Archive | February, 2012

News & Notes

500 days of summer park bench

Photo (cc) jaywei80

The Atlantic Cities: In Defense of Loitering

Not long after American inner cities started to empty of street life in the 1960s and 70s, government officials went for the benches. Benches encourage people to sit still. And sitting still is a quasi-crime in urban America commonly known as “loitering.” You may recognize its related anti-social behaviors: standing still, milling about and strolling a little too slowly.

It’s hard to remember how we got here, to criminalizing a leisurely pursuit that’s embraced on most European streets. But the cycle went something like this: Residents moved out of cities and stopped using their public spaces and streets. The only people still walking them were deemed riffraff: the homeless, jobless and, officials feared, gang members and prostitutes.

San Francisco Chronicle: Privately owned public spaces: Guidance needed

The Roof Terrace at One Kearny shows why we’re lucky that San Francisco requires downtown developers to provide space in their projects that is accessible to the public at large.

It also is a case study in why the generation-old guidelines must be improved.

Privately managed “public” spaces are one of the things being discussed for 195 land development. The spaces would offset the large footprints of lab buildings, and provide open space that the City would not have to pay to maintain. However, there are obviously lots of questions of accessiblity to answer.

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Mayor Taveras Town Hall presentations on the State of the City

Join Mayor Angel Taveras for a Town Hall style public presentation of the 2012 State of the City on:

Angel TaverasThursday, March 1 – 7:00pm
Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island
401 Elmgrove Avenue

Monday, March 5 – 7:00pm
Washington Park Community Center
42 Jillson Street

Wednesday, March 14 – 7:00pm
DaVinci Center
440 Charles Street

Tuesday, March 20 – 7:00pm
Federal Hill House
9 Courtland Street

Contact us for more info

See also:


RIPTA Community Meeting on Elmwood Avenue service improvements – February 28, 2012


Photo (cc) Trisha Crabb


RIPTA and Senator Juan M. Pichardo to hold community meeting on Tuesday, February 28, 2012

RIPTA and Senator Juan M. Pichardo (District 2) will hold a community meeting to present suggested improvements to bus stop service along Elmwood Avenue. The Route 20/Elmwood Avenue Optimization Project is part of RIPTA’s Key Bus Route Improvement Program. These proposed improvements are scheduled to be completed by October 2013. The meeting is scheduled for 6pm on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 in the RIPTA Conference Room, located at 269 Melrose Street in Providence. For more information on this project, email Amy Pettine at

Also, don’t forget RIDOT is holding a meeting on proposed MBTA service cuts and fare increases on Monday the 27th.


City Plan Commission Meeting – February 28, 2012

Notice of Regular Meeting
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development
1st Floor Meeting Room
444 Westminster Street, Providence

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of meeting minutes from January 24, 2012 meeting – for action

Minor Land Development Project

1. Case No. 12-02MI – 47 49 Seekonk Street (Preliminary Plan Approval) The applicant is seeking preliminary plan approval to demolish the existing building and construct a new 37 unit apartment building with underground and above ground parking. The applicant is requesting dimensional adjustments for height, density and setbacks. (Wayland, AP 15, Lots 248 and 250 – C-2. Lots 238 and 239 – W-1) – for action

Institutional Master Plan

2. Presentation of Butler Hospital’s five year Institutional Master Plan
Adoption of five year Institutional Master Plan for Butler Hospital outlining 5 year plans for development, capital improvements, operations and circulation – for action

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News & Notes

Berlin Dynamic from Matthias Makarinus on Vimeo.

Vimeo: Berlin Dynamic

Dynamic Berlin – Timelapse project with over 50.000 photos and thousands of people. Dynamic light, clouds, street life, movement and much more. Shot from May 2010 – September 2011 with Canon 5D Mark II and many lenses.

Via: The City Fix

The Hill: Boxer sees ‘no path forward’ on $109B Senate transportation bill

The Senate transportation bill, which is shorter than the controversial House version of the measure, has been hailed for its bipartisanship since was approved unanimously by several committees. The Senate bill does not include provisions to expand oil drilling, but it has been bogged down amendments such as a measure from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) dealing with foreign aid to Egypt and an effort to contraception in their healthcare plans.

Boxer said Wednesday that she would not allow the transportation bill to be permanently stopped during the amendment process.

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News & Notes

The Atlantic Cities The Scourge of 1970s-Era Office Towers

There’s a particular flavor of 1970s-era office tower that’s starting to feel its age. Your city probably has at least one. Stuck in between the perceived coolness of early 20th century facades and the newness of all-glass towers, these buildings are having a hard time retaining existing tenants, let alone attracting new ones.

The article is about ’70s era office towers, but some things to think about in regards to the Superman Building in Providence.

Transportation Nation: Feds Pitch First-Ever Distracted Driving Guidelines For Automakers

Automakers should disable potentially distracting technology unless the car is turned off – or in “park.”

That’s the message from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which unveiled the first-ever federally proposed guidelines to encourage manufacturers to keep dashboard distractions to a minimum.

The guidelines – which are voluntary – would apply to “communications, entertainment, information gathering and navigation devices or functions that are not required to safely operate the vehicle.”

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Developing: City announces tax agreement with Johnson & Wales

I’m following the developments on this on Twitter, here’s some of the news coming in:

Press release from the City added to end of post.

  • Mayor making headway with tax-exempts [WPRI]

Taveras announced a tentative deal with Johnson & Wales University at a news conference on Wednesday. Under the agreement, instead of paying taxes, the university will give the city $6.4 million, with the possibility of an additional $5 million over a 10-year period.

Will add more information as it comes in.

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News & Notes

McMansion #2

McMansion outside Chicago. Photo (cc) ChicagoGeek

The Atlantic Cities: Have Americans Given Up On McMansions?

After many years of dramatically increasing home size in America – from an average of 983 square feet in the 1950s up to 2300 square feet in the 2000s, despite declining household sizes – the trend appears finally to be going in the other direction. The real estate research firm Trulia found in 2010, for example, that the median “ideal home size” for Americans had declined to around 2100 square feet. More than one-third of survey respondents reported that their ideal preference was lower than 2000 square feet.

The Boston Phoenix: The Fight Against MBTA Service Cuts and Fare Hikes Gets Ugly

The latest theater in the war against MBTA fare hikes and service cuts opened Monday with a bang on every corner of the train map. Occupy Somerville forces rallied in Davis Square. Their Jamaica Plain and Dorchester counterparts gathered at Forest Hills and Fields Corner, respectively, to sound alarms about troubling proposals. Leading the pack, a group of loud and determined teens with the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition joined hundreds from the T Riders Union (TRU) and other activist outfits for a mass rally on Copley Square outside the Boston Public Library, where the MBTA planned a bombshell public meeting for 6pm on Monday night.

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Providence City Council Ward redistricting hearings start today

Ward Redistricting

The Committee on Ward Boundaries will hold the first of four public hearings February 14th at 6pm at Nathan Bishop Middle School.

The Committee is seeking public comment on the proposed redistricting of Providence. Ward boundaries are evaluated every ten years, following the decennial census, so that the fifteen wards accurately reflect changes in the city’s population. A map of proposed ward boundary changes may be viewed as a .pdf online here. Current boundaries are outlined in red, and the proposed boundaries are colored as indicated by the map legend.

All hearings will begin at 6pm and are scheduled is as follows:

Both oral and/or written testimony is welcomed from members of the public. Comments also may be submitted no later than February 22nd to: Committee on Ward Boundaries, c/o City Clerk, 25 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903.


Providence State of the City Address

Live Streams are over. Prepared text added to post below.

The State of the City will be livestreaming below starting at 7pm (technology willing).

WPRI Stream has better sound.

If you’re on Twitter, follow the #PVDsotc hashtag. We’ll probably be Tweeting and re-Tweeting there. Follow us on Twitter at @gcpvd.

Feel free to add you thoughts in the comments as you watch, this post will be updated during and after the address.

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News & Notes

USDOT Fast Lane Blog: Budget reflects central role of transportation in the lives of Americans, in the vitality of our nation’s economy

It has been more than two years and four months since America’s transportation funding expired. Congress has extended the law with short-term patches eight different times. But, with bridges crumbling and highways choked with congestion, our nation needs the planning certainty that comes from a long-term transportation bill, a bill that puts people back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, transit systems, and airports.

So today, President Obama outlined a six-year surface transportation proposal-part of his blueprint for an America built to last. The transportation budget the President proposed has three broad goals:

  • Creating jobs and investing in infrastructure for our future;
  • Modernizing transportation through focused research and technology; and
  • Pressing forward on our number one priority–safety.

The Atlantic Cities: Why In-Town Big Box Stores Might Not Be As Awful As You Think

City-dwellers love to rag on big box stores. They’re large and ugly and kind of dehumanizing. They require vast seas of surface parking. They sell the antithesis of the idealized urban shopping experience, in which a shopper on foot might hit multiple locally owned specialty shops for her hardware, her art supplies and her bubble bath.

What’s there to possibly like about the big-box alternative?

Well, here is one factor urban critics may not have considered: What if in-town big box stores encourage people to drive less?

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Providence Geeks, Feb. 15

Providence Geeks Dinner

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

Lullabot – arguably the world’s top Drupal consultancy – is one of the Providence tech scene’s best kept secrets. From their headquarters in the Jewelry District, Lullabot has become an internationally distributed team of 36 and growing (fast).

Not content with that, Lullabot is now expanding into “product.” Built originally for – their online school for learning Drupal & JQuery – Videola is an enterprise-strength video management & delivery platform. Think build-your-own Netflix-style streaming video web site.

At the February Geek Dinner this coming Wednesday, Lullabot/Videola CEO (and former Orbit frontman) Jeff Robbins (@jjeff) will tell the Lullabot story, give a Videola demonstration, and share the vision for where Lullabot is headed next.