Alternative Way to Increase Tax Revenues?

According to Levy’s Contemporary Urban Planning, an important part of municipalities revenue is  through property tax revenue. “Every development contributes, directly or indirectly, to municipal revenues through property taxes. Thus the patterns of land development will affect how heavily the community must tax its residents and the level of public services the community can provide” (Levy 2). An interesting strategy that municipalities and urban developers are trying to employ is using the sustainable development slogan as drivers of economic development. Cities are enacting projects that employs   a “win-win intervention” that serves as “both a public space and an economic engine for the city’s sustainable growth machine” (Lang and Rothenberg). Cities have started to view new sustainable green space projects as something that is not only good for the community but also as source of new economic revenues, and their proof was the Highline. The idea of a win-win intervention agrees with the theory of a Non-Zero Sum Game. The theory of Non-Zero Sum game focuses on allowing competition to exist that is beneficial to both sides. The Highline redevelopment created an increase in more environmental awareness incorporated in city design with the benefit of economic development for the city . The creation of the Highline in the Chelsea district is estimated to garner “$900 million additional tax revenues” for a twenty-year period beginning in 2011 to 2032 (Tate and Eaton 45). At the commercial business level, the Highline has allowed small businesses to thrive, due to the huge amount of customer traffic businesses receive from the amount of people visiting the Highline. However, the Highline has still managed to serve its purpose of having a usable green space in an urban setting. As a result, this has started to push forth a trend of possible sustainable development in other cities. The Highline is one of the most successful sustainable redevelopment project in America, and cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago are trying to implement similar sustainable projects and are using the Highline as the baseline on what they want their projects to achieve. In my perspective, although these implementation of green sustainable project can be considered as a “win-win” situation, developers and municipalities still need to take into account the impact that it may have on neighborhoods. Green and aesthetically pleasing public spaces becomes an important feature that a neighborhood can have. As a result, this makes specific neighborhoods that have aesthetically pleasing public spaces a hot commodity for the real estate market, in turn raising property value and property tax. This increase in property value may lessen the affordability of the particular area, resulting into more people who have the money to pay for these higher prices to live in areas that have great public spaces, but then displaces original residents that can no longer afford the cost.


Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 11th ed., New York, NY, Routledge, 2017.

Tate, Alan, and Marcella Eaton. Great City Parks. Routledge, 2015.





A Drawback of Sustainable Development?

According to Levy’s Contemporary Urban Planning, “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Levy 300). As cities push forth agendas that incorporate sustainable development in urban settings, they have started to enact building of green public spaces. The Highline in Manhattan is a great example of a successful green public space in an urban setting and has become a model for other American cities to incorporate green design in their metropolitan areas. Although such sustainable development provides a clean and aesthetically pleasing area that the community can use, it has an unprecedented drawback that has a significant impact on the community. These incorporation of new parks “do wonders for the value of the real estate around them, which these days is not where the working-class people live” (Betsky). As a result, places such as the neighborhoods around the Highline have seen massive gentrification and a number of original residents displaced due to the higher property values and higher cost of living that the Highline has brought into effect. What started out as a nonprofit project directed as a green space that the community can use, quickly transformed into an important marketable feature and selling point for the real estate market.  Exclusiveness has become apparent as the Highline transformed into a sustainable green space that the public can use to a marketable feature. Property around the Highline, compared to other properties command a higher price in value.


Work Cited

Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 11th ed., New York, NY, Routledge, 2017.


Urban Utopias


Urban design is defined as the art of making places, where architects, planners, and engineers come together to integrate different elements together to create a bigger picture. The design of a city is very important in any place because not only does it help improve economic development and the cohesion of the community as a whole, but also reflects the cities’ culture, values, and pride. A few of the early utopiasts who created three different types of cities are Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Le Corbusier. Howard was the originator of the Garden City. This promoted small communities in a decentralized society just like what is seen in Radburn, New Jersey, which is the first Garden City in America. Some of the design aspects of this city included safety for children and pedestrians, a public park system, and homes located on narrow lanes along with the use of cul-de-sacs. Wright, who hated cities and industry, created what is known as the Broadacre City, which encouraged human settlement where nature and city come together as one and agrarian living.  Le Corbusier had a very different view on how a city should be. He firmly believed in large organizations, industries, and bureaucracies. Not only was Le Corbusier the founder of International Style and the Modern Architecture movement, he also believed in architectural determinism. Architectural determinism is a concept seen in sociology, urbanism, and environmental psychology, which states that the cause of social behavior in the environment is solely based on the way, it is built. With these beliefs, Le Corbusier built the Radiant City.Radiant City Picture

This consisted of high-rise residential housing in the heart of the city, internal streets connecting the buildings together, and elevated highways for traffic that is separated from subway and truck systems. I am most fascinated by his design of the Radiant City. I too like the idea of architectural determinism and believe in its factors. Although it is not really seen anymore in today’s society, the idea of living in a place such as the Radiant City is exciting because of all the modernism and the large industrial feel. Out of the three of these utopian cities, I feel that Le Corbusier designed the most original city, which introduced a new social structure in cities and a unique architectural design.

New Jersey Looks to Extend PATH



New Jersey has proposed a $1.7 billion plan to extend the PATH train to Newark International Liberty Airport.  The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have set up meetings for the public to provide details on the proposed project.  The project began its planning in 2012 and is projected to be complete by 2016.  This plan can lead to a great improvement to everyone’s access to opportunity as it allows residents to conveniently shorten their trip travel time, promoting a higher use of the PATH.

Currently, the PATH train comes from the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and ends at Newark Penn Station.  All travelers heading to the airport must deal with a switch to NJ Transit Trains.  This poses somewhat of an inconvenience for travelers and puts a damper on their public transit experience.  The project is therefore like an applicable solution; however, it is still faced with controversy as several Port Authority officials, truckers and motorists have questioned the usability of the extension.  It will cost close to 2 billion for this additional strip of rail service, but the Port Authority service plans to use $1 billion of its own money and grants to complete the remaining amount.

I believe this project will be worth the investment and prove to be beneficial for the state’s public transit system.  Transportation in the state is already quite a hassle.  Many of the transit routes across New Jersey defeat the purpose of public transportation as trips are often are longer and sometimes more expensive than traveling by car.  Newark can only benefit from this extension as it will bring in more travelers and commuters into the city that can only help the community activity flourish and further revitalize the neighboring areas.  The new station would be west of the airport in the South Ward of Newark.  If successful, this extension can help trigger an economic boom and further spur residential and commercial infrastructure in the area.  A variety of new job opportunities and businesses will help strengthen the region’s economy, ensure safety in the community and overall improve the residential experience.  The project is still in the works, and meetings are set to be hosted in the upcoming weeks, considering all public input and questions.



Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning.

Steve Strunsky | NJ Advance Media for “PATH extension to Newark airport set for public meetings this week.”,, 28 Nov. 2017,

“Transportation.” Port Authority Pushes on with Plans to Extend PATH from NYC to Newark Liberty – NJ Spotlight,

Economic Development Efforts in New Jersey

Economic development is a serious topic of conversation in the state of New Jersey. New Jersey was one of the largest office markets in the country, and the economic growth of the state depended on commercial spaces and warehouses. Since the turn of the 21st century, the market has changed and capital mobility has caused industrial and corporate sites to relocate, leaving behind a vast amount of vacant office and warehouse parks. Blue collar jobs relocate with them. It is imperative that the state provide solutions to repurpose the vacant areas and establish new programs to incentivize new markets to relocate in place of these vacancies. Urban renewal is the basis of the solution and the state continuously works to new ways to rebuild economic local autonomy. Through the creation and implementation of New Jersey economic development programs such as the Grow New Jersey Program and the Urban Enterprise Zone Program, and the NJCDC, the Community Development Corporation, New Jersey is taking steps to solving the economic crisis many cities are facing.

The Grow New Jersey assistance program is described on the official website as a “powerful job creation and retention incentive program that strengthens New Jersey’s competitive edge in the increasingly global marketplace”. The program is consolidated by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). Through providing tax credits to businesses that create or retain jobs in the state of New Jersey, the program incentivizes businesses to open/remain and provide employment to the residents in their area. The corporate business or project must be located in a priority or incentive area to qualify. These areas generally house the lowest median income in the state, and are urban transit hubs or counties in desperate need of redevelopment. This program specifically encourages “Mega Projects” that create 1,000 or more jobs and the involvement of corporations that bring high capital investment levels. However, there are benefits/incentives available for small and mid sized businesses as well. In Passaic county, where many warehouses stand abandoned and forgotten and many blue collar workers are out of jobs, this program works to remedy a large-scale unemployment problem that leads to urban blight.

Paterson, New Jersey, coined the “Silk City”, is the third largest city in New Jersey. It is located in Passaic county, and is also one of the twenty-seven Urban Enterprise Zones in the state. The Urban Enterprise Zone Program (UEZ) was enacted in 1983 and is based on the new federalism approach to economic recovery for blighted areas in the state. This program allows certified businesses to take advantage of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 with additional bonuses such as lowered individual tax rates, various tax credit options, subsidized unemployment insurance, sales tax reduction, and even certain tax-free purchases.These perks incentivize small and large businesses to relocate and invest in these zones. This program encourages businesses to come to blighted areas and contribute to the local economic growth, through “public and private investments”. Through financial incentives, these urban enterprise zones are meant to attract capital and new jobs to a designated area. This program encourages entrepreneurship at every level and works to grow the local economy.

Community Development Corporations (CDC) are aimed toward rebuilding local economic autonomy in low-income areas. The NJCDC works to revitalize communities, such as Paterson, New Jersey. Paterson is a major area of focus for NJCDC. They provide social services, as well as opportunity for collective ownership (or partnership) of work, housing, and money in the public and private sectors. There is also an active community advisory board that serves as a council made up of city residents. The NJCDC encourages residents to take part in the growth of their local economy. Collective ownership is one approach. Some examples of collective ownership that serves the community are Employee Stock Ownership Plans and Workers Cooperatives. In summary, they allow workers to own a share of the company, leading to a heightened morale and productivity because the workers feel connected to the success of the corporation. The same goes for community land trusts, or housing cooperatives.  Residents own a share of the housing in which they reside, making them shareholders / owners. The tenants therefore feel more attached and responsible for the condition of their housing.  Another type of housing plan that NJCDC provides is affordable housing that offer social services to help rehabilitate the unemployed, the homeless, the disabled and the mentally ill to be able to put these people back into society as productive members. Community outreach helps make this possible, and the community as a whole reaps the benefits. CDC’s take the approach of self determination and local efforts to re-grow a local economy.

Urban economic development in very low-income areas require active community involvement and development programs. The programs New Jersey has in place are aimed to revitalize vacant infrastructure, rebuild local autonomy, and get investors of the private and public sectors, as well as the community, involved in economic redevelopment. In theory, the economic development efforts of the state should resolve many of the issues low income communities face; unfortunately this is not the case. “Affordable” rent continues to be economically determined and worsened by gentrification. Sales and property taxes in the state are still too high for the current residents. Small businesses are pushed out by economic factors, making it harder for residents to engage in entrepreneurship in their community. Grow NJ and UEZ’s seem to focus on bringing in big, outside projects instead of revitalizing the businesses that already exist. The programs give large tax credits and cuts to mega corporations, but barely give the same level of benefits to the owners of your local bakery. The reality is a large population of residents continue to struggle economically, and the help given through these programs barely reaches these people. I personally see the most value in Community Development Corporations. Rebuilding local autonomy should require an active council of locals who understand the issues the community struggles with. Community Development Corporations depend on the community’s involvement to be successful, which is why I believe it is the most hands-on solution of the three economic development efforts described in this post.


Works Cited:

  1. “Grow NJ Assistance Program.” NJEDA, New Jersey Economic Development Authority,
  2. “Urban Enterprise Zone Program.” NJ Department of Community Affairs, State of New Jersey,
  3. “What We Do.” NJCDC, New Jersey Community Development Corporation,

(blog post #4)

Engineering Transportation Systems for the Driverless

John Levy ends his chapter on transportation planning with a prediction that many industry experts would find hard not to support. “It is hard to believe that driverless technology, particularly if accompanied by greater fuel economy, would not have serious implications for the long-term development of our pattern of land use and settlement.” Like Levy says it is hard for anyone to deny that autonomous vehicles will not have a huge impact on the world around us. These impacts will come in various forms, many which people won’t expect and a few that might not be as positive.

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SAE International has created a standard for measuring autonomy with six levels, 0 to 5. Tesla introduced their autopilot feature in the Model S around two years ago which is classified as an SAE 2 vehicle. This year Audi put into production the newest model of their A8 line which they boast to have achieved SAE 3 levels of autonomy. Just four years out, companies are promising to roll out cars with SAE 4 levels of autonomy. This is such a rapid rate of technological improvement that it is completely plausible that we will have reliable autonomous cars within a few decades, if not faster.


This is going to bring about a lot of benefit, but from a planning perspective this will also bring its fair share of challenges. Currently some of the biggest innovators in this space are companies like Lyft and Uber. With autonomous technology, they would be able to revolutionize their network of cars. A downside of this that researchers are starting to look into is the increased traffic congestion caused by the popularity of their services and environmental impacts otherwise. A study from UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies showed that people use public transportation less as the usage of ride hailing companies goes up. This puts more cars on the road during rush hours and increases traffic.


When cars become autonomous, there will be more cars on the road even during off peak hours. A driverless car doesn’t need to stay parked, but this means that transportation planners need to both rethink their models of conventional traffic flow during off peak hours as well as expect to have to facilitate the movement of a larger population of vehicles.


The most jarring way this will probably manifest is the removal of street side parking and parking lots in general. Now from a new urbanist perspective, having fewer parking lots might seem like a move in the right direction, but that might not translate into the pedestrian friendly landscape that a neotraditionalist would want. The same way the first automotive’s huge impact on the world drove an “automotive first” development, with the advent of fully autonomous cars most transportation systems will drive “autonomous first” and lead to a more vehicle dependent transportation system.


These challenges are definitely many years off but the thinking that we do now and the direction we decide to take will have drastic effects on our urban landscapes for decades to come.



Kessler, Sarah. “A Timeline of Self-Driving Cars.” Quartz, Quartz, 29 Mar. 2017,


Levy, John M.. Contemporary Urban Planning. 11th ed. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.


McFarland, Matt. “Uber and Lyft Are Creating a Traffic Problem for Big Cities.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, 11 Oct. 2017,


Said, Caroline. “Study: Rideshare Cars Heavily Impact San Francisco Streets.” Government Technology: State & Local Government News Articles,


In the years after the civil war people moved out west to farm. Most of these farmers would strive on rain-fall and most were self-sufficient homesteaders. If the farmers were not thriving they would at least survive because they were able to use natural resources which are free. Around the 1880’s the weather and rain-fall wasn’t as promising which brought a lot of concern and desperation. Due to these dry period’s farmers fell and only the strong survived. With dry periods came dam building’s in the 1920’s.

The dam buildings of the 1920’s brought life and h ope for farmers as dry periods brought the average farmers to a complete halt.  This movement was about a half of a century of dam building which is an enormous amount of time. Through a lot of negotiations the Colorado River was the source to which boulder dam was created. The dam was 726 feet high, took 5 years to build, was a quarter mile wide, and contained 66 million tons of concrete. If there was another great dry period and the Colorado River became dry, the dam was capable of supplying 2 years of water. In the later years which there was struggle due to prior appropriation there was a struggle to whom would be able to use the water and how much it would cost those who were interested in using the water. This brought a scope on the fact that farmers would either have to bid on their water and or pay a price for the water this in turn favors the urban and industrial users over the agricultural users.

This topic in the readings were of great interest to me as I have never seen a dam and gave me a bit more knowledge on dam’s and what the struggles and benefits were in the past where water was a huge struggle. It was interesting to me also because water today for me is very abundant and I could not imagine what it would be like if water was scarce and especially if my livelihood,success, and my family all relied on it to be successful and survive.

Social Photography’s collection on Housing


This picture was taken by an untitled photographer at East 100TH Street in New York City. This building is a typical 18th tenement block for people in working class. Following growth of citizens in big cities, blocks that contain many flats and shared public spaces were constructed. Usually, every flats had two rooms which would be shared by over three families, and only one would provide lights for householders. Tenants had to bathrooms and cooking spaces with others. Because of the lack of sanitary facilities like air circulations and large amount of people lived in one room, this kind of block had high mortality rates. This picture reflects the social background for big cities like New York which developed quickly in 19th century. At that time, overwhelming citizens came to big cities like New York City which were in need of labors forces for transportation building and manufacturing. For better working developments and education for children, people in edge cities settled down in metropolitan cities. They went here for better future, but they didn’t ware that happiness might be leaving them.


This picture was taken by Bill Owens in Dublin California. In this picture, single houses are separated by sprawls. Sprawling was used to segregate different land uses like farmlands, industrial factories and highways. Each family has own garage, and for about ten families, there was a playground for children to have fun. This is cul-de-sacs which is especially designed for children to play near home, rather than crossing dangerous public roads or highways.

Bill Owens mentioned, “We’re really happy. Our kids are healthy, we eat good food, and we have a really nice home.” Since over ten years ago, Dublin California only contained crossroads and contained population less than 1,000, most of them were cows. However, now, Dublin California builds a highway and many industrial factories. There are less fresh air and more safety issues for citizens.

Trenton, New Jersey, a Land Bank.

According to Contemporary Urban Planning, making sites and buildings available is one of methods that a community can do to promote its economic growth. The reason why this could promote economic growth is because developers, business owners, firms, and etc. need a site to fulfill their duties. These sites “ . . . attract commercial activity and retain existing activity” (Levy; 274). Business owners need a site to run a business. Sites that are not floodplains and have access to utilities such as water, sewer lines, and have electrical power, consist of a criteria that makes a site usable. Let’s consider the city of Trenton, New Jersey. According to The Trenton Neighborhood Restoring Campaign, there are a total of 3,423 vacant buildings, of which only 337 are owned by the city of Trenton. That’s 1 in 4 buildings within Trenton are vacant. That means there are 3,086 economic and taxing opportunities in Trenton and a possible 337 more with proper consent.

Where vacant buildings are concentrated around the city of Trenton. Red is high concentration; blue is low; tan is neutral. (The Trenton Neighborhood Restoration Campaign)


The City holds public auctions periodically for qualified parties who seek to rehabilitate City-owned tax delinquent buildings so that they can be put back onto the tax roll. The City even negotiates pricing outside of auctions on properties redevelopment areas (NJTV News; 2014). According to Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson, vacant buildings could cost $1 or up to $10,000, depending upon the assessed value of the land. But the question is, who would be interested in locating their firm, business, franchise, or residence in Trenton, NJ? Well considering streets like East Hanover, which received multiple grants in 2014. Marty Johnson, CEO and President of Isles, states that East Hanover Street is walking distance away from state office buildings, and is ideal for homesteaders. Image result for east hanover street trenton nj

They also offer tax abatement during the first five years for homesteaders which leads me to the other “can do” for the economic growth. The Enterprise Zone. This could attract many new and starting-up business owners who are looking for not only cheap properties but also grants and a variety of tax breaks including, property tax reductions, sales tax reductions, reduced corporate income tax, and so on. The only problem with subsidization is, where is the municipal funding going to come from? Maybe generous business owners from surrounding areas, gentrification, or even tax revenues gained from rehabilitated vacant buildings? I do not know exactly but these are just a few options that can be implemented. The point is, just like cities like Philadelphia, for the size of Trenton, NJ, and its potential. The city is a land bank considering land, transportation and history.

Image result for abandoned buildings in trenton nj

Small Decisions, Big Changes

People all over the world have adapted to a life reliant on convenience. These conveniences are produced at the high cost of greenhouse gas emissions and toxic chemicals in our air. The impact that industrial growth has on the environment is seldom noticed in the present. Our air and water quality has been steadily deteriorating, since as early as the first industrial revolution, due to heavy pollution that has endangered public health and wildlife worldwide. Everyday conveniences, such as burning fossil fuels to run our automobiles, running air conditioners and refrigerators, using hairspray, or even owning products that are manufactured in industrial factories all contribute to the destruction of our ozone layer. This has led to the entrapment of greenhouse gases which led to global warming and the present day climate change crisis we currently face. Society at large must make serious lifestyle changes in order to prevent further damage. The question is; is society willing to care more about the stability of our environment than the presence of everyday conveniences?

The industrial revolution pioneered large scale industrialization of manufacturing and agricultural processes in America, and increased pollution significantly. The transition into an industrialized world was the catalyst to major environmental issues. The American government took action to preserve nature and administer environmental public policy in response to the increasing presence of water pollution, smog, and extinct wildlife . The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was released in the 1970’s, and required local government and industry to monitor projects and provide a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to communicate the environmental impacts. The Clean Air Acts provided two categories, primary and secondary, standards of pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created to set the standards for the levels of pollution that impact public health and safety, based on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Environmental public policy reform was essential to keep up with the rapid increase of air pollutants and ozone destruction throughout history. Today in the year 2017 we can see the destructive effects of air toxicity more than ever, yet the manufacturing of greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere are only increasing.

The American Lung Association has concluded that New Jersey may be the most polluted state in America. New Jersey is a small, densely populated state that houses many industrial parks and manufacturing businesses. High levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, ozone and particulates are found in overpopulated New Jersey, resulting in “bad” air with a majority of the state receiving F grades in air quality. New Jersey isn’t the only state in crisis; many other states in the US have extremely poor air quality as well. The city of Philadelphia alone emits more pollution than the entire state of Pennsylvania. The constant poor habit of choosing convenience over environmental sustainability is not just limited to America. Toxicity and gas emissions is an international problem. The decision to put economic viability and industry advancement ahead of environmental sustainability has led to an international public health emergency. Global warming due to greenhouse gases is causing climate change, and that is a fact supported by tangible evidence. Sea levels are rising, polar ice caps are melting, and entire ecosystems are being wiped out by the unnatural warmth that is trapped inside our atmosphere. The damage is irreversible, and all we can do now is prevent further damage.

There is a massive public health crisis occurring right now in New Delhi, India. Air quality deterioration is often steady and not paid attention to. That is not the case for India, because a thick toxic haze that when breathed is “equivalent to smoking over two packs of cigarettes a day” has arrived in New Delhi. The dark smog is a result of mass pollution and it has shut down the city of New Delhi. India is an industrialized, densely populated country. The massive amounts of air pollution that caused the smog stem from concentrated emissions from car exhausts and crop burning. The government should take immediate action to set higher standards in environmental policy to reduce external pollutants. Pollution tax, alternative solutions for farmers to rid of the old crops, and sustainable methods of transportation and manufacturing can help reduce the amount of pollution that is occurring in densely populated India. The public health emergency occurring in New Delhi, India should sound the alarm for worldwide action in reducing air pollution.


                  (Image from The New York Times – dark smog in New Delhi, India)


The pollution from the entire world as a whole has created one large, irreversible problem for our planet. The hole in our ozone layer affects everyone, everywhere. The future of our planet doesn’t just depend on environmental preservation action from New Jersey, or India, but rather, the entire world. All nations need to get on board with a worldwide environmental protection action plan to save what is left of fragile earth. Global warming due to greenhouse gases has caused climate change throughout the world. Climate change has caused radical weather systems and natural disasters. Air toxicity and pollution has gotten to be too much for our atmosphere and lungs to handle, and there is a worldwide public health crisis afoot. Modern society’s constant need for convenience is at the cost of the earth’s current lifespan. Environmental sustainability needs to be the topic of conversation, and a new international environmental public policy reform is in order. Everyday convenience will always be preferred, but it’s the road less traveled that will make all the difference.
Works Cited:

“Choking Air in New Delhi .” The New York Times, 12 Nov. 2017,

Davis, Tom. “NJ Has Among Nation’s Worst Air, American Lung Association Study Says.”Montclair, NJ Patch, Patch, 20 Apr. 2017,

Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning.