Aerial view of Duluth harbor

National Links: Short-Term Rentals Cause Small-Town Problems

Every day, The Overhead Wire collects news about cities and sends the links to our email list. At the end of the week they post some of the most popular stories to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. These are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Short-term rentals creating small-town problems: Short-term rental companies like AirBnB and VRBO are causing problems for small tourist towns across the country. The pandemic caused increases in people who could work anywhere and travel, which has increased the value of vacation homes in these spots but also pushed out longtime residents. In Sedona, Arizona, with its picturesque red rocks, up to 15% of the housing stock is used for short-term rentals with no relief in sight for workers who keep the town running. (Rosie Bradbury | Wired Magazine)

Boston highway decision still resonates: Fifty years ago last week, Boston killed a highway plan that would have run 8 miles into the South End. The Southwest Expressway would have destroyed neighborhoods and cut up the fabric of the city. But the decision also left space for a now beloved four-mile park and set the groundwork for the Ted Williams Tunnel and the Big Dig while killing the Innerbelt highway project. At the time it was a tough decision for Governor Francis Sargent, but one that resonates even today. (Danny McDonald | Boston Globe)

$100 billion lesson on how not to build transit: If you’ve been living under a rock you still might know that transit construction costs in the United States are out of control. Everyone seems to know it but politically can’t seem to bring themselves to care. And perhaps the worst example of how it happens is the $100 billion blank check for the Gateway Program on the Northeast Corridor. Not a single project built to connect people, but a long wish list from railroads and transit agencies. (Aaron Gordon | Motherboard)

Breaking up auto-oriented superblocks in San Diego: San Diego has approved of a bold plan in the Mira Mesa area to rezone large car-oriented superblocks for pedestrian-friendly urban village development. Some of the large streets will be redesigned with bus and bike lanes, and plans are for 24,000 new homes in denser developments and over 30,000 jobs. (David Garrick | San Diego Union Tribune)

Road to climate hell paved in concrete: At a minimum concrete makes up 6% to 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, and the production process creates enough concrete every week to recreate the City of Paris. It’s a complicated material, but also one that needs great care to reduce planetary impact. In Chicago, each cement barge on the river carries 80 trucks worth of concrete, and you start to see how it’s connected to everything. (Ted Fishman | Fast Company)

Quote of the Week

“But we don’t need to be subsidizing institutional investors to go buy up housing in working-class neighborhoods and holding them for appreciation and turning them into Airbnbs.”

— California Representative Ro Khanna on his bill “The Stop Wall Street Landlords Act” that would limit tax and other benefits given to institutional housing investors.

This week on the podcast, we sit down with Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon’s Third District at the Rail~Volution conference in Miami.

Photo at top courtesy of Andrew Ling 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