed out that in 2007, inequality in Rwanda was rising, becoming “increasingly rural and increasingly detrimental to the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society.” The same institution also reported that the nation’s Gini coefficients increased “from 0.47 to 0.51 from 2001 to 2006” (United Nations Development Programme, 2013).

As part of National Habitat Policy efforts, the Government created centralized villages across the country called imidugudu with the goal of concentrating “scattered homesteads” into a single location (Human Rights Watch, 2001). The establishment of imidugudu was a top-down, coercive program. There were no hearings for the public on the matter. The National Habitat Policy affected 94 percent of the population, and many individuals were resettled against their will (Human Rights Watch, 2001). Refugees were mostly content with the government housing initiative since they were the ones that benefited from new houses or received subsidies or donations from foreign agencies to acquire construction materials. Nonetheless, Hutu and Tutsi residents, who were not refugees, were also forced to leave their homes, hand them to authorities, and move to imidugudu with little support or compensation. The government responded to opposition with arrests and fines (Human Rights Watch, 2001). This led to the dissemination of precarious housing and shelters — 500,000 imidugudu residents were living in temporary houses made of wood, leaves, and plastics (Human Rights Watch, 2001).

The status of Kigali as the capital city, the direction of national resources to urban economies, and the strict government land regulations (restricting the settlement of the poor in the city) gave Kigali a prominent economic position compared to other regions of the country. By 2006, thirteen percent of Kigali’s population was living in poverty, while national poverty levels were as high as 57 percent. This economic growth cannot be attributed only to the spillovers from Kigali’s urbanization economy. According to a report from the non-profit Enough, part of the economic growth of Kigali is also associated with the illicit extraction, trade, and smuggling of conflict minerals from eastern Congo. The authors point out that the area where the “high-rise” developments are located is informally known as “Mercy Congo” due to beliefs that it was built with money obtained through

The policy, however, was not restricted to resettling smaller rural dwellers into smaller centralized villages. Imidugudu also exist in denser areas surrounding Kigali and other cities. The formation of these communities allowed the government to permeate the social life of local communities. Imidugudu are composed of approximated 100 households. For every ten households, there is a communal leader titled nyumbacumi who is responsible for overseeing the needs of the neighbors. The role of the nyumbacumi also requires him to control the participation of residents in the mandatory Umuganda — a community service that occurs across the entire country during the last Saturday of every month. Despite allowing for larger government control, these designed communities have played a significant role in unifying people from different



Figure 5: Kigali’s development has been uneven. While the government has poured resources into developing the downtown business district, few resources have gone to residential developments on the periphery of the city.

backgrounds and improving the well-being of their community. It is estimated that the “voluntary” work of Umuganda amounts to more than $60 million (Rwanda Governance Board, n.d.). Even though the government had the intentions of centralizing villages in rural peripheries, in the case of urban centers the government’s goals differed. In 2005, the country initiated an administration decentralization program which subdivided towns into smaller districts. Kigali was divided into three districts: Nyarugenge, Gasabo, and Kicukiro. This measure allocated more resources and power “downwards,” but not necessarily autonomy (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013). Since 2007, the city has pursued its 2040 Masterplan, which imposed new zoning and regulations for each district. The relatively new “building and environmental regulations” often end up leading to the exclusion of the poor from the city. There is “zero tolerance to illegal construction,” which prevents the formation of slums in lowincome areas. Despite these restrictions, informal constructions sporadically emerge. Residents, however, are aware of the temporal nature of their residence and accept that their precarious houses will be destroyed (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013). In the same year that Kigali published its Masterplan, the legislative power passed the

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Expropriation Law of 2007. Through this law, people can be expropriated on the basis of “public interests.” This last term was not specifically defined, allowing the City of Kigali to expropriate land to pursue the goals established in its Masterplan (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013). Although Kigali has a large undeveloped land area, its topography limits its possibility of growth. It is estimated that only one-third of Kigali’s territory is available for development since 31 percent is formed by slopes and nineteen percent is composed of wetlands (Joshi, 2013). The legislative and planning actions show that Kigali is prioritizing land for those uses that will bring a larger benefit to the city’s residents. In 2008, residents of Ubumwe region — which encompasses the location for the new Central Business District (CBD) of Kigali — were simply given compensation and relocated to the “fringes of the city.” Sixty-seven families that opposed this measure were forced to leave when the City used their power given to them through the Expropriation Law of 2007 (Goodfellow and Smith, 2013). Further expropriations and evictions are predicted to continue as the city advances towards its Masterplan, but to avoid further conflict, these will happen slowly and only as a response to secure private investments.

Figure 6: Kigali from above shows the stark development differences between the downtown and the residential areas on the outskirts of the city.

The war against informal settlements, the expropriations resulting from the master plan, and the lack of affordable housing inside the city force the poor to abandon Kigali. According to the Rwandan Development Board, there is a growing demand for housing in the city that is not being met. The city refuses to give space to the poor. But this is not something new; the city restricted informal economic activity after the genocide, leaving the most vulnerable without means to self-sustain. A 2010 article from the New York Times exposed that the government pursued not only political dissenters but also the homeless. The article disclosed that 900 poor citizens and homeless were taken, without any formal judicial process, to a rehabilitation center in Iwawa Island (Lake Kivu), to teach them specific working skills (Gettleman, 2010). Another article by the Human Rights Watch also reveals a similar story. The article exposed the Gikondo Transit Center, located in Kigali, that hosts up to 800 detainees — “street vendors, sex workers, homeless people, and beggars.” The Government claims this center provides “rehabilitation and medical services,” but detainees describe it as a place of intimidation for their economic status and informal activities (Van Woundenberg, 2015). Kigali is a socially engineered city. It is not the result of a spontaneous economic activity or demographic growth generated by multiple actors.

It is a city that is being strategically planned by authorities — not only by the city administration but also by the Executive Power. Kigali, as the capital of a non-democratic country, is the most visible geography for foreign donors that assisted the country after the genocide. The growth of the city must be part of a narrative of success that can attract more allies — both foreign governments and investors. For the RPF regime, poverty threatens this positive narrative by proving the failure of the administration in certain areas. To restrict the manifestation of slums, informal economic activity and crime, officials are simply expelling the poor from the city and giving a larger space to foreign and domestic investors.

CONCLUSION: A PLANNING AGENDA The current planning practice in Kigali involves a “top-down” methodology. The urban form and spatial arrangements of Kigali reflect the priorities of the central government rather than those of the citizens. The city is emphasizing economic growth to the detriment of development. Development is being incorporated into the vision the future, only as a long-term goal rather than an immediate one. Cities exist as machines that generate economic growth, but notions of equality



and justice should be considered throughout this pursuit and not seen as a final result. The city is succeeding in maintaining security, increasing accessibility (through the construction of bus rapid transit) and protection of natural environments. These efforts should continue but should be integrated with notions of justice and equality. Kigali is experiencing economic growth, but this is not being transferred to other parts of the country. A report published in 2007 by United Nations Development Programme in Rwanda, stated that this geographically concentrated growth is raising inequalities and increasing the vulnerability of certain groups (UN Nationals Development Programme, 2013). The city administration must follow the interests of the RPF in portraying Kigali as an urban utopia (it is a totalitarian government), but urban planners can promote a narrative of success without having to exclude and erase the areas in which the city and the country are failing. The following section provides three planning alternatives to address the issue of equality and justice through a combination of comprehensive pro-poor actions. 1. Flexibility towards informality as a means to reduce inequality. Rwanda is a developing country — levels of poverty reach 70 percent in certain parts of the country. Despite the reluctance of the government in creating spaces for the poor within Kigali, the rural poor will inevitably move near the city and informal settlements will form — especially as Kigali becomes more prosperous in the upcoming ten years. The city will not be able to prevent slum formation and its eviction policies must become more flexible. Inequality in the country will only decrease as citizens can achieve a better standard of living. The best way to achieve this is by allowing the poor to thrive in the city. This will contribute to the formation of a narrative of success since inequality can be quantified and its reduction will be reflected in increasing Human Development Indexes. 2. Affordable housing as a means to reduce segregation. Income segregation in Kigali manifests itself at its fringes. The city’s zero tolerance to informality pushes the poor out. The city is not pursuing the development of affordable housing units within the city, but the construction of these units will reduce the number of citizens living in precarious conditions and increase their accessibility to jobs and academic opportunities. These efforts can also be quantified in higher development indexes, higher levels of enrollment in education, and reduction in the number of citizens living in slums. 3. Support entities that offer micro-credits and technical education to reduce informal economic activity.



The inclusion of the poor in the city also requires the provision of means for their economic development. The current oppressive practices that Kigali is implementing through rehabilitation centers persecute the poor and are not solving informality. Instead, the city should abandon these practices and equip the poor to become part of the formal economy through the provision of microcredits for small businesses and free technical education. These three goals focus on the issue of inequality — the most significant regional problem in Rwanda. Kigali has seen substantial prosperity: thirteen percent of its population lives in poverty compared to 57 percent of the total country’s population. Economic growth may come without addressing this issue, but the establishment of a new national identity will not. Poverty in Rwanda is also related to ethnicity. Failing to address both ethnic and geographic inequality will maintain the divisions in the city and the country. Fights for power and resources have been a part of Rwanda’s history for centuries. Experts note that the current central ethnic power, rising inequalities, and oppressive restrictions resemble the state that existed before the genocide in 1994 (Seay, 2016). Planners are not able to change the entire structure of the state, but they can mitigate the resultant inequalities and allow the poor population to thrive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Juan Pablo Benítez Gonzalez is a Master of City and Regional Planning student with a concentration in Transportation Planning. Juan obtained a Bachelors of Civil Engineering from Dordt College. Originally from Asuncion, Paraguay, he became interested in urban planning after volunteering for a non-profit that addresses the housing deficit and the limiting living conditions of slum residents. Juan is interested in infrastructure planning and local solutions to transportation networks particularly in developing countries.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Bruegmann, Robert. “Sprawl in the Postwar Boom Years.” Bruegmann, Robert. Sprawl: A Compact History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005. Print.

Republic of Rwanda- Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. Rwanda Vision 2020. Kigali, July 2000. www.sida. sef.

Campioni, Maddalena and Patrick Noack, Rwanda Fast Forward: Social, Economic, Military and Reconciliation Projects. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Print.

Republic of Rwanda. Rwanda Vision 2020. Kigali: Republic of Rwanda: Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, 2000.

City of Kigali. “Economic Development.” n.d. City of Kigali. Web. “Infrastructure Development.” n.d. City of Kigali. Web. www. Francioni, Arianna. Achieving Sustainable Development in Rwanda-From Emergency Response Towards Sustainable Urbanization. United Nations Human Settlements Programme Nairobi, Kenya: UN-Habitat, n.d. Web. www. Gettleman, Jeffrey. “Rwanda Pursues Dissenters and the Homeless.” 30 April 2010. The New York Times. Web. www. Goodfellow, Tom and Alyson Smith. “From Urban Catastrophe to ‘Model’ City? Politics, Security and Development in Postconflict Kigali.” Urban Studies November 2013. Web. www. Goodfellow, Tom. “Urban Planning in Africa and the Politics of Implementation: Contrasting Patterns of State Intervention in Kampala and Kigali.” Living in the City in Africa: Processes of Invention and Intervention. Ed. Brigit Obrist, Veit Arlt and Elisio Macamo. LIT Verlag Münster, 2013. 4561. Print. Hack, Gary. “Shaping Urban Form.” Sanyal, Bishwapriya, Lawrence J. Vale and Christina D. Rosan. Planning Ideas that Matter: Livability, Territoriality, Governance and Reflective Practice. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. Print. Human Rights Watch . Uprooting The Rural Poor in Rwanda. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2001. Print. Joshi, Shrijan, et al. Kigali City Master Plan Report. City of Kigali. Kigali, 2013. Web. www.masterplan2013.kigalicity. Kigali Masterplan 2040. City of Kigali. 2013. Web. www. Lezhnev, Sasha and John Prendergast. “Rwanda’s Stake in Congo: Understanding Interests to Achieve Peace.” 2013. Mucyo, Yannick. Interview. Juan Pablo Benitez Gonzalez. 28 October 2016. Pottier, Johan. “Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century.” Pottier, Johan. Build-up to war and genocide: society and economy in Rwanda and eastern Zaire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Web.

Rwanda Governance Board. “Umuganda.” n.d. Rwanda Governance Board. Web. Scruggs, Gregory. “How Much Public Space Does a City Need?” 7 January 2015. Next City. Web. Seay, Laura. “Is Rwanda’s authoritarian state sustainable?” 3 June 2016. The Washington Post. Web. www.washingtonpost. com. Sewpaul, Vishanthie. “Lessons from Rwanda.” Social Work Maatskalike Werk 2007. Web. The World Bank. “Fact Sheet: Doing Business 2016 in SubSaharan Africa.” 27 October 2015. The World Bank. Web. “Rwanda.” 2016. The World Bank. Web. Rwanda Urban Infrastructure and City Management Project. n.d. Web. UN-Habitat. State of The World’s Cities 2012/2013. Nairobi, Kenya: Routledge, 2013. Web. UN-Habitat. The 2008 Scroll of Honour Award Winners. 2008. Web. UN-Habitat. “UN-Habitat Scoll of Honour Award.” 2008. UN-Habitat for a Better Urban Future. Web. www.mirror. United Nations Development Programme. “Human Development Report 2013.” 2013. Web. “Turning Vision 2020 into Reality: From Recovery to sustainable Human Development.” 2007. Woundenberg, Anneke Van. “The Dirty Secret Behind Kigali’s Clean Streets.” 15 October 2015. Human Rigths Watch. Web. Figure 1: Anzola, Francisco. Outside Simba Supermarket. 2017, Flickr, Figure 2: Anzola, Francisco, Kigali CBD. 2017, Flickr, www. Figure 3: Mugisha Don de Dieu, Kigali City on Top of the Hill. 2015, Flickr, Figure 4: Gwendolyn Stansbury, Kigali, Scenic View from Kigaly City Tower. 2013, Flickr, Figure 5: Anzola, Francisco, Agatare. 2017, Flickr, com. Figure 6: Anzola, Francisco. Kigali in the Distance. 2017. Available from Flickr,




Instructor: David Gouverneur, Professor of Practice in the Department of Landscape Architecture at PennDesign Additional Support: Maria Villalobos Ishaan Kumar Local Collaborators: Department of Urban Planning of the Universidad de La Salle, Department of Architecture of La Universidad de Los Andes Students: Ashali Bhandari Yayin Cai Shuangdi Dou Henry Felsman Andrew Fix Sydney Goldstein Zhenya Nalywayko Esther Ng Alejandra Ramos Eric Riley Yixiao Sun Chenran Wu Boao Xia Xuanmin Xu

Three master plans were developed by the Studio. The site, La Sabana, is adjacent to Bogotรก, Colombia.




lose to 9 million people live in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, adjacent to La Sabana, a vast fertile, agricultural and fragile plateau, crisscrossed by wetlands. The municipalities of La Sabana, located closer to Bogotá, are already experiencing accelerated and fragmented urbanization due to limited vacant land designated for urban expansion within the boundaries of the capital district. This unplanned urbanization process is causing severe environmental problems, affecting the local economies, and resulting in a dysfunctional and sprawling urban system. The area identified as Lagos de Torca lies just to the north of Bogotá; it is the only remaining large site designated for urban development at the fringe of the capital city, within Bogotá’s municipal boundaries. Adjacent to Lagos de Torca is a very large protected area called the Thomas Van der Hammen Reserve to the west. The current mayor of the city, Enrique Peñalosa, has announced a plan for development of this site — Plan de Ordenamiento Zonal Norte (POZ Norte) — mainly aimed to attract investors to provide housing solutions for middle- and upper middle-class income groups, with a smaller percentage of subsidized social housing. This has triggered a bitter debate between those who argue

that it must remain as a protected area due to its ecological, botanical, hydrological, agricultural, and recreational potential, and those who consider that it represents the best and last option for urban growth within Bogotá’s municipal boundaries. In essence, the area the Reserve occupies is capable of absorbing close to two million people, and accommodating the housing deficit projected during the next two decades. The urbanization of both sites as planned would have serious environmental and economic implications, and would extend the urban continuum of Bogotá to the adjacent municipalities and beyond, increasing development pressure onto the fragile and agriculturally productive Sabana. The studio proposals present sustainable planning and design schemes for the Lagos de Torca area, tackling urban development and environmental goals in tandem. The urban development of Lagos de Torca also requires considering relations between the existing urbanized areas to the north of Bogotá, and those within the adjacent municipalities, in terms of connectivity, urban uses, urban structure, economic drivers, and ecological performance, on a regional scale.



Figure 1: Stormwater bumpouts, or curb extensions, can capture stormwater while also helping slow traffic speeds on the highway.



unicipalities across the United States are tasked with providing quality drinking water to their citizens and returning clean, treated water to surrounding waterbodies. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors the country’s waterways and municipal wastewater treatment plants as part of its enforcement of the Clean Water Act. In recent years, ensuring high water quality standards has become more challenging as a result of growing populations, aging water and sewer infrastructure, and increased intensity of rain events in many cities. Improving gray infrastructure, such as pipes and treatment facilities to account for increased capacity needs, can be extremely costly for municipalities. Potentially more cost-effective, green infrastructure has emerged as an attractive alternative for ensuring that water quality meets federal standards (Landis, 2017). Green infrastructure, as defined by the EPA, “uses vegetation, soils, and other elements and practices to restore some of the natural processes required to manage water and create healthier urban environments. At the city or county scale, green infrastructure is a patchwork of natural areas that provides habitat, flood protection, cleaner air, and cleaner water” (U.S. EPA, 2017). Green infrastructure is an especially important resource for reducing stormwater runoff and decreasing instances of combined sewer overflow (CSO). As rainwater hits the ground and flows to the nearest waterbody, it can often become contaminated with trash or elevated nutrient levels, which can impair water quality and stream habitats. Municipalities with a Combined Sewer System (CSS), where wastewater and rainwater flow

together in the same system, are further susceptible to CSOs. CSOs occur when heavy rain events overwhelm the system and cause a combination of wastewater and rainwater to overflow into surrounding waterways. By introducing green infrastructure, more of the rainwater that would otherwise end up in the sewer system instead infiltrates into the ground, lessening the likelihood of a CSO event or stream impairment. Green infrastructure also has several additional benefits beyond stormwater capture. The greening of urban spaces is associated with increased economic development, enhanced community pride, crime reduction, lowered heat island efforts, improved air quality, and more (Philadelphia Water Department, 2011). Given these wide-ranging benefits, green infrastructure often has broad support and few critics, but how can it be funded at a meaningful scale? A few cities and smaller municipalities are leading the charge with innovative funding and financing mechanisms for realizing green infrastructure implementation. Understanding the options available and areas where these options were successfully deployed, cities and other regions can learn what strategies might be right for them.

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE FINANCING MECHANISMS Municipalities have a variety of options for financing green stormwater infrastructure, and many use a combination of mechanisms. Traditionally, green infrastructure in the form of parks or connected greenways was funded through




Stormwater fees

Creating or amending fees on properties with impervious surfaces to reflect the amount of stormwater runoff they contribute to the system can spread costs fairly across a city and incentivize stormwater projects.

Development impact fees

To offset the added cost of the increased stormwater runoff that comes with new development, municipalities can charge development impact fees or require developers to build green infrastructure themselves.

Dedicated taxes and fees

Newly introduced fees or increases in property or sales taxes could be used to fund green stormwater infrastructure projects.

Loans and grant

Loans for green infrastructure are provided primarily through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Administered by the EPA and individual states, the CWSRF funds capital costs of water quality improvement projects.

Donations or sponsorships from businesses that may benefit from stormwater or greening Private donations and sponsorships projects can help serve as initial funding for projects that then benefit an area through increased economic development. Figure 2: Cities and municipalities have a range of options for funding green stormwater infrastructure.

municipal infrastructure bonds. In many cases, this approach is still being used today to fund a variety of projects. As long as initiatives are included in the Capital Improvements Program (CIP), they can be funded through general obligation or revenue bonds. For example, Raleigh, North Carolina maintains a greenway system on close to ten percent of their land area through bonds. This financing mechanism, however, can be further coupled with other more innovative strategies to enhance the rate and efficacy with which cities achieve green infrastructure goals. This analysis highlights three case studies of cities that are using one or more of the following strategies: stormwater fees, development impact fees, dedicated taxes and fees, loans and grants, or private donations and sponsorships (Environmental Finance Center Network, 2012). While this is not an exhaustive list of mechanisms that municipalities have for financing or funding green infrastructure upgrades, the highlighted case studies selected represent a crosssection of these primary strategies. Although not detailed in one of the three case studies, privatelyfunded stormwater management strategies can



also be an attractive solution for smaller scale projects. Some examples of this method leverage local business sponsorships to create and maintain rain gardens along major roadways or downtowns. These programs, such as Virginia’s Streetscape Appearance Green Enhancement, can be supported by funding from the nearby businesses that benefit from sponsor signage or increased walkability along commercial corridors (Environmental Finance Center Network, 2012).

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: PARCEL-BASED STORMWATER FEE In the face of EPA requirements to increase their water quality standards, the City of Philadelphia needed an affordable solution that would reduce the frequency of CSOs and bring the city into compliance. The city determined that the necessary gray infrastructure upgrades would be too costly, so they instead turned to a green infrastructure solution. In 2009, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) developed Green City, Clean Waters, a plan to reduce impervious surfaces across the city through strategies such as rain

Figure 3: Five years into the implementation of the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters plan, a combined 440 public and private stormwater management practices have been installed throughout the city.

gardens, bioswales, pervious pavers, tree trenches, and more. The goal of Green City, Clean Waters is to create 10,000 new greened acres of land in the city over the course of 25 years. The plan includes a multi-pronged approach to greening both public and private land. An updated parcel-based stormwater fee in part funds upgrades on public land (Philadelphia Water Department, 2011). While in the past stormwater fees were included as part of basic water charges for metered customers, PWD recognized that there was a better way to charge landowners for the amount of stormwater runoff their property was creating. The updated parcel-based billing fees were extended to non-metered properties, such as railyards or parking lots, that were not using PWD water but were contributing significantly to runoff. Fee calculation was also modified to account for the amount of impervious surface coverage on each land parcel. Funds generated through the stormwater fee are pooled and used to fund green infrastructure projects on publicly-owned land, such as streets, schools, parks, and public facilities (Environmental Finance Center Network, 2012).

To incentivize green infrastructure practices on private property, the Water Department offers a stormwater fee discount for non-residential properties that implement impervious surface reduction strategies. Acceptable strategies include green roofs, rain gardens, tree trenches, porous pavers, bioswales, and more. Following retrofit, the stormwater fee is recalculated using the new impervious surface coverage area (Philadelphia Water Department, 2011). PWD is measuring their progress towards improving water quality through the metric of greened acres. As they define it, “each greened acre represents an acre of impervious cover within the combined sewer service area that has at least the first inch of runoff managed by stormwater infrastructure…[o]ne acre receives one million gallons of rainfall each year. Today, if the land is impervious, it all runs off into the sewer and becomes polluted. A “greened acre” will stop 80 to 90 percent of this pollution from occurring,” (Philadelphia Water Department, 2011). At the five-year mark of the Green City, Clean Waters plan, PWD had created 837 greened acres, keeping



over 1.5 billion gallons of polluted stormwater out of Philadelphia waterways. One-fifth of the way through their 25-year timeframe, however, PWD still has a long way to go to achieve their 10,000 greened acres goal. PWD is confident that the parcel-based billing approach will encourage many more large, non-residential parcels to retrofit and produce additional greened acres (Philadelphia Water Department, 2016). Green City, Clean Waters is also committed to understanding the social and economic benefits of their green infrastructure approach. Five years in, PWD calculated that Green City, Clean Waters activities have resulted in 440 green infrastructure sites, 430 new jobs from design and maintenance efforts, an aggregated 10.3 percent property value increase from proximity to green infrastructure, and over 300,000 citizens engaged in various greening efforts (Philadelphia Water Department, 2016).

An example from the Ohio CWSRF program offers a glimpse into how CWSRF loans can be used by private entities to fund innovative green stormwater infrastructure projects. Hidden Creek Ltd., a residential developer, received $1.1 million in low-interest loans from the Ohio CWSRF to install green infrastructure on a new housing development on environmentally sensitive agricultural land. The land fell in the Big Darby Creek Watershed, an important aquatic ecosystem in the region that covers over 550 square miles in Ohio and is home to 25 rare species. Conscious of the need to protect this watershed, Hidden Creek Ltd. designed a residential development that would minimize its impact on water quality and stream habitat (US EPA, 2009). The loan financing from the state CWSRF funded “the construction of vegetate swales for stormwater treatment, restoration of wooded stream buffers, and the establishment of emergent wetland habitat” (Environmental Finance Center Network, 2012). Hidden Creek Ltd. repaid their loans using the revenues from the sale of newly developed residential lots (U.S. EPA, 2009).

“A balance of funding sources can maximize the amount of funding that goes to stormwater projects, assure that all the burden is not placed solely on current residents, and create connected areas of pervious surfaces that provide large-scale water infiltration.” OHIO’S BIG DARBY CREEK WATERSHED: CLEAN WATER STATE REVOLVING FUND A longstanding source of green infrastructure financing has been the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), first created by the federal government in 1987 as a low-cost financing option for infrastructure aimed at improving water quality. Administered by the EPA at a national level, each state has its own CWSRF from which it can fund the capital costs of a variety of traditional and non-traditional water infrastructure projects. The EPA funds the state CWSRFs with 20 percent matched by each state. Financing is not provided for operation and maintenance of projects but can be applied to a wide-range of potential green infrastructure projects, including tree plantings, land clean-ups, and pervious paver installations. Repayment of all loans goes back into the state’s pool to fund additional projects (U.S. EPA, 2016). While CWSRF has been well-utilized for a number of projects, the EPA suggests there is a significant amount of untapped potential for green infrastructure financing through the CWSRF.



While no water quality metrics were tracked on the impact of the new development or green infrastructure installations, the Environmental Law Institute awarded Hidden Creek Ltd. a national wetland award for land stewardship and development. The project also highlights how development, often thought of as an enemy of the environment, can be completed in an environmentally sensitive manner by using an existing funding mechanism. Hidden Creek Ltd hopes that their project can serve as a demonstration for other developers to emulate (Environmental Finance Center Network, 2012).

LENEXA, KANSAS: IMPACT FEES AND SALES TAXES Lenexa, Kansas is perhaps an unlikely site for one of the leading stormwater management approaches in the country. However, the city has adeptly combined a sales tax increase and new developer impact fees as part of their multipronged strategy. Home to a number of bioscience companies and other large corporations such as LabOne and Applebee’s, Lenexa is a growing city in the Kansas City metropolitan area. In 1998, several

Figure 4: Green roofs, while often a more expensive stormwater management practice, can allow city buildings with limited room for stormwater capture to limit the runoff they generate.

factors led Lenexa leadership to start considering how they could better manage the city’s stormwater. A major storm hit the region, leading to high levels of flooding in an area that was not used to dealing with elevated water levels. The success of locallybased companies was contributing to a continual influx of new residents, which increased sprawl, primarily to the then-undeveloped western side of the city (Restoration & Recovery, 2014). The result was the development of a Watershed Management Plan that included purchasing and protecting land, installing stormwater management projects across the city, and introducing a community engagement program, Rain to Recreation (Restoration & Recovery, 2014). A primary funding source for the new plan was a city-wide sales tax increase. A one-eighth cent increase in the sales tax needed to be approved by voters, however. To ensure the public understood the need for the intervention and would support spending the additional money, the Rain to Recreation program aimed to educate citizens on the process of dealing with stormwater and the benefits of building new retention basins, parks, and trails. The highlight of the Rain to Recreation program was Waterfest, a local festival with games and events that drew residents from around the region to get the word out about the issues and obtain citizen and stakeholder buy-in on new stormwater

management techniques. The outreach proved successful: 78 percent of citizens voted to approve the one-eighth cent sales tax increase in 2000 (City of Lenexa, n.d.). Recognizing the need to introduce management controls that would offset the new impervious surfaces being developed as a result of sprawl to the west, Lenexa also enacted a developer impact fee specifically to cover stormwater costs. To adequately charge new developments for the impervious surface coverage, and subsequent additional runoff they would be adding to the city, the impact fee required developers to pay a onetime fee when acquiring a building permit. This fee was calculated based on the estimated capital investment for the facilities improvements necessary to manage the runoff from an additional 2,782 acres of impervious area from build-out. The success of Lenexa’s efforts can be seen in its construction to date to increase stormwater infiltration. Projects have included regional retention facilities, streamway corridors, parks and open space, and a system of greenways. One of the most notable projects is the Lake Lenexa Dam and Spillway project. Funded largely by the local sales tax increase and the development impact fee, the $24 million project consists of 35 acres of new wetlands, trails, boardwalks, and picnic areas



(Wuliger, 2016). Increased rainwater infiltration rates mitigate the effects of flooding, improve local water quality, and preserve natural stream corridors.

CONCLUSION Cities across the country should consider investments in green infrastructure as a way to improve water quality, avoid combined sewer overflows, green their neighborhoods, create jobs, and reduce the financial input needed for gray infrastructure upgrades. Cities should have a solid understanding of all the financing mechanisms available for them to undertake and maintain green infrastructure projects. From parcel-based stormwater fees, tax increases, impact fees, state grants, private sponsorships, and more, cities have many avenues to pursue. Depending on the project scope and cost, different mechanisms may be more appropriate. A review of the case study illustrates that while different financing mechanisms are applicable for different uses, utilizing a combination of mechanisms can enable a municipality to fund a diverse range of projects. The differences between the financing vehicles are many: some are onetime funds while others are recurring sources of financing. Some are eligible for use exclusively on capital costs, while others can be used to finance operation and maintenance costs. Certain mechanisms may need approval by voters or City Council, while others can be freely implemented by the municipal government or the public works department. Each mechanism comes with its own limitations. For example, a parcel-based billing fee may not be able to raise enough money initially to get a major park expansion or streamway protection project underway. Funds from a CWSRF could achieve this, but operation and maintenance costs would have to be covered by an additional source, like the billing fee. Growing cities may not be able to cover all their green infrastructure needs through stormwater fees or grants, but developer impact fees could close this gap. Further, certain neighborhoods that are not seeing the benefits of new green infrastructure in their area may look to local businesses as a funding source or may apply for CWSRF funds of their own to build out an ecologically-friendly development. A balance of funding sources can maximize the amount of funding that goes to stormwater projects, assure that all the burden is not placed solely on current residents, and create connected areas of pervious surfaces that provide large-scale water infiltration. Further, cities should make a concerted effort to educate the public about the benefits of green stormwater infrastructure. If the public is funding any projects in part, they should understand why an increased fee or tax is necessary and what it is going to fund. Even in cases where



the public is not contributing financially, educating them on green infrastructure can encourage additional projects on private property, further adding to the network of green and pervious space that can keep a city’s water clean.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maureen McQuilkin is a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student with a concentration in Land Use and Environmental Planning. Prior to graduate school, Maureen worked in the energy efficiency building industry in Philadelphia. In her spare time, Maureen can be found around town carrying mini fridges on public transit and accidentally dropping tupperwares full of cookies into bike lanes.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED City of Lenexa, Kansas Public Works Department. “Rain to Recreation: Making the Case for a Stormwater Capital Recovery Fee.” drain_commissioner/dc_webWaterQuality/street-runoffinfiltration/economic-case-studies/lenexa-gi-cost-compare. pdf.

Figure 3: Author, using data from Open Data Philly. Figure 4: Photo by Sookie. “MEC’s green roof among others.” Wikimedia Commons. May 2006. https://commons. others.jpg

Environmental Finance Center Network. “Promoting Green Infrastructure: Strategies, Case Studies, and Resources.” June 2012. sustainable-community-capacity-building/promoting-greeninfrastructure-strategies-case-studies-resources. Landis, John. Urban Development Finance class. University of Pennsylvania School of Design. April 18, 2017. Philadelphia Water Department. “5 Down, 20 to Go: Celebrating 5 Years of Cleaner Water and Greener Neighborhoods.” June 1, 2016, Philadelphia Water Department. “Green City, Clean Waters: The City of Philadelphia’s Program for Combined Sewer Overflow Control.” June 1, 2011. http://www. LOWRES-web.pdf. Restoration + Recovery. “City of Lenexa Stormwater.” 2014. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). “What is Green Infrastructure?” August 14, 2017. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). “The Clean Water State Revolving Fund.” 2016. https:// cwsrfinfographic-030116.pdf. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). “Green Infrastructure Approaches to Managing Wet Weather with Clean Water State Revolving Funds Fact Sheet.” 2009. Wuliger, Jason. “Municipal Success Stories.” Water & Wastes Digest. February, 29 2016. municipal-success-stories. Figure 1: Photo by Psa1966. “Emeryville California Stormwater Curb Extension.” Wikimedia Commons. November 2013. green_roof_among_others.jpg Figure 2: Environmental Finance Center Network. “Promoting Green Infrastructure: Strategies, Case Studies, and Resources”. June 2012. projects/sustainable-community-capacity-building/ promoting-green-infrastructure-strategies-case-studiesresources.



Figure 1: Chestnut Street and 33rd Street signage, showing the end of the protected bike lane.

ARE PROTECTED BIKE LANES MORE COMFORTABLE? A DATA-DRIVEN ME THODOLOGY by Jake Berman, Rachel Finfer, Tim Haney, Thomas Orgren, and Carrie Sauer


dvocates often argue that protected bike lanes can improve a cyclist’s sense of perceived safety, while also improving conditions for pedestrians, but quantifying the subjective benefit is a challenge. Eye-tracking glasses enable a new data-driven methodology for evaluating a street user’s comfort and safety. Using the equipment, a researcher can (quite literally) see what — and how — a participant sees. The team used the glasses to develop a novel method for evaluating the perceived level of safety and comfort of cyclists and pedestrians along Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street protected bike lane. The goal of the pilot study was to develop a proof-of-concept for using eye-tracking in a real-world setting. It is the second-ever application of eye-trackers on cyclists riding in a dynamic urban environment, outside the confines of a lab. Data on a participant’s vision or focus in response to different stimuli can be invaluable for understanding a participant’s experience. Psychologists pioneered the earliest applications of eye-tracking to study the mechanics of reading. Other early research showed that pupils dilate in response to stress. The most common modern applications focus on how users interact with websites, advertisements, and other marketing material. In the field of transportation, researchers have used eye-trackers to evaluate drivers’ responses to different scenarios in the controlled environment of a driving simulator.

Cyclists rode on streets in Bologna, Italy, and the data collected informed findings related to cyclist experience and interactions. This study builds on Mantuano et al. (2017) by using eye-tracking data to assess perceived safety on two different types of cycling infrastructure: a one-way protected cycle track (Chestnut Street) and a buffered bike lane (Walnut Street).1 The team used Tobii Pro Glasses 2 for eyetracking data collection, generously loaned by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Injury Research & Prevention. Using tiny cameras pointed at both eyes, the glasses collect data on eye position, fixation point (in three dimensions), and pupil diameter — hundreds of times per second. A small forward-facing camera captures 720p video, which can be synchronized with gaze data using Tobii Pro Lab software. The combination allows the team to see where a participant’s eyes are focused at any given moment throughout a walk or ride. Several overarching questions served as the guide for this research: • • •

How can eye-trackers help us understand the best infrastructure and signage design? Can the safety, comfort, and stress of bikers be measured when using protected and unprotected bike lanes? Can a methodology be created to inform future research that is related to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure safety and design?

Last year, Mantuano, Bernardi, and Rupi (2017) published the first study using eye-trackers on cyclists in an uncontrolled environment.


Figure 2: Tobii Pro Glasses 2 being assembled for testing.

To answer these questions, data was collected from volunteer participants who agreed to bike and/or walk while wearing the eye-tracking glasses. Eleven individuals participated in the study, providing a sample pool of pedestrians (N=4) and bicyclists (N=7).2 Participants wore the eye-tracking glasses and carried a backpack containing the attached 7.5 pound laptop while walking or cycling a predetermined course along Walnut Street and Chestnut Street in University City. They were also asked to fill out a survey about age and experience with cycling. Though the study was not intended to draw definitive conclusions from such a small sample size, patterns emerged in the initial data that suggest several lines of further study. Participants in the study showed more relaxed patterns in gaze and pupil dilation data while traveling on Chestnut Street than Walnut Street, implying a measurable physiological benefit to protected bicycle infrastructure worth further investigation. The cyclists in the study spent much of their time looking down at the pavement in front of them or at traffic behind them than did pedestrians, missing important signs placed according to published roadway signage standards. Future studies should explore how pavement quality, sign placement, and different styles of bicycle affect safety and user experience. Eye-tracking research is an addition to the field of transportation safety research that is full of possibilities. In a closed-course environment, eye-tracking could be used to test experimental infrastructure designs and signage placements in a setting that ensures participant safety. Collecting before-and-after data around major



roadway redesigns can help to quantify safety and stress benefits or identify shortcomings of new infrastructure. Understanding how human street users use their gaze to communicate with each other can help to improve the artificial intelligence driving autonomous vehicles and improve safety in an automated future. Data from the glasses can also be combined with other biometric measurements such as heart rate, brain activity, and involuntary sweat response to create even more powerful stress level assessments. Eye-tracking reveals an exciting opportunity to take a fresh look at how users interact with public spaces to help create safer, more user-friendly travel experiences.

Definitions from the NACTO urban bikeway design guide


Due to the liability constraints of borrowing sensitive, expensive equipment, all participants were required to be associated with the University of Pennsylvania, creating a skewed data set. The cyclists tended to have higherthan-average levels of experience and comfort with urban cycling, a limitation which future studies should seek to control for.


Figure 3: PennDesign faculty testing the Tobii Pro Glasses 2. Clockwise from top-left: Professor Megan Ryerson; Professor Vincent Reina; Professor Eugenie Birch; PennDesign Dean Frederick Steiner; students Jake Berman and Tim Haney with Department Coordinator Kate Daniel; students Rachel Finfer, Thomas Orgren, and Carrie Sauer with Professor Megan Ryerson.



Figure 1: Drawing of an imagined autonomous car circa 1960. Passengers are facing one another playing a board game as the vehicle moves down the highway.



hether canonized as the conqueror of traffic woes, or demonized as the next inducer of urban sprawl, the discussion surrounding autonomous vehicles (AVs) is laden with controversy. Although the promise of AVs is quickly becoming fulfilled, there is broad disagreement about what these vehicles’ arrival will mean for cities. The looming question is whether AVs will become a replacement for privately-owned vehicles or part of a centrally-owned ride-sharing network. Businesses have started to form battle lines on which side of the market they want to serve, while the regulatory bodies have largely been quiet. Transformative technologies, like AVs, however, need to be taken seriously with pointed policy action to ensure they yield more positive impact than negative. This paper examines the business models and claims of the most influential companies in the space, weighing them against academic insights to construct a picture of the prevailing thought and how cities should best prepare.

2017). Some producers claim that their software is ready to drive completely autonomously with additional functionality pending software validation and regulatory approval (Tesla, 2017). Given the state of technology already available in 2018, it is reasonable to acknowledge that companies are near level 5 automation in certain scenarios. In fact, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors (GM), has promised to test fully autonomous vehicles in “quarters, not years” (Ferris, 2017). As the deployment of autonomous technology is all but inevitable, the question is quickly turning to how this technology will change accessibility.


“Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes the transition to autonomous vehicles will happen through a network of autonomous car owners renting their vehicles to others. Elon is right that a network of vehicles is critical, but the transition to an autonomous future will not occur primarily through individually owned cars. It will be both more practical and appealing to access autonomous vehicles when they are part of Lyft’s networked fleet.” (Zimmer, 2016).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a 0 to 5 ranking for vehicle automation. In today’s market, Levels 1 and 2 are virtually ubiquitous, including technologies like lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control. Level 3 systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot, where the car can drive itself in limited scenarios, are already available on the market. Level 4 vehicles, which allow human interaction as a fail-safe, are currently in testing (NHTSA, 2017). The final step, Level 5, has no option for human input; the car is designed to be completely autonomous (NHTSA,

BUSINESS MODELS The case for shared mobility comes from some of the most significant players in the rideshare market. The debate between personal and shared mobility can best be summed up by the following quote from Lyft co-founder John Zimmer:

While Lyft and Uber are both focused on shared mobility, their business plans differ. Uber is attempting to be the sole owner and operator


of every vehicle on its proprietary platform (Isaac and Boudette, 2017). To pursue this strategy, it has purchased 24,000 vehicles from Volvo which will be retrofit with Uber’s proprietary sensors and software (Pollard and Somerville, 2017). Conversely, Lyft has an Open Platform Initiative and has teamed with Waymo (Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle arm), Ford, GM, and others, to produce vehicles integrated into the Lyft ecosystem (Hawkins, 2017) (Isaac, 2017). Zimmer is set on the idea of shared mobility, anticipating car ownership “all but ending” in American cities by 2025, around the time fully autonomous cars are expected to reach deep market penetration. He believes in mobility as a service with consumers on “pay-as-you-go” or “all-you-caneat” plans depending on usage and personal need (Zimmer, 2016). Shared mobility will unburden people from the high cost of car ownership and parking (Zimmer, 2016). Should the trend swing to

and allowing more room for non-motorized transportation (NATCO, 2017). Industry leaders understand that aside from cost, the biggest barrier to mass market penetration of AVs is safety. To quell these concerns, Waymo released a report in 2017 outlining the safety standards embedded in each of its vehicles. This report outlines some of the stark differences between level 3 systems like Tesla’s autopilot and Waymo’s level 5 solution. Waymo’s cars are geofenced to prevent them from operating outside of a known study area and programmed to operate only during daylight hours under good weather conditions (Waymo, 2017) (Lee, 2017). While level 3 automated vehicles like Tesla’s Autopilot are only allowed to operate within the relatively simple confines of a limited-access highway, Waymo’s level 5 proving ground is in a residential suburb outside of Phoenix (Waymo, 2017). The timing of the

“Implementing a mobility-as-a-service system that offers tiers of price points may be the most favorable way to deploy an equitable self-driving system.”

personal ownership, the potential benefits of lower car expenses and less car-specific infrastructure like expanded roadways and parking lots would be lost. Conversely, Elon Musk aspires to create a network of personally owned AVs, that owners would rent out (Higgins, 2017). His business model puts him at odds with the theory that personal car ownership will decline (Zimmer, 2016). Musk’s model caters to the population with the means to purchase luxury personal AVs but expands the market share by providing an option for owners to use the car’s autonomous rideshare capability as a tool to subsidize the purchase (Higgins, 2017).

REGULATION AND SAFETY Although the industry seems ready to deploy AVs shortly, many regulations must be considered by cities and transportation officials. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NATCO) released a statement on AV policy objectives in June 2016. In the statement, they enumerate policy suggestions to guide a safe and environmentally-friendly transition to a world of full automation. Their overarching goals include promoting shared vehicles, rebalancing right-of-ways to reduce the space allotted to cars,



safety report suggests that Waymo is gearing up for an expansion of their test market (Lee, 2017). Although industry leaders are bullish on timelines and tout the safety of their vehicles, insurance remains a concern. A white paper released by the American Trucking Association (ATA) notes that while insurance concerns will be more complicated when humans are not driving, the number of overall collisions should decline. If an AV does cause an accident, the ATA argues that the vehicle manufacturer would have to be the one liable for the damage. Putting the liability on the manufacturer should incentivize the safest possible software (ATA).

BENEFITS AVs may allow existing road infrastructure to be used far more efficiently, thereby preempting expensive road expansion projects and perhaps even allowing for roadway reduction and reclamation. A study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign demonstrated how even one semi-autonomous vehicle on the road could increase traffic flow by exercising driving behaviors humans are often too impatient to perform themselves, such as avoiding speeding up to traffic slowdowns

Figure 2: A vehicle, retrofitted with Google’s driverless technology is parked in a parking lot.

Figure 3: A Wamyo autonomous vehicle drives itself down a street in Mountain View, California.

(Condliffe, 2017). To achieve the maximum benefit of AVs, however, standards need to be developed to allow for platooning, driving with minimal headway between vehicles. To make platooning safe, Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communication systems must be in place. Despite the need for the government to create a standard, the US government recently dropped its mandate to standardize V2V communication (Lowy, 2017). Conversely, Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) communication guidelines are currently being established, though none have been formalized yet (ITS, 2017). In developing any of these systems, cybersecurity is of utmost concern, and will be a significant technological hurdle. Enabling systems that allow vehicle platooning is critical, however, for the full benefits of AV transportation to be realized.

want to use them. A study conducted by the Israel Institute of Technology presented individuals with three scenarios and asked them, given the situation, if they would: 1) continue using the car in their possession, 2) shift to a privately-owned AV, or 3) shift to a shared AV provided by an on-demand service. They found that 44 percent of people would opt to use the vehicle in their possession and only 75% would use the shared AV service even if it were free of charge (Haboucha et al., 2017).

Outside of facilitating daily travel, AVs may also bring benefits in search and rescue operations. With the increasing threat of climate disasters, some postulate that AVs could be deployed to help evacuate people in difficult-to-reach places (Bliss, 2017). If AVs were deployed in this way, valuable disaster relief personnel would be freed to focus their efforts elsewhere. AVs may also provide environmental benefits. Dan Ammann, president and chief of AV strategy at GM, “believe[s] that all [autonomous vehicles] must be [electric]” (Jenkins, 2017). AVs powered by increasingly renewable energy sources have a significantly reduced environmental impact per mile when compared to their internal combustion engine-powered counterparts (Faria et al., 2012). It is unclear, however, whether the pollution savings per mile will be offset by an increase in the number of miles people are willing to travel in an AV.

ADOPTION The big question remains: when will Level 5 AVs be ready for mainstream use? Each major industry player is pushing to be first to market; however, the vehicles are not useful if people do not

Regardless of whether AVs are privatelyowned or shared, there are still questions about the resulting induced demand. A Swiss study used their national transportation model to quantify the impact a drastic increase in accessibility an AV could bring. Researchers examined three scenarios of deployment: 1) a family-owned level 3 AV that requires a licensed driver, 2) a family-owned Level 5 AV that does not require a licensed driver, and 3) a shared Level 5 AV. Their findings suggest that scenario 3 promotes the exact conditions that can exacerbate urban sprawl, providing levels of accessibility that will make public transit obsolete. Additionally, Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) will increase dramatically, especially when empty vehicle miles are considered (Meyer et al., n.d.).

DISCUSSION As AVs promise to change how people move through cities, numerous concerns must be addressed. The question of personal versus shared mobility is likely to boil down to cost. If people are unable to afford AVs at first, will they continue to buy non-autonomous cars, or, will they turn to on-demand services? Until regulation is passed that disallows cars below a certain automation level, most people will likely continue to drive their conventional vehicles. Conversely, the entire landscape of automobile manufacturing may change as fewer people need to buy cars. Given the amount of money in the automobile industry, it is unlikely that the winning formula will surface



anytime soon. Regulators can, however, start encouraging people to switch to higher-occupancy modes by pushing policies that discourage the creation of additional parking in cities and introduce demand-based highway tolling systems. Unfortunately, limiting tolling and parking are both politically unpopular, so it is unlikely they will be meaningfully adopted during the transition to AVs. Another deployment concern is the availability of AVs for people in low-density, rural areas. Since congestion is an urban problem, will rural residents end up switching to AVs at all? Research shows that while dense areas have a higher rate of pedestrianvehicle collisions, low-density areas have a much higher fatality rate (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2017). AVs could help push Vision Zero policies in rural areas; however, the cost of providing an unsubsidized shared service in these places could be an insurmountable barrier to entry. Therefore, it is entirely possible that rural residents may have to wait until the price of a Level 5 AV drops to affordable levels for personal ownership before they can adopt the technology. Ultimately, the use that seems most promising for rural areas is emergency evacuation, where officials could deploy a self-driving car into areas with minimal accessibility. Rideshare service for the urban poor is another critical question. If people switching modes to autonomous rideshare compromises public transportation systems, will the poor still have acceptable levels of transit service? Lyft discussed pay-as-you-go plans for less frequent users and “all-you-can-eat” plans for daily consumers, but if public transportation systems are dissolved, these plans may be priced inequitably. Cities will have to decide whether and how to subsidize certain people who find themselves unable to afford private transportation costs. The alternative may be to continue to allow them to operate cars that compromise the safety and benefits of AVs. Planners must ensure that private operators either act equitably or create mechanisms that ensure adequate job accessibility for underprivileged residents. Implementing a mobility-as-a-service system that offers tiers of price points may be the most favorable way to deploy an equitable self-driving system. The problem, however, is that no single company is currently planning to offer a car and bus service. With proper tolling in place, it may become feasible to encourage a system by which a person could order a car that would integrate AVs as a lastmile solution for public transportation. A system like this would give consumers a choice between taking a private vehicle door-to-door or using a shared vehicle for part of the trip to reduce cost. Finally, infrastructure funding in an electric vehicle era is a growing concern, since the Highway



Trust Fund is based primarily on the increasingly static gas tax. With automobile manufacturers pushing towards hybrid and electric vehicles, the price of travel per mile is plummeting. These forces combined with the failure of the gas tax to keep pace with inflation is putting the Highway Trust Fund in a precarious situation (Taylor, 2004). To pay for road infrastructure, new taxes or tolls must be introduced, and AVs may prove to be the perfect disruptive technology to enable the transition. Oregon has conducted experiments related to pricing by VMT instead of gas; however, this form of pricing has incited debates about privacy. A rideshare system may eliminate these concerns since the taxes could be baked directly into the cost of the ride. Regardless of methodology, the transition from the current gas tax system to a V2I or VMT payment system would surely incur some growing pains, and the urban poor would undoubtedly bear the most significant upfront negative impact.

CONCLUSION The mistakes of planners and politicians during the last transportation revolution should weigh heavily on today’s policymakers. Blinded by rosy claims of parkways and limited-access highways, the United States built an infrastructure system it no longer wants to pay for. Now that the next generation of transportation is presenting itself, it is time to think proactively about the transformations we desire and ensure that policy guides our cities in that direction. We should focus on how private companies can partner with government agencies to provide accessibility that is equitable and sustainable. Planners and policymakers would be wise to consider leveraging today’s existing infrastructure for future use instead of building expensive new infrastructure that may be rendered obsolete well before the end of its planned life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil Narayan is a first-year in the Master of City and Regional Planning program with a concentration in Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure. After graduating from Rice University with a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering, he spent many years working in the aviation industry. Now that he is convinced that flying cars will never work out, he has dedicated himself to planning more practical transportation systems.

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Isaac, Mike, and Neal E. Boudette. “Ford to Invest $1 Billion in Artificial Intelligence Start-Up.” The New York Times, February 10, 2017, sec. Technology. https://www.nytimes. com/2017/02/10/technology/ford-invests-billion-artificialintelligence.html. Jonas Meyer, Henrik Becker, Patrick Bosch, and Kay W. Axhausen. “Autonomous Vehicles: The Next Jump in Accessibilities?” Research in Transportation Economics, n.d. Lee, Timothy B. “5 Things We Learned from Waymo’s Big Self-Driving Car Report.” Ars Technica, October 13, 2017. report/. Lowy, Joan. “AP News Break: Gov’t Won’t Pursue Talking Car Mandate.” AP News. Accessed December 19, 2017. https:// NHTSA. “Automated Vehicles for Safety.” Text. NHTSA, September 7, 2017. NATCO. “NACTO POLICY STATEMENT ON AUTOMATED VEHICLES.” Accessed December 20, 2017. NACTO-Policy-Automated-Vehicles-201606.pdf. Niklas Pollard, and Heather Somerville. “Volvo Cars to Supply Uber with up to 24,000 Self-Driving Cars.” Reuters, November 20, 2017. u b e r- w i t h up-to-24000-self-driving-cars-idUSKBN1DK1NH. Taylor, Brian D. “The Geography of Urban Transportation Finance.” The Geography of Urban Transportation, edited by Susan Hanson and Genevieve Giuliano, 4th ed., Guilford Press, 2004, pp. 260– 263. Tesla. “Autopilot.” Accessed November 17, 2017. https://www. Uber. “Elevate.Pdf.” Accessed November 17, 2017. https://

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Figure 1: Photo by Ticofadiah àr lá1016. Flickr. December 2017.

Hawkins, Andrew J. “Waymo’s Self-Driving Minivans Are Now Offering Rides to Real People in Arizona.” The Verge, April 25, 2017. waymo-self-driving-minivan- early-rider-phoenix.

Figure 3: Photo by Grendelkhan. Wikimedia Commons. February 2017.

Figure 2: Photo by Erin Magee. Wikimedia Commons, April 2011.

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Figure 1: The extension of New York City’s No. 7 train was funded through an innovative value capture scheme.



ublic transportation in New York City began in the 1820s with horse-drawn omnibuses and gradually developed as technology advanced. The advent of rail tracks gave rise to horsecars and eventually steam-powered cable cars, electric trolleys, and elevated trains.

costs and improved labor conditions, of the 469 stations that currently comprise the New York City subway system, only 33 of them were built after 1940 (MTA, 2017). The newest station added to the system prior to 2015 was opened to the public in 1989 (Fitzsimmons, 2015).

By the turn of the 19th century, city authorities determined to build a subway to meet New York’s growing demand for rapid transit and to alleviate surface congestion. The system would move people around crowded Manhattan and extend into undeveloped land in the boroughs surrounding the island. By providing new access, the subway would release the restricted city from confinement and spur development, enabling its transformation into the sprawling metropolis it is today.

After 2015, however, two expansions and several new stations were constructed. First, the No. 7 line extension was completed with a new station at Eleventh Avenue and 34th Street and opened to the public on September 13th, 2015. Then phase one of the Second Avenue subway line opened to the public with three new stations between 63rd and 96th streets on January 1, 2017.

After the first 28 stations opened in 1904, the system rapidly expanded during the first half of the century. The city-owned Independent Rapid Transit Railroad (IND) and two private companies, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT), constructed much of the system as it stands today between 1904 and 1940. In 1940, the city unified all three companies into a publicly owned organization that would eventually become the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the body responsible for the system today (NYTM, 2017). Although the MTA and various planning agencies proposed numerous extensions to the system in years since, few expansions were developed after the 1940 unification. Due to rising

AN INNOVATIVE SOLUTION TO WEST SIDE ACCESS This paper focuses on the extension of the 7 train because it was singular among modern New York City transit projects. For the first time since 1950, the city funded the entire project itself using an innovative value capture scheme (Fitzsimmons, 2015). Anticipating the development that the extension would spur by providing access to Manhattan’s West Side, the city would use the value created by the extension to finance its construction. This value capture scheme is the only reason the No. 7 line extension is a reality today. Without it, the project would have competed for MTA and State funding against the Second Avenue subway, a project whose century-long development process gave it significant political support. Instead, the city was able to build the $2.4 billion improvement


Figure 2: New stations were added to the NYC subway system after 2015 on the 7 train extension and the 2nd Avenue, Q line.

even as the cash-strapped MTA financed and began construction on the $4.5 billion Second Avenue line. However, value capture is not without its drawbacks. By circumventing typical development processes, the No. 7 line and the surrounding Hudson Yards development also bypassed much of the community input that typically accompanies large-scale development. This enabled construction to move swiftly forward, but also angered many New York citizens and officials who questioned the priorities of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

VALUE CAPTURE AND TAX INCREMENT FINANCING (TIF) The value capture scheme used to fund the extension, Tax Increment Financing (TIF), is a mechanism created by states and is designed to be used by local municipalities or authorities. While



specific laws and implementation vary from state to state, the basic structure allows local governments to finance improvements using revenue generated by the improvements themselves (Ceriello, 2004). TIF begins when municipal officials identify a planned improvement and then designate a geographic area surrounding it as the TIF district. At this point, the district’s property taxes are frozen on the city tax roll and become the base value for the TIF. This base of property tax income will continue to be paid to local taxing authorities throughout the duration of the TIF, while any additional property taxes over the base will be used to fund the improvement (Fisher, 2015). Following the designation of the TIF district, the municipality issues debt in the form of bonds and the proceeds are used to build the planned improvements. The theory is that these improvements will encourage private development

Assessed Tax Value ($)



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Tax Increment Increases in property tax goes to TIF Authority to the fund project

Post TIF After project debt is paid off all taxes are returned to the general fund

Base Tax Base tax established pre-TIF always goes to the general tax fund


30 Year TIF


Figure 3: The basic TIF structure allows local governments to finance improvements using revenue generated from the improvements themselves.

within the TIF district and thus raise property values above where they were previously (IBO, 2002). These higher values, in turn, cause property tax revenues to rise over and above the base level that was established before the TIF district was established. This increase, the “tax increment,” can then be used to pay back the project’s bond debt over the remainder of the TIF lifespan. There are several features of TIF that make it an enticing mechanism for policy makers. First, TIF debt typically does not count as part of the municipality’s debt limit, nor is the municipality responsible for repayment from any source other than the increment, leaving them with capacity to engage in other projects. Second, local government has full control over projects once TIF laws are in place and plans are generally not subject to state approval. Third, and likely the most potent factor in TIFs popularity, is its political appeal; since base property tax revenue established pre-TIF continues to flow from the district into the municipality as before, any additional property taxes paid by owners in the TIF district can be framed as payment for benefits received, while taxes on owners that do not receive benefits from the improvement can be maintained at lower rates (IBO, 2002). But TIFs can also present significant drawbacks. Most obviously, revenues may fall short of projections made when TIF bonds were sold. To mitigate risk of default, many municipalities will arrange backup methods of payment. Often

general revenue, parking revenue, oversized TIF districts, private partners, or consolidation of several TIF districts are used as measures to guarantee TIF bonds, measures which may present significant conflicts if incurred (IBO, 2002). Another widely-lamented aspect of TIFs is that they can produce cost spillovers or neglect of basic services. Municipal service requirements — police, fire, sanitation, education, etc. — are almost certain to rise as development occurs within the TIF district since development will bring more people to the area. But with property taxes frozen, there is often a gap in general revenue for basic services (IBO, 2002). When this happens, outside taxpayers get stuck paying for the extra services within the TIF district. Most famously, TIFs home state of California repealed its law enabling TIF in response to issues stemming from this kind of revenue gap. With 400 redevelopment authorities administering TIF and $28 billion in state debt, Governor Jerry Brown’s winning argument was that the state could not afford to continue diverting billions in property taxes to TIF projects while schools remained underfunded (O’toole, 2011).

PLANS FOR DEVELOPMENT AT HUDSON YARDS Development of Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side was first proposed in 1969. In a similar proposal to the one the Bloomberg administration would carry out three decades NEW YORK CITY’S NO. 7 LINE EXTENSION


later, Mayor Lindsay’s administration called to expand Manhattan’s Central Business District to the Hudson River. Their plan, like Bloomberg’s, included 30 million square feet (msf) of office space, hotels, housing, a new subway line, development of the waterfront, and a convention center. The financing called for by Lindsay was also the same: the project would be self-financing using future tax revenue generated by the development (Bash, 2011). Although Lindsay’s plan ultimately fell through, it was revitalized in the 1990s. Spurred by the city’s 2012 Olympic ambitions, Mayor Giuliani and Daniel Doctoroff, then a managing director of a private equity firm, formulated a plan for both a West Side Olympic stadium and a platform over Hudson Yards, the MTA’s West Side rail yard. Doctoroff became deputy mayor under Bloomberg and remained a driving force behind the Hudson Yards project long after the failed Olympic bid (NYTEB, 2001).

After Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, his DCP and Economic Development Corporation (EDC) published a West Side development plan known as the “Preferred Direction,” which clearly outlined the lack of infrastructure as standing in the way of Hudson Yards’ potential. The solution was to invest $3 billion to extend the 7 train from Times Square to 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue and to create new parks running from 42nd to 33rd streets between Tenth and Eleventh Avenue (DCP, 2003). Although the city typically only paid five percent of subway construction costs, in this case the state-run MTA refused to prioritize the No. 7 line extension and the city decided to finance the entire project, estimated at $2 billion in 2004, itself (Kiernan, 2007).

FINANCING AND REZONING While the “Preferred Direction” recognized the high cost of these improvements, Bloomberg employed the rhetorical benefits of TIF to justify the scheme: “Here, as in few other places, the public sector can pay for this infrastructure with the

“By providing access to a formerly isolated part of New York City, the extension is not only projected to pay for its own construction, but also spurred the largest private development project in New York City’s history.”

In 2001, Mayor Giuliani’s Department of City Planning (DCP) released A Framework for Development: Far West Midtown which was specific in its plans for financing and developing the Hudson Yards area. The framework called for two financing mechanisms: a TIF and a “zoning bonus strategy” that would allow developers to increase building density if they paid into a District Improvement Fund (DIF) (NYCDCP, 2001). These “innovative financing strategies” were termed as necessary by the framework due to three factors. First, the cost of 9/11 already constrained the city’s capital budget and economy. Second, although the city was still able to fund the project through the city’s general revenue, the project would be in “direct competition” with other projects, decreasing “the likelihood that these improvements — necessary for the redevelopment of the area — would be implemented in a coordinated and timely manner” (NYCDCP, 2001). Third, the TIF and DIF mechanisms would create “a financial linkage between the proposed zoning density increases in Far West Midtown and the provision of needed infrastructure” (NYCDCP, 2001).



revenues received from the development. Because of this self-financing structure, the infrastructure requirements will not compete for scarce public resources with other worthwhile projects” (DCP, 2003). Despite this claim however, ultimately the project would require some input from the city’s general fund to cover early debt payments. The Hudson Yards Financing District was outlined encompassing the Hudson Yards redevelopment area and, in 2005, rezoning changed the area’s land use from manufacturing to commercial and residential. The district now allowed for 26 million square feet (msf) of commercial office development, 20,000 units of housing, two msf of retail, and three msf of hotel space (HYDC, 2017). In 2009, more area in the district was rezoned for an additional twelve msf of office, hotel, residential, cultural and parking space, and a 750-seat public school (HYDC, 2017). When the entire project is complete, it is estimated that more than 125,000 people a day will either work in, visit, or call Hudson Yards home (HYNY, 2016).

Figure 4: View of Hudson Yards development and the West Side Rail Yards.

In 2005 and 2006, two City Council resolutions approved the financing package and established the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corporation (HYIC) to sell the bonds and finance the project. HYIC revenues would come from a variety of sources, including payments in lieu of sales taxes and payments in lieu of mortgage recording taxes (both close variants of TIF), DIF payments, and proceeds from the sale of newly-created development rights over the rail yards (Fisher, 2015). HYIC would eventually issue $3 billion in bonds to pay for the extension and the new park (Fisher, 2015).

COMMUNITY PUSHBACK AND LAGGING DEMAND One of the earliest and most persistent critics of the Hudson Yards financing scheme was the local community board, known as CB4. With a long history of opposing high-density buildings, CB4 was highly critical of value capture financing, citing it as the only source of the need for commercial development in the area. The office buildings and high density, their 2004 report states, were “driven more by financial needs than by sound planning considerations” (CB4, 2004). The community board questioned the entire basis for the project, calling it “unprecedented,” “undesirable,” and “ultimately unnecessary,” arguing that the city was using the expense of the infrastructure improvements to drive their plans by incentivizing gigantic office buildings to make their financial spreadsheets work rather than because they were needed in the area (CB4, 2004). CB4 and others also focused on the way the financing structure was used to avoid adequate community review of the project. The New York

City Bar suggested that, despite having the ability to fund the project out of the city’s general obligation bonds, Bloomberg opted “to bypass lengthy and uncertain political approvals so as to avoid delay and enhance the Olympic bid” (Kiernan, 2007). City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. struck the heart of the issue when he criticized Bloomberg for the financing, saying “you removed the public’s only opportunity for meaningful and serious review of the merits of your plan against other priorities, such as construction of new schools or senior centers,” a typical criticism and danger of TIF (Kiernan, 2007). Despite its critics, however, the project progressed swiftly. The City and the MTA reached an agreement for the funding in September 2006, with construction commencing in late 2007.

CUTBACKS AND DELAYS Plans for the No. 7 extension initially called for two stations along the mile-long route, one at 41st Street and Tenth Avenue and the other at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue. But, due to cost overruns and refusal by both the City and the MTA to pay for it, the Tenth Avenue Station was scrapped entirely just six weeks before groundbreaking. Later in the year, the city and Doctoroff did offer to supply half the funding for the shell of the station if the MTA would pay for the other half, but this was not to be. “Under the current capital plan,” said MTA chief Elliot Sander, “we do not have the resources” (Kabak, 2007). Nonetheless, to great fanfare, Mayor Bloomberg made the inaugural ride to the 34th Street Hudson Yards station just before leaving office in December of 2013 (Fitzsimmons, 2015). NEW YORK CITY’S NO. 7 LINE EXTENSION


The public opening was scheduled for just months later in the summer of 2014, but issues with the station’s diagonal elevators and ventilation shafts led to continual delays (Flegenheimer, 2014). Finally, all issues resolved, the first new station added to the New York Subway system in a quarter century opened to the public on September 13, 2015.

MISSING RIDERSHIP PROJECTIONS Notwithstanding the initial excitement surrounding the extension’s opening, early ridership fell short of expectations. The station was expected to attract about 32,000 passengers each weekday when it first opened, and by 2025 it was projected to serve 200,000 daily riders (Fitzsimmons, 2015) (Goldberg, 2014). Over the first six months of service, however, daily ridership averages were only 4,000 to 7,000 (MTA, 2017). But, as New York Times reporter Patrick McGeehan noted a month after the station opened, those low numbers were due to the lagging development of Hudson Yards, likely an outcome of the 2008 economic downturn. “Riders emerging from the station find themselves in the center of what is supposed to be a thriving agglomeration of office towers, stores and high-rise apartment buildings. What they find today, though, is an urban park surrounded by construction sites, some bustling, some yet to roar to life” (McGeehan, 2017).

GAINING MOMENTUM Although Hudson Yards got off to a slow start, momentum is building in the area. Critics have complained that revenues from Hudson Yards fell short of expectations, forcing the city to provide $358 million between 2006 and 2015 to cover debt payments, which run at $153 million a year. But, in fiscal year 2016, for the first time the development generated so much money in fees and taxes that the city did not have to take money out of its budget to make debt payments. Between July of 2014 and June of 2015, in fact, developers paid the city $336 million in fees and development rights to allow for taller towers in the district (Bagli, 2016). Most of these payments did result from nonrecurring sources, but their acceleration and the beginning of recurring income from value capture mechanisms are positive signals for the project’s financing (IBO, 2016). Other encouraging signs for the project are the myriad of reputable companies that are buying up office space in the new towers. In May of 2016, 10 Hudson Yards was the first commercial building to open in the neighborhood, welcoming tenants such as Coach and L’Oreal. Construction of 10 Hudson Yards required just four years and will serve 7,000 employees (HYNY, 2016).



Beyond plans in place when Hudson Yards was first begun, recent planning developments have further increased projected activity in the area. Most notably, in 2015, the Port Authority launched an international design competition soliciting proposals for a new bus terminal west of the existing one at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street (Rubinstein, 2017). Although recent political disputes leave the state of the project in doubt, any relocation of the terminal would land it on the outskirts, if not in the center of the Hudson Yards District’s northern portion (Gannon, 2017). Such a relocation would have enormous ramifications for the No. 7 line extension and its ridership since the Port Authority bus terminal currently handles 200,000 passengers and some 7,200 bus arrivals and departures every weekday (PANYNJ, 2017).

THE HUDSON YARDS MODEL AND PROSPECTS FOR VALUE CAPTURE Development of the No. 7 extension and surrounding Hudson Yards demonstrates how TIF and value capture financing can be transformative city building tools. By providing access to a formerly isolated part of New York City, the extension is not only projected to pay for its own construction, but also spurred the largest private development project in New York City’s history, a development that will generate approximately $477 million (2018 dollars) in New York City tax revenues on an annual basis when it is fully built and occupied (Appleseed, 2016). Additionally, through ground lease payments from the buildings over the MTA rail yards, Hudson Yards will generate approximately $89 million annually for MTA operations, or enough to completely renovate four subway stations every year (Appleseed, 2016). Although this project is unique in that it unlocked one of the few remaining underdeveloped areas in Midtown Manhattan, it demonstrates the potential of value capture for large-scale infrastructure delivery. With infrastructure in poor condition across the country and in our current political environment, where capital budgets for infrastructure are becoming ever more constrained, innovative financing solutions like TIF will be essential for the continued growth of cities and our nation. Laws enabling TIF and similar value capture tools need to continue being refined to protect communities but should also be encouraged in all states across the country to enable creative financing of 21st-century infrastructure.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Angus Page is a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student at the University of Pennsylvania. His coursework at Penn focuses on public-private development, real estate, and transportation. Angus is also currently an Aviation Intern at AECOM. Prior to graduate school, Angus spent four years as a Designer at Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects in their New York office. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Literature from Wesleyan University.

WORKS & IMAGES CITED Appleseed. An Investment That’s Paying Off: The Economic and Fiscal Impact of the Development of Hudson Yards. New York: Appleseedinc, 2016.

Kiernan, Peter J. “Report on the Financing of the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Project.” Committee on New York City Affairs, New York City Bar, 2007.

Bagli, Charles V. “Redevelopment of Manhattan’s Far West Side Gains Momentum.” May 2016.

Macek, Nathan M., interview by Angus Page. Director, Project Development & Finance, Parsons Brinckerhoff. March 31, 2017.

Brash, Julian. Bloomberg’s New York: Class Governance in the Luxury City. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011. Ceriello, Amy F. “The Use of Pilot Financing to Develop Manhattan’s Far West Side.” Fordham Urban Law Journal 32 (5) 103, 2004. Community Board No. 4. “West Side Railyards/Hudson Yards Rezoning.” hudson_rezoning.shtml, 2004. Fisher, Bridget. “The Myth of Self-Financing: The Trade-Offs Behind the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project.” Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis and Department of Economics, The New School for Social Research, Working paper Series 2015-4 8, 2015. Fitzsimmons, Emma G. “Subway Station to Open This Weekend, Bringing 7 Line to Far West Side.” September 11, 2015. Flegenheimer, Matt. “In Expansion of No. 7 Line, On Problem: An Elevator.” May 29, 2014. https://www. Gannon, Devin. “Port Authority Bus Terminal Unlikely to Be Built Anew; Gets Updated Timeline.” 2017. Geiger, Daniel. “Transit Officials Prepare Study for Unbuilt 10th Avenue Subway Station.” 2017. http://www.crainsnewyork. com. Goldberg, Barbara. “New York City Subway Extension May Transform Manhattan Neighborhood.” December 18, 2014. Hudson Yards Development Corporation (HYDC). May 1, 2017. Hudson Yards New York (HYNY). “Hudson Yards Welcome Its First Employees and Officially Opens Its Doors.” May 31, 2016. Jose, Katharine. “Subway Planners Present the No. 7 Extension, with Room for Improvement.” May 2016. http://www. Kabak, Benjamin. “Doctoroff: Let’s go halfsies on the 10th Ave. 7 line extension.” December 21, 2007. http:// Kerth, Rob and Phineas Baxandall. Tax-Increment Financing: The Need for Increased Transparency and Accountability in Local Economic Development Subsidies. U.S. PIRG Education Fund, 2011.

McGeehan, Patrick. “Subway Extension Provides a Link to Hudson Yards, Still a Work in Progress.” September 9, 2017. MTA. Facts and Figures. 2017. ffsubway.html. New York City Department of City Planning (DCP). Far West Midtown: A Framework for Development. New York: New York City Department of City Planning, 2001. New York City Department of City Planning (DCP). Hudson Yards Master Plan: Preferred Direction. New York City: New York City Department of City Planning, 2003. New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO). Learning from Experience: A Primer on Tax Increment Financing. New York City: New York City Independent Budget Office IBO, 2002. New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO). On the Far West Side: City’s Hudson Yards Interest Subsidies Reduced in Near Term, Yet Future Subsidies Remain. New York: New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO), 2016. New York Transit Museum. “Background.” 2017. http://www. NYTimes Editorial Board. “Helping New York Grow.” June 16, 2001. O’toole, Randal. “Crony Capitalism and Social Engineering: The Case Againt Tax-Increment Financing.” Policy Analysis: CATO Institute, 2011. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ). “Port Authority Bus Terminal.” 2017. https://www. Rubinstein, Dana. “City-Funded Report Says a 7-Train Extension to New Jersey Is Doable and Necessary.” Politico. com. 2017. Rubinstein, Dana. “Design Competition for New Port Authority Bus Terminal at an Impasse.” August 15, 2016. Figure 1: Zhukovsky, Leonard. New York, NY. October 26, 2017. Available from Shutterstock. Figure 2: Map by Angus Page, 2017. Figure 3: Diagram by Angus Page, 2017. Figure 4: MTA. “Construction at Hudson Yards.” Flickr. July 11, 2014.




Instructors: Professor of Practice Bob Yaro, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Marilyn Taylor Students: Xinyue Cao Shuangdi Dou Eleanor Fisher Ruochang Huang Douglas Land Michael Larson Meiqing Li Angus Page Yipeng Peng Carrie Sauer Yingke Sun Yuting Sun Chengyao Zong

The Infrastructure Studio team in Denver, CO. The studio traveled to Denver and Los Angeles during the Spring 2018 semester.




his studio, directed by PennDesign Professor of Practice Bob Yaro and PennDesign Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Marilyn Taylor, will outline the elements of a national transportation investment strategy for the U.S. Under their direction, twelve graduate students of city planning and architecture will build on research findings and recommendations published in Mobilizing Infrastructure Investment, a report developed in Fall 2017. Key objectives driving the studio include achieving a state of good repair, adding new and innovative transportation capacity to the U.S., and extending the benefits of public and shared transport to areas now underserved. Climate change and equity considerations will be at the forefront of our work.

Research will be grounded in two case studies, Denver and Los Angeles, two of the U.S. cities where successive mayors have spurred innovative investments in transit systems that are shaping these cities and their Metropolitan regions. And while the studio will be focused on transportation and related urban development concerns, this will not just be about moving people and goods — but rather about how successful infrastructure development strategies can address the broader range of urgent issues facing the country, including climate resilience, growing social, racial, and spatial divisions and global competitiveness.

Funding gaps through 2040 affecting Aviation, Ports & Inland Waterways, and Surface Transportation.



“Black Forest� by Robinson Fredenthal (1977). Outide Meyerson Hall. Photo by Robert I. Romo, 2017.

Non Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 2563 Philadelphia, PA 19104-6311


University of Pennsylvania School of Design Department of City and Regional Planning 127 Meyerson Hall 210 South 34th Street Philadelphia PA 19104-6311


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