My name's Shane Phillips, and I created Better Institutions back in 2012 to give myself a platform to explore ideas in urban planning. This blog is deliberately unfocused, considering topics as diverse as housing, transportation, governance and politics, tax policy, and technology.
My writing is frequently data-driven, and while I'm interested in the full scope of benefits to good planning—economic, environmental, justice, health, and social—I tend to focus on the financial and economic value of effective city-building. This is partly because I grew up in a very conservative household and so—despite being rather liberal myself—whenever I write there is a nagging question in the back of my mind: "How would my family members respond to this?" I also believe that nothing convinces people like putting a dollar figure to a proposal, and that goes doubly for people on the redder end of the political spectrum.
I spent much of my childhood in suburbia, and it wasn't until 2007 at the age of 23 that I first moved to the city—Seattle in my case—and experienced a different kind of lifestyle, where car ownership was optional and most trips could easily be made on foot, by bicycle, or by transit. I haven't looked back since, and after spending several years in Seattle to finish a bachelor's degree in biochemistry, I moved to Los Angeles to enroll in a Master of Urban Planning and Master of Public Administration dual-degree program at USC. Having finished in 2015, I'm now working downtown and continuing to learn as much as I can about the field. And, where possible, trying to influence key government and civic leaders to adopt policy that will give individuals and families more options for where they live, what they do, where they go, and how they get there.
Outside of my day-to-day work (currently as the Project Director of Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc.), I've also contributed to a few interesting articles, reports, interviews, and events:
- Los Angeles Times Op-Ed: Why is L.A. too pricey? Blame low vacancy rates, not luxury high-rises
- LA Times Op-Ed #2: Can pro-development and anti-demolition factions find common ground on affordable housing?
- Los Angeles Business Council Institute Report: LA's Next Frontier: Capturing Opportunities for New Housing, Economic Growth, and Sustainable Development in LA River Communities
- NPR Radio Interview: That Man on the Bus Is Saving You Money
- Online Mapping Workshop: USC Data Mapping Lab (Walkthrough)
- USC Panel Discussion: New Rivers of Multifamily Housing: Opportunities through the LA River Development