Every day at The Direct Transfer we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the DC region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.
Transit advocates seek congestion pricing for New York: Transit advocates in New York City are calling for the city to override the State of New York and implement congestion pricing in Manhattan, but it’s unclear whether Mayor Bill de Blasio would support that. The push from advocates references a 1957 state law which supposedly allows the city to set its own bridge toll rates. (Curbed NYC)
Nobody wants these McMansions: Baby boomers don’t want to live in big McMansion-style suburban houses anymore, and nobody wants to buy them either. Both younger generations and old want more urban environments with proximity to amenities, creating a mismatch in demand. (Realtor)
Air pollution, mapped (by Google): Researchers are using Google’s Street View vehicles to measure different air pollutants. Through 14,000 miles of travel and three million measurements, the cars saw high levels of black carbon, nitrous oxide, and other pollutants in area of Oakland known for instances of childhood asthma and other diseases that come from poor air quality. (Google Keyword)
Should we have an infrastructure garage sale? The Trump Administration wants to copy an infrastructure financing scheme popular in Australia called asset recycling. The idea is to sell of old infrastructure and reinvest the money into… new infrastructure. The idea isn’t without its challenges, including that local governments want to keep public control of assets and that the tax laws related to this are complicated. (Governing)
For delivery in densifying cities, no need to reinvent the wheel: As European cities grow and become more crowded, delivery demand is going to go up. New ideas (which may not be so new) include possibly sharing warehouses in dense urban areas, sharing transportation delivery methods the same way we share transit rides, relying on time-tested modes like water transportation and trucking. (JLL Real Views)
Quote of the Week
“Working class whites or African Americans could have afforded a home [in Levittown] especially with a mortgage that was FHA-insured and a Veterans Administration loan, perhaps, that required no down payment. It wasn’t affordability—African Americans were as able to afford those homes as whites were—but they were prohibited from doing so by the federal government. Now those houses sell for $300,000 or $400,000, so the white families that moved there gained $200,000 or $300,000 in equity while black families gained nothing.”
– Richard Rothstein in Slate discussing his new book The Color of Law, in which he points at the federal government as responsible for neighborhood segregation.
You know, it occurs to me that you could solve the McMansion oversupply problem with zoning – allow more businesses into the neighborhoods – if people want to be able to walk to a coffee shop and a boutique grocery store, that’s not THAT hard to make happen. Then let people subdivide some of the houses into multi-units (the ones I’m picturing, with the big 2-story entryways and “great rooms” already have 3-car garages and multiple bathrooms). If you wanted to be really radical, you could run bus service out the stroads so those walkable neighborhoods connected to the main shopping areas and, voila! people can age in place.
It doesn’t solve the yard/maintenance issues but if you assume the underlying problem is lifestyle preference and not affordability, you can solve yard issues with money.