the Catholic Church is the largest nongovernmental property owner in the world
While there are no numbers on the number of properties, acres, or value, I would guess that it adds up to a lot. To serve over 1.3 billion adherents around the globe – 2019 pre-Covid figures – requires a number of buildings and properties all over the place.
Asking questions about how much property a religious group should own is another matter. Is one interested in efficiency and how many people are served through each property? Is there a religious group has too much property? Does it matter if the property serves the community as well as religious adherents? All of these could factor into whether the amount of land owned is seen as a moral good or a moral problem.
The idea has outraged many residents who believe the city is being unfairly targeted as the “garbage capital” of the Western suburbs. Citing a threat to their home values and quality of life, they say a second waste transfer station should be built elsewhere in the county or not at all because of a lack of need.
In comparison, there are more than 20 transfer stations spread throughout Cook County.
Representatives from LRS insist a second DuPage County facility — one that is state-of-the-art and environmentally sound — is necessary to maintain healthy competition with other major waste companies. Another transfer station, officials say, would reduce garbage bills for residents and bring hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from LRS to West Chicago coffers…
West Chicago residents say they’ve already done their part with one facility in their city, and a second DuPage County station should be built elsewhere. LRS officials, however, say they’ve looked elsewhere and couldn’t find another parcel that meets zoning and setback regulations.
This is a common issue in metropolitan regions: there are certain land uses that relatively few people want to live near. Since individual communities can set their zoning guidelines and communities with money and influence can fight particular land uses, it can be difficult to find a home for these land uses.
One solution? Push the garbage transfer station outside of DuPage County to another community that might want it or will not fight it.
Another solution (unlikely in the short-term but perhaps doable in the long-run): the need for more metropolitan level planning. With all of the people and business in the Chicago region, how can garbage be dealt with on a regional level?
A third and unlikely solution: significantly reduce the amount of waste produced by residents so fewer waste transfer stations are needed.
If West Chicago residents band together enough, they can likely convince local officials to turn down this proposed waste transfer station. Where exactly the garbage will go is unclear but West Chicago residents could be happy that it will not take place in their community. However, it is going to happen somewhere…to be determined.
A new large plot of land may soon be available in the middle of Lake County, Illinois. What should go there? Here is an early idea:
The family that owns the Chicago Blackhawks wants to turn more than 700 acres of farmland it owns near Mundelein into a housing, commercial and industrial development, village officials confirmed.
If the Wirtz family’s vision becomes reality, the land would be annexed into Mundelein and become the largest development by acreage in Lake County, Village Administrator Eric Guenther said.
“This is a big deal,” Guenther said. “(It) could prove to be a very extraordinary development for Mundelein, the Wirtz family and Lake County as a whole.”…
Guenther declined to detail the family’s specific plans for the land. They will be unveiled to the public at the village board’s Dec. 12 meeting.
Given what I have seen regarding suburban development, here are some of the steps to come and the common responses from involved actors:
The landowners will bring a plan to the municipality that maximizes or at least includes a lot of profit through developing the land.
The Village of Mundelein will receive the proposal and work on it through elected and appointed officials plus professional staff.
There will be public hearings regarding the property and proposed plans.
Community residents will chime in with a variety of concerns, including regarding traffic and noise. The local school district and other actors will wonder how new development will affect local services and amenities. The village will want to consider the tax base on how the tax revenues add up from such a property. Some actor(s) will propose keeping the property or part of it as green space.
There will be some negotiations between the developers and the community. This could go relatively quick or slowly, depending on the changes asked for and the vision of the developers. They could happen behind the scenes or be more visible to the public.
Roughly 1-2 years from now a plan will be in place and development can start.
Each of these steps could proceed differently with the potential for plans to move more quickly or more slowly. There is no guarantee that the proposed project will go forward.
However, given the size of this parcel, there will be a lot of interest from everyone about what happens with this land and how this might affect Mundelein – whether it is the community’s character, revenues, or land use – for decades to comes.
As more people pour into metropolises—urban populations are projected to double in the next three decades, according to the World Bank—scientists like Bousselot are investigating how designers and planners can ruralize cities, greening roofs, and empty lots. The concept is known as “rurbanization,” and it could have all kinds of knock-on benefits for ballooning populations, from beautifying blocks to producing food more locally. It dispenses with the “city versus country” binary and instead blends the two in deliberate, meaningful ways. “You don’t have to set this up as a dichotomy between urban and rural, really,” says Bousselot. “What we should probably focus on is resilience overall.”…
But while rurbanization has enticing benefits, it has some inherent challenges, namely the cost of building farms in cities—whether on rooftops or at ground level. Urban real estate is much more expensive than rural land, so community gardeners are up against investors trying to turn empty spaces into money—and even against affordable developments aimed at alleviating the severe housing crises in many cities. And while rooftop real estate is less competitive, you can’t just slap a bunch of crops on a roof—those projects require engineering to account for the extra weight and moisture of the soil.
But the beauty of rurbanization is that agriculture and buildings don’t have to compete for space. Urban land is limited, which means that high-yielding, fast-growing, space-efficient crops work great, says Anastasia Cole Plakias, cofounder and chief impact officer of Brooklyn Grange, which operates the world’s largest rooftop soil farms. “That said, we approach the design of our own urban farms, as well as those we build for clients, with the consideration of the unique character of the community in which we’re building it,” says Plakias. “Urban farms should nourish urban communities, and the properties valued by one community might vary from another even in the same city.”
The primary dividing line referenced here is the presence of agriculture: this happens in rural areas, not so in cities. Bring agriculture to denser population centers, and important lines are crossed.
Maybe? Adding agriculture may or may not affect some of the key features of cities and rural areas: population, population density, land use (not just agriculture), amenities, and ways of life.
Perhaps this is more of an experiment that is just starting up. What are the effects of introducing significant amounts of agriculture plots in major American cities?
The company’s proposals promise a reprieve from California’s existential crisis about its way of life, suggesting that the environmental consequences of the state’s notorious sprawl can be reformed with rooftop solar panels, induction cooktops, electric cars, and careful bookkeeping. The threat of wildfires can be held at bay by stricter building codes. These proposals preserve the idea that, although the climate may be changing, the California dream of sunshine, a single-family home, and a two-car garage needn’t change at all.
But the debate it intense about whether the sustainable features of the development offsets what suburbia brings:
Cheap fossil fuels, the supremacy of private-property rights, and the maximization of shareholder value have, for decades, dictated the patterns of land use in America. People need homes, and, in Southern California and other growing metropolitan areas, those homes get built in areas far from the centers of cities. Disasters that follow this approach are attributed to natural causes or climate change, rather than to the avoidable flaws of poor planning. Consider the Marshall fire that burned a thousand homes last December, including all of a hundred and seventy-one properties in a nineteen-nineties-era subdivision built on the outskirts of Boulder County, Colorado—or the disappearance of water from exurbs constructed in the two-thousands in the Rio Verde Foothills, outside of Scottsdale, Arizona. Even reasonable predictions on a twenty-year event horizon are seen as fussy impediments to construction…
California has a severe housing shortage; a recent state assessment called for more than a million new units in Southern California to meet demand. Barry Zoeller, an executive at the Tejon Ranch Company, told me, “That’s going to have to take, in our estimation, a combination of both infill development in urban areas and also new master-planned communities of sufficient scale that can also meet climate-change criteria.” But many environmentalists argue that the imbalance between jobs and housing in Los Angeles can not be solved by building houses that are a thirty-minute drive from the city’s outermost suburbs. “Aren’t there better places to build?” Pincetl asked. “Yes, but you don’t own the land, so no.” She added, “If we’re turning over the provision of housing and the land markets to private entities, their motivation is not to house people. Why are private-equity firms coming into the real-estate market? Tell me. Not to provide housing.”…
I used my phone to scan QR codes and open the self-entry locks on a handful of model homes by Lennar, KB Home, and Toll Brothers, among others. The houses were built close together. They were large and well appointed, with gray laminate floors, giant appliances, many bathrooms, and cold air-conditioning. Some stoves at Valencia were electric, but many were still gas ranges—the era of banning natural-gas hookups hadn’t arrived when this development was approved. Some of the planned homes were already sold out, and a steady stream of racially diverse prospective buyers in luxury cars made their way around the neighborhoods-to-be. It looked like every other subdivision I’ve ever been in: paved-over farmland with a few transplanted trees, an island in a landscape hostile to pedestrian life. Maybe I just wasn’t seeing it with new eyes. The wind blew hot and the sun beat over the newly built homes, and from far away came the faint screams of people riding the roller coasters at Magic Mountain.
This is a decades-long issue as suburbs, first found in the United States in the 1800s, exploded in popularity and policy in the 1900s. With the expansion of driving and highways, the postwar suburbs sprawled in all directions from big cities and have not stopped since. All of this comes at an environmental cost: all of the materials used, the pollution from all of the driving, the inefficiencies of single-family homes, and the loss of land and habitat.
There are numerous ways to make suburbs more sustainable. This includes the moves suggested above as well as increased suburban densities, mass transit options or walkability or other transit options so that driving is not the only options, and better locations nearer population centers and jobs and away from important land and habitats.
So, where exactly is the line where suburbs might be “sustainable enough”? The article above suggests this line is in flux as communities, states, and other interested actors negotiate and set regulations for new development. It is unlikely that all suburban development will be banned or limited and it is unlikely that all suburban development will just happen without any questions about the environmental costs. This line can also vary across contexts as the local concerns are different outside of Los Angeles than they might be outside Columbus, Ohio or Jacksonville, Florida.
How can we democratize land use policies through greater public participation to ensure healthy living conditions?
The second perspective highlights a structural perspective in two ways.
Healthy behavior leans more toward an individualistic perspective. A person who has health concerns should adapt their behavior in order to be more healthy. In contrast, healthy living conditions suggests there is a broader context for the individual’s health. Healthy living conditions can help lead to healthier individuals.
With healthy living conditions in mind, the new question highlights two ways that healthy living conditions come about: land use policies and greater public participation. This likely refers to research and experiences certain communities have with decisions made about where to locate land uses – ranging from coal power plants to landfills to manufacturing facilities with toxic output and more – that then affect health. Such decisions involve power, race/ethnicity, and social class as well as decision-making processes.
After more than 35 public hearings devoted to the Haymarket project, the decision seemed almost anticlimactic. It took barely 15 minutes for board members to cast their vote. Haymarket President and CEO Dan Lustig said he wasn’t surprised by the board’s verdict.
Only Pruyn and Trustee Ellen Leahy explained their opposition, framing the decision in mostly fiscal terms. Both agreed with opponents that the scale of the proposed treatment center was too much for a town of less than 10,000 people to absorb. “A facility this large belongs at the county seat or affiliated with a hospital where appropriate emergency medical services can be provided,” Leahy said.
However, the same organization already tried to open the facility in the county seat:
From nearly the start, Haymarket faced an uphill battle in its second attempt at offering treatment services within DuPage to help combat the scourge of opioid addiction. The county last year reported 112 opioid overdoses, a record high.
Almost four years ago, Haymarket, a Chicago-based nonprofit provider, was denied a bid to start a 16-bed satellite program in Wheaton.
While such decisions may be common, the larger effect is problematic. What DuPage County community would permit this land use? When there is a need to address opioid use, where could struggling local residents and families turn?
If each suburb follows in a similar logic, this contributes to uneven development patterns. Communities with resources and organized political movements can regularly keep less desirable land uses away from them. Other communities may not be able to do the same thing or feel like they have to take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way.
Where will this treatment facility end up? At this point, any effort to locate in DuPage County may be doomed as local residents have developed multiple successful lines of argument against the facility.
Itasca’s plan commission on Wednesday unanimously agreed to recommend the village board deny Haymarket’s proposal. The Chicago-based nonprofit group is seeking permission to convert a former hotel along Irving Park Road into a 240-bed facility for adult patients with drug and alcohol use disorders.
The final decision rests with the village board. But trustees don’t want to rush their decision.
On Thursday, Mayor Jeff Pruyn said the village board plans to have at least two special meetings beginning in the middle of October. The first would allow public comment about the proposal. Haymarket representatives would make their case before the village board during the second.
As a result, the village board will not vote on the proposal until late October or early November.
Making a hasty decision may be in no one’s best interest. Particularly given the controversy surrounding the proposal, making sure everyone has a chance to voice their opinion and the board has all the time to make up their mind seems reasonable.
At the same time, what would change between now and then that would have a big effect on how the board members are viewing the situation? The proposal has been under discussion from some time and community members have made their voices heard.
This is not an easy decision for a smaller community to make. There could be consequences for life in the community and future development. Either way, some people will be upset. The village board decision will either agree with the plan commission or go the other direction (and the board is able to choose either option).
Yet, a decision needs to be made. I will be interested to see what happens: how will Itasca respond? Will Haymarket look for another suburban location? More broadly, what suburban communities might welcome land uses like these that are needed in metropolitan regions?
The world’s second biggest country by landmass is effectively running out of space, and that has Canada on course for a reckoning. The dream of a detached home and a piece of land, which generations of Canadians have taken for granted, and which continues to entice new immigrants, may soon be out of reach in the places where people want to live. That could force an expansion of the idea of home to include condos and rentals, potentially transforming how the middle class does everything from raising families to saving for retirement…
In Canada, buying a home has long been seen as the surest path to middle class security. Canadians on average live in some of the biggest houses in the world, and post higher rates of homeownership than in the U.K., or France, or even the U.S. The pandemic has put an even bigger premium on backyards and extra space…
Still, developers don’t seem to be responding. Though construction started on a record number of new homes in Canada’s metro areas in March, the percentage that were single family-detached actually fell to 19% from 24% the previous year, according to government data. While this ratio improved in April, new home starts slowed that month overall…
It comes down to land. While Canada boasts a total area of about 10 million square kilometers (3.9 million square miles), roughly 40 times the area of the U.K., most Canadians are clustered in a handful of major cities not far from the U.S. border. That’s where the jobs are. And while the work-from-home era has expanded that radius for some, turning quiet farming communities and weekend-getaway spots into the hottest real estate markets in the country, the possibility of returning to the office even a few days a week has kept most workers from striking out too far afield.
The proposed solution in the article is more condos, apartments, and townhouses. These would have provide denser populations and expand the housing options. But, this is not what all Canadians want: like in the United States, the idea of a single-family home is both popular as an ideal and investment.
Here is a different answer from Canada’s southern neighbor: sprawl. More and more sprawl. The article says Canada is out of land; this is not quite true. Keep building suburban areas out from cities. Take advantage of the work from home days of COVID-19. Build on the interest of some Canadians to have their own home and land. Give in more to car culture. Go thirty, forty, fifty miles out like the biggest American cities. There will still be plenty of land in the middle of the country for farms and up north for open space.
This may not be a welcomed answer. This all leads to more driving, more dependence on roads. It means less energy efficiency, perhaps particularly during cold winters. It might introduce the same problems that plague sprawling American metropolitan areas.
But, if Canadians do not adjust to living in smaller units in closer proximity, sprawl is one option. The emphasis on homeownership and vehicles is already there. It could be a different kind of sprawl, maybe denser than the American version or more community oriented. Perhaps some lessons could be learned from the mistakes made in the United States. At the least, it could relieve some housing pressure, provide jobs for builders and developers, and set up new subdivisions and future communities for decades to come.
Eriksen’s offices are located in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, the country’s largest business park. TRIC covers more than 160 square miles—three San Franciscos’ worth—of sculpted valleys and rocky hills. Its tenants include Google, Switch, and Tesla, along with 2,000 protected wild horses. TRIC is as sure a sign as any that the Reno area is reinventing itself, aiming to attract younger residents who come not for strippers and slot machines but for lucrative jobs and easy access to the great outdoors. Lance Gilman, the bolo-tie-wearing, larger-than-life businessman behind the development, told me that on his first tour of the land he saw a bird’s nest just sitting there on the ground, catching the light. He took it as a good omen, a sign of Reno’s impending transition from has-been gambling den in the mountains to tech-centric boomtown. (Still, this is Nevada: At one point during the planning phase, Gilman had to assume management of the nearby Mustang Ranch brothel—the first ever licensed in the state—to stop a biker gang from moving in and marring his glorious vision.)
One of Gilman’s employees, a project manager named Kris Thompson, agreed to take me on a tour of the site. We started at Tesla’s Gigafactory, which the company claims will be the largest building on the planet when completed. (“It put us on the world stage overnight,” Gilman told me.) Although still under construction, the Gigafactory was already so colossal that I could not make out its scale against the mountains beyond. As we drove on, Thompson directed my attention to the huge stone pads on which TRIC’s industrial structures are being erected. “We do not cut corners,” he said. “These pads have no subsidence. We have granite-basalt bedrock. For tech companies, that’s great.” (Eriksen seems to agree with this assessment: He and his colleagues have done nothing further to insulate their offices against quakes.) “The lack of a seismic threat in this area is one of our strengths,” Thompson continued.
But, of course, there is a seismic threat. According to Faulds, it’s about the same as what I already live with in California. The San Andreas may be closer to the breaking point, but the Walker Lane could see a major earthquake at any time.
Thompson and I returned to TRIC’s central office, where Gilman, now walled in by paperwork, was gearing himself up for several hours of new business calls. Last year, a company called Blockchains scooped up 67,000 acres of TRIC land to build a libertarian “smart city.” With that sale, the development had all but sold out. It was time, Gilman told me, to pursue new opportunities. “We’re in the path of growth,” he said, as heavy trucks boomed by on the highway, shaking the earth.
This four paragraph section is an interesting aside in the larger discussion of the Walker Lane Fault. But, it is a fascinating aside as office parks and industrial parks are not unique in the United States. Thousands of communities, ranging suburbs to exurban areas to more rural areas, have blocks of land set aside for commercial and industrial use. But, how many places have anything near 160 square miles set aside?
What makes this business park unique alongside the size is the relative location to other place, the particular setting, and the time the land became available. First, a location outside Reno puts the business park within roughly 4 hours of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. That is not an easy commute but it can be done in a day or for a short trip. Second, the city of Reno and the state of Nevada have some features that are attractive to some companies. Third, having all of this land available now and in recent years means that some momentum can build regarding who is interested in the space (such as Tesla and libertarian-oriented firms). Take away one of these factors and the particular success of a business park of this size might be different or there might be a very different mix of interested companies. More broadly, numerous business facilities and stores sit vacant at desirable locations throughout the United States yet this business park attracts attention.