Episode Summary

  1. Telosa and other “thesis based” cities have a weak track record of success. Cities based, founded, and developed via “emergent based” thinking have a strong track record of success.
  2. Getting technology successfully integrated into city infrastructure is difficult (especially when lead by thesis thinkers)
  3. It’s really simple – reduce and eliminate parking requirements.

Covered by many, I think this is the original story on Telosa. The, "city of the future" (5 min read)

One recent example of smart city challenges (4 min read, paywall possible)

Another data point in the conversation for removal of parking minimums. (4 min read)

Outside The Episode

Source: cityoftelosa.com
Source: cityoftelosa.com
Smart Circuit- Columbus Skyline
Source: smart.columbus.gov

Startup, May Mobility is based in Ann Arbor, MI. They deployed, operated, and maintained the fleet of six electric vehicles.


Episode 31 - Patterns of Development

Utopia, (Not)Smart, and Minimums.

This is patterns of development.

Hey everybody it's Kyle. Where, on this podcast, I share, discuss, ponder, and try to connect some dots through the best content I've discovered each week related to urban planning, architecture, and cities.

Ultimately, trying to learn, what are the patterns of development?


Are going to jump right in this week. Probably the biggest headlines related to cities of the future over the last couple of weeks has been this talk of, "Telosa."

Billionaire Marc LorEE is an American entrepreneur, businessman, investor, and NBA owner. He's best known for his work as Walmart eCommerce CEO, Diapers.com and Jet.com. He is the owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx.

Dude's got the cabbage and he has plans to build the city of the future.

There's been multiple stories published by fortune, cnn, architecture digest, usatoday, Bloomberg, and more.

I'm going to pull my quotes from the fortune article, which I believe was the first to break the story a couple of weeks back. This article was written by JENNIFER ALSEVER:

"He wants to buy cheap land in the West or Appalachia and create a town, called Telosa—derived from the Ancient Greek word meaning “highest purpose.” The city would feature indoor farming, energy-efficient buildings, autonomous electric cars, and high-speed transportation.

But it’s most novel concept is how land would be owned: Anyone would be able to build homes and sell them, but the city would retain ownership of the land underneath.

In theory, that land’s value would grow over time. LorEE predicts that as the city grows, the land could eventually be worth $1 trillion, and earn $50 billion annually from investments that would be used to ensure that every citizen - no matter their income - had equal access to healthcare, good schools, parks, safe streets, and transportation. Lore calls it “equitism,” or a twist on capitalism.

“I'm trying to create a new model for society, where wealth is created in a fair way,” Lore explained from his New Jersey lake house. “It's not burdening the wealthy; it's not increasing taxes. It is simply giving back to the citizens and the people the wealth that they helped create.”

So at my day job, yes..I have one of those, we break down ideas across a spectrum. On one side we have thesis based thinking.

Marc's thesis is that I will build this city, using these principles. I can will this into existence. The same way Steve Jobs believed in creating the iPhone. Marc believes that he can take his "equitism" idea and make it happen.

And why wouldn't he. He's had a successful career. He's made stuff happen. He's awesome.

At the other end of our idea spectrum is emergent thinking.

Emergent thinking happens when you move towards completely unforeseen possibilities, that only become apparent when comparing and combining generated ideas. In the product sense this is when we work with customers ask them what they need and build something organically.

Marc should listen to this podcast because 1 of our patterns is that emergent based thinking is how cities and communities have been built since the dawn of time. Utopian cities, driven by thesis based thinking have a very limited track record of success.

I'll quote from Jenifer's work one more time,

"Google tried to create a data-driven project called Sidewalk in Toronto that called for installing sensors in every home to adjust temperature (to minimize energy use) and cameras and AI to analyze traffic. But the plan was rejected by the city over privacy concerns.

A separate effort by late Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh included investing $350 million to revitalize downtown Las Vegas by making it a hotbed of co-learning and coworking. Despite the initial hype, it failed to transform a downtown that is still mostly casinos and aging government buildings.

Since the 19th century, researchers have long studied utopian cities, and they have largely found that top-down economic models don’t work, said Mark Giliem, a urban design professor at the University of Oregon. Cities, he said, grow organically in response to millions of factors."

This limited success for Utopia's also translates to our next article, "America’s ‘Smart City’ Didn’t Get Much Smarter." Featured in Wired and written by AARIAN MARSHALL.

I'm quoting now from the article,

"Columbus, Ohio, won a $50 million grant five years ago via the Smart City Challenge to use tech to solve old problems.

Five years later, the Smart City Challenge is over, but the revolution never arrived. According to the project’s final report, issued in June of this year by the city’s Smart Columbus Program, the pandemic hit just as some projects were getting off the ground."

Kiosks placed around the city were used to plan just eight trips between July 2020 and March 2021.

The company EasyMile launched autonomous shuttles in February 2020, carrying passengers at an average speed of 4 miles per hour. Fifteen days later, a sudden brake sent a rider to the hospital, pausing service. The truck project was canceled.

Only 1,100 people downloaded an app, called Pivot, to plan and reserve trips on ride-hail vehicles, shared bikes and scooters, and public transit.

Even with such a large investment, low adoption rates, and concerns regarding surveillance hindered the programs initiatives.

This story again reinforces the pattern that cities are developed by and with emergent thinking. That $50 million dollars invested differently could have gone a lot further than paying a bunch of coders. Maybe I'm just low on software development and all those thesis thinkers...that is a different show...different show.

One of the powerful phrases ever written, "We the people..."  It's not "I the person..."

Cities were built out of necessity, in proximity to plentiful resources, and by trusting your neighbors.

Last up, if you want to encourage more "we the people" development in your community -- get rid of parking minimums. The Twin Cities Abolished Parking Minimums and it's expected to help fuel development, and reduce rents, then reduce rent some more because more development is happening.

Based on the principles from the OG of parking, Donald Shoup, the city of St. Paul voted to eliminate parking minimums, stating “ we will fully eliminate off-street parking minimums for real estate developments … modernize zoning codes and aligning them with best practices for land use while reducing administrative burdens for small businesses and developers.”

THIS is a we the people approach. The butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker now have a better opportunity to do development in their community because they don't need an incredible amount of land to account for parking that won't get used.

That's all for this week, and I'll talk to y'all soon.