Future Building Places Technology

Generative AI planning ordinances are for uninspired change

Liked Let the Robots Write the Ordinance by Ray Dubicki (The Urbanist)

Though touting its “remarkable precision and efficiency, providing urban planners and decision-makers with valuable insights and recommendations” the actual output of ChatGPT’s attempt to write a zoning ordinance will assure every planner that their job is safe.

I wasn’t expecting the urban advocacy blog I follow to get in on the AI debate 😂

The exercise, however, is quite useful. It uses the weaknesses of natural language processors like ChatGPT to highlight the weaknesses of planners.

So the bot is not drawing words from ordinances that successfully built cities. It’s drawing words from ordinances that successfully ran today’s political gauntlet and got adopted. There is no tie between the success of these words and the successful development of good neighborhoods. This is a best practices document in politics, not in urbanism. 

Emphasis mine.

Activism Future Building Society

Overcoming defensive reactions to entertain different ways of living

Replied to On Natural Wine by Alicia Kennedy (From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy)

Neither natural winemakers or drinkers nor vegans are the powerful ones here. If you’ve been thinking they are, perhaps it’s time to interrogate why you feel that way—to ask how we can move forward for a better world, instead of mocking anyone trying to do things a bit differently.

The actual similarities between natural wine and veganism are, at the end of the day, about giving a shit.

If there is a commonality between natural wine and “the vegan movement”…, it is that people who do not participate in them overstate the influence and strength of both of these concepts. They are threatening because of the perceived “aggression” of the believers, forcing bottles imported by Jenny & Francois and Impossible Burgers down everyone’s throats! (This is not happening.)

Future Building

True 15 minute cities require equity

Liked Dan Wentzel 🏳️‍🌈 ( (Urbanists.Social)

“My hot take on “15 minute cities” is if you can get to the coffee shop within fifteen minutes, but the barrista who makes your drink can’t afford to live closer than a half-hour away, then you live in a theme park.” – Gareth Klieber #cities #urbanism #housing #transit #cycling

Related: MMM’s recent article on building a car-free city

Several years ago, I stayed a couple nights at the earthship community outside Taos and was disappointed how car-dependent the neighborhood is. For zoning reasons, they needed to develop outside of city limits (iirc), but the highway back to Taos is *not* safe to bike, and too far to walk. They’re so focused on self-reliance, they haven’t actually built a community, with their own services and businesses. The dirt streets connecting the earthships were unadorned, unclaimed — each person was focused on their own domain, not on building community. By necessity, there were piles of trash everywhere (used as building materials for earthships). Instead of a visionary reimagining of community, it’s only a reimagining of a house.

Activism History

Went to The History of Exclusion on the Eastside

We invite you to take a deep dive into the history of East King County through a racial equity, transportation, and affordable housing lens.

The past and the present are connected; we will explore the ways that past practices, policies, and laws have contributed to the housing struggles and inequities communities face today in Eastside cities.

We’ll learn about ACTIONS we can take together to advocate for equitable solutions in land use, transportation, and affordable housing policy.

  • Japanese immigrants began farming in Bellevue in 1890s — cleared a lot of spaces that had been forested for farming and future development — book Strawberry Days
  • Black workers at the Kirkland shipyards weren’t allowed to live in Eastside housing and had to take the slow ferry from Seattle
  • Washington State 1921 Alien Land Law banned the sale of land to Japanese people and Asians
    • I see echoes here in banning Chinese people  from buying real estate “here” / Vancouver if they’re not going to live in it — housing should be made available to rent but they should still be allowed to buy
  • Japanese people sent to internment via trains on Eastrail 😬
    • I had thought it was all through the Puyallup / Auburn fairgrounds
  • Race covenants across the Eastside, exclusionary zoning keeps housing costs high and encourages suburban development patterns
  • Community Councils keeping veto power over land use laws to “maintain community character” — YES THE HOUGHTON CC IS FINALLY GONE!!! 👏👏👏
  • In 2019, 44% of Bellevue residents spoke a language besides English! That’s compared to 14% in 1990.

Eastside for All

Livable Kirkland

Art and Design Featured Future Building

What do Places give us?

Replied to The Importance of Magical Places by Coby Lefkowitz (Our Built Environment)

In most communities, we have a box that we sleep in, a box we drive to the office or school in, and then, once we’re there, a box to work or study in… These places are often devoid of any ornamentation, idiosyncratic details, or contextual elements that would ground them in a specific community.

Our buildings and places symbolize what we value. They tell the story of who we are.

But what about when we don’t know who we are?

I suspect there’s a connection between the loss of Place-making and the dissolution of community ties.

Future Building Society Technology

People will keep dying to cars until we decide their safety is more important than cars’ convenience

Replied to The Urbanist’s Ryan Packer Discusses Worsening Traffic Safety Crisis on KUOW by Doug Trumm (The Urbanist)

The pedestrian safety crisis has been worsening in Washington State and across the United States, even as most other industrialized nations have taken strides to reduce their traffic fatality rate in recent years.

Last year, the state saw nearly 150 people walking lose their lives on our streets, a 31.8% increase in one year and the highest figure seen in at least several decades. That trend is not showing any signs of slowing in 2022.

Graph showing a 30% leap in pedestrian fatalities from 2020 to 2021 in Washington State, after a slow increase over a decade

This is a choice we make when we put efficiency and convenience above all else. The design of our roads, the investments we choose to make in infrastructure for people walking and biking, the timing of our traffic signals, the laws we enact, the driver training we require, the penalty for vehicular manslaughter — these all shape how many people die needlessly on our streets.

One of the people killed was an elderly woman in my city who was hit walking in her own neighborhood by someone backing out of their driveway. Since that day, I always back into my driveway so I have a clear view pulling out.

Traffic deaths should be so rare as to be a shocking tragedy, not an everyday occurrence. It infuriates me when people dismiss Vision Zero as unachievable because there will always be one or two people who die in totally random accidents, using pedancy to avoid confronting a real cost of our time-obsessed capitalist society.

These conversations are vital to have now, before self driving cars become common and accepted — what norms of pedestrian deaths will we accept as our cost of convenience? Especially since self driving cars so far cannot accurately identify a person on a bike.

Future Building Political Commentary

I would like some infrastructure please

See also: Traditional urbanism

Future Building Places

Traditional urbanism


  • Walkable — keep the whole area small enough to not need to drive — confined with a wall to limit sprawl!
  • Human scale blocks — should be quick to walk
  • Variety, visual interest, curving streets rather than immensely long straight boulevards
  • Use locally sourced, sustainable / renewable materials (wood, stone, rammed earth) that last a long time
  • Build at the front of lots, close together, fill in gaps, expand on existing buildings
  • Lay street surfaces with interesting, varied, beautiful materials like stepping stones
Future Building

Not built for humans

Bookmarked The Human-Built World Is Not Built For Humans by L. M. Sacasas (The Convivial Society)

a story was circulating about how the infrastructure bill, which was recently passed by the House of Representatives, included funding for research on beacons to be worn by cyclists and pedestrians to make them legible to autonomous vehicles. A story in Forbes noted that the bill “formalizes the acceptance of so-called ‘vehicle to everything’ (V2X) technology that, on the face of it, promises enhanced safety on the roads for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Each time I’ve read something about how we will all have to wear sensors to survive the envisioned future transportation environment, a particular paragraph from Illich’s Deschooling Society has come to mind: “Contemporary man,” Illich wrote, “attempts to create the world in his image, to build a totally man-made environment, and then discovers that he can do so only on the condition of constantly remaking himself to fit it.”

Built for efficiency, capitalism, productivity, industry.

Not safety, health, joy, connection.

Built to extract and siphon wealth upwards.

Not to sustain a community.

And it is too easy to take refuge in the thought that a few tweaks here and a little regulation there will make all things well, or at least significantly better. Meanwhile, nothing quite changes.

For our lives, for our planet, we need drastic change. Yet we’re too exhausted by traitors trying to steal our rights and overthrow our democracy, CLAIMING THAT THEY ARE THE FUCKING PATRIOTS, and asshole obstructionists working to stop others from getting anything done, to tackle the scale of systemic changes needed to prevent broad scale ecological collapse from climate change, and to reimagine our cities into spaces that would improve our lives. The status quo will win until it can’t anymore.

Future Building

We Want Solarpunk

Replied to

Except this isn’t a great choice either, because if we don’t do anything we’ll get dystopian cyberpunk, when what is sustainable and needed is solarpunk… so the real question is how can we shift our cities away from becoming cyberpunk towards solarpunk? (Though to be fair the original comparison is also dumb, a lot of our current problem is trying to convince homeowners that townhomes and apartments aren’t scary in their neighborhood…)