Questions About Plan City

gift for an urban planning guy

Gifts for an uncle (in India) into urban planning? Software? Posted for a friend who will be visiting India around Christmas time (she and her family are Indian): "I've an uncle (in India) who's into urban planning and development. And the keywords of his work are materials management, city planning, city development, human resource management, infrastructure development for cities, that sort of thing. I was wondering if there was any software that would be useful to him in his work, and I don't know anything either about software or about urban planning." She hasn't given me a price range (she's fairly gainfully employed). Any suggestions?

What are cheap things to do between Kansas City and Chicago?

So the boyfriend and I want to go on a trip to Chicago for spring break... [more inside] We're poor, nerdy students with limited funds and broad interests, starting our trip from Kansas City. We're looking for fun, cheap (free?) things to do over the course of 4-ish days, perhaps some must-see places to stop along the way (I have an invitation to crash at a friend's in St. Louis if needed), and cheap hotel deals. I'm the sort to show up in town and have fun wandering around, while he wants a detailed itinerary planned far in advance. So far, we have a destination, a time frame (March 20-25), and a car. I have never planned a vacation before and don't know where to start. Help!

Learning a New City

If one is trying to get a feel for a city in just two or three days, what are the main things that one should see or do? I done needs to find myself a place to live. I’m heading out west to see how I feel about it out there (I’ve never spent an appreciable amount of time on the west coast). I am planning on spending a few days in San Diego, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Any advice about something that is quintessentially one of those cities, or something in any city that could open a window into life there would be greatly appreciated.

Urban Planning

Urban Planning Filter: When I first moved to Seattle, someone explained how the city managed urban growth, particularly tall buildings. [M^I] Supposedly at some time in the past, a big table of all buildings was drawn up. Each building was given a height variance equal to its actual height. For each year that a building's owner paid their property tax in full, they got an additional 1/2 floor variance. When someone wants to build a new, tall building, they can buy variances from people who own small buildings. They then take the variances to the city, and ask for approval. Is this how it actually works in Seattle? What about NYC, Chicago, LA, and other cities with tall buildings? It seems like a good system - real estate developers have to fight among themselves to get the variances they need. The government only needs to get involved after the developers have gone through that process and shelled out lots of dollars for the variances. Since the whole city

Is it safe/smart to park by the Crystal City Metro?

New to DC: Is it safe/smart to park by the Crystal City Metro? [MI] My apartment is a bus ride away from the Crystal City Metro stop, and as you would guess, late at night its schedule is infrequent, if at all. I'm planning on going to an event in Adams Morgan tonight, but there's no available parking there, and I have no idea when the busses stop late at night. So I'm thinking of driving to Crystal city, leaving the car in one of the shopping garages, and taking the Metro so I don't have to worry about catching a bus at 2-3 AM. My problem is that I have no idea if the garages (which are for the shops, but are free after 4:30 PM and on weekends) will actually be open 24 hours, and that if I DO leave a car in one of the garages there, or on the street in Crystal City, the liklihood of my car being in danger. If used to living in NYC, where everyone's awake 24 hours and garages don't really close. So I'd rather feel stupid and ask than risk it and get my ca

Urban Planning Issues

I live in a small town of 8,000. It is really a development plopped in the middle of some fields. Like many developments it was sold as a planned community. Currently, however, the city government is selling the town to the highest-bidding developer, rewriting the city code to encourage stupid levels of density, cramming the city center with unvariated low-income housing, and in general being the toady boy of developers. Oh, and the mayor is a "consultant" to developers. Makes $8k a year. Is building a big mansion on the golf course. The city just removed the $500 cap on campaign donations, and the last election was purchased by a single developer. Other than shrugging my shoulders and saying, "It's Chinatown" (reference to movie, not ethnicity) or uprooting my family, how can I best fight this pestilent, corrupt fascism and still have time for my hobbies? (mostly reading Metafilter). Oh, the town is Eagle Mountain Utah.