National Links: ‘We Buy Houses’ Fails Everyone

Every day, The Overhead Wire collects news about cities and sends the links to our email list. At the end of the week they 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. These are national links, sometimes entertaining or absurd, but hopefully useful.

“We Buy Houses,” and everyone else loses: Commercials or billboards saying “We Buy Houses” for cash are ubiquitous in cities across the country. But a new report from Drexel Metro Finance in Philadelphia found that homes sold to investors were valued at 50% less than those sold to individuals outside the Multiple Listing Service. These findings call into question whether the “We Buy Houses” world is taking homeowners for a ride. (Bruce Katz, Ben Preis, Kevin Gillen | Philadelphia Citizen)

Obscure transit rule could improve safety: In areas where bus stops are farther apart, some transit agencies have rules on the books that allow riders to request stops in between. Many drivers and riders are unaware of them, and agencies are worried too many requests would slow down service. Agencies with the rule also limit stops on certain streets and corners, but the idea would be to let people stop late at night on less traveled routes for more safety getting home. (H. Jiahong Pan | Next City)

Water cut off for 2,000 homes: Rio Verde Hills, Arizona is dependent on trucks to bring water from Scottsdale to homes without wells. But truck access to the supply from the Colorado River was cut off after Scottsdale began implementing more rules around shortages from drought. A two-year solution from the city is on the table, but longer-term access needs to be addressed. (Wyatt Myskow | Fast Company)

Chicago adapting electric buses for cold weather: Chicago has been experimenting with electric buses for almost nine years, figuring out how to make sure they work in colder winter weather. Most of the fleet’s battery drain goes toward heating in winter, so frequent recharges are necessary to keep the buses running. Drivers are told to top off at charging stations if batteries get to 50%, but the agency has found that operating costs for the battery buses still are two-thirds the cost of their diesel predecessors: about $2 per mile to a diesel bus’ $3. (Tom Krisher | Associated Press)

French cities banning billboards: Cities all over France are moving to ban large billboards and flashy advertising in an attempt to reduce visual blight and create a calmer urban environment. The city of Nantes in western France took down 110 billboards over the course of one night. Although advertisers are upset with the loss of space, their neighbors don’t seem to miss them. (John Laurenson | Marketplace)

Quote of the Week

“If this project is built through the center of our city this racist past will carry its racist impacts into our future.”

Ann Burruss, whose complaint about a highway expansion in Lafayette, Louisiana led to a civil rights investigation by the Federal Highway Administration. She’s quoted in hometown publication the Lafayette Current.

This week on the podcast, we’re going to the Rail~Volution (now MPact) Conference in Miami. Daniel Gibson, regional vice president of Miami Dade Allegany Franciscan Ministries moderates a panel featuring LA Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins, Philadelphia’s SEPTA CEO Leslie Richards and Diana Stanley, CEO of homeless services provider The Lord’s Place. They’ll talk about homelessness and public transportation.

Photo at top courtesy of Marius Matuschzik 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