National Links: Why Neighborhood Watering Holes Matter

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.

Watering holes nourish us and our cities: Places to gather and drink — such as bars or coffee shops — are important to the livelihood of cities. But they are under threat due to larger changes in cities wrought by the pandemic or high housing costs. Watering holes have always been places to gather, whether on the savannah or our favorite third place (that is, not home or work). They cultivate politics and culture, and we would be remiss to allow them to decline when we need them the most. (Alicia Kennedy | Yes! Magazine)

Discussion on La Sombrita is heated: The most talked about topic in transportation policy on social media and in the press over the past week or so has been La Sombrita, a pilot bus stop structure that is supposed to supply a small amount of shade and light where it is deployed. Heralded by some decision makers in Los Angeles as a way to get something done quickly, it was also derided for being a small crumb thrown at transit riders who deserve better and an example of consultant culture gone wrong. (Joe Linton | Streetsblog LA)

Tax vehicles by weight: Former sports star and current college football coach Deion Sanders has purchased a commercial grade Ford F-650 that weighs 14 tons. The vehicle was splashed over social media with much fanfare but it also brought questions such as why we don’t tax vehicles by weight? Larger vehicles cause greater damage to the roads, take more energy to power and are more likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Perhaps their drivers should pay for their impacts on those around them. (Alissa Walker | Curbed)

Moving outward from central cities: Pandemic data showed that housing prices were driving people outwards in urban areas to places with less expensive accommodations. Now that trend might be accelerating, and while cities aren’t doomed as some commentators believe, the boom they experienced at the turn of the century is slowing and potentially reversing. (Aaron Renn | Governing)

We’re running out of sand: The world is running low on the specific types of coarse sand needed to construct infrastructure and buildings. Demand for construction sand is expected to increase 45% over the next few decades, while 50 billion tons are already extracted from riverbeds annually. Although sand might seem to abound in deserts, the grains are rounded by wind and don’t bind easily in the mixing process. (Staff Writers | The Week)

Quote of the Week

“In the context of zoning, functional-family rules are still a half measure. In the midst of a housing crisis, why restrict living arrangements to any kind of family at all? Still, though in many cases imperfect, these definitions are clearing a path toward a bigger, vital idea: A person’s relationships with their loved ones, irrespective of biological or marital ties, can and should be enshrined in law.”

Michael Waters in The Atlantic discussing how zoning laws over time have constricted definitions of “family.”

This week on the podcast, Setha Low talks about her book Why Public Space Matters.

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