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Gold plating is when we make changes to projects that are outside the scope of the original plan, resulting in increased time, expenses, and waste. Gold-plating presents barriers to accomplishing good urbanism in the form of initial financial costs that can completely block growth. A lean infrastructure approach to city planning focuses on smaller, incremental improvements instead of sweeping, inefficient upgrades. It prioritizes long term well-being, expandable and scalable projects, and building community competency and ownership of their neighborhoods. The document provides a theoretical and historical overview of infrastructure planning and lessons learned from past mistakes to help city planners move forward with a recommitment to designing workable solutions that support civilization in an economical and sustainable fashion.
While big businesses dominate global markets, command the entrenched financial and banking powers and are incentivized by misguided government policy, emerging startups can disrupt the status quo and prove that local economies can compete successfully if they connect with their customer base and build capacity through local networks. The challenge for Lean Urbanism is to take charge at the association and neighborhood levels: to monitor, harness and replicate emerging local business successes and through bottom-up vigilance to influence top-down policy to change not just the economic dynamics of a region, but strengthen its cultural, social and built landscape.
Most communities have assets hidden within that are not utilized or underutilized. A Lean Scan identifies these assets and determines the reasons that they are not used efficiently. The Lean Scan helps to reveal possible partnerships between built, financial, social, and natural resources that could become the foundation for incremental, low-cost improvements for the community. The Lean Scan offers a scaffolding for communities to identify their shared and underutilized assets for collective mobilization. This iterative process produces a report that can guide communities and neighborhoods in other Lean Urbanism strategies - the Action Plan and Pink Zone.
We've done a great job developing technology and labor saving machines, which unfortunately has produced a population that is disconnected from nature and sedentary. Our fondness of sitting is reflected in growing rates of obesity, diabetes, and chronic pain. One of the best things we can do to help people become more physically active is to give them public, open spaces where they can move their bodies. This document provides ideas for cities to reconsider existing public spaces and existing park furniture as exercise equipment. This is a low-cost, high-reward strategy to bring residents together in a public space and demonstrate a cultural commitment to holistic well-being. Cities can begin to think of parks as a way to provide access to the natural world, and a place where people can connect with their own physical bodies and each other.
Seaside, the resort town in the Florida Panhandle, is best known for being a compact, walkable and diverse community, but it has also become known as one of the first environmentally designed new towns. It is now time for it to be recognized as a model for Lean Urbanism, particularly greenfield development. These attributes are fundamental to environmentalism in that they minimize the consumption of land, eliminate off-site trips, and encourage walking and bicycling, creating an urban pattern that is inherently sustainable. But in addition to the inherent benefits of the community’s urban design, there are also several explicitly “green” design elements in this 33-year-old town.
Regulation and government programs are supposed to protect the consumers, but too often, they favor big, incumbent businesses at the expense of small consumers and small businesses. A permit fee that is the same for one house or a hundred will fall a hundred times harder on the builder of a single house. This is a kind of corruption which favors particular business interests against the public interest. Asking, “Does this fall too hard on the small?” helps us penetrate a ploy. Often, spokespeople appeal for deregulation in order to help “small businesses,” but the small businesses remain at a disadvantage. Take a new government grant that could help small businesses, but that has an oner- ous application process. It is only affordable to big businesses that can pay for consultants.
The City of Phoenix has become a model of Lean Governing, demonstrating the benefits of community revitalization when a municipality enables and encourages the work of creative entrepreneurs, small developers, neighborhood leaders, and community organizations. Along the way, it has employed and refined a number of principles and techniques that other cities can use to revitalize their neighborhoods. Phoenix is demonstrating that small projects can lead to big results.
New developers should create their own financial models. Only by doing so will they truly understand the variables and how each affects financial performance. This paper attempts to walk new developers through a financial model that includes development budget, annual return, and capital return. It is simple enough to create but sophisticated enough to present to investors and lenders. It represents one small residential rental building — not condo, and not office or retail.
Missing Middle Housing is a term that refers to the types of residential buildings — those in the “middle” between single- family detached homes and large apartment buildings — that once were built in cities and towns across the country but are mostly outlawed today, and missing from the housing market. Zoning codes often prohibit Middle Housing from being built today, but most cities have neighborhoods where they still exist and are allowed. Existing Missing Middle Housing provides great potential for house hacking because they are often in walkable locations and because so many people — singles, young couples, teachers, professional women, and baby boomers among them — are looking to live without the cost of cars and the maintenance of a single-family home. House hacking, put simply, means finding a way to create income with a home to offset the costs of the mortgage. The most common methods of house hacking have historically been renting out extra rooms, renting an apartment above a garage, or living in a duplex or triplex. This manual aims to document a variety of types of house hacking, for both existing buildings and new construction opportunities.
Strong economic, demographic and household trends reveal a tremendous pent-up demand to use homes for employment, pressuring the marketplace to accommodate all types of live-work units. Yet for the past half-century, live-work units have essentially been made illegal or discouraged in most places. Changes to zoning and building codes, as well as management and permitting procedures, are required to allow the full spectrum of live-work options to be restored.