Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell | June 24, 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.
During the Great Recession, the feds created a program within the bailout that disbursed nearly $10 billion to housing markets nationwide in order to prevent neighborhood decline. Now, a federal watchdog warns that the blight-prevention program might have been subject to abuse and suggests hundreds of millions of dollars may have been misspent in the communities that most desperately needed them, City Lab reports.
Earlier this spring, Arlington, Texas unveiled a plan in which taxpayers would split the cost of a new $1 billion stadium for the Texas Rangers with the team 50-50. But in reality, taxpayers may instead pick up 80 percent of those costs, WFAA reports. That’s because part of the team’s half of the cost may also be funded by ticket and parking surcharges — part of a move one professor calls an unprecedented instance of “sleight of hand” by a sports team seeking stadium subsidies.
The advent of self-driving shared vehicles could launch “a new class of exurbs” as a result of the dramatic reduction in commuters’ drive times, the Wall Street Journal writes. But on the other hand, they could make city life easier, essentially giving urban dwellers everywhere a de facto public transit system. What’s more likely? It’s unclear, but author Christopher Mims is betting on the former. “The easier it is to get from point A to point B, the farther away from the center city people are apt to live,” he writes. “Even the era of self-driving cars can’t change that.”
Houston homeowners have lost a lawsuit they filed against Harris County in which they alleged the county knowingly permitted development that would lead to flooding in their homes, the Houston Chronicle reports. The narrow 5-4 ruling by the state supreme court might have — pardon the pun — opened up the floodgate to other similar suits, if it had gone the other way.
Phoenix — a place famous for sprawl — is now fully embracing urbanism, with “hardly an empty lot left in the city’s core,” the New York Times reports. Now, as part of that effort, civic leaders are pitching their city to the tech sector, arguing it’s the perfect place for young entrepreneurs who can’t afford Silicon Valley. “What I want is young college graduates from the East Coast moving here, and our college graduates staying here because they see their future here and we have a great urban community,” Mayor Greg Stanton said.