The addition of accessory dwelling units in Seattle has surged since 2019, when the city revamped its regulations to encourage their creation, pitching the units as a way to add density gently and provide a wider menu of living opportunities in neighborhoods dominated by single houses.
Almost 1,000 ADUs were permitted last year, up from 280 in 2019. That’s a 250% increase.
How does this compare to the amount of housing needed?
The state must add 55,000 homes per year over the next 20 years to meet demand, according to Department of Commerce projections published last week. More than half must be affordable to low-income residents, and new homes are needed at all income levels, the projections said…
ADUs remain a relatively minor component of Seattle’s housing production, given that more than 11,000 homes were built last year in multifamily structures like apartment buildings and town houses…
Will these new units prove to be the answer to affordable housing? In terms of sheer numbers, the quick answer seems to be: not yet. This pace would need to pick up and/or continue for a while.
Additionally, as the article discusses, who is building these units and who is living in them? If they are primarily built and rented by wealthier property owners, does this further housing inequality?
It will also be interesting to see how the increasing density in neighborhoods affects everyday life. Will residents find additional units on properties preferable to multifamily dwellings?
In meetings with landowners and real-estate agents, Mr. Musk and employees of his companies have described his vision as a sort of Texas utopia along the Colorado River, where his employees could live and work.
Executives at the Boring Co., Mr. Musk’s tunnel operation, have discussed and researched incorporating the town in Bastrop County, about 35 miles from Austin, which would allow Mr. Musk to set some regulations in his own municipality and expedite his plans, according to people familiar with Mr. Musk’s projects.
They say Mr. Musk and his top executives want his Austin-area employees, including workers at Boring, electric-car maker Tesla Inc. and space and exploration company SpaceX, to be able to live in new homes with below-market rents…
As of last year, Boring employees could apply for a home with rents starting at about $800 a month for a two- or three-bedroom, according to an advertisement for employees viewed by the Journal and people familiar with the plans. If an employee leaves or is fired, he or she would have to vacate the house within 30 days, those people said.
I am intrigued by the contrast between online and offline activity. I have argued before that the two realms are more linked than people think. Here, both the business activity spans these two realms as might the world of employees and visitors.
What might the fate be of this proposed community? On one hand, if the primary goal is to provide cheaper housing for employees, perhaps such a community could be really helpful. Since housing is a significant portion of household costs, providing cheaper good housing could help attract and retain employees. Another bonus is that employees are close to work and might be willing to work more hours.
On the other hand, when has a company town worked out well in the long-term? What regulations does Musk want to implement and what are the penalties for not adhering to them or disagreeing with them? Even with reduced housing prices, how will employees feel about always being tied to work?
My suspicion is that this will not work out as intended. Developing a community is no easy task and the interaction between work life and community life is hard to manage.
By the time university leaders concluded the gathering, an estimated 50,000 students and visitors had come to the campus to pray, said Kevin Brown, Asbury’s president. The outpouring attracted students from more than 260 colleges and universities, many drawn by social media livestreams and posts. Similar prayer services cropped up at other Christian universities, including Lee University in Tennessee, Cedarville University in Ohio and Samford University in Alabama…
The surge of worshippers overwhelmed the campus and the sleepy town of Wilmore, which is home to roughly 6,000 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Cars streamed into the city, backing up traffic and filling the town’s parking spaces.
“We have two stoplights, to give you an idea of how large our town is,” Brown said. Suddenly having to figure out how to accommodate thousands of visitors “on the fly” was “unnerving and unsettling.”
“Our town and our institutions are just not equipped to absorb such a large influx of people,” he said. “On the other hand, it was really, really sweet and really beautiful to see so many different people, so many different ages, representing so many different geographies … just to see everyone in one space, united and experiencing something together.”
The juxtaposition of religious activity and visitors in a small town is worth considering. Three questions come to mind:
1. How many communities would be prepared for a large influx of visitors there for religious purposes? What exactly would they need to respond and what would mark the interactions and activity outside of the clearly marked religious spaces?
3. Are the conditions of small town life more or less conducive to religious fervor? Americans often have romantic notions of small towns yet big cities are denser and have more people coming and going.
The most recent elections in Chicago featured low voter turnout. From WBEZ:
Citywide, preliminary turnout currently stands at roughly 34.3%, among the lowest turnout rates for a February municipal election in the last 80 years. The total number of ballots cast in this election isn’t final yet because there are still thousands of vote-by-mail ballots en route to the board of election commissioners.
In 2015 and 2019, the return rate for vote-by-mail ballots averaged nearly 80%. Assuming the same return rate this year, the city’s overall voter turnout rate could reach 35%.
Only about 1/3 of registered voters in Chicago cast ballots for mayor, city clerk, city treasurer, City Council and police district councils.
The citywide turnout rate this year was lower than it’s been in the last three municipal elections in 2011, 2015 and 2019. In fact, turnout in 2023 was about 10% lower citywide than it was in 2011.
Notwithstanding the issues of February elections not tied to other state or federal outcomes, I wonder at a few other possible factors involved:
Are the people voting by mail voters who would otherwise not vote or people who would have turned up at a poling place in the past?
Is the motivation of voting in a broader primary with more possible candidates – giving voters more options to find someone who might represent their particular interests – less inviting than having two candidates in the later election and the voters having to choose one or the other?
In a city where leaders tend to be powerful figures, what else might interest voters in selecting these leaders?
The connection is not just the Internet and social media and the way they connect us to more people and narratives. This is a change in statistics: we think we can see larger patterns and we can access more information.
Whether what we see on social media is a real pattern might not matter. (A reminder: relatively few people are active on Twitter.) We see more online and we can see what people are highlighting. This might appear as a pattern.
Not too long ago, we were more limited in our ability to compare our actions to others. The mass media existed but in more packaged forms (television, radio, music, films, newspapers, etc.) rather than the user-driven content of social media. The comparisons to that mass media still mattered – I remember sociologist Juliet Schor’s argument in The Overspent American of how increased TV watching was related to increased consumption – but people’s ties to their family and friends in geographic proximity were likely stronger. Or, in Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone world, people spent a lot more time in local organizations and groups rather than in the broad realms of the Internet and social media.
Now, we can easily see how our choices or circumstances compare to others. Even odd situations we find ourselves in quickly be matched across a vast set of platforms for similarities and differences. Whether our tastes are mainstream or unusual, we can see how they stack up. If I am on college campus X on one side of the country, I can easily see what is happening on college campuses around the world.
Even as the Internet and social media is not fully representative of people and society, it does offer a sample regarding what other people are doing. We may care less about what the people directly near us are doing and we can quickly see what broader groups are doing. We can live our everyday lives with a statistical approach: look at the big N sample and adjust accordingly.
I asked Haimo whether there seemed to be a dominant vernacular at Harvard. (When I was a student there, people talked a lot about things being “reified.”) Haimo told me that there was: the language of statistics. One of the leading courses at Harvard now is introductory statistics, enrolling some seven hundred students a semester, up from ninety in 2005. “Even if I’m in the humanities, and giving my impression of something, somebody might point out to me, ‘Well, who was your sample? How are you gathering your data?’ ” he said. “I mean, statistics is everywhere. It’s part of any good critical analysis of things.”
It struck me that I knew at once what Haimo meant: on social media, and in the press that sends data visualizations skittering across it, statistics is now everywhere, our language for exchanging knowledge. Today, a quantitative idea of rigor underlies even a lot of arguments about the humanities’ special value. Last school year, Spencer Glassman, a history major, argued in a column for the student paper that Harvard’s humanities “need to be more rigorous,” because they set no standards comparable to the “tangible things that any student who completes Stat 110 or Physics 16 must know.” He told me, “One could easily walk away with an A or A-minus and not have learned anything. All the STEM concentrators have this attitude that humanities are a joke.”…
Haimo and I turned back toward Harvard Square. “I think the problem for the humanities is you can feel like you’re not really going anywhere, and that’s very scary,” he said. “You write one essay better than the other from one semester to the next. That’s not the same as, you know, being able to solve this economics problem, or code this thing, or do policy analysis.” This has always been true, but students now recognized less of the long-term value of writing better or thinking more deeply than they previously had. Last summer, Haimo worked at the HistoryMakers, an organization building an archive of African American oral history. He said, “When I was applying, I kept thinking, What qualifies me for this job? Sure, I can research, I can write things.” He leaned forward to check for passing traffic. “But those skills are very difficult to demonstrate, and it’s frankly not what the world at large seems in demand of.”
I suspect this level of authority is not just true on a college campus: numbers have a particular power in the world today. They convey proof. Patterns and trends. There can often be little space to ask where the numbers came from or what they mean.
Is this the only way to understand the world? No. We need to consider all sorts of data to understand and explain what is going on. Stories and narratives do not just exist to flesh out quantitative patterns; they can convey deep truths and raise important questions.
But what if we only care today about what is most efficient and most able to directly translate into money? If college students and others prioritize jobs over everything else, does this advantage numbers and their connections to STEM and certain occupations that are the only ways or perceived certain ways to wealth and a return on investment? From later in the article:
In a quantitative society for which optimization—getting the most output from your input—has become a self-evident good, universities prize actions that shift numbers, and pre-professionalism lends itself to traceable change.
If American society prizes money and a certain kind of success above all else, are these patterns that surprising?
Near our suburban house is a shopping center consisting largely of strip malls and several anchor grocery stores. This development constructed in the late 1980s has fallen had hard times in recent years with numerous vacant storefronts.
Thus, it was surprising to see the construction that started last year at the site of a former national chain restaurant in this shopping center. This spot had been vacant for several years. The building came down and a new strip mall is going up. The new commercial space has an easy turn-in off a busy arterial road.
The new Chipotle building will certainly be geared toward exactly what this business needs. Additionally, there will be at least one new storefront next to the restaurant. The old building had a different layout inside, one more fitting for a sit-down restaurant, and with on additional commercial space.
At the same time, how many strip malls, shopping malls, big box stores, and restaurants are torn down each year because the space they have is not exactly what a different business wants? What happens to all of these materials? How much time goes into tearing down? How substantially are these shopping areas changed by adding a few new buildings here and there? This Chipotle could have moved into a vacant property within the shopping center.
I could imagine more modular structures or incentives for reusing buildings or asking businesses to adapt to existing spaces. But, if it is cheaper or more efficient to tear down one building and redevelop another, then that is what businesses will do.
John Schoettler, Amazon’s real estate head, said in a statement the company is pushing out the groundbreaking of PenPlace, the second phase of the sprawling northern Virginia campus. The first phase of the campus, known as Metropolitan Park, is expected to open on time this June and will be occupied by 8,000 employees.
The move comes as Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has taken steps to curtail expenses across the company in the face of slowing revenue and a gloomy economic outlook. That’s led to the company announcing the largest layoffs in its history, totaling more than 18,000 employees, while also reevaluating its real estate portfolio and sunsetting some projects…
PenPlace encompasses three 22-story office buildings, more than 100,000 square feet of retail space and a 350-foot-tall tower, called “The Helix.” The development is larger than Metropolitan Park, which sits south of PenPlace, and includes two additional, 22-story office towers, as well as a mixed-use site featuring retail, restaurants and green spaces.
Amazon selected Arlington as the site of HQ2, in addition to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, as part of a closely watched, splashy search for a second headquarters that kicked off in 2017. The company announced in 2019 it would halt plans to build its new headquarters in New York after it faced pushback from local activists and city council leaders.
With the changes in the world, will these promises pan out for Arlington, Virginia and the D.C. metro area? It sounds like at least 8,000 employees will be onsite. However, the headquarters may never be as big as once envisioned. Does Amazon have the same status in 2023 that it did in 2017? This include everything from its financial outlook to its recent layoffs to changes in the everyday Amazon experience for customers.
On the whole, I would guess local leaders will still pitch this as a big win. We got Amazon and all these jobs (and implying that others did not). The long-term effects might be less clear, particularly if tax breaks for Amazon and opportunity costs and the longer-term fortunes of the company are factored in.
Baseball has taken significant steps this season to shorten the game through new features like a clock for pitchers and batters. A growing consensus over recent years has suggested fans want shorter games. College football is considering shortening games. However, in the absence of data I have encountered about what fans actually want, I wonder if it is really about shorter games. These might be two other options that sports fans in America want:
-More action. Studies have shown sports like baseball and football actually do not have much game action across the multiple hour experience. Pitch clocks make the action happen quicker but do not necessarily mean there will be more balls in play or runners on base. Baseball has moved in recent years to more three true outcomes: strikeouts, walks, and home runs. These involve limited action.
-A higher action to time ratio. Perhaps what fans want is not shorter time but more action within the time of the game. Shortening the time with no change to the action would provide a higher ratio. Shortened times plus more action would further increase the ratio. Other sports have more flow or continuous action, like hockey or soccer (though many American fans might consider these action low-stakes or boring action). Or, watching a condensed game where the time between all pitches or all football plays is removed can be an interesting experience.
I suspect there might be plenty of experimentation in the coming years regarding finding formulas for sports in order to retain or attract the attention of fans. This will also happen with ongoing interaction with other forms of entertainment that offer different experiences and timelines.
“This is really our opportunity to create something that we can be absolutely proud of for the next generation to create those same fond memories that I have and that others have in a fashion that is consistent with what the times are now,” Cordon said.
Bill Shopoff said his company, which purchased the Macy’s store and the former Sears store in the Westminster Mall last year, hopes to draw people back with shops, a hotel, townhouses and apartments…
As for who will rent or purchase the homes in his preliminary plan, Shopoff is counting on a modern type of suburban dweller — one who would rather walk to restaurants and other amenities than live in a single-family home with a yard.
Experts say that new laws, along with increased pressure from the state to build more homes, have convinced some local officials who might have been resistant to rezoning commercial properties in the past…
In Laguna Hills, the mall is being repurposed along the lines of Caruso’s Los Angeles-area developments, with up to 1,500 apartments, an upscale hotel, commercial office space and 250,000 square feet of stores surrounding a large green space.
This is one of the leading strategies in a competitive shopping malls market. By building apartments, developers can add residents who will be on-site and who will patronize restaurants and stores as well as remove some of the commercial property that is now hard to fill in the Internet economy. The idea is that the malls become vibrant, mixed-use locations where people are out at all hours consuming goods and food.
If all the Orange County malls go this route, will they all make it? Even in a relatively wealthy area, not all the malls will survive.