Wildfires are becoming more destructive. A new book says that’s not natural — and it’s not climate change

“Flame and Fortune in the American West,” a book by University of Colorado Denver professor Gregory Simon argues that increasing devastation by fire is a result of building homes and businesses in unwise places, rather than the easy scapegoat of ‘climate change’. An interview with the author discusses economics and development patterns that increase fire risk at the urban boundary:

“One objective of the book is to say, look, you can change land use planning in this way or that way, you can change the rules, you can change development to reduce fire risks and costs. But the other part of the book is concerned with how we talk about fire. I argue that when we suggest the problem is caused mainly by climate change and environmental factors we are actually exonerating — unfairly — the role of humans and city developers in creating these risks in the first place …  We keep spreading cities farther and farther out and I think that needs to be part of the discourse. Fires disasters aren’t natural, they’re very social.

I propose ways in which we can slow down this process of converting landscape, and adding risk to the landscapes and extracting profits from landscapes, by doing things like taking land out of availability through conservation easements or making development more costly, whether that means reducing fire protection services or reducing home ownership incentives.”

Energized by Changes in Demographics and Consumer Demand, U.S. Suburbs are Positioned to Thrive in the Decades Ahead, Says New ULI Report

A December 5, 2016 report, Housing in the Evolving American Suburbprovides a new analytic framework developed by RCLCO for the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing that describes different kinds of suburbs based on the key factors that define and determine their housing markets. The report classifies and compares suburbs in the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S. – shown in a searchable online map – and assesses the key issues that will shape suburban residential demand and development in the years ahead.

Terwilliger Center Executive Director Stockton Williams says, “The capacity of American suburbs to evolve with the economic and demographic transformations the country is experiencing will be one of the central real estate and land use issues of the 21st century.” 

The Sprawl Repair Manual

Sprawl Repair Manual

The Sprawl Repair Manual presents a comprehensive methodology for transforming sprawl developments into human-scale, sustainable communities. In this richly illustrated book, Galina Tachieva draws on more than two decades of experience to provide a step-by-step process of design, regulatory, and implementation techniques for reurbanizing and rebalancing suburbia.
Her solutions will inspire and equip anyone looking to reimagine suburban development.

The Sprawl Repair Manual is so far the only complete physical planning manual for handling the impending transformation of suburbia into vital human communities. It is not only hugely instructive but formidably inspirational.

—Leon Krier, Master Planner of Prince Charles’ Poundbury Project in Dorset, UK and author of The Architecture of Community