A "For Rent" sign sits in a store window.

National Links: Retail Vacancy Rates on the Rise

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.

Retail vacancy spike: For more than a decade, demand for retail space has flatlined. With the pandemic boosting online shopping and employers emptying offices, retail vacancy rates have more than doubled. While landlords wait for perfect tenants to fill existing developments, cities continue zoning new land for retail.  Proponents of reform argue that city planners should adopt new zoning strategies to ensure more efficient allocation of space. (Leah Brooks and Rachel Meltzer | Slate)

Highway expansions and climate change: The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) claims that the planned addition of tolling lanes to I-80 between Davis and Sacramento will ease congestion, thus reducing vehicle emissions. Highway expansion projects induce driver demand and vehicle volume, prompting critics to question department leaders’ sincerity regarding the agency’s long-term climate goals. The results of a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Council of Sacramento over the project’s impact on the surrounding wildlife will determine how and whether Caltrans will carry out the highway expansion. (Rachel Uranga | Los Angeles Times)

Traffic noise and children’s brains: Noise pollution, particularly urban transportation noise, has negative impacts on children’s health and learning. Noisy educational environments, disproportionately experienced by children in lower socioeconomic positions, interrupt development of cognitive function and increase risk of chronic stress, depression, anxiety and diabetes. The best solution? Reduce vehicle traffic near schools. (Olivia Howitt | BBC Future)

Colorado’s innovative rental benefit: Through Proposition 123, Colorado set aside .1% of the state’s income tax revenue to fund affordable housing programs through state-written loans. This proposition also includes a provision that gives renters “equity” every month they pay rent in a development built through these programs. The money comes from interest payments made by developers on the loans written by the state. Through this program, Colorado aims to lower interest rates on loans made for affordable housing and provide renters the financial benefits typically enjoyed by property owners. (Roshan Abraham | Shelterforce)

Four-day work week: A Barcelona Metropolis series on work advocates for a four-day work week to increase leisure time, boost civic participation and reduce emissions from transportation. As evidence for their ideas, the proponents cite a study conducted in Valencia during April 2023, when holidays aligned to deliver four-day work weeks throughout the month. During this period, nitrogen oxide pollution in the city decreased by 58%. (Joan Sanchis I Muñoz | Barcelona Metropolis)

This week on the Talking Headways podcast, we’re joined by Wes Marshall, civil engineering professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, to talk about his book “Killed by a Traffic Engineer: Shattering the Delusion that Science Underlies our Transportation System.”

Quote of the Week

“No, no, great job. You disintegrated our Death Star, the first-ever pedestrian-only planet. You drove a million miles just to ruin a perfectly lovely living space.”

— Jack Stebbins in the satirical magazine McSweeney’s

Photo at top by Aaron Sousa on Unsplash

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