Glaeser, E. 2004, "Review of Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class"
long nguyen

The reading is on Glaesers analysis on Florida’s work The rise of the creative class. Essentially Florida’s work focuses on how creativity can result in the growth and development of the city. He highlights that creativity is growing and firms are displaying and showcasing themselves as creative to attract the creative. The purpose of this as highlighted by Glaeser is that for cities to grow and blossom, they need to have the creative in them, they are “the wave of the future”.

Glaeser spends the first section of his analysis on Floridas book analyzing its worth and value. His focal point was on Florida’s argument that there is “a difference between the human capital theory of city growth and the creative capital theory of city growth”.

Glaser points out in Florida that in order for a city to succeed the, the city itself needs to provide for its residents – more so with lifestyle and consumption, perhaps making it more enjoyable and social. A happier city will result in more happy residents. Glaeser criticizes Florida’s claim that creative people can only be the “bohemian types” who likes “funky, socially free areas with cool downtowns and lots of density” Florida (2004) (cited in Glaeser). This sort of thinking lets us think for a minute, is it ironic to assume that the creative can be stereotypically portrayed and described as how Florida (2004) has mentioned? Glaeser asserts that the ‘creative’ can not be categorized as how Florida (2004) has mentioned them, and asserts that the creative can vary, even be the types that likes “big suburban lots with easy commutes…”

The entire analysis on Florida’s work and Glaesers’ seems to have a focal point on who the creative types are? The assumed ‘creatives’ and whether which group constitutes more to growth as opposed to other groups. One interesting group of people(s) mentioned within the analysis are ‘bohemian types’ who seem to make up a small portion of the overall population (a study Glaeser conducted himself) but seem to have a significant impact on growth. As the reading continued, it was quite confusing to understand this concept of Bohemians and Bohemianism, so a definition from wikipedia for the term is as follows:

The term bohemian, of French origin, was first used in the English language in the nineteenth century[1] to describe the untraditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or antiestablishment political or social viewpoints, which were often expressed through non-marital sexual relations, frugality, and/or "voluntary poverty". The term bohemian, of French origin, was first used in the English language in the nineteenth century[1] to describe the untraditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or antiestablishment political or social viewpoints, which were often expressed through non-marital sexual relations, frugality, and/or "voluntary poverty".

A more modern term in which we can relate to these people as described within The American College Dictionary as "a person with artistic or intellectual tendencies, who lives and acts with no regard for conventional rules of behavior."

What we need to distinguish is the opposing views between Florida and Glaeser, Glaesers belief is that human capital (that is creative human capital) generates the growth within the city as opposed to Florida’s argument that a creative capital generates the growth (to have a creative capital, not only do we need the creative people, we need the contents of the city to promote creative people and activities).

The reading goes on to examine 3 other variables and see if they constitute to the growth of a city, the other 3 are:
Local Worker variable - (College/tertiary educated within the city core)
Patent citation per capita variable (A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to an inventor or his assignee for a fixed period of time in exchange for a disclosure of an invention (wikipedia, 2008))
Gay variable – (Gay couples within the city)?
Bohemian variable – (refer to previous definition on bohemian/bohemianism)

The results showed that:
teritary educated – contributing factor to growth
patent per capita – very small and insignicant factor to growth
gay – detrimental to growth
bohemianism – small variable, but has a major impact on growth

The entire reading and analysis parallels much to Logan & Molotch (2007) work on the City as a growth machine, in a sense that so called ‘bohemianism’ stimulates growth to a city through creative and artistic behavior, as also mentioned in (Logan & Molotch (2007)) where creativity is needed to stimulate growth as ideas sprout issues and unfortunately having issues results in further growth and production, though creativity in a city can also be positive – result in more ideas and ideas will result in more growth.

Overall the two academics may have opposing views on what makes a city grow, but fundamentally both agree that creativity will in no doubt result in the growth and development of a city.

Questions to consider:

  • Do you agree that in order for a city to grow, we need the elites, academics and ‘creatives’ to fuel the growth?
  • Do you think that only certain groups of people within a city will result in growth?
  • Do you believe in Bohemianism
  • Should the people who contribute to growth be stereotyped and categorized, and are there anomalies out there, those who contribute to a cities growth but not necessarily be seen as an academic/tertiary educated or a creative person?


Glaeser, E. 2004, Book Review of Richard Florida's "The Rise of the Creative Class", Harvard Institute of Economic Research, online

12. City Futures 31st May, 2008 22:23:50   [#] [3 comments] 

Florida, R. 2005 "Cities and the Creative Class"

Richard Florida is a social scientist-cum-social entrepreneur, having built something of a consulting empire following the ‘success’ of his research into the relationship between cities and the people he has coined the creative class. (Visit and you’ll soon get the drift.) Florida’s research is clearly targeted beyond a purely academic audience, and his series of non-fiction titles are no strangers to best-seller lists in his native US. In the book Cities and the Creative Class (Florida 2005), he is explicit in his intent to “spur wider commentary and debate on the critical functions of cities and regions in 21st century capitalism” (p.28). Florida is influenced by the ideas of several authors we have become familiar with through the readings of this course and others; he pays homage to writers such as Jane Jacobs and Edward Klaesar, as well as Robert Putnam, the man credited with the theory of social capital.

This particular reading is the scene-setting title chapter from Cities and the Creative Class, where Florida works to establish his key concepts in the mind of the reader. He contests that, in recent history, the imagining of what drives the success of cities has come full circle. For the most part of the twentieth century, Florida explains, it was people and their activity that were seen to foster “difference, creativity and innovation” (p.27). In its latter decades, growth and development were thought to be driven by “companies, firms and industries” (p.27). Now, building on the rise of theory around human capital, academic thought is again rallied behind the idea that “creative people are the driving force in regional economic growth” (p.34). For Florida, it is these people that comprise the creative class, whose membership he defines as those whose primary work function is “create meaningful new forms” (p.34). Principally, this includes disciplines such as science, engineering, design, academia, literature and the arts. Secondarily, it includes “knowledge-intensive industries” (p.34) such as finance, IT, legal and healthcare.

Florida shapes his argument around three main ideas - firstly, that geography is “not dead” (p.28). Interestingly, he relates the popular modern notion of communication technology rendering physical relationships obsolete with the predictions of experts at the turn of the nineteenth century who claimed “technologies from telegraph and the telephone to the automobile and the airplane would essentially kill off the cities” (p.28). Florida firmly grounds himself in the camp of thought that values place rather than space as the key ingredient of a flourishing city, and argues it is such places that serve as “incubators of creativity, innovation, and new industries” (p.29)

Secondly, Florida addresses the question: why do creative people cluster in certain places? He finds that, crucially, creative class-types are making career decisions and/or locational choice based on a combination of “economic and lifestyle considerations”, and are drawn to places that are “inclusive and diverse” (p.33). This is equating to an abandonment of cities built around traditional ideals of mainstream urban provisions – of freeways, malls and sports stadiums – in favour of cities that offer “high-quality experiences” and the opportunity to “validate their identities as creative people” (p.34).

Thirdly, Florida claims that such places attracting the creative class can be identified as those that concurrently offer the 3 T’s [sic] of “technology, talent and tolerance” (p.37). Tolerance is defined as an openness to individuals and communities of all walks of life, which tacitly reduces barriers to entry (see p.40); talent as persons holding a bachelor degree or higher; and technology in terms of “both innovation and high technology concentrations in a region” (p.37). Florida points to past research relating to the Gay and Bohemian Index (p.40-42) as illustrating this point of the Three T’s.

Overall, the determined style of this chapter could be interpreted as setting the reader up for a right pounding of the gospel according to Florida. However, it serves as a very useful synthesis of many of the themes we have covered to date – such as economic growth, innovation, commerce, competition – that are especially particular to cities. Florida’s theories are definitely reflected (albeit incidentally) in the assumptions of our general discussions to date, and his research and insights are difficult to ignore as we strive for the continuous improvement of our cities.

Points for discussion: (go on, last ones!)

  • Do you agree with Florida’s conclusions that flourishing cities and the creative class are mutually exclusive? (Or alternatively, do you think Florida is stroking his own ego, ‘finding’ social classifications to make himself feel better?)
  • How do you see Florida’s theories relating to Melbourne?
  • Can the creative class be attracted to a city (ie by planning) or is it an intrinsically organic process? How/why?

Florida, R. 2005 "Cities and the Creative Class", Cities and the Creative Class, Routledge, New York

12. City Futures 30th May, 2008 01:06:18   [#] [3 comments] 

Dovey, K. 2005 "Hype and Hope"
Amy Harris

Docklands is a prime piece of real estate comprised of 200 hectares with water access and directly adjacent to a major city centre. The development was supposed to contain "principles of public access, environmental sustainability, mixed use, height controls to protect amenity, heritage protection, public artworks, waterfront promenades, public open space, pedestrian/cycle networks and public transport" Yet, ten years after the Docklands conception Dovey is asking what went wrong? In the beginning the Docklands were "declared to be both market driven and design driven" however, through taking a closer look at what actually eventuated in the development process, Dovey uncovers some serious deviations from the initial strategy.

The hype and strategy surrounding the docklands anticipated huge international investment as being the biggest driver of development, but due to collapse or rejection of these international players the selected developers for "five of the six precincts are Melbourne-based" and nearly all projects are Australian owned and controlled. As Dovey says, initially the docklands hype assumed "large amounts of global investment with no public cost under the condition that the state largely surrender design control. The result has been medium amounts of local investment at substantial public cost coupled with loss of control"

From the outset the Docklands was intended to have little or no financial impact on the public purse, yet one of the most questionable deviation is the public spending on operational costs, subsidies and major infrastructure projects. State funded investments include Telstra Dome, bridge extensions of Collins, Bourke and Latrobe, a new tram way, Wurundjery Way, Grimes Bridge, Web Bridge, broadband digital network, subsidies to attract the technology park and film studio and operational costs for the Dockland Authority.

The planning and urban design phase that followed is described by Dovey to be a bit of a compromised and fluid process. With the Docklands termed 'millennium development' the government was understandably getting worried with minimal development occurring, and this is one angle where developers pushed and manipulated the circumstance for public investment. Developers were willing to provide infrastructure in their own precincts where it could be controlled, but were less inclined to pitch in funds for the overall core infrastructure.
The Precincts are all under individual developer control, and it is criticised that the "planing and design process was essentially being subcontracted to developers". By this Dovey means the overall conception and integration of the Docklands was relatively piecemeal and laden with uncertainty. While the planning scheme allowed for developers and designers to think outside the box, this same freedom for all precincts made it especially difficult to calculate risk- it is hard to know how the adjoining precinct will add or subtract value if you don't know what they are doing.

This freedom to move actually resulted in a contradiction of standards and in some cases disregarded the planing scheme. On the north side a row of 80 metre towers dominate the skyline and place the waterfront in perpetual shade, where were height controls in this instance? Yet in another precinct, Waterfront City, this is not the case.

With the individual precincts drawing attention away from an integrated approach, Dovey is critical of the failure to develop the harbour as a major centrepiece. Wharves and warehouses have the possibility to add cultural and heritage value, yet with the focus being on the precinct there was no "imperative to preserve it" Additionally the finger pier is a key to integrated conceptual thinking creating a public focus point, but with precincts on all sides this focus is somewhat lost.

Ultimately, Dovey is of the opinion that the 'market driven' approach was not necessarily the way to go because as we can see, it did not deliver the benefits it was supposed to. He suggests that perhaps a more realistic angle would have been to realise that public investment was required over that 10 years. Flowing from this, more control could have been taken, not only to create a more imaginative and integrated place, but one that promoted private investment as well.


  • With such a major addition to the city, why would the Government initially be reluctant to procure funds for infrastructure and development?
  • How did the planning system fail to produce the desired outcomes of connection, integration and public access? What could have been done better?
  • From personal experience (ie visiting the Docklands), and a design perspective what are the positive and negative elements of the area, what would you change if you could?


Dovey K. 2005, "Hype and Hope" in Fluid City: Transforming Melbourne's Urban Waterfront, UNSW Press, Sydney, Ch 10 (9p)

12. City Futures 26th May, 2008 10:09:53   [#] [8 comments] 

Taylor, B. 2004, "The Geography of Urban Transportation Finance"
Edward Crossland

Taylor introduces the notion that transportation finance is a political matter, going on to give a brief history of the role of road usage in America from the 1930s, with similar changes occurring here in Australia.

This whole scenario depends on which form of government is in at the time, whether it be left or right. Performance criteria is utilised to asses what the cheapest short term option is for transportation investment that is financially viable. This clearly means that transportation finance is a political matter, but one must ask to whom the government panders and why.

With the onset of the great depression in America, fuel tax was the largest tax going at the time and the best means of accumulating revenue in those testing times - thus people were encouraged to drive. Highway construction started to occur all over the country, but what is key to all of this is how other forms of transport ie bike riding and public transport did not have to be accounted for within the planning of these new roadways. So while roads sprawled, development of other forms of transportation pretty much halted.

In the 1970s, General Motors bought up many other transport systems, making it somewhat impossible in many instances to get around without a car. Though it was at the same time that the public started to become irritated when new highways were being constructed within established suburbs, brining with them traffic, noise and pollution.

The notion of user pays is introduced, with the explanation that there is no such thing as 'free' parking, rather that the cost of provision of parking and road usage is offset through other means. The introduction of user pays means that the majority of the cost is past on to the user, but then when parking is 'free', it is financed via parking infringements, registration, taxes and shopping bills. An example of this is a shopping centre. Shopping centres provide 'free' parking often to entice customers. What many people don't realise is that those parking spaces come at a great cost to the business and the cost of providing them is offset by adding their expense to the price of their goods; meaning that you pay for the parking by paying the inflated prices the shop has introduced to its products. The same can be said of toll-ways and petrol. The more you use, the more it costs. At the same time, it must be noted that currently vehicles are not charged for the degradation they cause, whether it be environmental or social.

Here lies a problem. While it is good that cars are becoming more fuel efficient, an offset of this is less revenue acquired through fuel tax revenue. This is reason why the government is not keen on pushing cars to cleaner alternatives. It has also raised the issue that there is a growing gap between funds raised and service infrastructure needed. Need is outstripping what is being provided and while providing more roads may be seen to ease congestion, it only invite more cars to the road, cars that are not covering the cost of services required under the current level of taxes claimed to do so. It is becoming growingly financially unviable.

The issue of rising fuel costs is of concern, as people are struggling to afford to operate their vehicles and are paying heightened prices for goods that have to travel greater distances due to the dispersion of our car based cities. Calls to lower fuel taxes are ill-founded, as this tax is required to maintain the infrastructure to run on, meaning that other forms of finance generation will have to be employed, whether it means increased GST or something else. This has also resulted in many people who are in need of public transport not having it available to them, so reluctantly continue to drive their car, often into areas that are less car reliant, particularly for localised travel.

As is evident in America and Australia, our reliance on the car has a direct correlation to the way in which our urban centres have developed and operate, with dispersed suburbs that are too low in density to ensure public transportation is viable. Resulting in particular areas of higher density with little parking which are well serviced by public transport compared to seemingly endless expanse of suburbs which receive poor to no public transport within an acceptable walking distance, is too infrequent to warrant its use, does not take the person where they want to go and or is too slow, but with more than adequate parking.

Decisions in transportation finance spending will continue to have political ties, but it is up to constituents to rally their representatives to voice the change that they desire, whether that be increased public transport services, roads closed to cars or the introduction of bike lanes. The impact of transportation finance has a greater effect on everyone's life than most would care to believe.


  • How do we move from a car reliant society to one that favours public transport, riding and walking, if transportation finance favours roads?
  • What are some of the social outcomes of a dispersed, car reliant urban environment?
  • What kind of finance accumulation shift could be undertaken as to deliver the funds for road maintenance while pushing for more fuel efficient vehicles?


Taylor, B. 2004, "The Geography of Urban Transportation Finance", The Geography of Urban Transportation, ed. Hanson, S., Giuliano, G., Guilford Press, New York, ch. 11 (38p)

11. Infrastructure 24th May, 2008 16:52:24   [#] [2 comments] 

Goad, P. "Competition and Circumstance: Urban legacies of the olympics"
Tim Blackie

Phillip Goad's work is a study of the effect of the Olympic games on the urban form of the two cities that hosted them, Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000. These two different Olympics were world apart, and strong contrast can be seen.

The Melbourne Olympics were cobbled together post-war, and mostly utilised existing buildings and facilities in the end due to the failure of organisation and lack of funding. As a result, fortunately much older architecture was not lost. Things were stretched to the extent that shooting was held at Williamstown with the cars in the carpark as seating, rowing was held t Ballarrat, and equestrian events at South Africa due to Australia's draconian quarantine laws.

Most of the few new sporting facilities were located at Olympic Park, and these facilities were placed haphazardly but have served Melbourne well since. An edict by Melbourne City Council in 1954 forced the removal of verandahs from buildings in time for the olympics, and this attempt to modernise has left much fine architecture harmed by it.

Design of one of the few new buildings, the Olympic swimming stadium, was won by a team of young architects in a competition. This building not only kick started their careers, but also was the first major use of experimental architecture in Olympic buildings, ad could be claimed to have started the legacy of more inventive Olympic architecture world-wide.

In Sydney by comparison, one major criticism could be aimed at the architecture. There was no design competitions, but rather the construction of the Olympic buildings was won by competitive tendering to build for the lowest price, in line with the currently dominant practices of economic rationalism. As a result, the buildings are all structurally competent, on budget, and house corporate seating arrangements and TV coverage well, but there is little of architectural interest or importance.

Further contrasts can be drawn with the artwork and advertising. In Melbourne, there was no formal art budget, and very little public work was present or created. There was an art exhibition around the same time, but most of the Olympic artwork was decorating retail businesses. Myer's Christmas windows originated at this time and wall art was present elsewhere. Asides from this, there was a huge Olympic torch with a one metre high gas fuelled flame erected over a city street and later removed, and a few very minor works. In contrast, Sydney invested a significant budget into the development of contemporary artworks around the area, and very heavily promoted the event.

For Olympic village accommodation, Melbourne's use of the development of West Heidelberg housing commission estate turned out to be a disaster, as not only was it far from the events but it was far from shops and services and became one of Victoria's worst suburbs in the years after. In Sydney, the Olympic village was built as townhouses suitable to be sold off to the middle class after the event, and these buildings served competently. There are now supporting a rise in denser housing development in the area.

In terms of infrastructure, the Olympics would seem to have been of benefit to both cities, as the sudden need forced infrastructure to be developed that would serve the cities well for following decades. Melbournes trams and trains especially around the MCG were upgraded, and Sydneys Olympic development was made to utilise public transport which will make it operate well into the future, along with other upgrades such as to the airport.

In the conclusion, the Olympics cause a sudden pressure on the city, which is good for forcing new infrastructure projects, but can also be dangerous in the haphazard way the urban form is changed in a race for the event. There are both benefits and losses and it can be very, very different between different olympics at different points in time.


Goad, P. 2001, "Competition and Circumstance: Urban Legacies of the Olympics", Debating the City: An Anthology, ed. Barrett, J., Butler-Bowdon, C., Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, Sydney, ch.11 (21p)

12. City Futures 24th May, 2008 02:43:47   [#] [0 comments] 

Davies, L. 2005, "Not in my backyard! Sports stadia location and the property market"
Nick Saville

In this article the author, Davies, examines what effects the construction of sports stadia has had on local residential property and communities. Her contention is that in the UK, this has the effect of increasing the value of residential property in the surrounding area. This is contrary to views often held by residents in close proximity to proposed sports stadia, who protest on the grounds that during both the construction and operation phases there will be negative impacts such as congestion, pollution and antisocial behaviour, leading to declines in property values.

The context of this piece is academic. It comes from a journal called Area and contains an abstract at the beginning, highlighting the key points. In her introduction, Davies provides a literature review of her subject, which is one of the usual characteristics of writing in an academic context. After introducing the topic the author explains the research methodology used. Two examples are focused on in this article - The Millennium Stadium (in Cardiff) and the City of Manchester Stadium. They have similarities in that they were both constructed recently and built primarily to host major sporting events. The Millennium Stadium for the 1999 Rugby World Cup and the City of Manchester Stadium for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Davies used a mixed method approach of interviews and a questionairre survey to collect qualitative and quantitative information on the impact of these stadia on the property market in each city.

Having established the methodology Davies then goes on to analyse the results gleaned and reveals that the stadia in each city have generally had a positive impact on the residential property market. However, research also indicated that it was difficult to isolate the impacts of the stadia from other developments in the surrounding area. In the case of Manchester, the opening of the stadium resulted in an average net positive change of 12.5 per cent to property value over and above general house prices in the area. For Cardiff, the stadium was closer to the city centre and the local real estate market was more established, therefore the net postive change to residential property value was 2.92 per cent, so not as much. In addition to the tangible boosts in value sports stadia provides to local property, intangible impacts also exist. This is because the perceptions of place and the perceived desirability of an area can influence property prices. The research revealed that in both cities the stadiums had enhanced the external image of the city and the internal perceptions of the area in the city in which they are located. I think this is a sensible conclusion because if people are proud of the area they live in, they are more likely to invest in their property, which in turn should enhance the desirability of the area.

The author's conclusion is that she has provided some evidence to show that sports stadiums can have a positive influence on residential values in the surrounding area, although she admits the research has limitations. Given the data collected was opinions, the findings may not be so robust. I would say it is a reasonable conclusion to draw, and if one compares the situation to the Telstra Dome in Melbourne which has been the centrepiece for the revival of the Docklands area, similarities are apparent. It makes sense that people generally want to live close to entertainment venues because they increase amenity. This may be different in the case of being a very close neighbour, in which case negative factors such as noise can play a part. This comes back to ideas we discussed in this course about how ideally everyone would like services within walking distance of their homes, just not right next door.


  • Do you agree that there is a correlation between the construction of stadia and a rise in local property prices?
  • Are there any other explanations for increased residential value after stadium construction?


Davies, L. 2005, "Not in my backyard! Sports stadia location and the property market", Area, 37.3, pp. 268-276

12. City Futures 23rd May, 2008 14:27:52   [#] [6 comments] 

Talley, W. 2000, "Ocean Container Shipping:Impacts of a technological Improvement"
long nguyen

We should start off by deciphering the title, "impacts" of a technological "improvement", I consider these two sentences used together a paradox, because how do improvements create impacts.

Talley's article focuses on the ocean container shipping industry within America since the 1950's. The article explores how movement of cargo was revolutionized since the introduction of the container (20 to 40 feet long) meaning the cost and efficiency concerning the movement of goods were dramatically improved as opposed to break bulking which was used in the past (placing individual items on wooden crates to be moved).

Efficiency was a result of the following:

  • Valuable goods were able to be moved with regular goods
  • Movement from one destination to the other was more feasible (crane would carry the container from the ship, then would load onto trucks or trains - which were designed to be able to carry the containers)
  • Container rates were constant, so despite how valuable a good was to ship the cost of having it containerized was constant as opposed to break bulk.

The article furthermore explores how organizations and shipping corporations would merge together, forming alliances which resulted in less financial burden for individual shipping companies. In regards to the fixed pricing for container shipping rates, it meant that shipping and movement of cargo dramatically increased between 1980-1996 (433%).

As a result of improvements associated with the movement of cargo (containers), the carrying capacity of ships also increased. It has been noted by Talley that most ships constructed today have a carrying capacity of 5,000 to 6,000 Twenty foot equivalent unit, (TEU's - the measurement of an individual container) or 1,049 feet wide. The reason for the push towards larger ships as noted by Talley (2000) is because a 6,000 TEU container ship can result in 18% - 24% cost saving in movement and trips compared to a 4000 TEU; bigger is better in this case.

As the article progresses, Talley introduces us to the technological improvements container shipping underwent, the next phase introduced was the double stack trains - capable of moving containers stacked two high. Once again, this upgrade from the one container per flat car train is a result of finding more efficient and effective ways of moving containers and thus goods.

Talley then explores how as time progresses the runners of Ports are finding themselves "pawns" within the container moving game, instead of making their own decisions on which goods are moved or which shipping lines may be docked at their ports. This issue of not being in control has been attributed to the fact that when containers arrive at ports, they ultimately require land transportation to deliver goods to its final destination, this has meant that Ports located in areas with poor infrastructure or access(lets say freight/train lines) will not be chosen, as opposed to ports located in close proximity of infrastructural services for docking.

As a result of the competitive nature of container shipping and the increase in ship size ports have opted for major upgrades in its services merely to attract potential shipping lines to use their ports over others and to accommodate the mass vessels which need to dock there. Talley has noted that this major investment in capital has left many American ports in major debts. The investment in capital as noted by Talley, does not secure a good flow of ships using the ports, so at times the investment will not guarantee full port usage. With many ports affected by large amounts of debt, the following options serve as remedies;

  • Taxes are raised to combat the debt
  • Some publicly owned ports will move towards private bodies and result in the privatization of many ports.

The overall point Talley is trying to get across is that over time, many technological improvements towards the movement of goods (in this case shipping) has occurred, but the upgrades, for efficiency and financial viability has resulted in various impacts to the actual ports which are:

  • larger ships require deeper channels
  • larger ships require a larger port
  • Infrastructural upgrades

So in order to keep up with the upgrades, competitive market and high rates of container movement, many ports have resorted to mass upgrades in, internal services and capacity.

Some questions to consider:

  • It was briefly expressed that some publicly owned ports needed to resort to privatisation to reduce their debts, are government operated services that inefficient?
  • Should tax payers be paying for the debts that have been generated by ports (even though they are performing well but due to competition they have been indebted)
  • Is it fair on the ports to have to keep up with the continual upgrades associated with cargo/container movement?
  • Do you agree that at times sacrifices are needed to be made in order to achieve an outcome (in the context of melbourne, blocking off roads to increase capacity etc)?


Talley, W. 2000, "Ocean Container Shipping:Impacts of a technological Improvement", Journal of Economic Issues, v.34, i.4 p.933

11. Infrastructure 19th May, 2008 23:49:40   [#] [3 comments] 

McNeill, J. Dollery, B. 1999, "A note on the use of developer charges in Australian local governments"

With pressure on local governments becoming more and more intense regarding financial constraints, this article is of particular importance to planning because it may frame the way things are done in the future.

McNeill et al seek to analyse how local governments are coming to terms with the financial restraints and the changes that are occurring due to the current trend in developer charges and levies being applied.


Developer charges play quite a more significant role with the larger sized local governments. This is demonstrated by the 25% of councils within NSW with a population of 40,000 or over who "raise no less than 69 per cent of developer charges revenue" (McNeill et al, 1999). McNeill et al also focus on the limitations of data collection due to changes in local government accounting systems.

As different municipalities are at different stages and situations with developer charges there is no one system consistently collecting data. As a result the Australian Bureau of Statistics have been unable to tabulate any data which has resulted in the annual growth and contributions known as developer charges, not being able to be determined. Developer charges in NSW have become quite prominent, some even argue more so then any other state in Australia.

Developer charges in NSW

Within NSW there was little financial risk for developers in the past, the Housing Cost Enquiry (1978) showed everyone that developers were being optimistic in relation to their assessment of demand. McNeill et al illustrate how this resulted in many instances where serviced land was under-utilised for extensive periods (McNeill et al, 1999). Many changes occurred when it came to formalising arrangements for developer charges. Section 94 of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979 which McNeill et al maintain "codified" the existing developer financing practice (Simpson 1989:19, cited McNeill et al, 1999). As developer charges and other types of levy"s continue to be introduced, local governments seem to be using this revenue as a way to reduce debt.

An example of this comes from the 50"s and 60"s, which saw the expansion of planning powers. Local councils introduced to notion of developers having to provide some of the services for development that local government were until now, forced to provide.

Local government borrowings have been a prominent theme in the developer charges debate. This is the case as each municipality seeks to minimise debt, the amount of developer charges going towards these payments is growing, and may continue to grow and become even more prolific over time. As discussed above, total population and geographic local are key themes in this debate. None the less, it is not only NSW that is experiencing the positive affects of this trend.

Developer charges in other states

In Queensland developer charges have been reported as a method of funding fringe development. In Victoria a two-tiered system was recommended as a result of the problems associated with the existing system. The new system sought to have up front developer charges, and a new community infrastructure levy, for social infrastructure as a result of a growing community. Both are indications that developer charges and other council levy"s have begun, and may continue to gain momentum.


As this article has shown us developer charges is a current trend that is beginning to gain momentum in states all over Australia. McNeill et al believe that recent reviews of infrastructure financing in Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria have shown that "these states too are poised to embrace developer charges" (McNeill et al, 1999). Furthermore with developer charges becoming more and more accepted, I believe that this trend could very well be thing that relieves local councils of their current debt, and may even provide the basis for their expansion in the future


McNeill, J. Dollery, B. 1999 "A note on the use of developer charges in Australian local governments", Urban Policy and Research, v. 17 i1, p61

11. Infrastructure 18th May, 2008 21:56:39   [#] [0 comments] 

Glaeser, E., Kohlhase, J. 2003, "Cities, Regions and the Decline of Transport Costs"

Decline in transportation cost, at least for the shipment of goods.

Glaeser et al. documents the decline transportation cost, mainly due to technological advancements in the transport industry and reduced reliance fixed infrastructure transport (rail and water). However, there has been a rising cost of moving people within cities mainly due to congestion. Glaeser et al. elaborates on two major ways in which cities are changing. Firstly, the reduction in transportation cost for goods has allowed cities to change their primary functions and locations. Modern cities facilitate interaction (contact between people), which leaves little reason for cities to be near natural resources or natural transport hubs. Consumer preference has transformed cities are more likely to be located in pleasant climates and locations where governments are friendly. The second way in which cities are changing, according to Glaeser et al. is internal to the city. The automobile has created sprawl and reduced tendencies towards a single city center, a feature of the twenty first century. Glaeser et al. also notes that both of the classic of urban economics, the Alonso-Muth-Mills model and the Krugman-Fujita-Thisse new geography (see below for short summary), need updating. Whilst both frameworks are relevant to the characterizations of the city of the past, a new regional model, without centers and transport cost for goods will better capture the future of the city.

Glaeser et al. hopes that such regional models would be built around these basic elements:

  • Productivity would be a function of agglomeration because there are gains from people being able to interact
  • Key transport mode – the automobile –travels much faster on highways that on city streets and is subject to congestion effects
  • Physical output is generally relatively costless to ship
  • Even though output is costless to ship, people produce services that require face-to-face interaction
  • Land is heterogeneous and some places are nicer that others

Alonso-Muth-Mills Model vs. Krugman-Fujita-Thisse Model

The Alonso-Muth-Mills Model is a model referred by Glaeser et al. combining classic homocentric urban models, are consistent with a world where people walk and take public transportation (Glaeser et al). Central business districts (CBD) can be considered as the hub for transportation technologies. Public transportation brings people to the hub and people walk from that point to their work places and use their feet to interact during the workday. The workers’ physical output then gets shipped from the hub to consumers using rail and water transport (Glaeser et al). To that degree, a homocentric model, where firms are extremely close to one another in the central business district, is natural when thinking about cities built around feet and trains. The Krugman-Fujita-Thisse Model is a model referred by Glaeser et al., where the hierarchy of cities was dictated by transportation. Locations of firms are determined through the minimization of cost, assuming that production cost are the same everywhere, transportation cost will dictate the choice of location. The new regional economics is built around fixed cost technologies with substantial transport costs. Population is anchored by a desire to be in close proximity to natural resources (Glaeser et al).

Implications of declining transport costs for goods

Implication 1: People are no longer tied to natural resources

Implication 2: Consumer-related natural advantages are becoming more important

Implication 3: Population is increasingly centralized in a few metropolitan regions

Implication 4: People are increasingly decentralized within those regions

Implication 5: High-density housing and public transportation are becoming increasingly irrelevant

Implication 6: Services are in dense areas; manufacturing is not

Implication 7: The location of manufacturing firms is not driven by proximity to

Customers or suppliers, the location of service firms are determined by proximity.

Implication 8: Density and education go together

Implication 9: Productivity will decline as congestion exceeds some threshold level?


  • How will the rising cost in fuel and inevitable the depletion of oil has an effect on this?


Glaeser, E., Kohlhase, J. 2003, Cities, Regions and the Decline of Transport Costs, Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Online (54p)

11. Infrastructure 17th May, 2008 10:52:10   [#] [0 comments] 

Lewis, M. 1999, “The Spurious Market”
Supply Demand

Lewis, in the chapter “The Spurious Market” out of the book ‘Suburban Backlash’ delves into the world of building and planning and how the government, local, state and federal have managed, governed and intervened to come up with a system that supposedly is right for local communities.

Lewis begins by giving us a background into the settlement of Australia and how our governments, basically from the word go, have been interfering in private development operations. Lewis explains how land used to be leased to different people with the expectation that they would then develop that land and the land size and what was built on the land would then determine how long it could be leased for. It wasn’t until later in the majority of Australian cities could you purchase and own a piece of land and or the buildings which would be placed on it.

Lewis then interestingly discusses the emergence of building controls is Australia and notes how in the early 1800’s not every municipality had the same controls. He explains that different areas had different controls but all were basically based around the London Building Act and the fireproofing of new buildings as to avoid events such as the Great Fire of London. From here Lewis mainly focuses on planning and planning issues which I found of great interest.

Lewis discusses in detail the somewhat silent, but ever prevalent part of planning, the paying off of objectors by developers to insure a quick, hassle free approval of different developments. Lewis explains the many different ways in which developers and even objectors have used their situation to financially benefit out of the planning process. He explores the myths and truths around why people object to applications, whether the public should have the right to object, whether it is ok to pay an objector to remove their objection and even objectors demanding money from developers to remove their objections. Lewis explains that these issues can be avoided and that really developers and objectors have the power to be able to negotiate outcomes which will best suit both parties, but the reality is this is not the case!

The focus of the chapter soon switches to local infrastructure, who is responsible for it? Who owns it? And who can claim rights to use it. Lewis explores the issues around infrastructure and how it can cause serious debate, especially now that higher densities are encouraged throughout our cities with the increasing urban sprawl issues that we are currently facing here in Melbourne. Lewis explains that with changing household sizes and higher demand for unit living, more units etc are being built in existing areas and this is putting pressure on existing infrastructure and services to be able to accommodate this. Lewis notes the massive reduction in people living in house together as families etc.

One could go on forever discussing the issues raised by Lewis within this chapter, however it is more productive for me to ask the questions which arise from the themes in this chapter and in which I am sure we all have thought about before.


  • What are your thoughts on developers paying objectors to withdraw their objections or objectors demanding money from developers to do the same? Do you think this is ethical? What are the possible repercussions from this?
  • Why is planning subverted by hidden subsidies and vested interests?
  • Would it be better if we completely got rid of planning and purely relied on the Building Regulations? Why?


Lewis, M. 1999, “The Spurious Market”, Suburban Backlash, Blooming Books, Hawthorn, ch. 6 (28p)

11. Infrastructure 16th May, 2008 22:34:16   [#] [13 comments] 


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