Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday reading, til Dec. 27

I'll be on vacation until Monday Dec. 27, so you'll have to make do. To keep you busy 'til then, here are a few links to interesting stories:

• Greensboro's Kristen Jeffers writes in Grist.org about the distressing lack of black, female "urbanists." "When I look around," she writes, "I mostly see only one type of person associated with the urbanist label: young, white, and male. ... The word 'urban,' when it's associated with African-Americans, is often synonymous with housing projects, poverty, and the poisoned legacy of urban renewal. " She's an MPA student at UNC Greensboro concentrating in community and economic development. (Here's her blog, The Black Urbanist.)

The state of Oregon is considering a measure to ban single-use plastic checkout bags.

Fort Worth's City Council has pulled the plug on further study of a downtown streetcar. This appears to mean the city won't accept a $25 million federal grant. (Hey, wonder if any of that now-available streetcar money might float Charlotte's way?)

A study at University of California-Berkeley finds that at any given moment there are at least 500 million EMPTY parking spaces in the U.S. Says Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor and author of the book "The High Cost of Free Parking." "[Parking] is the single biggest land use in any city. It's kind of like dark matter in the universe, we know it's there, but we don't have any idea how much there is."

CNN puts Charlotte on the map. Literally. In a piece, "Can streetcars save America's cities?

Utah mom cited for neglect for letting her kid walk to school by himself. Note: The school system, in budget cuts, took away his school bus. Coming soon to a CMS school near you?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

(Hey, wonder if any of that now-available streetcar money might float Charlotte's way?)

God, I hope not. It would be like giving a heroin addict another taste. Inevitably, this leads to him stealing his mother's savings and finally dying alone in an alley with a needle sticking out of his arm.

Anonymous said...

I realize that this is the People's Republic of Oregon we're talking about, but do they not realize that it rains there -- a LOT -- and that paper bags + water = paper mache and spilled groceries? Oh, silly me. Trying to apply logic to the situation...

And there aren't a whole lot of white male running backs in the NFL. What's your point? You have succeeded in turning an ongoing debate about (new) urbanism and its merits, or lack thereof, depending on your perspective, into an unnecessary, irrelevant discussion about race.

Anonymous said...

From the "parking spaces" article:

-----
Chester pointed out that if there are 250 million cars in the country, obviously there must be at least that many spaces for people to park at home -- add in spaces for work and shopping and it becomes apparent that there must be many times more than 100 million parking spaces.
-----

Here's yet another example of a leftist "researcher" who can't see the real world:

1. Counting every private-home garage bay as a "parking space" is just silly.

2. Millions of rural Americans live on dirt roads. Others park their cars on their lawns or other acreage.

3. A large percentage of the empty spaces at shopping centers and big box stores had to be put in due to zoning regulations championed by the same latte-sipping elitists who are now complaining about them.

oneofestelles said...

When I heard that CMS is considering cutting busing for some, I wondered how many more cars there would be on the road. It would seem likely that many parents will be driving their kids the mile to two miles rather than walking or biking.

There seems to be a disconnect between CMS and Mecklenburg County's need to reduce emissions. I wonder what the City, County and other powers that be will have to say about CMS's decision.

Anonymous said...

^Maybe if CMS operated neighborhood schools, more kids could walk. My house is within a 10-minute walk of 3 CMS properties, none of which are operated as a neighborhood school.

Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

Funny story about the Black Urbanist's comment. My wife and I live in Uptown and take the "Sprinter" to the airport whenever we fly out of town. On a recent vacation to Boston, we got on the Sprinter with all of our luggage (we're both white) and most of the other bus passengers were black. She says excitedly, without thinking about the context, "I feel so urban!"

Haha, I know that she meant "urban" as in "we're city-dwellers and don't have to use a car to get to the airport", but I could tell it was taken by our neighbors on the bus as a little derogatory.

John said...

Mary,

Maybe you can spend part of your vacation figuring out where that $25 million in "free" federal money will come from. Consider that the US is $14,000,000,000,000.00 in debt, with the US Debt Clock anticipating a $25,000,000,000,000.00 debt in only 4 more years, with $144,000,000,000,000.00 in unfunded liabilities.

Anonymous said...

Watch as the Republicans kill the last bit life left in this nation.

Most Americans will be too busy tweeting to notice.

Anonymous said...

Long live Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

I read the editorial in today’s (Jan. 2) Observer about urban sidewalks, to which Mary obviously contributed. (The photo of that leaf-cluttered Runnymede Lane sidewalk, which Mary has long bemoaned, gave it away).

Frankly Mary, I agree with much of that editorial. I’m a retiree, live in a densely populated part of South Charlotte, and make good use of sidewalks as both pedestrian and bicyclist. My current sidewalk travel has been primarily for exercise, but given the ever-escalating cost of gasoline, I recently bought a small cart in which to haul groceries and other purchases behind my bike. I appreciate that our city provides an alternative that will keep me trim, save me some money, and help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.

But a sentence in that editorial has me puzzled. In mentioning that sidewalks outside of center city are often impassable, you or another editorialist ask “How can property owners be taught to keep them clean?”

What!? Have the Red Chinese finally overrun this city? Will local government be expanded to add an education czar with the authority to haul affluent Runnymede residents off to a remote training camp in the mountains where they’ll be taught a lesson on how to rake leaves? I don’t think the Powell Bill, which helps fund sidewalk maintenance in Charlotte via taxed motor fuel, allows for that.

In the case of Runnymede Lane, a better solution may be for the city to remove that tall, solid-wood fence shown in the editorial photo. It appears to be suspiciously close to the sidewalk, probably encroaching on city right-of-way. Have you ever called CDOT for enforcement? Fence removal will eliminate the “out-of-sight out-of-mind” strategy of the usually neat but sidewalk-hating Runnymedians. They – or their lawn service - will be out there with a leaf blower in a flash.

Unfortunately, you can’t force folks to be thoughtful and responsible – unless you are part of the Red Chinese bureaucracy. In Charlotte, you have to hit them where they feel it – in their pocketbooks. Just call 311. And if the city doesn’t take care of the problem, the Observer should ask why we are paying bloated salaries and retirement benefits to government officials and not getting anything in return.