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 streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.
America’s Land Use, Mapped: Altogether, the US spans 3.8 million square miles, and the McHarg Center mapped out how all that land is used. 27% of land, or about 842,000 square miles are dedicated to forests, while 24% is shrubland. Agriculture and pasture each take up about 17% of US land, or about 530,000 square miles. Urban areas only comprise 2% of US land, though urbanites make up over 82% of the US population. Mapping America’s land use is critical as the nation’s population is set to grow by 100 million more people in the coming decades, pressuring how land in the country will be used in the future. (Iman Ghosh | Visual Capitalist)
Is Texas Is Done with Freeways?: In a San Antonio speech, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Texas may be experiencing its “last major build-out of roads.” In the statement, he declared “the way people get around, the way people live is going to change.” Urban advocates hope the governor’s remarks signal that Texas is finally realizing that urban sprawl is fundamentally unsustainable. However, when asked how to supplement Texas roads other than with density, Abbott suggested flying cars and ridesharing, which most experts have dismissed as insufficient. In his speech, he also addressed the state’s housing affordability crisis and its relationship with transportation and density. (Peter Simek | D Magazine)
Is Public Housing the Solution: In November, Rep. Ilhan Omar introduced legislation calling for 8.5 million new public housing units. A week later, Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced Green New Deal for public housing legislation, which called for $172B investment in existing public housing. Going against those thoughts though, some housing experts believe that other measures could be more effective at creating affordable housing, like expanding Section 8 vouchers for private housing rentals. Other Democrats propose expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program or the National Housing Trust fund. (Jeff Andrews | Curbed)
Copenhagen’s All Timber Neighborhood: Henning Larsen has created a proposal for Copenhagen’s first all timber neighborhood. The plan includes 40% undeveloped nature and would accommodate 7,000 residents. The new neighborhood project will include unique futures, like buildings with birdhouses and animal habitats integrated within the building facades. The timber-construction proposal aims to reduce the carbon impact of the development. The proposal stems from a commitment to both caring for the community’s plant and animal residents while also building a sustainable neighborhood. (Eric Baldwin | ArchDaily)
MaaS Should Be More Than an App: Once fully operational, Mobility as a Service, the practice of bundling transportation services together, will provide the mobility and flexibility of an individual car without the expense, congestion and environmental impact. A 2018 study by Jana Sochor describes four levels of implementing MaaS: multimodal planners (like Google Maps), booking and paying, integration of a complete multimodal trip, and lastly, policy goals, such as congestion charging. One commonly discussed MaaS model is a monthly service charge for a full suite of services; another is a pay-as-you-go approach. To get there, Smarter MaaS policy will need to help optimize urban mobility more than just an app. (Ethan Goffman | Mobility Lab)
Quote of the Week
“The reality is, the folks in government, they are extremely bright, they want to change. They just know intimately all the red tape. And they will dream with you if you come to their side and you can look from their perspective.”
Danielle Harris in Smart Cities Dive discussing how innovation can happen if private companies and public agenies work together.
This week on the podcast, we chat with former BART General Manager Grace Crunican about leadership and her illustrious career.