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.
Air conditioning’s role in politics, climate change: The advent of air conditioning helped change the political landscape of the United States by allowing more people to move to hot sunbelt cities and the south and allowing Congress to work year round in D.C. But as the world warms due to climate change, more people will need air conditioning. But the air conditioning is part of the problem as it allows for spread-out land use patterns and increases local heat through greater energy use. (Joseph M. Siry | Washington Post)
Nonprofit launches housing fund to block investors: To make affordable housing available for longtime residents, a Milwaukee nonprofit is purchasing houses before institutional investors grab them. Data show that 40 percent of homes valued at $125,000 or less are owned by investors, leaving very little available for workers on low wages. The fund is expected to raise $11 million initially, which will allow the program to get started and seed future program needs. (Jeramey Jannene | Urban Milwaukee)
APA releases 2022 State of Transportation Planning: The American Planning Association has released a 324-page report on the State of Transportation Planning with an introduction by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and pieces on equity, public engagement and new ideas. It’s a lot to digest, but there likely is something in there for everyone. (Various authors | American Planning Association)
E-bike credits still possible: Active transportation advocates are frustrated that electric cars got huge tax credits in the most recent reconciliation bill while e-bike credits were left on the cutting room floor. But the e-bike tax credit that was left out might come back later this year in another tax package. It would cost $4.1 billion to provide $900 in refundable credits. (Andrew Hawkins | The Verge)
Office buildings on verge of midlife crisis: Nearly one-third of today’s office building supply was produced in the 1980s, when many cities around the country doubled their office space. Many of those buildings are getting close to their 60-year useful life and will need complete renovations. However, the slowdown in office leasing might require complete reimagining, especially for older buildings that are less attractive for businesses. (Patrick Sisson | Commercial Observer)
NIMBY billionaires: An article by Jerusalem Demsas reveals the “do as I say not as I do” attitude toward housing construction that the billionaire class holds. He shares a letter that venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and his wife, Laura, wrote opposing all new multifamily housing in their city of Atherton, California, even after Andreessen argued in 2020 that Silicon Valley needed more housing. (Jerusalem Demsas | The Atlantic)
Quote of the Week
“The faster you go, the more all bets are off. There’s a speed limit for a reason, and the faster you go, the more things happen that are all bad.”
UCLA emergency room doctor Mark Morocco in the Los Angeles Times after a high-speed crash in Los Angeles left six people dead
This week on the podcast, architecture journalist Alexandra Lange joins us to talk about her book, Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall.