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.
Bike lanes divide Boston-area residents: The Mattapan area of Boston is set to upgrade its bike lanes, but not everyone is excited about the idea. Although many welcome the improvement, some longtime residents say the new lanes are an indication that they are about to be pushed out of one of the last affordable neighborhoods in the city. Research has shown that bike lanes generally follow gentrification, not create it. But that doesn’t change the undercurrent of fear. (Tiana Woodard | Boston Globe)
Nashvillians weaponizing Metro codes against neighbors: Nosy neighbors and overly zealous inspectors are using Nashville nuisance codes and environmental court to harass people of color and the poor. Over the past three years, the Metro Codes Department has fielded more than 95,000 complaints, many of them erroneous or without due process. But one lawyer is trying to expose the whole system for what it is: false punishment based on vague laws and anonymous complaints. (Radley Balko | Nashville Scene)
Cities understate their public wealth: Many cities don’t take inventory of their public wealth, which includes land holdings. If they did, they’d realize that we are sitting on a lot of public value. Pittsburgh undervalued its property holdings 70 percent, and Boston’s declared $1.4 billion was actually $55 billion. That’s why some observers, including Swedish Investment Advisor Dag Detter, suggest cities create city-centric wealth funds that maximize public return. (Matt Prewitt and Joel Rogers | Noema Magazine)
The city that pioneered banning cars in Europe: In the City of Pontevedra in the northwest of Spain, cars have not been allowed since 1999. Because of the reduction, the city boasts an impressive traffic safety record of fewer than 12 deaths. Air pollution has also been reduced 67 percent. Cars are still allowed to make pick ups and drop offs but have a limit on how much time they can remain stationary, and speeds must be under 18 miles per hour. (Aitor Hernández-Morales | Politico EU)
Phoenix could soon be uninhabitable, poor will exit first: As climate change continues to create extreme weather and heat the planet, already hot cities like Phoenix could become uninhabitable. The multiplier effect of the desert and urban heat island means that the human limits of 95 degrees Fahrenheit could soon be surpassed at night, and the poor and those who lack access to air conditioning will suffer first. (Matthew Rozsa | Salon)
Quote of the Week
“The fees are very high in some communities and very low in others. When they’re low, very little infrastructure can be provided. And when they’re high, there are few opportunities to provide affordable housing, creating two realities in the city.”
San Diego Planning Director Heidi Vonblum in the San Diego Reader discussing the city’s new equitable development fee program.
This week on the podcast, Michael Neuman, author of Sustainable Infrastructure for Cities and Societies, talks about trees’ importance for infrastructure development, Barcelona’s lessons for the world and why infrastructure lately is seen as a monetary asset instead of a public good.