A bright orange A&W drive-through restaurant.

National Links: What Drives Fast Food?

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.

Drive-throughs great for chains, bad for cities: Half of Americans use a drive-through at least once a week, according to the National Restaurant Association, and the pandemic has increased how much business fast-food chains derive from drive-throughs at each store. But the supersizing of this popular land use, driven by autocentricity, also sucks the value out of the potentially productive land around them. Notably, this article points out, Minneapolis “became the most high-profile U.S. city to ban construction of new drive-throughs,” back in 2019. (Marina Bolotnikova  | Vox)

Cities cracking down on short-term rentals: VRBO and AirBnB were supposed to herald a new idea in sharing extra bedrooms. But for many cities, short-term rentals have become an existential crisis, pulling housing off the long-term market and leaving workers without places to live. To combat the loss of housing, some cities are getting creative in how they regulate short-term rentals, banning stays shorter than 30 days or increasing taxes on owners. (Reasons to be Cheerful)

Building deconstruction and recycling: The City of Tacoma, Washington approved a resolution to look into building deconstruction that would recycle and salvage more material in order to meet climate goals. Cities such as Portland, Oregon, have deconstruction ordinances that require buildings built before 1940 to be taken apart and recycled. Deconstruction differs from salvage in that it maximizes the reuse of all building materials, not just valuable surface-level ones. As Streets.mn recently reported, Minnesota now has a full-time built environment sustainability administrator (Ysabelle Kempe | Smart Cities Dive)

The condo construction collapse: Condominium construction has dropped off a cliff after 2010, and questions arise about why. Salim Furth wonders if it has to do with condos in multi-family buildings appreciating less than single-family homes over time, or if condo-defect law that creates liability for builders has made them much less popular. It’s fertile ground for new research and may reveal answers about our current housing crisis. (Salim Furth | Market Urbanism)

Houston mayor stuck in 20th century: Houston’s chief of police told recently elected Mayor John Whitmire on a ridealong that a new road diet was a problem, so the mayor had it ripped out without consulting the council member of that district. Now journalists can’t get access to communications related to the removal because the mayor’s office has invoked the Homeland Security Act. It’s among Whitmire’s many questionable decisions on traffic safety that makes him seem stuck in the 1990s. (Michael Hardy | Texas Monthly)

This week on the podcast, we’re sharing a San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) forum on how a statewide coalition of California transit advocates organized a funding bridge to avert a fiscal cliff for transit operators in the state.

Quote of the Week

“Until now, we have conceived and managed Barcelona’s vast metropolis as an urban conglomerate, bringing together the 36 municipalities of the metropolitan area. However, it’s long been evident that the actual city has outgrown these confines, evolving into a broader economic and demographic entity — the metropolitan region — that encompasses over a hundred municipalities. What has transpired over the last four decades transcends a mere process of urban concentration; it represents a change in model.”

— Spanish journalist Milagros Pérez Oliva in Barcelona Metropolis introducing a series of articles focused on the region’s strategic planning process

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