National Links: Cities Faring Well in the Pandemic

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.

Portland OR makes important changes to zoning code: The City of Portland Oregon will be the first city in the country to legalize the construction of at least four units on every city lot with the option to build more if they are made affordable. Additionally, 3/4 of the city will not be required to build parking and home driveways won’t be required for the first time since 1973. (Michael Anderson | Sightline Institute)

The small cities thriving during the pandemic: Owensboro, Kentucky is the only metropolitan area in the country where the employment rate over the past months has increased. This is in part due to a gamble made by the biggest regional employer to keep employees instead of laying them off during the initial months of the pandemic. Logan Utah and Idaho Falls share a similar fortune due to thier employment mixes which include health care and food processors, two thriving industries during the country’s slowdown. (Alan Greenblatt | Governing)

BlackSpace keeps communities of color in the conversation: BlackSpace, a collective of 200 Black architects, artists, urban designers, and planners aims to bridge the gap created when communities of Color are neglected in urban planning processes that can make cities inequitable. Through community engagement, cooperative design efforts and planning exercises, BlackSpace proactively involves Black communities in the decision making for development. (Nate Berg | Fast Company)

MPOs are making little progress on climate change: A recent study of MPOs in California, Florida, and North Carolina by researchers at Duke University found that Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) seemed to be paying very little attention to thier role in climate change mitigation. Larger goals surrounding climate change such as reduced VMT, reduced fuel use, and lower GHGs were hardly found and often not addressed in Long Range Plans. This suggests that MPOs as they are currently constructed might not be helpful in the fight against climate change. (Eric Sundquist | SSTI)

Defining Communities of Concern in transportation planning: A new report by the Urban Institute looks into how transportation planners definte ‘communities of concern’ during project planning as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Because there is no standard definition of communities of concern, methods for implementing environmental justice are scattered. This report attempts to highlight these different methods used by state transportation agencies and MPOs and emphasizes the importance of engagement. (Richard Ezike/Peter Tatian/Gabriella Velasco | Urban Institute)

Vanya Srivastava contributed to these summaries

Quote of the Week

“The bullying works not because they are unionised, but because in the public’s racial imagination if we don’t have police, we’re going to descend into chaos. They can play that card, which makes mayors shake in their boots and the media pay attention. That gives them enormous power, because we’ve already drunk the Kool Aid that we need a massive militarised police force in this country or we’re going to fall apart at the seams.”

University of Michigan professor Heather Ann Thompson in City Metric discussing why police unions can often get away with bullying elected officials.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Andre Perry, who chat’s about his book Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.

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