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January 1, 2013

First post. The South Bay Area is stuck in some sort of urban definition limbo. We’re sprawl, but we’re greenbelt and open space; we’re smart, we’re segregated, we’re integrated– there’s one thing we do do without question– drive. Relative to the more urban parts of the Bay Area, we ride public transit much less, walk far fewer steps, and generally pedal less (although that’s changing!).

It’s not a completely suburban landscape like the new exurbs springing up in the San Joaquin Valley, but lacks certain urban qualities from San Francisco and Alameda Counties. The blanket of 1950’s urbanism was unrolled quickly during the postwar era and there were few bumps to slow its reach.

Freeway, expressway, and road construction in the 1950’s and 60’s shaped the growth we see today. Image: Eric Fischer 

Fifty years after the unprecedented post-war growth, annexation battles, and rise of the tech industry, Santa Clara County is expected to add the most jobs and residents of all the Bay Area counties by 2035. However, the Valley is derided as a hopelessly car-dependent burg, with nodes of affluence encircling crumbling remnants of pre-war urban fabric. One of the ultimate car-dependent land uses, the office park, matured in the Silicon Valley and today they are tied to big-box retail clusters and single family subdivisions by ribbons of freeway, expressway, and arterials that are not worthy of the labels “boulevard” or “avenue.”

We dabble with pockets of urbanism that seem to reflect tepid acceptance, rather than enthusiastic embrace, of city life. Sometimes we leap, but more often than not, we seem to fall in the most spectacular of ways, reverting back to what we know best.

Santana Row– A San Jose shopping mall designed to mimic an urban neighborhood. Image: Bhatta

I feel that there is a urban planning blog void for the South Bay compared to other Bay Area locations like San Francisco and Oakland and I hope to share perspectives on urban design, transportation, and development, with a mixture of history and data. Comment! criticism, flames to a reasonable degree, and corrections.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2013 2:11 am

    Welcome to the blogosphere and I’m looking forward to seeing more of what you have to offer. Thanks also for the link to Cyclelicious!

    Are you on Twitter of G+ or other social media if I or others would like to get in touch with you?

  2. January 2, 2013 6:42 am

    Thanks, Richard! Yes, I’m on G+ and Twitter.

    Twitter is @jarkatmu.
    Google + is my name: Jarrett Mullen

    I should probably add this to the about page.

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