[I’m going to start posting some of what I’ve written for class here. This was an assignment to attend a local Planning Commission Meeting and report on the issue(s) discussed. Mine turned out to be more interesting than it looked on paper.]

Screenshot of Google Maps intersection of CA84 and Jarvis Avenue in Newark, CA, shopping center area.
Screenshot of Google Maps intersection of CA84 and Jarvis Avenue in Newark, CA, shopping center area.
Google Maps view of the shopping center in Newark, CA, where a proposed Fitness 19 would be going into one of the empty anchor store sites.

Background

Two fitness centers, both alike in dignity
in fair Newark where we lay our scene
(apologies to Shakspeare)

At the corner of Newark Boulevard and Jarvis Avenue in Newark, CA, are four shopping centers collectively and officially known as “Four Corners.” The one under debate is the western one, known colloquially as the “Sprouts Center.” The building containing…


[This is the essay that I wrote to apply for SJSU’s Masters in Urban Planning program. I’ll be starting at the end of January 2020. Although it turns out I’ll have to not only move house but also buy a car to attend the evening/night-only classes, I’m excited to take the next step into what feels like a potential career.]

I feel strongly that there is a fundamental gap in communication between municipalities and communities about transit planning. I am convinced of the potential for well-planned transit systems to change lives, especially within marginalized communities. To build the wide-reaching systems…


Overview of transit-adjacent articles I’ve found recently, and a few tabs that have been open for too long.

Progress towards car-free city spaces always runs into the same argument, even though there’s no evidence for it. Congrats to Oslo for taking the next step! ^_^ (via New York Times)

The strongest opposition came from local business owners who were worried that fewer cars would mean fewer customers. So the city came up with a compromise: Instead of an outright ban, they would enact regulations that would allow as few vehicles as possible in the city center. …


This is a conversation that’s been going on for several months, and many people have weighed in on the topic. It’ll come up again in a few months when we get the 2018 ridership data, too.

My take, from looking at the APTA data is it’s just the bus, but we still should be worried about it. Buses are the broadest-reaching transit system, since most of their infrastructure piggybacks on parts that already exist. If bus ridership is down enough, and there’s nothing replacing it, then the overall ridership totals come down making it less statistically appealing to invest in…


Green spaces are critical for urban areas. People feel better when they get a reminder that the world isn’t just concrete and glass boxes, no matter how interesting or organic their shape. There are more and more studies coming out about the connection between mental well-being and the ability to spend time in even small bits of nature.

Preserving rural spaces is also important. I grew up in an area with no public transit, but tons and tons of trees. It was really great, and means that I’m still best friends with pretty much every tree I meet. (I can’t…


Sandwich board advertising weekly art classes at Art Produce. (via Yelp)

Hearing an interview with Lynn on KUCI’s Monkeywrench, I immediately connected with her ideas on the role of art and artists in a community. Her current project is Art Produce, a former grocery store that she has transformed into a community hub for art and outreach. The origin, though, was the eviction of artists from their warehouse in downtown San Diego when the city wanted the land for a new sports stadium. She and several others found another neighbourhood that had once been a thriving community but had become disjointed and neglected. …


Sign from OccupyDC, taken by takomabibelot (flickr)

[Edited from an email sent to a friend, and an extension on dinner conversation soon after my last post.]

​There’s a lot of nonsense being tossed around right now. What it comes down to is that there aren’t any laws on the books about who’s criminally responsible in a case like this.​ …


The more I read and learn about transit and urban design changes, the more clearly I see that an engaged community is always at the heart of successful ventures. Janette Sadik-Kahn’s Streetfight is, if you read between the lines, a series of community triumphs. Sadik-Kahn begins and ends each project with community outreach efforts, and in many places credits the ultimate suitability of the plan to getting the support of the affected community(ies). Some of them are very easy to define groups - business at an intersection - and some are more nebulous - people crossing a street in the…


The more I look, the more stories about autonomous vehicles I find. Sometimes I don’t even have to look…

These seem awesome! I’ve got a friend in the Greenwich area whom I haven’t seen in forever, but has just passed the driving test, so perhaps this would be a fun way to celebrate. Certainly a good extra impetus to visit.

This website is phenomenally awful, but seems to have some interesting articles (by the one dude who makes up the “institute”). I’m currently reading through Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions : Implications for Transport Planning (PDF) which can only be found…


City West - Isometric Plan | Brisbane City Council | flickr (CC BY 2.0)

With all the talk about self-driving cars being tested and companies like Uber trying to integrate them into their business model, I’m curious about the effect this is going to have on city planning and infrastructure.

If we assume that, like automatic transmissions and airbags, autonomous vehicles (AV) will become commonplace on the roads, what will that look like? How will cities make space for either/both individually-owned and municipal versions? What policy and planning have to happen now to ensure that groups like bus drivers and the isolated elderly don’t get left behind in these changes?

This is going to…

Mari

Sharing my journey of research into ways to build creative civic engagement around issues of transit. || mariellehsu.com || linkedin.com/mariellehsu || she/her

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