Smart Growth News — January 30, 2015

How Boomers Will Shape the Future of Our Cities
Metropolis — January 29, 2015
“We will be able to give many people an extra decade of good health, based on what we are able to do in the lab now,” says Brian Kennedy, President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California. The primary triggers for most disease can be controlled, enabling people to remain productive well into their eighties, nineties, and beyond.

Cities sizzle with more heat waves, hotter nights
LA Times — January 29, 2015
Nearly half the planet’s urban areas experienced a significant rise in the number of extreme heat days and of heat waves that lasted six days or more, according to the study published online Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

8 photos that show how cars seized city streets from pedestrians
Vox — January 29, 2015
In the early 1900s, “pedestrians were walking in the streets anywhere they wanted, whenever they wanted, usually without looking,” Peter Norton, a historian at the University of Virginia, told me for a recent article about the creation of the crime of jaywalking.

Poverty Is Rising Much Faster in Suburbs Than in Cities
Moyers — January 29, 2015
Years into an economic recovery, millions of Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet. In 2013, 48.7 million people — 15.5 percent of the population — lived in poverty, according to a report from the US Census Bureau. And a Brookings Institute analysis of 68 large US metro areas found the poor population increased significantly from 2007-2013 in all but one of them.

America’s legacy cities: What recent research says about best practices for urban regeneration
Journalist’s Resource — January 29, 2015
In the United States the term “legacy cities” is often used for urban centers such as Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland that suffered significant job losses in the 1970s and 1980s as their manufacturing bases declined.


Smart Growth News — January 29, 2015

DOT chief: Small highway fixes ‘killing our will to build’
The Hill — January 28, 2015
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called Wednesday for lawmakers to pass a multi-year infrastructure funding bill, saying the cycle of temporary extensions is killing states’ willingness for road and transit projects. It has been 10 years since Congress last passed a transportation funding bill of longer than two years.

Better urban design could add years to your life
CBC News (Canada) — January 28, 2015
There’s a mantra in urban planning circles that goes like this: when you design a city for cars, it fails for everyone, including drivers. Our collective problem is that we have done just that, designing most of our suburbs for automobiles and inadvertently designing out the necessity to move our bodies.

A 3-D Visualization Engine For Reimagining Cities
Fast Co.Exist — January 28, 2015
If you want to think about the future of a city, 3-D is better than 2-D. You can see how streets, buildings, and transportation fit together in ways maps can’t really show you. That’s why developers have long developed physical 3-D models of their plans. Better to show the world what’s coming.

Guardian ‘mayors for a day’ demand more public spaces in their cities
The Guardian (UK) — January 29, 2015
Demands for more open, public spaces for cities top the wishlist of Guardian Cities’ network of urban bloggers, collated to mark the first anniversary of the website.


Smart Growth News — January 28, 2015

Sen. Sanders files $1T infrastructure bill
The Hill — January 27, 2015
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is introducing a bill to spend $1 trillion over the next five years to boost the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The measure, which has been dubbed “Rebuild America Act,” comes as lawmakers have been discussing the possibility of raising the federal gas tax to help pay for a new round of transportation spending, prices at the pump having reached their lowest levels in years.

Suburbs of Survival, and the Democracy of Placemaking
The Huffington Post — January 28, 2015
Those of us who style ourselves as “urbanists” — myself included, much of the time – tend to get a bit snobbish and condescending about, you know, ordinary people: folks who live in suburbs, drive cars out of some combination of necessity and choice, and haven’t the slightest interest in what the “creative class” might be. I’m not sure that we’re even aware of it.

How Low Gas Prices Could Spike Obama’s Climate Plan
National Journal — January 25, 2015
President Obama may have talked up the benefits of low gas prices in his State of the Union address, but they could also spell trouble for a tent pole of his climate plan. When gas prices are low, car buyers have traditionally ditched small cars in favor of trucks, which become less expensive to fill up.

‘World can cut carbon emissions and live well’
BBC News — January 28, 2015
Forests around the world will need to be expanded by 5-15% to limit global temperature rises to 2C. And crop yields must rise by 40-60%. These are just two predictions for 2050 of an online tool developed by the government to consider options for cutting carbon emissions.

Google Fiber confirmed for four new metro areas, 18 cities
Ars Technica — January 27, 2015
Google just announced that Google Fiber will be coming to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham, with the gigabit Internet service hitting 18 cities across those four metro areas.


Smart Growth News — January 27, 2015

The Suburbs Aren’t Dying — They’re Growing Differently
Streetsblog USA — January 26, 2015
Sommer Mathis said much of what needed to be said about the recent round of “the suburbs are back, baby!” stories on housing trends, including this analysis from Jed Kolko, housing economist at, and the related commentary from Matt Yglesias at Vox.

Young Americans: Yearning for the Suburbs, Stuck in the City
The Atlantic — January 27, 2015
It’s true that cities have a generous amount of the shop-restaurant-office medleys that young people desire, but it’s also true that metropolitan areas boast many of the highest-paying jobs—which is probably a bigger draw for a generation that was starting or just settling into their careers when the recession hit.

The Striking Decline in African-American Household Mobility
Citylab — January 27, 2015
As we’ve learned since the most recent economic crisis, the inability of Americans to pick up and move for new jobs or new housing often comes hand in hand with an inability to climb up the socio-economic ladder. Now new research finds that even before the recession, black households in the U.S. experienced a stark slowdown in their mobility.

AAA, Chamber, truckers: Raise the gas tax now
The Hill — January 26, 2015
A trio of influential lobbying groups is pushing lawmakers to increase the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax to pay for a new transportation bill.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AAA auto club and American Trucking Association said in a letter to members of Congress on Monday that raising the gas tax would be the easiest way to close a transportation funding shortfall that has reached an estimated $16 billion per year.


Smart Growth News — January 26, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Bridges, roads need $1 trillion — January 20, 2015
Our infrastructure is collapsing, and the American people know it. The Interstate 75 bridge collapse in Cincinnati on Monday is only the latest example. Every day, motorists across the United States drive over bridges that are in disrepair and on roads with unforgiving potholes.

Cities dream of a ‘smart’ sci-fi future
Fortune — January 25, 2015
Kansas City dreams of being a city of the future where street lights dim automatically when no one is around to help save on electricity. Sensors would keep watch on water mains and warn city officials when they need to be replaced – long before the pipes break, of course.

Demolitions an ugly reality for cities losing people
USA Today — January 24, 2015
Mayors say demolishing abandoned homes is a policy of last resort. But for many cities around the country, it’s also a survival strategy.

Congress should let cities provide their own Internet
The Boston Globe — January 25, 2015
President Obama made it a point to highlight the importance of providing high-speed Internet access to all Americans in his State of the Union address last week. No one disagrees with the sentiment. The method he proposed, however — removing legislative barriers that prevent some cities and towns from creating their own Internet networks — will be a much tougher sell.

The 10 richest cities in America
USA Today — January 25, 2015
When you think of a rich city, do you think of a place with a ton of million dollar homes? Maybe a place with a lot of culture, job opportunities, or beauty? Many of the richest cities are in high-demand for these very reasons.


Smart Growth News — January 23, 2015

DOT head challenges mayors on bicycle, walking safety
USA Today — January 22, 2015
As more people opt to walk instead of drive and as bicycling continues to grow in popularity, traffic deaths of pedestrians and bicyclists have been trending upward for several years, at a rate higher than motor vehicle fatalities.

Urban Headwinds, Suburban Tailwinds
Forbes — January 22, 2015
Although home prices are rising faster in urban neighborhoods, population is growing faster in suburban neighborhoods. Consumer preferences and the aging of the population are tailwinds for suburban growth; so are falling oil prices if they stay low long-term.

Maybe Millennials Don’t Want to Live in Cities After All
TIME — January 22, 2015
The accepted wisdom about millennials is that they shun the suburbs for the cities. They want to be in urban cores next to easily accessible public transportation options that allow them to seamlessly hit up bars, restaurants and any space with wi-fi.

Earthquakes, floods and volcanoes: The most disaster-prone places in America
The Washington Post — January 21, 2015
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has declared more than 3,000 disasters since 1953, covering the gamut of large-scale calamities ranging from tornadoes to terrorism, and everything in between. Since 1964, they’ve been tracking these disaster declarations at the county level, which I’ve mapped below.

Will low gas prices hurt mass transit?
The Week — January 23, 2015
As it happens, this year will see the confluence of several important transportation trends, each with implications for mass-transit ridership. The most discussed of these trends, of course, is the ongoing decline in the price of gasoline.


Smart Growth News — January 22, 2015

New hope for deal on infrastructure funds
The Hill — January 21, 2015
Republicans are indicating after President Obama’s State of the Union address that they are open to compromising with the president on increasing U.S. transportation funding, although neither side has offered specifics on how they would pay for new construction projects.

Should Urban Universities Help Their Neighbors?
The Atlantic — January 20, 2015
If there’s something most people picture when they think of a “college town”— rows of bars and ethnic restaurants, posters advertising indie-movie screenings and dance performances, beautiful homes where professors can walk to campus —urban universities have more trouble achieving that vision than colleges with a whole town to themselves.

3 ways we can fight congestion in our city cores
Metro Jacksonville — January 22, 2015
Since the automobile became king of the road in modern civilization, traffic congestion has been a problem in cities around the globe. 103 years after Ford’s first Tin Lizzie found a parking spot, we still struggle with the increasing demands of the automobile.

Struggle City: Most U.S. cities haven’t recovered yet
CNN Money — January 22, 2015
President Obama faces a new problem this year: America as a whole is improving, but most cities are getting left behind. Sixty percent of U.S. cities have not recovered to their pre-recession levels, according to the Brookings Institution’s new MetroMonitor report, which ranks the economic health of 300 cities in the world.

Transit Oriented Development Critical to Metropolitan Growth
National Law Review — January 21, 2015
Urban Development: Faster Greener Commutes Key to Sustained City Growth, a report released in October 2014 by Cushman & Wakefield, provided insight into Transit Oriented Development as it explored “the consequences of rapid population growth in 10 major North American cities”—with Miami being one.


Smart Growth News — January 21, 2015

Obama leaves out gas tax in call for ‘bipartisan infrastructure plan’
The Hill — January 20, 2015
President Obama called for Congress to pass a “bipartisan infrastructure plan” in his State of the Union address but stopped short of calling for an increase in the federal gas tax to help pay for it.
Minorities and the ‘Slumburbs’
Citylab — January 21, 2015
The history goes something like this: White families left inner cities in droves during the white-flight era of the 1950s and 60s. Now they are returning to—have returned to—the metro centers that their grandparents once called home. Families of color called these inner cities home during decades of depopulation.
The City Might Not Be To Blame For High Asthma Rates
NPR — January 20, 2015
Asthma affects children regardless of where they live and whether they are rich or poor. But scientists have long thought that living in poor urban neighborhoods adds an extra risk for this troublesome lung inflammation. A new study suggests that’s not necessarily the case.
States look at hiking gas tax as fuel prices plunge
NBC Charlotte — January 17, 2015
With gas prices dipping to their lowest level in years, lawmakers in state capitals throughout the USA are increasingly open to the idea of raising fuel taxes to help rebuild crumbling roadways and bridges.


Smart Growth News — January 20, 2015

U.S. Cities Lag in Race against Rising Seas
Scientific American — January 15, 2015
In December, residents in Marin, a county in the northern part of the San Francisco Bay Area nestled across from the Golden Gate Bridge, woke up to find that some of their roadways, docks and parking lots were underwater.
America’s Best Performing Cities Are Invested In Technology And Energy
Fast Co.Exist — January 15, 2015
While the economic downturn was terrible for America as a whole, the level of terribleness wasn’t equal across the country. Some cities were more resilient because they were invested in industries that allowed them to keep creating jobs and paying decent wages.
Moving Downtown? Here Are 6 Things To Figure Out First
Forbes — January 15, 2015
If your 2015 resolutions include moving into the city, you’re not alone — living downtown is fast becoming the in thing. The trend has given cities like Boston, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Miami a lift, and the list of reviving downtowns keeps getting longer.
As Cities Push For Their Own Broadband, Cable Firms Say Not So Fast
NPR — January 17, 2015
Americans increasingly see decently fast Internet as more like a functioning sewer line than a luxury. And a number of cities are trying to get into the Internet provider business, but laws in 19 states hamper those efforts. President Obama announced this week that he wants to lift those restrictions, and supporters of what is known as municipal broadband can’t wait.


Smart Growth News — January 15, 2015

White House Backs Cities That Want to Build Their Own Super-Speed Internet
Wired — January 14, 2015
Five years before Google Fiber came to Kansas City, the residents of Chattanooga, Tennessee were already enjoying the ultra-fast speeds of gigabit internet speeds. But those connections didn’t come from a private company like Google. They came from the municipally owned utility.
Despite low gas prices, gas tax hike appears unlikely
AP — January 15, 2015
The new Republican-controlled Congress is facing an old problem: where to find the money for highway and transit programs. With gasoline prices at their lowest in years when the new Congress convened, there had been talk that it might be time to raise federal gas and diesel taxes, which haven’t budged in more than 20 years.
The Myth of Gentrification
Slate — January 14, 2015
It started in Soho, then moved to Chelsea and the East Village. Riots in Tompkins Square in 1988 earned it some headlines but didn’t stop its creeping advance. It moved on to lower Harlem, then jumped the river to Park Slope. Williamsburg and Fort Greene followed; today, it threatens even Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Fixing Fragile Cities
Foreign Affairs — January 14, 2015
In the decades to come, the city, not the state, will decide stability and development. People around the world have been converging on cities for centuries, and more than half of them live in one today. Western cities have grown so dominant that commentators now speak of “the triumph” of cities and call on mayors to rule the world.