Overhead view of the intersection of 12th St N and Linden Ave W in Minneapolis

National Links: 45,000 Half Empty Buildings

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.

The plan to run freeways through Santa Cruz CA: Most agree that turning this lively city that runs primarily on tourism into a freeway would be terrible for the economy. The history of Santa Cruz has been a long and turbulent one as the city has gone through a Christmas flood that allowed San Jose to dig its claws into the city, a failed annexation that was essentially gentrification, and a freeway rebellion; yet, through it all they have kept their character. (Ross Eric Gibson | Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Miseducation of an urban planner: James Rojas spent the better part of his career as an urban planner re-learning what he had forgotten from his childhood and lived experiences. Due to this, he proposes that while the education of urban planners is extremely organized and rationalized, what is needed is a better understanding of personal experiences the culture of communities. This will allow us to confront all inequities and design better spaces for all race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, ethnicity and more. (James Rojas | Common Edge)

The stories of people fleeing the city are false: While the narrative persists that city-dwellers are preferring to move to suburbs rather than stay in dense cities in this time of a pandemic and contagion risk, there is minimal evidence to support this theory. While there are people who have left, there isn’t a large scale movement to the suburbs like the narrative suggests. (Jeff Andrews | Curbed)

What do do with 45,000 half-empty buildings: The US government owns an estimated 45,000 underutilized buildings and research suggests it is highly possible they could use these vacant spaces for affordable housing. There is a national affordable housing crisis that the public sector could bridge by following several steps with a multidisciplinary team to analyze requirements, identify properties and their values, and develop a transition strategy. (Sheila Botting | Harvard Business Review)

Asheville forms reparations commission to support the creation of Black wealth: The Asheville City Council apologized for its role in slavery and in an unanimous decision approved reparations to Black residents. While this will not bring direct payments, it will instead pave the way for investments in Black neighborhoods which are underfunded and devalued due to past racism. The wide disparities between neighborhoods have held back the city and this decision will help it move forward. (Joel Burgess | Ashevill Citzen Times)

Vanya Srivastava contributed to these summaries.

Quote of the Week

“Even though the president has said that he wants to make this process more efficient and effective, it’s going to make it even worse, because it’s going to create more litigation and uncertainty. The controversy and the confusion around these projects is going to increase, rather than decrease.”

Sharon Buccino of NRDC in Bloomberg discussing the Administration’s rollback of environmental regulations for the construction of infrastructure.

This week on the podcast, Miami Dade County Chief Resilience Officer Jim Murley joins the show.

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