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 Streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining or absurd but often useful.
Importing small trucks from Japan: Japanese mini-trucks are being imported into the United States by farmers and folks in rural areas who don’t want to pay $80,000 for a truck that won’t fit into a barn. Japan taxes vehicles by size and engine displacement, which has led to a lot of these smaller work trucks and vans. They are still subject to import rules, but have become a niche solution to the American problem of ballooning vehicle sizes. (Daniel Knowles | The Economist)
The end of the park-and-ride era: After World War II, transit agencies trying to find ways to keep white collar workers riding transit to dense urban centers invented the “park-and-ride” lot. Major transit expansions in places like Seattle have since included garages in an effort to entice riders, but during the pandemic many of them saw a massive reduction in use. If the shift in working from home continues, transit agencies should focus more on better service and less on park-and-rides. (Sherwin Lee | Seattle Transit Blog)
Why don’t we build larger apartments?: Millennials make up more than half the population increase in “close-in” urban neighborhoods since 2010, but as they grow older and want more space, family-sized units are harder to find. The housing shortage has highlighted the lack of affordable housing options in cities, but recently the discussion has also included why there aren’t enough units with over two bedrooms. The answer seems to be regulatory barriers and high land costs. (Rachel M. Cohen | Vox)
Urban pandemic declines reversing: The early pandemic years saw a decline in population growth from reduced immigration and natural turnover, along with the impacts of the virus itself. Large cities also saw big population outflows, as fear of COVID-19 and proximity grew. New census data analyzed by demographer William Frey, however, show that the population declines in cities might have been temporary. Many places that lost population are now seeing a massive reversal in growth. (William Frey | Brookings)
Reimagining alleys for drought, floods: Sunland, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, once saw repeated floods after rain storms, which clogged streets with debris and kept people from getting to work and school. A 2013 neighborhood retrofit reduced flooding— even through this winter’s massive storms — with a new green walkway, bioswales and permeable pavement. The project and others like it show how alleys and streets can be used to create a neighborhood benefit and reduce impacts from storms. (Erin Stone | LAist)
Quote of the Week
“This was FDA’s effort to suggest that there’s not a concern about overall food sanitation and safety if you have a pet dog in an outdoor area. This isn’t FDA saying that restaurants ‘must’ do something or that they ‘cannot’ do something, because it still is the restaurant’s decision.”
—Food and beverage lawyer Whitt Steineker, talking to Axios about the FDA’s announcement that it’s ok to have pups dine with you outdoors at restaurants.
This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Andrew Jones, program director for the Uptown and Downtown Oakland Community Benefits District. We chat about urban place management, how urban spaces are taken care of, and what it takes to keep them vibrant and engaging.