Every day, The Overhead Wire collects news about cities and sends the links to their 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 and international links, sometimes entertaining or absurd but often useful.
In Minneapolis, environmentalists splinter over housing: After the City of Minneapolis made some regulatory changes to its zoning and development codes to allow more missing-middle housing types, opposition groups sued the city for violations of Minnesota’s environmental laws. The ensuing debate over the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan has broken open generational and ideological divides on what environmentalism means. (Jerusalem Demsas | The Atlantic)
Transit agencies are climate agencies: Around the country, state Departments of Transportation take a business-as-usual approach to transportation and expanding roads. Those policies fly in the face of their stated goals of reducing emissions. States can actually reduce emissions by funding transit expansion and maintenance. While some states are moving in that direction, more need to follow to tackle climate change. (Emily Pontecorvo | HeatMap)
The introvert economy: The pandemic profoundly changed American life, but in many ways it only sped up existing social trends. Allison Schrager says increased reliance on home delivery and declining interest in going out has created a new “introvert economy.” Younger people were trending in this direction before the pandemic, but the experiences during that time period probably accelerated the drive toward reduced drinking, dating and socializing. (Allison Schrager | Bloomberg)
Lessons from London on open loops: London transit authority, Transport for London, has long been a standard bearer for “open loop” payment systems, which allow for contactless and pay-as-you-go transactions. The agency handles 3 million contactless transactions per day from cards and phones. Other agencies looking to adopt similar systems have found that not everyone has a card or phone that works on the system. Aaron White, of the transport consulting firm Cubic Transportation Systems, proposes a possible solution: account-based ticketing, which allows contactless fare payments to come directly from riders’ bank accounts. (Aaron White | Railway Technology)
No permits without affordable housing: A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has told the City of Beverly Hills that it can issue no permits for any construction except new housing. The restriction is the city’s punishment for failing to plan for and build enough affordable homes to conform with a 50-year-old state law. While the State of California has grown precipitously in the past half-century and now holds almost 40 million people, Beverly Hills’ population has declined by 1,000 people since 1970. (Chris Michael | The Guardian)
Bill introduced for huge funding boost for transit: Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, a ninth-term Democratic Congressman, has introduced a bill that would provide up to $80 billion in federal funding for transit operations at agencies around the country. With many agencies facing a fiscal cliff because of slow post-pandemic ridership rebounds, the funds would be a lifeline to preserve and even expand service. The bill is also meant to support more transit service in rural areas and communities with higher levels of poverty. (Dan Zukowski | Smart Cities Dive)
This week on the podcast, we’re joined by John King, urban design critic at the San Francisco Chronicle. We talk about his new book, Portal: San Francisco’s Ferry Building and the Reinvention of American Cities.
Quote of the Week
“For paint and dye manufacturers, arsenic was a cheap commodity that increased the brilliance and durability of pigments, especially when applied to wallpapers. The public loved the bright colors of the new wallpapers, and even when they learned the dyes contained arsenic, they did not consider the wallpapers dangerous — as long as you did not lick them.”
— Art historian Lucinda Hawksley, discussing with CNN the deadly effects of arsenic in Victorian-era wallpaper