Research

I am broadly interested in issues of urban governance in the post-industrial city. My recent projects examine the local politics of land use regulation and transit investment, paying particular attention to how local implementation strategies interact with social, political and economic structures to impact socio-spatial equity and collective decision-making more generally. My research program focuses on three areas:

Transport Governance. I am currently completing a project on emerging governance trends in urban transportation that pays particular attention to how local (sub-state) government and community actors in Midwestern urban regions are responding to the new responsibilities and burdens brought by the devolution of transportation planning and financing. Using institutional theory and analysis, I critically evaluate the formation and deployment of organizational, financial and discursive strategies that local actors employ to implement urban rail investments and facilitate proximal development. Findings from this research have appeared in the Journal of Transport Geography and as a book chapter, Zoning, Transport and Urban Growth: An Institutional Perspective, in the forthcoming Zoning: A Guide for 21st Century Planning (Routledge 2019). I have another article in review and two more in preparation that further examine the socio-spatial equity and planning implications of these emerging governance strategies and will be starting a national data collection project in late Fall 2018 to examine the perspectives of local actors in more detail.

Zoning and Land Regulation. I am completing a second project that examines the politics of zoning and land regulation in American cities. I have an article under review in the Journal of Planning Education and Research that explores the common but under-examined practice of zoning relief, or the granting of exceptions to land regulations. Our analysis countered common notions of relief as having purely negative outcomes by illustrating the ways that connected and affluent communities and government actors leveraged the relief process to secure planning goals, like infill, that are more difficult to achieve through the formal zoning process. We raised concerns about the exclusionary impacts of relief processes and offered concrete suggestions for reforming local practices for more inclusionary ends. I address similar themes through an innovative collaborative textbook project,  Zoning: A Guide for 21st Century Planning (Routledge 2019) I am editing that provides a politically-informed, historical and institutional examination of zoning.

Public Financing. My next project will focus on how local infrastructure revenue raising strategies – like value capture – interact with other public financing policies and tools, like tax abatement. As cities increasingly rely on spatially-defined infrastructure financing tools, their interactions with development incentive programs raise important questions about tax incidence, and the distribution of risk across public and private actors. I have broadly examined these issues in two manuscripts, a book chapter in Improving Urban Access: New Approaches to Funding Transport, and in a journal article that is currently under review. In early 2019, I will begin drafting a third manuscript using qualitative and quantitative data to examine these issues in more detail in a single case. I expect to expand the analysis to two addition cities during 2019 and 2020.

Referred Publications and Book Chapters:

Fischer, Lauren Ames, Valerie Stahl and Bernadette Baird-Zars. Unequal Exceptions: Zoning Relief in New York City, 1998 – 2017. Journal of Planning Education and Research. (2019)

Fischer, Lauren Ames. Zoning, Transport and Urban Growth: An Institutional Perspective in Zoning: A Guide for 21st Century Planning, edited by Elliott Sclar, Lauren Ames Fischer, Valerie Stahl and Bernadette Baird-Zars. Routlegde (2019)

King, David A. and Lauren Ames Fischer. 2018. Long Term Land Use Effects of New Rail Investment: Lessons from San Diego. Urban Science, 2(1): 6.

Schwieterman, Joseph P & Fischer, Lauren A. 2017. The S-Curve of Technological Adoption: Mobile Communication Devices on Commuter Trains in the Chicago Region, 2010–2015. Journal of Public Transportation, 20 (2): 1-18.

King, David A., and Lauren Ames Fischer. Streetcar Projects as Spatial Planning: A shift in Transport Planning in the United States. Journal of Transport Geography 54 (2016): 383-390.

Fischer, Lauren Ames and Elliott Sclar. Value Capture: Why We May Be Disappointed in Improving Urban Access: New Approaches to Funding Transit Investment, edited by Elliott Sclar, Mans Lonnroth and Christian Wolmar. Routledge (2016).

Schwieterman, Joseph and Lauren Fischer. Competition from the Curb: Survey of Passengers on Discount Curbside Bus Operators in Eastern and Midwestern Cities. Transportation Research Record 2012: 2277. December 2012.

Fischer, Lauren and Joseph Schwieterman. The Decline and Recovery of Intercity Bus Service in the United States: A Comeback for an Environmentally Friendly Transportation Mode? Environmental Practice. 13(1): 7-15. March 2011

Schwieterman, Joseph and Lauren Fischer. Variations in the Rates of Passenger Usage of Portable Technology on Intercity Buses, Trains and Planes: Implications for Transportation Planning. Journal of Transportation Law, Logistics and Policy, Vol. 78(1). 2011

Curbside Bus Reports:

Schwieterman, J., Fischer, L., Ghosal, C., Largent, P. Netzel, N. and M. Schulz. 2011. The Intercity Bus Rolls to Record Expansion: 2011 Update on Scheduled Motor Coach Service in the United States. Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development Policy Study, Chicago, IL.

Schwieterman, J. and L. Fischer. 2010. The Intercity Bus: America’s Fastest Growing Transportation Mode: 2010 Update on Scheduled Bus Service. Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development Policy Study, Chicago, IL.

Schwieterman, J. and L. Fischer. 2008. The Return of the Intercity Bus: 2008 Update. Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development Policy Study, Chicago, IL.

Schwieterman, J., Fischer, L., Smith, S. and C. Towles. 2007. The Return of the Intercity Bus: The Decline and Recovery of Scheduled Service to American Cities, 1960-2007. Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development Policy Study, Chicago, IL.

Technology and Travel Reports:

Schwieterman, J. and L. Fischer. 2010. Privacy Invades Public Space: The Growing Use of Portable Technology on Intercity Buses, Trains and Planes between 2009 and 2010. Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development Policy Study, Chicago, IL.

Schwieterman, J, Fischer, L. Field, S. Pizzano, A. and S. Urbanczyk. 2009. Is Portable Technology Changing how Americans Travel? A Survey of the Use of Electronic Devises on Intercity Buses, Trains and Planes. Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development Policy Study, Chicago, IL.

Conference Papers/Presentations:

Fischer, Lauren Ames (October 2018). Financing Modern Streetcars: Assessing the Planning Impacts of Value Capture Implementation in Kansas City, MO. Paper presentation at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), Buffalo.

Fischer, Lauren Ames (October 2018). Zoning for the 21st Century City. Roundtable Moderator at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), Buffalo.

Fischer, Lauren Ames, Bernadette Baird-Zars and Valerie Stahl (October 2017). Geographies of Exception: A Quantitative Examination of Zoning Relief in NYC, 1998-2017. Paper presentation at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), Denver.

Stahl, Valerie, Bernadette Baird-Zars and Lauren Ames Fischer (October 2016). Geographies of Exception: A Qualitative Examination of Zoning Relief in NYC, 1998-2017. Paper presentation at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), Portland.

Fischer, Lauren Ames. (October 2015). Integrated Planning or Divide and Conquer: Assessing the views of transport and economic development planners implementing modern streetcar projects in U.S. cities. Paper Presentation at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), Houston.

Fischer, Lauren Ames. (April 2015). Who Pays? Who Benefits? Assessing the Social Equity of Modern Streetcar Projects in U.S. cities. Paper Presentation at American Association of Geographers (AAG), Chicago.

Fischer, Lauren Ames and Adam Davidson. (January 2015). (Re)Producing Transport Systems: Uber, Driverless Technology and the Modern City. Poster Presentation at Transportation Research Board (TRB), Washington D.C.

Fischer, Lauren Ames. (October 2014). Assessing the Rhetoric of Transit Oriented Development: Modern Streetcar Planning in U.S. cities Paper Presentation at Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), Philadelphia.

King, David A. and Lauren Ames Fischer. (June 2014) Assessing the long-term land use changes associated with San Diego light rail: How long should we wait for change? World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research, Delft (Netherlands).

King, David and Lauren Ames Fischer. (April 2013). Do New Rail Systems Affect Metropolitan Spatial Structure? American Association of Geographers (AAG), Los Angeles.

Schwieterman, J. and L. Fischer. (2012) Competition from the Curb: A Survey of Passengers on Discount Curbside Bus Operators in Eastern and Midwestern Cities. Transportation Research Board (TRB), Washington D.C.

Fischer, Lauren Ames. (2012) Build It and They Will Come…Maybe: An Evaluation of the Empirical Evidence for Transportation Investments and Economic Development. Krueckeberg Doctoral Conference in Planning and Public Policy, New Brunswick (NJ).

Schwieterman, J and L. Fischer. (2011) Privacy Invades Public Space: The Growing Use of Portable Electronic Technology on Intercity Buses, Trains and Planes between 2009 and 2010. Transportation Research Board (TRB), Washington D.C.