All the news that’s fit for you (VI)

30 11 2009

A wonderful resource: The H+T Affordability Index: http://htaindex.cnt.org/mapping_tool.php?region=St.%20Louis,%20MO–IL

“In a draft long-range comprehensive transportation plan, VIA unveiled in September a proposal that calls for a mixture of light rail, streetcar and bus rapid transit to crisscross the city, connecting neighborhoods, cultural centers and major employers. The system also would tie into a proposed commuter rail that would connect San Antonio to Austin…Building a rail system is a lengthy process — from identifying funding to conducting environmental studies and actually building the system. Muñoz and others say they hope a starter streetcar system could be built quicker. There’s no firm timeline yet, though Muñoz has said he hopes to break ground in two or three years”: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/traffic/78007602.html

“Seattle has a plan. So do Tampa, San Diego, Portland, Denver, Nashville and Calgary. Vancouver is the exemplar, a city that has used a developer bonus system to encourage density downtown while assuring that the city core doesn’t become a forest of bulky high-rises with a scarcity of parks, public amenities or places for moderate-income people to live. Now it’s Austin’s turn. On Dec. 17, the Austin City Council is scheduled to vote on proposals for a voluntary program under which downtown developers would be rewarded with extra space or height for their projects if they provide certain community benefits, such as affordable housing, child care services or cultural spaces”: http://www.statesman.com/news/content/business/stories/realestate/2009/11/29/1129density.html

“The current economic crisis is not only a national crisis; it is also a metropolitan crisis. And soon the downturn will bring a local government fiscal crisis. Given the normal lag time of 18–24 months between changes in the economic cycle and its impact on city fiscal conditions, local officials anticipate that the next year or two will bring large-scale city government layoffs, deep cuts to local government services, and halted or delayed capital projects. Just as federal stimulus package spending trails off, city fiscal dynamics could well place a serious drag on economic recovery”: http://www.nlctv.org/events/brookings/091119/

“Just this past week leaders in Congress and the president’s own Economic Recovery Advisory Board have called on the federal government to pump billions of dollars into new roads, bridges and rails. Of course, we’ve seen this before. Since the time the Interstates were finished transportation has been more about job growth than the national economy. President George H. W. Bush was widely quoted in 1991 when he said the federal transportation law he signed ‘could be summed up in three words: jobs, jobs, jobs.’ But this approach ignores the real power of infrastructure to generate productive, sustainable and inclusive long-term growth, not short-term jobs… to truly produce real prosperity, federal leadership, as with the interstates in the 1950s, is more necessary than ever and should advance an updated vision identifying strategic, transformative infrastructure investments of critical importance to national economic competitiveness. That vision should include robust plans for freight movement, the electric grid, and water infrastructure across state borders and between metropolitan areas. We also need the federal government to empower our metropolitan areas to use infrastructure and mechanisms like congestion pricing and transit to improve mobility and choice and enhance sustainable patterns of development”: http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2009/1120_infrastructure_katz_puentes.aspx

“As cities grow, aging sewer systems are having trouble keeping up with increasing amounts of waste. Often, the result is sewer system overflows that end up directly in waterways…many sewer systems are still frequently overwhelmed, according to a New York Times analysis of environmental data. As a result, sewage is spilling into waterways. In the last three years alone, more than 9,400 of the nation’s 25,000 sewage systems — including those in major cities — have reported violating the law by dumping untreated or partly treated human waste, chemicals and other hazardous materials into rivers and lakes and elsewhere, according to data from state environmental agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency. Not even one-fifth of those systems were ever handed fines for their violation of the Clean Water Act”: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/23/us/23sewer.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&hpw=&adxnnlx=1259003472-2JHGB0fSR2GVjGwW+3P9+A

“Even after a global housing crash, the Bank still shockingly supports expanding the securitized mortgage markets that were responsible.  On this issue it at least deserves applause for consistency. Publishing when housing stock in rich countries was still ludicrously overvalued, its economists informed us that conditions were ‘quite optimistic on the likely trajectory for growth in housing finance.’ The ‘genie’ of deregulated housing finance, they argued, ‘is out of the bottle, and if prudently managed, can be expected to confer enormous benefits.’ Post crash, we still find the Bank’s ideological guns blazing. Its landmark 2009 development report…calls on emerging countries to ‘expand the securitization of mortgages.’  The latest urban strategy more chastely advises countries to pursue profitable secondary mortgage markets ‘as a source of long term capital for financial institutions.’ How well has that approach to real estate finance worked lately?”: http://americancity.org/columns/entry/1882/

“Despite gains in the 1990s, the last decade has seen jumps in poverty in rural areas, where rates continue to exceed the national average…The increase in the number of poor Americans was heavily weighted in rural communities. Rural counties were home to just over 16% of the nation’s population in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But 33% of the increase in the number of poor Americans from ’03 to ‘08 — more than one million people — was found in rural counties. As a result, the gap between the poverty rates in urban and rural America widened, doubling between 2003 and 2008”: http://www.dailyyonder.com/poverty-rate-jumps-rural-america/2009/11/23/2466

“To thrive, suburbs might become more urban”: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/11/20/to-thrive-suburbs-might-become-more-urban/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campa

“Walkable, transit-accessible neighborhoods do more than just lower greenhouse gas emissions of their residents – they save them money ($31 million) too, states a new report, “Windfall for All”, from the Bay Area’s TransForm, a coalition of over 100 non-profits…(which found that people in Sacramento, the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego who live near public transportation on average emit fewer carbon emissions and spend billions less on transportation compared to people who live in areas where public transit is scarce”: http://sacramento.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2009/11/16/daily60.html

“Just as websites have attracted millions of users by offering services for free and public schools have long waived tuitions in favor of the ability to offer guaranteed universal education, some contend that by opening up turnstiles and getting rid of the farebox, transit agencies could serve legions of new riders for whom the typical fare presents just enough of a financial or psychic barrier to keep them in their cars…Proponents argue that free transit’s ability to remove cars from the road and therefore decrease congestion, curb pollution and foster more livable cities would more than justify the added burden on public coffers. It would even reduce insurance claims, since cars that stay in garages don’t get into accidents. Olsen also argues that fare-free transit would save money because it would eliminate what he considers an unacceptably costly infrastructure to collect fares”: http://www.intransitionmag.org/Fall_2009/Fare-Free-Transit.htm

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