Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell | January 22, 2016
While the Urban Edge strives to provide readers with daily news and insights about urban policy, we’re also voracious readers of city news ourselves. As part of a new weekly feature, Senior Editor Ryan Holeywell highlights the week’s most interesting articles from around the web about urban policy and city life.
The average automobile spends 95 percent of its time sitting stationary and unused. As a result, cities are dominated by parking lots. Mother Jones explores how cities will be reshaped if automated vehicles eliminate the need for the parking lot. “For the first time in history, urban experts are excited about parking,” the magazine wries, “because they can see the end in sight.”
As Michigan reels from the fallout over contaminated water in Flint, it’s hard not to wonder: if it’s residents were white and affluent, instead of black and poor, would leaders have ignored the warnings signs for so long? “That’s a fair, if awkward, question to ask,” the Washington Post’s Wonkblog writes. “American history is full of environmental injustice: poor communities saddled with landfills or singled out for toxic neighbors next door. It’s not a conspiracy theory to worry they might also get a slower cleanup.”
Presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle are courting the Latino vote, Vox writes, and for good reason: in 2012, 11.2 million Latinos cast ballots, a record number. But the Latino vote won’t carry as much weight as it could. In 2012, only about 48 percent of Hispanic eligible voters cast ballots, compared with around 66 percent of white voters and 66 percent of black voters. Vox explains why.
Houston recently had a red hot housing market, but as oil prices have plummeted, the market has slowed dramatically, the Wall Street Journal reports. December sales of existing single family houses were down 10 percent from the same month in 2014. While the booming energy industry insulated the city from the reeling real estate markets the rest of the country suffered in the post-recession era, oil that’s fallen below $30 per barrel is now slowing down the city’s energy-focused economy.
Globally, about 4 billion people lack a usable address, which impedes residents’ ability to receive deliveries, arrange meetings, or start businesses, CityMetric reports. A new mapping website, What3Words, argues there’s an easy way to fix that. It’s created a new type of address — based on just three words — that can identify any spot on earth measure 3 meters by 3 meters. The system divides the world into 57 trillion squares and uses a randomly assigned set of words to identify each of them.
They’re the darling of cable reality shows, but one former inhabit of 320-square foot home says although the building gave her “green” bona fides, the experience quickly became miserable. Before they’re trotted out a long-term solution to affordable housing, the Globe and Mail columnist urges policymakers to consider the ramifications. “Fad housing often crumbles into slum-living for the poorest families. When was the last time a trailer park was a coveted address?”
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