Ryan Holeywell |@RyanHoleywell | July 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.
In normal cities, as housing gets more expensive, it sends a signal to developers to build more housing. When that happens, the scarcity of homes falls, and thus prices don’t go crazy. But that’s not the case in places like San Francisco, New York or Boston, where building permit delays are a significant reason for expensive housing, Washington Post’s Wonkblog writes. In the country’s most expensive cities, it can take a year or longer to get a building permit approved, compared to just a few months in places like Charlotte and Las Vegas.
Red light cameras are a scam, according to a video produced by Vox, because they don’t actually stop car crashes. While they reduce t-bone collisions, they result in more crashes overall, often by increasing rear-end collisions. In many cases, the systems are better at generating cash for cities and contractors than improving safety, which has caused some communities to cancel their programs.
Researchers are calling attention to “capital appreciate bonds,” a financing mechanism they say is a municipal version of a payday loan, Next City reports. The bonds were used heavily by Puerto Rico, was has $37.8 billion in outstanding capital appreciation bonds, even though the underlying principal is worth only about $4.3 billion. The remaining interest represents almost half the island’s debt. Now advocates are hoping other cash-strapped communities don’t fall into the same trap.
In an interview with City Lab, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, a Republican, says he’s eager to hear more about Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump’s agenda. “Right now, you haven’t seen Republican mayors jump on board. We’re not excited about the alternative, but we haven’t necessarily figured out how we’re going to conduct ourselves or our endorsements,” Cornett said.
Users of the popular Pokemon Go mobile game are likely to stumble upon intersting sites in their cities they might have never otherwise encountered, Fast Co. Design reports. That’s by design. The game encourages users to interact with places that have “a cool story, a place in history, or educational value” and “unique architecture,” according to its designers.