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National Links: Inclusionary Zoning Could Get Challenge

Every day at The Overhead Wire 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 that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

SCOTUS Nudged to Fight Inclusionary Zoning: This month, the Pacific Legal Foundation, a California-Based law firm, asked the Supreme Court to take up a case challenging the constitutionality of inclusionary zoning. This form of zoning regulation typically reserves a certain number of units in new housing for more affordable households, but conservatives argue that this violates the Fifth Amendment, likening inclusionary zoning to take private property without just compensation. The Foundation attempted to bring this up to SCOTUS twice before, in 2015 and 2017, to no avail, but with Kavanaugh now seated, it is more likely the case may be heard. By the end of 2016, 886 jurisdiction in 35 states and Washington, DC, adopted inclusionary zoning policies. (Rachel M. Cohen | The Intercept)

Case for not Building More Highways: Earlier this year, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet unveiled I-Move Kentucky, a four-year, $180-million project expanding I-265 and I-71, in addition to other highway expansion studies. Louisville is interestingly aggressive in its highway infrastructure for a city its size, especially as other cities across the United States mull tearing down, not building up, their highways. Certain myths of road development, like connecting more inaccessible land for development or alleviating congestion, have not in recent decades proven to be that accurate. A $2.8B expansion of I-10 in Houston found that after widening to 23 lanes, travel times have actually worsened. (Porter Stevens | Leo Weekly)

Trump Wants to Deregulate Zoning: On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order establishing a “White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.” This entity will study exclusionary local zoning laws that block multifamily housing units. HUD secretary Ben Carson will serve as chairperson of the council. After the signing, Carson noted that to increase the supply of affordable housing, there must be changes to “the cost side of the equation.” The council is directed to provide policy recommendation by 2021. Carson’s YIMBY attitude, however, is still met with skepticism from housing advocates, who note that his libertarian stance on deregulation would be a boon for private developers with more space to build new housing. (Jeff Andrews | Curbed)

Toronto Mulls Quayside Smart City: Toronto got a detailed look on Monday of plans for Quayside, a waterfront development spearheaded by Sidewalk Labs. The project would be a smart city, therefore relying on vast ranges of data collection and tracking anything from park bench usage or the speed of pedestrians crossing the street. One feature includes robots to drop off parcels and pick up trash. Many have been skeptical of the tech company’s use of personal data and its upholding of privacy. Proponents posit that Quayside will advance the field of urban design and Canada’s tech community. Still, skeptics question why Toronto would give a corporation with no development experience oversight of an 800-acre site. (Ian Austen | New York Times)

Rendezvous with Density: Seattle, with both Amazon and Microsoft in town, has become one of the costliest housing markets in the country. In just the past decade, more than 115,000 people have moved to the area, but more than two-thirds of the city is zoned for single-family zoning. The city followed Minneapolis’ lead in April, enacting a zoning reform law; however, while Minneapolis effectively ended single-family zoning citywide, Seattle scaled back its original plan of upzoning 50 neighborhoods to just 27. Sweeping upzoning reform is being explored across several cities and states, but no attempt has been without sizable political backlash. But without some sort of zoning changes, even critics agree cities won’t be able to meet their housing demands. (J. Brian Charles | Governing)

Quote of the Week

“Today we’re debating scooters, but in the years ahead, we’ll be talking about data on autonomous vehicles, flying taxis and other modes of travel that haven’t even been invented yet. By putting safeguards in place now, we’ll have the infrastructure we’ll need to protect our lives, property and privacy.”

Janette Sadik-Khan in Bloomberg talking about cities collecting data for the future of mobility.

This week on the podcast, ITS America President and CEO Shailen Bhatt talks about potential Intelligent Transportation futures.

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer