Blog Archives

Regional Governance and Hazard Information: The Role of Co-ordinated Risk Assessment and Regional Spatial Accounting in Wildfire Hazard Mitigation


With the threat of wildfire hanging over many communities in the Western and Southern United States, wildfire mitigation is evolving into a significant public responsibility for rural and urban edge county governments. Regional governance is an important piece of the effort to reduce wildfire risks although still weakly developed as a policy arena. This project explores two dimensions in which planning support systems can support regional governance: assessing patterns of wildfire risk accumulation; and, evaluating land use planning alternatives and their effects on cumulative risk levels. These tools are examined for regional governance using a prototype planning information system, the Alternative Growth Futures (AGF) tool, a scenario-building approach developed at the University of Colorado Denver. The project develops a hybrid urban growth model that integrates logistic regression techniques and methods for simulation of growth alternatives. This model is used to evaluate the attractiveness of undeveloped building sites with respect to natural amenities, distance to primary urban services and site characteristics such as slope. The model and scenario-testing framework are reasonably robust and suggest that regional spatial accounting methods have potential as a framework for inter-governmental and public discussion around wildfire planning.

The Dynamics of Residential Segregation in Buffalo: An Agent-Based Simulation

Race and class factors have been studied as underlying causes of segregation for many
years. Individual choices on race and economic constraints of living in one area versus
another play an important role in residential segregation. An attempt has not yet been
made to simulate the interplay of neighborhood racial and economic composition
in forming segregation using empirical micro-level data. Using City of Buffalo data,
this study explores how individuals’ housing location choices with respect to racial
composition and housing sale prices in their neighborhoods can give rise to aggregate
patterns of residential segregation and how segregation at one point in time was
contributing to increased segregation at later stages. The results show that observed
patterns of segregation in the city could plausibly arise from the interaction of racial
and economic factors. This study also demonstrates the application of such models
on exploring the possible effects of proposed integration efforts.

The Dynamics of Land Development in Resort Communities: A Multi-agent Simulation of Growth Regimes and Housing Choice

Over the past thirty years, recreation communities in many parts of the globe have gone through cycles of diversification and integration into complex recreation regions. As resort communities mature, they face increasing pressures on scarce recreational resources, demands for economic diversification, and changing attitudes toward tourism on the part of local residents. A variety of land-use management practices and economic development initiatives has emerged in resort towns in response to resource congestion and other growth issues. In this paper we explore alternative growth strategies through a simulation of housing decisions by primary actors in resort land markets. We use a multi-agent system to model the dynamics of growth regimes, assess the influence of recreational and town amenities, and evaluate the effect of alternative growth processes on long-term development patterns. Our case study area is Steamboat Springs and surrounding parts of Routt County, a four-season recreational region in northwestern Colorado.

The Influence of Nonprofit Networks on Local Affordable Housing Funding: Findings from a National Survey of Local Public Administrators

This article examines public administrators’ perceptions of the effects of non- profit networks on local affordable housing decisions. It builds on a larger body of research concerning the affordable housing activities of community- based organizations (CBOs). This analysis is based on a national survey of public administrators responsible for affordable housing programs in U.S. cities with populations over 100,000. The survey included questions about: CBO performance, factors influencing CBO funding decisions, and local government structure. This article provides insights into decision-making surrounding CBO funding at the local level. These insights improve our understanding of the connection between public administrators’ perceptions, funding patterns, and interorganizational relations.

The role of citizen participation and action research principles in Main Street revitalization: An analysis of a local planning project

This article examines the use of citizen participation techniques during the planning process for neighborhood revitalization in the Village of Depew which is an industrial suburb of Buffalo, New York. The article focuses on how action research principles can inform and enhance traditional approaches to citizen participation. In particular, we discuss our role as university-based consultants in the local planning process and how drawing from action research principles helped us remain focused on advocating for broad-based citizen participation. Our analysis was based on the application of action research principles and participant observation techniques. During the time that each of us was involved in the planning process for Depew’s neighborhood revitalization, reflexive field notes and other data were collected. The article critiques how citizen participation was used to plan for neighborhood revitalization in Depew, and discusses the degree to which action research principles can be applied to future citizen participation efforts.

Using Capitalism to Save Socialism: International Tourism in Havana, Cuba

Following the fall of the Soviet Bloc in 1989, a somber Fidel Castro informed the Cuban
people that their Revolution hovered on the brink of disaster. Faced with an
unprecedented economic crisis and few options, the Cuban government, reluctantly
returned to international tourism as the foundation for economic salvation. Since then
international tourism has multiplied fifteen-fold. While reintroducing tourism may have
saved Cuba from a political and economic catastrophe – foreign tourists, mostly from
capitalist countries, have enabled Cuba and the Revolution to survive – this use of
capitalism to save socialism has also produced formidable challenges. In particular, the
emergence of a consumer culture and the subsequent ‘‘dollarization’’ of the economy, pose
a grave threat to Cuban society as products are increasingly evaluated, purchased, and
consumed on the basis of their symbolic content and meaning for social status.
Nonetheless, it will be argued in this paper that since Cuban society remains anchored by
highly functional, stable, well-organized neighborhoods and a flourishing, innovative
informal economy, embedded values of cooperation may serve as a counteractive force to
the rise of a culture of consumerism and materialism. Based on this premise, the paper
concludes with an examination of three possible scenarios for the future of tourism in

Strategic Assimilation or Creation of Symbolic Blackness: Middle-Class Blacks in Suburban Contexts

The black middle class has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly inquiry. Recently, scholars have directed their attention towards understanding how middle class blacks negotiate their racial identity. Some contend that blacks engage in strategic assimilation, working and sometimes living alongside members of the dominant group, while simultaneously maintaining social ties with members of their own racial group. To examine changes in the size and composition of the black middle class in various suburban contexts comparisons were made of selected demographic data from 1990 and 2000. The purpose of the study is to see if middle class blacks are engaging in strategic assimilation. The findings reveal that the size of the black middle class increased between 1990 and 2000 and that demographic differences exist between members of the black middle class based upon whether or not they reside inside or outside of the suburbs. The findings support the contention that middle class blacks are not engaging in strategic assimilation.