Managing stormwater and flooding with Green Infrastructure

Street flooding in Queensland, Australia (Wikimedia Commons, Flickr user Lake Annand 2)

Faced with compounding crises of COVID-19 and the related economic fallout, all against a backdrop of intensifying climate change and natural disasters, cities and nations worldwide are drafting green recovery plans aimed at putting people to work developing a more sustainable economy with lower impact on natural resources and ecosystems.

Driven by activists and advocates pushing for stimulus and relief that furthers both economic and climate goals, policymakers need investments and policies that can put people to work while improving the local environment and resiliency to climate change. …

It’s already common in many rural areas worldwide to see wind turbines towering above farms and ranches. These turbines contribute to a cleaner energy grid and generate steady income—lease terms vary and depend on the size of the installation, but farmers receive $4,000-$8,000 on average for each turbine each year. The revenue from wind contracts can be far more reliable and less subject to price fluctuations and variable climate than the standard yearly risks of raising crops.

A less-visible, but growing segment of the energy market—solar—has the same potential to stabilize farm communities and produce renewable energy. As climate change…

Cities worldwide working to do their part in the global race to meet climate change goals also face twin local crises of housing affordability and increasing commute times.

In order to both cut vehicle emissions and expand access to job centers and in-demand walkable neighborhoods, many are taking a second look at a proven method for encouraging bicycle travel to ensure residents have viable alternatives to driving: dedicated cycling infrastructure.

Kids enjoying a protected bike lane in Austin, TX (image public domain, credit to Adam Coppola Photography)

Protected bike lanes separate riders from car traffic, creating a safer and more comfortable route for cyclists, sidewalk users, and drivers alike. In an address to the Spokespeople Conference on…

I attended the second public input meeting for the Downtown Phoenix Transportation Plan Update, which aims to predict and plan for downtown’s growing population and building density.

I’ve been fortunate to live, work, and study all throughout downtown over the past three years while in law school at ASU. Maybe I’m biased, but I think a younger perspective is valuable in any public comment process, which are usually dominated by older, wealthier stakeholders with more familiarity with the process and more time on their hands.

My primary hope for the entire study zone, if not many other areas of Phoenix…

In a largely car-dependent country like the US, the bulk of policy and media discussion about electric vehicles tends to focus on electrifying the personal automobile. However, market and policy forces mean the hundreds of thousands of buses owned by transit agencies, school districts, and private operators might be a more economic and immediately achievable step in the clean energy transition.

Given rapid cost declines and improved reliability of battery storage, several firms already supply electric buses to agencies worldwide—so what challenges to adoption remain?

Why switch from conventional to electric buses?

  1. Better for the health of riders and residents

Today’s electric bus (EB) models usually range…

Vision Zero calls on cities to develop a comprehensive set of policies aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating pedestrian deaths, resulting in safer streets for all road users. So why did a City Council with power over some of the most dangerous roads in the country vote against studying a plan for Phoenix?

Following up on my previous visit to a Phoenix Complete Streets working group, I attended this past Tuesday’s City Council policy meeting. The council-members debated whether to direct city staff to study Vision Zero and what a plan to apply those safety and design principles might look…

After reading this article from the Arizona Republic on pedestrian deaths and dangerous streets in the Phoenix region, I wanted to share this writeup of my experience attending a City of Phoenix Complete Streets meeting last summer.

In July of last year, I went to a Complete Streets working group meeting at Phoenix city hall. City staff led a discussion of the Design Guidelines the working group developed in March 2018 to detail the Complete Streets Policy that City Council approved in June 2017. …

Because property tax in the United States is almost entirely a state and local issue, the legal barriers to a land value tax vary widely between states.*

Economists, urbanists, and ecosocialists alike can all find something to love in the idea of a land value tax; it’s an efficient way to collect public revenue without burdening workers or investment, instead taxing a resource that no individual or business can claim they independently produced: land.

By sending a market signal to put valuable urban land to productive use, a land tax encourages denser, infill development. Building near existing roads and infrastructure

As America’s metropolitan areas continue growing in size and population, the economic and cultural boundaries between individual cities in a region blur. “Interlocking economic systems, shared natural resources and ecosystems, and common transportation systems link these population centers together,” driving a need to cooperate and plan regionally.

The 2008 Sun Corridor report describes this “Megaregion” model as it applies to Arizona. Most of the state’s 7 million people live in the Phoenix–Tucson corridor, where collaboration in business, government, and institutions like universities and hospitals already links the city regions together.

Spend long enough reading policy ideas for making cities work better and you’ll eventually come across the idea of a Land Value Tax.

It’s an old concept that has almost always been more popular with economists and others interested in theory than with the people making real decisions in our urban areas. Here’s my attempt to make the idea more accessible for non-experts interested in how state and local laws structure the built environment.


Both in theory and practice, urban growth boundaries (UGB) can effectively slow unconstrained sprawl and foster more efficient and compact development. However, restricting the supply of land available for development can also limit housing construction and price people out of desirable urban areas.

The administration of an UGB…

Law+Sustainable Cities

Law and Sustainable Cities — Legalize Walkable Neighborhoods

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