Park Hill Golf Course – Next Steps
After a year and a half of work with community members, a draft area plan that outlines the future vision for the Park Hill Golf Course property is now available for public review. From the start of the visioning process in January 2021 to the most recent open house in June 2022, what we heard most consistently from participants was a desire for: a large park and preserving open space; more affordable housing, including units for sale and for families; support for residents at risk of displacement; more community-supporting local businesses; assistance to help new local businesses thrive; and places that feel connected to the community.
How Should We Zone for Post-Retail Streets?
As Tom Smith notes in the August issue of Zoning Practice, “Activating Ground Floors in Mixed-Use Buildings After COVID,” COVID changed many people’s spending habits, accelerating the shift toward e-commerce. Now, many communities find themselves with an excessive supply of areas zoned exclusively for ground-floor retail. Many once-bustling retail streets are facing a post-retail future. In Smith’s view, there are only two logical responses: expanding permissible uses and downsizing retail-only corridors and districts.
Affordable Housing Developers Look to the White House for Help
With an undersupply of 3.8 million units and a soaring demand for affordable homes, keeping construction projects moving has become an urgent national need. To help meet it, the White House will now allow jurisdictions to use funding from the American Rescue Plan in order to develop, maintain and operate affordable housing. In July, the Biden administration released guidance expanding eligible options for recovery funds and giving city, county and state governments more flexibility to fully finance affordable housing. But constraints on the capacity of state and local governments to take action — along with simple inertia — may limit the reach of federal dollars that are there for the taking.
Colorado Ballot Initiative Would Earmark $300 Million for Affordable Housing
The money would go toward building both for-rent and for-purchase affordable housing through a range of mechanisms, including grants to local governments to build housing, gap funding for affordable-housing development projects, and loans for nonprofits. Residents of the resulting units wouldn’t pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent or a mortgage; people who pay more than 30 percent of their salaries on rent or mortgage each month are “cost-burdened,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
L.A. County’s historic General Hospital is set to be converted into affordable housing
The General Hospital project is part of the Restorative Care Village proposal, a county effort that began in 2017 with the goal of combining resources for homelessness, unemployment, mental health and substance abuse on the County-USC campus. Under the proposal, General Hospital could be overhauled to include 184 market-rate units and 371 affordable units.
From Los Angeles to New York, Underused Office Buildings Become Apartments Amid Housing Shortage
Office-to-residential conversions are occurring nationally as demand for office space fades. One Wall Street, the former home of Irving Trust bank, recently wrapped its five-year, $1.5 billion transformation into a condo building in lower Manhattan. It is now the biggest office-to-residential conversion in the city’s history. In Salt Lake City, Houston-based developer Hines plans to convert the 217,000-square-foot, 24-story South Temple Tower in downtown Salt Lake City into a 255-unit luxury apartment complex. Projects are also in the works in Dallas and Atlanta and in Tacoma, Washington, among other cities.
Can Mobile Homes Help Solve Our Affordable Housing Dilemma?
To date, 20 states have adopted laws that help residents purchase the manufactured home parks where they live. These policies have helped ROC USA, a nonprofit social venture, create a network of over 280 cooperatively owned, limited-equity resident-owned communities that are home to over 18,000 households. ROC USA provides low-cost loans to resident cooperatives to buy land and make needed capital improvements such as upgrading water, sewer and electric systems. Their network of regional housing experts then works with communities for at least a decade to develop and sustain their ability to manage their parks.
Can the US Housing Crisis Be Fixed By Abolishing Zoning?
Houston made basically every planning mistake you could have made in the 20th century. They built the giant freeways. They did some ill-conceived urban renewal. They maybe weren’t sensitive enough to environmental planning. But they avoided one really, really big mistake: they were the only major US city that didn’t adopt zoning. The reason is that they were also the only major city that actually put it to a referendum. They put it to a referendum three times, and voters in every case turned them down. The sky is not falling in Houston. It’s America’s most affordable and most diverse city. It has an extremely low rate of homelessness, because when there are a lot of cheap apartments, even people who might be struggling with mental illness or drug addiction can still keep themselves housed.
Hotel-to-Housing Conversions Proliferate
The fate of this older hospitality product was decided by the combined effect of the pandemic-induced travel shutdown and an oversupply of new hotels that include an abundance of modestly priced lodging that has rendered older hotels obsolete. The good news is that many of these outdated properties are being reborn as residences as multifamily developers and investors looking for a quick and cost-effective way to produce more housing snap them up for conversion to apartments. While this idea is not new, the hot multifamily market has set in motion a new wave of this type of adaptive use to help meet the high demand for affordable and attainable housing in urban markets.
Turned away at Del Taco drive-through, high Uber costs: Welcome to life in L.A. without a car
On the bright side, I have never found it easier to hold a conversation while meeting new people. As soon as I anticipate a moment of awkward silence, I start whining about L.A.’s public transport. That buys me at least five more minutes. It is the story of America — except New York — they tell me. America has spent trillions on transit in the last century. In 2019, $79 billion in public spending went to it. I remember a line from “Yes Minister,” a British television political satire: “Corruption isn’t government policy. It’s only government practice.” So it’s probably unfair to suggest that American policy is to have bad public transport. It’s just American practice.
The city that pioneered Europe’s car-free future
Over the past two decades, cars have been responsible for less than a dozen fatalities in the northwestern Spanish city of 85,000 inhabitants; the last recorded death took place in 2011, when an 81-year-old man was run over by a delivery van. The explanation for Pontevedra’s track record is simple: It banned cars from most of the city in 1999. “We decided to redesign the city for people instead of cars and we’ve been reaping the rewards ever since,” said Pontevedra’s mayor Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores, who came into office with plans for a car-free city more than 20 years ago.
Nobody really understands or likes this street symbol, so how’d it get made?
In Denver, they’re painted by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure on streets that have no bike lanes but are supposedly welcoming to both bikes and cars. In theory, when followed, sharrows encourage a biker to take the entire lane of traffic and caution drivers to chill out, slow down, and get in line. Sharrows can also keep riders out of the door lane — where people leap from their cars, swing open their doors and fling bikers toward doom. Some sharrows are painted too near the door lane, luring cyclists, eager to obey city signage, into harm’s way. Other lane markings are too close to the dividing line between cars going in different directions.
The Case for Making Public Transit Free Everywhere
Does it work? So far, the evidence is mixed—but ditching tickets has other benefits, from ensuring equitable access to transport to keeping buses running on time, with costs offset by savings on ticketing systems or fare enforcement. If it feels strange not to pay, experts draw parallels with public health, libraries, and schools—services that some use more than others, but everyone pays into.
Zero bus fare does not equal easy commutes for Kansas City riders
“Due to KCATA’s zero fare program, ridership recovered at a quicker pace than many other transit agencies,” said Cindy Baker, the vice president of marketing, communications and customer service for the KCATA in an email to The Beacon. “Ridership is now 80% of pre-pandemic levels. It is KCATA’s intention to build back service levels as more operators are available.” While the surge of COVID-19 in spring 2020 contributed to the drop in ridership, the pandemic doesn’t paint the whole picture, especially now. Currently less than 3% of workers in Kansas City — and less than 1% in the metro region — use the bus to commute, according to the Census Reporter. A city of Kansas City’s size needs more route options. Only 12.8% of low-income households are near a transit system, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s AllTransit database, which measures transit connectivity across the U.S. The city has six transit routes per half mile.
Kansas City’s Zero Fare Transit Program Shows Major Success – And What Still Needs to Be Done
Almost 90% of the riders surveyed said they rode the buses more as a result of Zero Fare. About 92% said it allowed them to shop for food more often; 88% said they could see their healthcare providers more easily or more often; 82% said it allowed them to get or keep a job; and 86% said it made them feel like city leadership is concerned about their needs — a sore subject for mostly-Black East Side residents, who often complain that the city pays more attention to its whiter and more affluent west side.
Flying cars, almost a reality—then the lawyers got involved
Most of today’s flying cars—including what Archer and Wisk are building—are what the aviation industry has dubbed electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOLs). In the last two decades, advances in battery technology, propulsion systems, and sense-and-avoid technology have converged with the societal challenges of paralyzing urban traffic and the need for more sustainable travel to advance flying-car efforts. Eccentric tinkerers have yielded to a big-money, high-stakes competition to own urban air mobility. “We don’t think investors are prepared for the scope of this revolution,” write the authors of a Morgan Stanley report predicting that this will be a $1 trillion market by 2040.
The Technology That Could Stop Speeders in Their Tracks
Speed governor devices could help protect road users from motorists who defy posted limits. Why won’t US regulators demand them?
Instead of technological constraints, the US has generally relied on law enforcement to discourage speeding. But police can’t be everywhere; many drivers willingly take a calculated risk when they depress the accelerator. Speed cameras that can automatically issue tickets provide more enforcement consistency, but their presence in the US is spotty. Multiple states, like North Carolina and New Hampshire, have banned them entirely. And cameras can’t prevent a determinedly reckless driver from flooring it. A more reliable approach is infrastructural: redesigning streets with fewer or narrower lanes and adding curb extensions that naturally induce drivers to slow down. But efforts to implement such road diets often meet public and political resistance.
State of Transportation Planning
The last two years have brought challenges previously unimaginable. The pandemic has taken a toll on our existing transportation systems and has been tough on our communities. In this year’s edition, you’ll hear from writers, scholars, and planners around the US as they highlight and share their research and observations for a post-pandemic world.
Metro Denver set to drop I-25 and C-470 expansions as planners shape climate-minded transportation future
The new plan would ax planned expansions of Interstate 25 and C-470 and cut or minimize similar widenings on smaller roads across the region. It would also move $900 million away from road expansions to fund climate-friendly transportation projects, including projects that would overhaul busy streets to help public buses move faster. That represents about a 10 percent shift in the plan’s overall budget, said Ron Papsdorf, DRCOG’s director of transportation planning and operations. Though DRCOG directly controls relatively few transportation dollars in the Denver area — most funding is controlled by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Regional Transportation District and local governments — it has the federally designated role of setting the region’s long-term transportation agenda alongside those other government entities.
The golf cart has become so central to Peachtree City’s identity that it’s featured on the official city logo. “Our cart used to have golf clubs, but four years ago we got rid of them,” Learnard told me. “We decided we’re more of a golf-cart city than a golf city.” (Peachtree City is home to three golf courses.)
Learnard said that most residents still commute by car, but that the carts have replaced automobiles for many short trips to a restaurant, school, or friend’s house. “Golf carts are a quintessential part of the quality of life here,” she said. “You put the family in a golf cart and go to the park or the splash pad. Or you go out for ice cream, or with your spouse to get a cocktail.” The golf carts have proved popular with teenagers; many use them to get to and from high school. Residents frequently personalize their vehicles with souped-up radios and jerry-rigged storage. “It turns out you can do a lot with a couple milk crates and bungee cords,” Learnard said.
Closure of I-70 the new norm
The economic cost to the nation of an I-70 closure is estimated at $1 million an hour. This emerging new norm for managing hazards on an essential highway through Glenwood Canyon reflects difficult decisionmaking that prioritized public safety. Deliberations like this are expected to widen as cascading impacts of climate warming include increased avalanches in addition to flooding and landslides. Beyond Glenwood Canyon, more land around the West is becoming more unstable as fires burn bigger and hotter — especially in Colorado where wildfires intensifying over several decades amid rising temperatures, drought and bug infestations have left 34 scars covering more than 700 square miles.