Greetings, readers! Thanks for being patient through my brief hiatus - I've been busy planning a wedding and then getting married at said wedding. Consequently, I've been saving up a lot of links for you all. This letter is a doozy but full of great reads!
"“Climate gentrification is when the response to climate impacts indirectly increases disparities in communities,” Jennie Stephens, director for strategic research collaborations at Northeastern’s Global Resilience Institute, says. Wealthy people seeking refuge from the effects of climate change are starting to move into neighborhoods that were once considered undesirable. The term is fairly new, but there are already examples of this new kind of gentrification taking place — and not just in coastal areas. “It can happen and it is happening in all kinds of communities,” Stephens says."
"There is perhaps no better American city that encapsulates the climate crisis better than Miami. Built on land that is as porous as Swiss cheese and perched just six feet above the Atlantic Ocean, Miami is both sinking and flooding at the same time. Miami-Dade County, home to 2.7 million people, will be partially underwater and unlivable as early as 2100 — or when it takes a direct hit from a major hurricane. In contrast to some cities, like Houston, where the floodplains are home to low-income people who have no choice but to live in flood-prone low-lying areas, in Miami, waterfront property continues to be prime real estate. But now, as sea-level rise threatens many of the low-lying beachfront communities, neighborhoods like Little Haiti, which is on higher ground, are becoming more desirable to developers and wealthy investors and homeowners.
Little Haiti and its surrounding area is home to generations of Haitians and other immigrants who were segregated out of beachside communities. Now, it could become the next trendy area. As the Wall Street Journal reported, strip malls are being turned into sleeker businesses and an upscale food hall has recently opened up. A 2018 Harvard study found that homes on higher ground were appreciating at a faster rate. The city is planning on conducting a study to see how climate change is exacerbating gentrification. “As people move inland, we want to make sure there aren’t waves of displacement,” Gretchen Beesing, chief executive of Catalyst Miami, a nonprofit that focuses on poverty issues, told the Journal.
But climate gentrifiers aren’t just people looking for higher ground. “Coastal areas are the most obvious, but there are other areas that are getting uncomfortable or more risky to live in,” Stephens says. In 2000, Phoenix, Arizona saw 121 days above 105 degrees. By 2050, that number is expected to be up to 147. For wealthier residents looking to beat the heat, the obvious alternative can be found in Flagstaff, a small city of 70,000, which is approximately a two-hour drive north. Despite its relative proximity, Flagstaff’s higher elevation offers much more moderate summers. But it’s causing problems for those who are already living there."
Check the quarterly newsletter linked above for updates on various development projects happening around Lincoln.
Of note: the condos in the Raymond Brothers building (across the street from the Schwarz building on 8th & O) have all been sold, with move-in expected by Thanksgiving.
The city of Lincoln is underway on developing an Affordable Housing Coordinated Action Plan. There has been at least one public open house for residents to contribute comments to the plan development. Residents can also take a survey for the plan.
Here's a story out of Omaha from early September. It's something I've heard about all too frequently: a tenant complains about the abysmal conditions in their apartment, and as a result, they and others are forced to find a new place to live on short notice. Remember that moving is not just inconvenient, it also costs money - a new security deposit (the old one may be partially returned at best), time off work needed to move, etc.
If you've ever wondered why people living in substandard conditions might be afraid to call code enforcement, give this a read.
Donald Shoup, king of the rebels who question the religion of automobile supremacy, brings us this delightful piece on the folly of parking minimums and free street parking. I want to quote it all, but I can't so go read it, okay?
"At the dawn of the automobile age, suppose Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller had asked how city planners could increase the demand for cars and gasoline. Consider three options. First, divide the city into separate zones (housing here, jobs there, shopping somewhere else) to create travel between the zones. Second, limit density to spread everything apart and further increase travel. Third, require ample off-street parking everywhere so cars will be the easiest and cheapest way to travel."
"Few people are interested in parking itself, but parking strongly affects issues people do care strongly about, such as affordable housing, climate change, economic development, public transportation, traffic congestion, and urban design. Parking requirements reduce the supply and increase the price of housing. Parking subsidies lure people into cars from public transportation, bicycles, or their own two feet. Cruising for curb parking congests roads, pollutes the air, and adds greenhouse gases. Do people really want a drive-in dystopia more than they want affordable housing, clean air, walkable neighborhoods, good urban design, and a sustainable planet?"
"Some strongly support market prices—except for parking. Some strongly oppose subsidies—except for parking. Some abhor planning regulations—except for parking. Some insist on rigorous data collection and statistical tests—except for parking. This exceptionalism has impoverished thinking about parking policies. If drivers paid the full cost of their parking, it would seem too expensive, so we expect someone else to pay for it. But a city where everyone happily pays for everyone else’s free parking is a fool’s paradise."
"The upside of parking requirements is that removing them can trigger a cascade of benefits: shorter commutes, less traffic, a healthier economy, a cleaner environment, and more affordable housing. Vast parking lots can evolve into real communities. There’s an accidental land reserve available for job-adjacent housing. If cities remove their parking requirements, we can reclaim land on a scale that will rival the Netherlands. Economic objectives often conflict with environmental objectives, but parking reforms can serve both."
Shoup ends with three ideas for reforming parking in American cities - seriously: go read them!
This piece in the New York Times covers novel ways that older Americans are meeting their housing need: shared housing, cohousing, and 'village' housing. Each of these models in turn provides seniors with companionship and a potentially lower-cost living situation, in the years between retirement and when it comes time to move into a dedicated assisted living community.
StarTran, Lincoln's public bus system, increased ridership 27 percent from 2017 to 2018. That's an increase of over 500,000 riders. This earned the system an FTA "Award of Excellence". City officials credit the increase to the implementation, starting in 2016, of the city's Transit Development Plan.
Go Star Tran!
Bike Walk Nebraska takes a look at a recent crash in which a child was hit by a truck drag racing (speeds of at least 72 miles per hour) on a city street in Scottsbluff.
"Before the by-pass around the city was built, Highway 71 traveled through Scottsbluff via Broadway. The highway traffic went away when then by-pass opened, but the highway design remained. A truck headed southbound onto Broadway from 27th Street has an interstate on ramp-like slip lane approximately 24 feet wide to use to accelerate onto two, 12 foot lanes of uninterrupted straightaway for almost a half mile before hitting the first stop light at 20th. JP was hit at 22nd St."
"More often than not, bike infrastructure is created reactively. Typically in response to a collision or near collision with a car, an individual or advocacy group identifies a single route that needs better infrastructure. We gather community support and lobby local officials for the desired change, trying as hard as we can to ask for the cheapest, smallest changes so that our requests will be seen as realistic."
"This makes bike infrastructure seem like a small, special-interest demand that produces no real results in terms of shifting to sustainable transportation, and it makes those giving up road space and tax dollars feel as though they are supporting a hopeless charity.
But when roads, highways, and bridges are designed and built, they aren’t done one neighborhood at a time, one city-council approval at a time. We don’t build a few miles of track, or lay down some asphalt wherever there is “local support” and then leave 10-mile gaps in between."
Lincoln city council member Richard Meginnis introduced a resolution to delay the construction of a new roundabout on 14th & Warlick Boulevard, instead diverting the funding set aside for its construction to use on street repair throughout the city. The proposal will be discussed on November 4, the next meeting when all council members will be present.
This past spring, Lincoln voters narrowly approved a sales tax increase that would fund street repairs throughout the city. An advisory committee was formed to oversee how the money was spent. That committee recently announced its recommendations for repair priorities, which the city believes can reasonably be completed in 2020.
When asked about how the committee should prioritize streets, committee member Russell Miller, a longtime watcher of city spending and advocate for equitable taxing & spending policy, said "I don’t need the people [as represented by the survey results]. I need the streets talking." Ultimately, the committee did choose to prioritize streets based on community input, because members felt the results lined up with where the greatest need was anyways.
No complaints here!
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