Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell | April 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 number of bank branches could decline by 20 percent to 50 percent over the next decade, according to one new estimate, the Washington Post reports. That’s a lot of empty store fronts in communities across the country. It’s the result of the rapid impact technology has had on personal finance.
Across the country, state lawmakers facing budget cuts are targeting “fragmented” school districts for consolidation, Governing reports.The term refers to districts with very few students, that could achieve cost savings if they were merged with other districts. Yet political opposition often prevents such maneuvers. How big is the problem? The magazine’s analysis finds that 46 percent of the country’s school districts have fewer than 1,000 students.
It’s become popular to blame land use regulations for the high cost of housing in places like San Francisco and New York, but it’s also important not to lose site of geographic factors like mountains and coastlines that can prevent cities from expanding and adding more housing, Richard Florida writes for City Lab. It’s no surprise that housing is pricier in places like New York, Boston and San Francisco — bound by water — than Houston, Atlanta, and Charlotte — which can seemingly expand forever.
Houston’s April 18 flooding revealed an uncomfortable truth about the city: it can live without zoning, but it’s famous lack of land-use regulation is likely contributing to regular flooding, retired journalist Bruce Nichols writes for the Houston Chronicle. He argues that city officials have been unwilling to close loopholes that result in regular devastation to its neighborhoods, and instead, prefer “hiding behind Mother Nature’s skirt” by saying floods are inevitable.
Often, “millennial” is a euphemism for a well-educated city-dweller in his 20s. But the real millennial, on average, looks quite different, The Atlantic reports. He likely lives with someone, doesn’t live in a dense area, and probably didn’t graduate from college. If cities want to understand the cohort, they’d be wise not to rely on media stereotypes.