National Links: The World’s Smallest Skyscraper

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. They are national links, sometimes entertaining or absurd but often useful.

CA state law soon will usurp SF NIMBYs: San Francisco politicians and residents have long used housing rules to decide who can build what and where. In 2016, SB35 passed and allowed any project with 50% affordable housing to move forward with little obstruction. Approvals went from 8 years to 48 days in some instances. Soon the governor will sign SB423, SB35’s successor, which will take away a lot of the opportunities to block dense urban projects in the city. (Annie Fryman | San Francisco Chronicle)

Norway’s newest bike tunnel: Bergen, Norway has just completed the world’s longest bike tunnel at 1.8 miles. Nestled in the fjords with incredibly steep mountains, the passage is the escape tunnel for a parallel tram line. Instead of just building a small passage, they decided to make it into a walking and biking tunnel that saves cyclists 15 minutes each way. The city is recovering from an auto dominated past. (David Zipper | Bloomberg CityLab)

Front range rail depends on timing, politics: A front range rail line that connects southern and northern Colorado communities is gaining steam, but implementation will be dependent on politics and timing. The corridor along I-25 has been growing exponentially in the last several decades and relief is needed. But building such a line requires voter approval and getting it on the ballot in 2024 with a defined spending and action plan could prove difficult. (Jared Brey | Governing)

Lloyd Center master plan becomes clearer: The Lloyd center mall on the East side of the river from downtown Portland went into foreclosure two years ago and there has been endless speculation about its future. But now the owners are sharing plans for the 29 acre property that includes 5,000 housing units and a return of the areas street grid. Some had hoped it would be the spot of a new baseball stadium and while the new plans don’t preclude it, it doesn’t seem likely now. (Anthony Effinger | Willamette Week)

World’s smallest skyscraper: The unofficial designation of world’s smallest skyscraper is given to a building in Wichita Falls, Texas where an oil man decided to build some office space to fill a need back in the early 1900s. But what ended up happening is that he bilked investors out of a couple hundred thousand dollars at the time (millions now) by writing 480″ instead of 480′ in the contract, creating a four story building that stands to this day. (Barbara Speed | City Monitor)

Quote of the Week

“We should not think of planning as an institution that is petrified and not going to change. It is a battlefield, urbanization is a battlefield — it’s a crucial site of struggle because a lot of important resources for the organization of everyday life revolve around space.”

Álvaro Sevilla-Buitrago in Yes! Magazine discussing his book on the poor outcomes for marginalized groups in urban planning.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Phoenix community builder Tim Sprague.

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