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.
Is community feedback out of control?: A recent comment on a podcast by LA Metro Chief Innovation Officer Seleta Reynolds discussing neighborhood destruction for highway construction in the context of the current process for building bike and bus lanes is getting a lot of backlash online. The comment frustrates writer Aaron Gordon, who has reported a number of articles on how engagement inflation creates conversations where nothing is accomplished and knowledge is eschewed. (Aaron Gordon | Motherboard)
The politics of architecture: While politics permeates most everything in life, can we see architecture as political? Buildings don’t make decisions but they do house and cover the people that do. The decisions on materials and whether they are allowed to be constructed at all can be seen as an act of politics. Even recently, movements to build better cities have been pulled into culture wars they would usually avoid. It seems everything is political, even when it isn’t. (Daniel Díez Martínez | El Pais)
First autism-friendly city: The head of tourism in Mesa Arizona was horrified at how his autistic child was treated on a vacation and vowed to change things in the Arizona city when he got home. Now 80% of public facing employees in Mesa are trained to empathize with autistic people, and the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards recently declared it the world’s first Autism Certified City. Mesa is next setting its sights on being a better place for people who are blind or have low vision. (Lindsey Galloway | BBC Travel)
Insurance agencies will accelerate climate response: State Farm Insurance recently decided to stop issuing new home owner policies in California, citing the risks associated with wildfires and other natural disasters. Their ultimate concern is money, not politics. Year over year rate increases as high as 50%, a statistic that impacts mortgage-seekers, are unsustainable and likely to lead to a climate reckoning for those building and living in homes where future climate impacts will be felt. (Hamilton Nolan | How Things Work)
Houston wants more equal regional representation at MPO: Big cities are tired of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), which give suburbs disproportionate power to their populations and thus allow them to make urban transportation decisions that don’t reflect urban needs or wants. In Houston, there could soon be a ballot measure that changes the structure of the MPO where Houston and Harris County have 57% of the population and just 11% of the regional vote on the MPO. (Muizz Akhtar | Urban Edge)
Quote of the Week
“Beyond merely a logo or a strapline, a city’s brand is its promise of value to residents, visitors, investors – everyone. And, when done right, it can powerfully contribute to the legacy of the destination and to visual culture.”
Dalia Dawood in It’s Nice That, discussing the process and importance of city branding efforts.
This week on the podcast, we’re chatting with Meghna Khanna of LA Metro and Scarlett DeLeon of the Alliance for Community Transit LA about women who ride transit.