National Links: A Break for First-time Home Buyers?

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.

Minneapolis renter law could allow for first purchases: Local activists in Minneapolis have been pushing for a new law that would allow renters to purchase homes they live in if the landlord decided to sell. The law, called the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), would notify tenants of a landlord’s move to sell a building, and allow the tenant first right of refusal to purchase, or the assignment of those rights to a third party vetted by the city. (Morgan Baskin | Mother Jones)

A rental home in northeast Minneapolis

Cities starting to recognize van lifers: The cost of housing is skyrocketing around the country, but especially in places such as Colorado’s resort towns. To avoid the high cost of an apartment on a limited wage, many residents have resorted to van life, purchasing a van to live in that’s much cheaper than renting a house or apartment. But many of these resort towns prohibit overnight parking, limiting their own workers from living close by after they’ve already limited their housing options. (Kelly Bastone | 5280 Magazine)

High gas prices led to a decline in sprawl: A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters has tied increasing gas prices to the reduction of land used for sprawling development in this century compared with the last two decades of the 20th century. The slowdown, they argue, saved about 7 million acres of forest and agricultural land from development; the study also contends that a 3-cent increase in gas taxes reduces land development rates 2.84 percent per year. (Sarah DeWeerdt | Anthropocene Magazine)

Biological metaphors and city form: Since the dawn of cities we’ve tied them to the human body, discussing nerve centers and arterials as part of the urban fabric. They’ve helped humans grapple with the complexity of city life and could help us deal with an uncertain climate future. Thinking has evolved from cities designed like hearts and cells to the greater influence of naturalism which reinforces sustainable systems and responses to extreme weather and natural disasters. (Marco Amati | The Conversation)

Texas governor trying to kill a road diet project: The transfer of a stretch of state highway to the City of San Antonio is expected to be reversed six years after it was approved by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT). Millions of dollars have been spent in planning for a road diet, tree planting, and improved pedestrian and bike access for the road in an area of redevelopment. Many believe that Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, himself complained about the loss of lanes and is pulling strings to stop the project in fear something similar will happen in Austin. (Rick Casey | San Antonio Report)

Quote of the Week

“The consequences [of a traffic fine] are proportionally ‘equally severe’ to all. The day fine system can be thus seen to be more equal and effective than a system where the amount of fine is fixed.”

Katariina Paakla, a senior specialist with Finland’s Department of Criminal Law in The Atlantic discussing progressive traffic fines.

This week on the podcast, I talk to Tina Rosan, associate professor at Temple University, and Stephen Wheeler, professor at University of California-Davis, about their new book Reimagining Sustainable Cities: Strategies for Designing Greener, Healthier, More Equitable Communities.

Photo at top of story courtesy of Harmen Jelle van Mourik on Unsplash

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