A man using a crosswalk.

National Links: Public Health and Crypto Cities

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.

La Mesa as mobility politics microcosm: To pay for a $160B transportation plan that addressed the climate, San Diego regional planners set their sights on a road usage charge. Unfortunately, it has now become a hot-button political issue as local Republicans see it as a way to win votes hoping people vote on pocketbook issues over the climate. The discussion is also a microcosm of the energy versus climate policy debate currently being had around the world. (Justin Worland | Time Magazine)

A modular project for the missing middle: When developers build new housing, they are often stuck on two sides of the spectrum of luxury or affordable. But most of the current housing needs are at middle-income levels. To build more of this type of family-size housing, a Chicago developer has gone modular for their 40 unit project. The units are expected to cost around $245K compared to the city median of $315K. (Nate Berg | Fast Company)

Denton, Texas’ mixed crypto emotions: During a 2021 winter storm in Texas, Denton was hit hard by a long power outage and inflated energy costs that only added to a $140M hole into its budget. A few months later a shadowy company came and promised that it would fix the issue, giving the city millions in revenue a year in exchange for putting a cryptocurrency mine at its power plant. The move would double the city’s energy consumption and create a complicated situation for a city trying to be more sustainable. (Sarah Emerson | Buzzfeed News)

Starchitect dreams are our nightmares: Starchitect and cult of personality fantasies that purport to solve real problems are given all kinds of publicity and press but never seem to be rooted in reality. That leaves the rest of us in the lurch when problems such as climate change continue without a real solution. These big plans are often silly, unrealistic and part of a capitalist hope that endless growth will save us from ourselves. (John Kazior | The Baffler)

Is the design of cities making us sick? Our cities have benefitted greatly from scientific advances including vaccines for polio and a better understanding of how disease is spread. But our cities are not being designed in ways that promote the health of our population. School location decisions don’t allow kids to walk or bike to school while streets are often designed without adequate crossings. In addition to environmental impact statements, perhaps we should consider health as well. (Alan Ehrenhalt | Governing)

Quote of the Week

“In Portland, you can just park your cart somewhere, and it can just be in one spot, and in a lot of cities, that’s just not the case. So, I think that alone is kind of like the main reason Portland has such a vibrant food cart culture — you can have a set location.”

Portland food cart owner Jace Krause in Eater on what makes Portland’s food scene work.

This week on the podcast, Paul Lewis, policy director at the Eno Center for Transportation, discusses the transit capital cost report “Saving Time and Making Cents: A Blueprint for Building Transit Better”.