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.
Federal court case has determined homelessness response: In 2018, a federal court ruled that people experiencing homelessness can’t be punished for sleeping on public property if there’s no where else for them to go. This ruling has determined how cities around the country have responded to homelessness ever since. But advocates say cities have used the ruling to figure out more constitutional ways to do housing sweeps instead of focusing on systemic issues. (Rachel M. Cohen | Vox)
Vermont’s major zoning reform: In an attempt to create more housing in the state, the recently passed HOME Act in Vermont would allow for building more units on land that has existing water and sewer service. It also reduces parking requirements and gets rid of single family zoning around the state. The legislation was created to help young families, first time home buyers, and those who hope to age in place. (Amy Love Tomasso | CNU Public Square)
Carmageddon again doesn’t show up: A tanker truck recently caught fire on an overpass on Interstate 95 and caused the road to collapse. The road carries 160,000 vehicles a day and local news reported that traffic would be unbearable until the damage could be repaired. But in this case (and every case), the prophecised “carmageddon” never occurred and traffic simply dissipated into the existing road network. Joe Cortright argues that this failed prophecy proves traffic is not some inevitable part of nature but is rather a dynamic and mutable choice, demonstrating again the fundamental flaw in highway planning. (Joe Cortright | City Observatory)
Paris’s new old height limits: The debate continues among urbanists about whether skyscrapers are valuable to cities as Rowan Moore discusses the difference between London and Paris after the French city’s recent ban on buildings over 121 feet tall. Some Brits believe Paris’s lack of tall buildings proved it was less dynamic than London, but a recent economic upturn in Paris at the expense of post-Brexit England shows it’s not a cut and dry issue. (Rowan Moore | The Guardian)
Transportation tax chicken: Conservative lawmakers in the Arizona legislature are playing chicken with Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs over a 20 year transportation tax that will end in 2025 without renewal. Hoping to cut out funding for light rail completely and limit spending on active transportation and road diets, the legislature wants to separate out a vote by roads and rails. Hobbs believes she has the votes to include both in the same measure, but conservative leaders won’t hold the vote. (Howard Fischer and Bob Christie | Arizona Daily Star)
Quote of the Week
“Get rid of Denver, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, LA, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson — the whole nine yards — and you still would not reach the amount of water you need to save. As a basin, the answer is not lying within the entire urban sector. There has to be participation from agriculture and industrial.”
Colby Pellegrino, the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s deputy general manager of resources in Pro Publica discussing water needs in Las Vegas.
This week on the podcast, Melanie Piana, the Mayor of Ferndale, Michigan joins the show to talk about bike networks and road diets.