Alameda County Bans Use of Some Plastic Bags

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According to Berkeleyside, the Alameda County Waste Authority voted Wednesday to ban the use of plastic bags at pharmacies and grocery stores in the county starting in 2013. The plastic bag ban will apply to 2,000 stores in the county.

Read more over at Berkeleyside.

Pecha Kucha Rundown: Denser, Part 3

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Noelle and I had fun at Pecha Kucha in San Francisco at the SPUR Urban Center on June 21.  For those unfamiliar with the Pecha Kucha format, each speaker has 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. The format makes for a fun but focused look at what a wide range of professionals is working on and thinking about. Presentations are loosely organized around a theme. The theme this time was “Denser.”

Using my notes, I am putting together a set of posts that lists the presenters in order, along with links to their website (if I could find them) and any major thoughts I jotted down. For some presentations, I took a number of notes. Other presentations have fewer notes (maybe I was looking at the images more carefully?). All of the presentations were more interesting and beautiful than revealed by my notes and these posts.

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Julie KimHot Studio

essay – “Why We Lie to Kids” – Paul Graham

suburban existence – capsule to capsule

organized chaos – systems for sharing space in dense areas

suburban promise – control enables freedom

2 symbols – house + car

urban reality – loss of control enables freedom

worlds colliding in “meatspace”, the real, physical, non-virtual world

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David Baker – Architect – David Baker + Partners Architects

crowded

hot & dirty

green

looking at density per square mile and the carbon footprint per person

Portland Pearl District full of 300 x 300 blocks

poem – “Lines in Potentis” – Ben Okri

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Gabriel TanOut of Stock Design, Singapore

members of the firm are from different countries, but find a way to work together online

umbrellas in internal gutter to drain

mix of handcrafts and mass production

very focused on flatpack furniture

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Antonio Roman-Alcalá – SF Urban Agriculture Alliance and Alemany Farm

“The Political Economy of Urban Land, and Its Relation to an Urban Agricultural Future”

farming and cities have co-evolved

our population is no longer “mostly farmers” – not directly tied to the land

what society values – highest-earning college majors vs lowest-earning college majors

can’t urban plan our way out of mining and destruction of rainforests

17th & Folsom = “future park” – park for kinds + urban garden

who gets to decide the best use of the land? the owner of the land or the community?

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Part 1 is posted here. Part 2 is posted here.

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Pecha Kucha Rundown: Denser, Part 2

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Noelle and I had fun at Pecha Kucha in San Francisco at the SPUR Urban Center on June 21.  For those unfamiliar with the Pecha Kucha format, each speaker has 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. The format makes for a fun but focused look at what a wide range of professionals is working on and thinking about. Presentations are loosely organized around a theme. The theme this time was “Denser.”

Using my notes, I am putting together a set of posts that lists the presenters in order, along with links to their website (if I could find them) and any major thoughts I jotted down. For some presentations, I took a number of notes. Other presentations have fewer notes (maybe I was looking at the images more carefully?). All of the presentations were more interesting and beautiful than revealed by my notes and these posts.

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Elizabeth Shreeve – Principal – SWA Group

looking at what vertical cities and high density mean for the ground plane

high tower in Dubai – a building becomes a city district by itself

65% of the firm’s work is in China right now

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Paul Jamtgaard – Architect, Urbanist – Group 4 Architecture

“Intensity in 10 Cities”

density x uniformity = monotony = DEATH

density x diversity = intensity = VITALITY

diagram of density in cities

density of people per square km in Portland, Mumbai, New York City, Tokyo, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Copenhagen…

housing = human storage? or urban living

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Ben Grant – Public Realm + Urban Design Manager – SPUR

city skylines as a bar graph of property values

looking at historical increasing density of use of same lot in NYC – eventual mandating of air shafts

density / setbacks – effect above the ground plane

residential density vs auto ownership [looked at 2 maps]

green architecture in the 1970s was away from the city

aesthetic integration of greenery + verticality

Donald Appleyard – Livable Streets (1981)

SFPUC looking at how to manage stormwater

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Part 1 is posted here. Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.

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Pecha Kucha Rundown: Denser, Part 1

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Noelle and I had fun at Pecha Kucha in San Francisco at the SPUR Urban Center on Tuesday.  For those unfamiliar with the Pecha Kucha format, each speaker has 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. The format makes for a fun but focused look at what a wide range of professionals is working on and thinking about. Presentations are loosely organized around a theme. The theme this time was “Denser.”

Using my notes, I am putting together a set of posts that lists the presenters in order, along with links to their website (if I could find them) and any major thoughts I jotted down. For some presentations, I took a number of notes. Other presentations have fewer notes (maybe I was looking at the images more carefully?). All of the presentations were more interesting and beautiful than revealed by my notes and these posts.

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Grady Gillies – Architect – UCLA, Suprastudio

DENSE city

dense buildings

dense population

dense space

dense community

Looked at 8 cities as part of the studio, including:

Cleveland, OH – transforming access and landscape

Flint, MI – advantage of a shrinking city’s migration is SPACE

New Orleans – blighted property presents an opportunity

Tucson, AZ – relentless expansion of the city edge

Merced, CA – looking at potential impact of high-speed rail

Toledo, OH – city’s solar industry as a new urban identity

More information on the studio and work:

http://www.suprastudio.aud.ucla.edu/

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Craig Scott – Architect – IwamotoScott

DENSER

environmental / technological performance

spatial / material geometry

urban / architectural experiences

3 focuses of firm’s practice – buildings, installations, and digital fabrications

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Robin Levitt – Detroit

(Anna’s note – his entire introduction was “Robin Levitt, Detroit” but there is a little info on the ever-helpful Wikipedia)

Talking about the de-densification of a city

Birthplace of the automobile

Detroit was the Silicon Valley of its day

1950s saw Detroit’s population peak just under 2 million

[Image of reduction in building density in the downtown district]

Detroit could geographically fit San Francisco, Boston, and Manhattan, but has a much lower population density

Population decline over the years

But actual geographical area of the city was expanding

Ruins now dominate the Detroit landscape

Neighborhoods have been cleared

City looking at a strategy of controlled abandonment

City of Detroit began as farmland, and in many neighborhoods it is returning to farmland

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Parts 2, 3, and maybe 4 coming soon!

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BART Seat Lab

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Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART is a common fixture in the lives of Bay Area  California residents. The above-and-underground train network spans northward to Richmond, southward to Fremont, and regularly ferries passengers between San Francisco and points to the east.

Despite their centrality to Bay Area daily life, BART cars have not seen a replacement since the 1970s when the system opened; and that is about to change. BART is actively seeking feedback on its ‘Fleet of the Future’, a long-range plan to replace its cars.

This estimated $3 billion project will be the single largest upgrade expenditure that the BART has ever seen—that could be why BART is enlisting the help of the public to get it right.

A series of ‘seat labs’ are taking place at BART station near you! There, you can try out several configurations of seats and aisle widths, and give feedback on materials, lighting, signage and more. What is most important to you on your commute?

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Remaining BART seat lab schedule and locations

Read more:

Seat lab early feedback: Majority of riders want wider aisles in Fleet of the Future

Berkeley Might End Curbside Recycling Program

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(Image credit – City of Berkeley)

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On Tuesday evening, March Berkeley City Council heard an analysis of the recycling program managed by the Ecology Center.

According to East Bay Express,

The city paid the southern California firm Sloan Vasquez $85,000 to figure out how to plug the deficit. The consultants said in taking over the recycling, the city should replace the Ecology Center’s two-person trucks with one-person trucks, except on hilly and narrow roads where one employee working alone would be dangerous. Reducing the number of drivers and overhead incurred by the nonprofits would save millions of dollars, they said. They also recommended layoffs in the city’s solid waste division.

Currently, the nonprofit Ecology Center manages a city contract to pick up paper, glass and plastic. The Conservation Center, also a nonprofit organization, is charged by the city with processing and buying back recyclables. Urban Ore, a for-profit business, salvages and sells reusable items. City workers pick up garbage, and green and food waste. … …

The point where the city and nonprofit workers agreed was that outside profit-making companies such as Waste Management should not have the commercial franchises, as they do now, to pick up recyclables from Alta Bates Hospital, UC Berkeley, Bayer Corporation, Kaiser Permanente, Pacific Steel Casting and more. Ricky Jackson, a rep for the government employees’ union, said the city could make money taking on this work.

Councilmembers want more input from the nonprofits, city workers, and the Zero Waste Commission at their March 22, 2011 meeting.

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UPDATE: There is a detailed report on many of the speakers and comments from Tuesday’s Council meeting from the Berkeley Daily Planet (always to be taken with a grain of salt) here.

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To give some more background on concerns about the study, on Tuesday Berkeleyside carried a story about the report on recycling in Berkeley:

An independent report commissioned by Berkeley to assess how it could save money on its waste and recycling operations has recommended that the city terminate its contract with the Ecology Center which started the nation’s first curbside recycling program here nearly 40 years ago. The report’s proposals have been challenged and its methodology criticized by the Ecology Center, as well as by at least one third-party waste management expert.

Concerns about the study include the following:

[Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center] says he sees significant problems with the assumptions made in the Sloan Vazquez report, principally that the city would be able to save money by bringing operations in-house. Citing two specific examples he says: “The city waste supervisor is already overburdened and they are suggesting doubling his workload. And, at the moment, the city doesn’t carry any overheads but that will increase their costs by 26%.”

Bourque also has issues with the way the consultation process was handled — the consultants chose the day the Ecology Center was rolling out its new recycling split-carts last October to observe the program in action, which according to Bourque was atypical of its service. He adds that offers made by the Ecology Center to meet with the consultants or share data were declined.

Berkeley resident Steven Sherman, who is President of Applied Compost Consulting and has consulted for the city on waste matters, believes the Sloan Vasquez study has “terrible policy implications for the City”. In a March 3 letter to the Council he outlines why he believes the City should not accept the report’s analysis as valid.

Berkeley’s Zero Waste Commission has also condemned the study, describing it, in a February 28 report, as ”incomplete and missing information, cost-benefit analyses, and a lack of an adequate and inclusive process”.

You can read the entire article on Berkeleyside here.