Strong Towns
Join Abby Kinney, Chuck Marohn, and occasional surprise guests to talk in depth about just one big story from the week in the Strong Towns conversation, right when you want it: now.
Could this New Approach to Public Housing Actually Work?
A suburb of Washington, DC is exploring a new approach to creating more affordable housing through public-private partnerships. And it’s seeing success! In this episode of Upzoned, Chuck and Abby discuss the history of public housing and government housing subsidies in the US, the good, the bad and the ugly. Then they consider whether this new model could be helpful or harmful to cities. ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES “What if public housing were for everyone?” by Rachel M. Cohen, Vox (February 2024). Escaping the Housing Trap: A Strong Towns Response to the Housing Crisis by Charles Marohn. Available for preorder now! Abby Newsham (X/Twitter). Chuck Marohn (X/Twitter). Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Feb 21
46 min
Parking Minimums Might Be on the Way Out in Dallas
Local officials in Dallas are considering eliminating minimum parking requirements in the city. The zoning ordinance advisory committee just voted to advance the measure to the city planning commission, and if approved there, it would then go on to the city council. Critics believe that this is a one-size-fits-all approach to parking reform and that it’s not an ideal solution to Dallas’s parking dilemma, whereas proponents say the change will cut down on unused parking spaces and accelerate the city’s economic development. So, is this measure a good or a bad move for Dallas? ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES “Dallas Zoning Committee Advances Parking Reform,” by Andrew Terrell, The Dallas Express (February 2024). Abby Newsham (X/Twitter). Chuck Marohn (X/Twitter). Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Feb 14
43 min
Coming Back Down to Earth After a “Next-Level” Downtown Revitalization
This week’s Upzoned episode covers a story that sounded promising at the start: “The Town That Took Downtown Renewal to the Next Level”? Sounds great! Right? Alas, residents of Morristown, Tennessee, have discovered that the Skymark (i.e., an elevated sidewalk) they built in the 1960s was not the salvation for their downtown they’d hoped it would be. Join host Abby Newsham and co-host Chuck Marohn as they take a deep dive on how this huge investment, unfortunately, didn’t pan out as a long-term strategy for economic prosperity. ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES “The Town That Took Downtown Renewal to the Next Level,” by David Zipper, CityLab (January 2024). Abby Newsham (X/Twitter). Chuck Marohn (X/Twitter). Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Feb 7
43 min
Today’s Generation of Families Are “Disillusioned” by Suburbia
Five families from Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Pittsburg move to the suburbs in search of the American dream, drawn by promises of better schools and all the other amenities promised by suburban life…but instead, they’re experiencing the decline of the suburbs, rather than the benefits that were sold to them. On this week’s episode, host Abby Kinney and co-host Chuck Marohn discuss this story, told in “The Suburbs Have Become a Ponzi Scheme,” and based on the book, Disillusioned: Five Families and the Unraveling of America's Suburbs. ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES “The Suburbs Have Become a Ponzi Scheme,” by Alex Kotlowitz, The Atlantic (January 2024). Abby Newsham (X/Twitter). Chuck Marohn (X/Twitter). Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Jan 31
30 min
Millennials Are Fleeing Cities in Favor of the Exurbs
Millennials are officially getting old. They’re having children, buying houses, and getting replaced by Gen Z in urban areas. As one article from Business Insider puts it, “Millennials are getting priced out of cities,” and are starting to leave the urban neighborhoods that they’ve been building their lives in, up to this point. According to the author, since the cost and types of housing available in urban areas isn’t conducive to family life, millennials are having to instead flee to the only place they can afford to live: the exurbs. What’s the Strong Towns take on this? Join host Abby Newsham and co-host Chuck Marohn as they discuss this article on this week’s episode of Upzoned. ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES “Millennials are getting priced out of cities,” by Eliza Relman, Business Insider (Jan. 2024). Abby Newsham (X/Twitter). Chuck Marohn (X/Twitter). Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Jan 24
40 min
Ryan Johnson: Builder of the First Car-Free Neighborhood Made From Scratch in the U.S.
Upzoned has been on a bit of a hiatus for the past couple of months, but we wanted to have at least one final episode of 2023 (and rest assured that the podcast will be returning with weekly episodes in 2024). This episode is an exciting one, as host Abby Kinney is joined by a guest whose work she’s been following for several years: Ryan Johnson, the builder and resident of the first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the U.S., called Culdesac Tempe. We hope you enjoy this special end-of-the-year interview and look forward to more content coming soon! ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES Culdesac Tempe (website). Ryan Johnson (X/Twitter). Abby Newsham (X/Twitter). Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Nov 22, 2023
23 min
Transportation Meltdown: Children on the School Bus Till 10 p.m.
Kentucky’s largest school system recently had to cancel the second and third day of classes due to what they're calling a disastrous overhaul of the bus system. On day one, some children were still on their bus at 10 p.m.  AP News reported this issue is partly the result of a bus driver shortage, which definitely plays a role in why Kentucky is having this transportation problem. But Kentucky isn’t the only place that’s struggled with getting children to and from school. There's more to the story, and it has to do with the suburban development pattern, and the closure of neighborhood schools. In this Upzoned episode, host Abby Newsham digs into details of why, seemingly every year, many school districts have trouble with the transportation of students. She invites Dr. Michael Ralph, director of research at MultiStudio, and Daniel Herriges, Strong Towns’ editor-in-chief, to share their insights on the subject. ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES “New school bus routes a ‘disaster,’ Kentucky superintendent admits. Last kids got home at 10 pm,” AP News (August 2023). Abby Newsham (Twitter). Dr. Michael Ralph (Twitter). Daniel Herriges (Twitter). Learn more about the 2023 Local-Motive Tour. Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Aug 23, 2023
35 min
Is Affordable Housing Possible Under Current Zoning Laws?
Durham, North Carolina, is experiencing a hot debate over changing its zoning code. The proposed “Simplifying Codes for Affordable Development” (or SCAD) presents tactical adjustments that focus on loosening the current rules so local people can make small-scale changes to their neighborhood. The changes would eliminate parking mandates, legalize smaller homes on smaller lots, and permit mixed-use development. In this Upzoned episode, host Abby Newsham talks to Aaron Lubeck, who’s been closely involved in developing SCAD, about the proposed changes. They discuss why SCAD is such a controversial topic, and if it’s different from other reforms.  ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES “Op-Ed: The Purpose of Zoning is to Prevent Affordable Housing" by Bob Chapman, Indy Week (March 2023). Aaron Lubeck  (Twitter). Abby Newsham (Twitter). Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Aug 16, 2023
43 min
Arizona Pushes for Suburban and Rural Development, Despite Dwindling Water Supply
State-level officials in Arizona are getting more serious about water scarcity issues, despite the still-booming growth pressures that exist there. Some listeners may remember from a story we covered in July 2022 that rural areas outside of Phoenix, like the Rio Verde foothills, have found it almost impossible to drill wells and are now facing challenges from having their water delivered by truck. Now, the state has determined that there is not enough water for already-approved housing projects and will stop some developers from building if they rely too heavily on groundwater, given that it has become a finite resource. Arizona's allocation of Colorado River water is also being decreased due to drought, making alternatives quite limited. Still, the Arizona water agency has given permission to build 80,000 housing lots, and for the most part, construction is going to move forward on these lots. On today's episode of Upzoned, Chuck and Abby discuss why this development pattern in Arizona—and most of the Southwestern United States—is, as you might have guessed, unsustainable. ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES “Arizona Limits Construction Around Phoenix as Its Water Supply Dwindles,” by Christopher Flavelle and Jack Healy, The New York Times (June 2023). Abby Kinney (Twitter). Chuck Marohn (Twitter). Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Jul 26, 2023
48 min
Atlanta’s New Idea To Address Their Housing Crisis
The United States is in the midst of a housing crisis. More and more cities are recognizing that part of the issue is due to restrictive zoning laws, which make building affordable homes a difficult feat.  On this episode of Upzoned, host Abby Kinney talks with the principal of Krongberg Urbanists and Architects, Eric Kronberg, on Atlanta’s new approach to addressing their housing issue. They’ll introduce the “social housing model” Atlanta plans to adopt, talk about the mixed-income housing aspects of Atlanta's plan, and explain what makes up a “Capital Stack.” ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES “Atlanta plans to embrace ‘European-style social housing,’” by Sean Keenan, Atlanta Civic Circle (July 2023). Abby Kinney (Twitter). Eric Kronberg (Twitter). Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom.
Jul 19, 2023
43 min
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