Beautiful Garages; Self-Driving Cars; and the Resilience of Good Ideas: Urban Insights From Around The Web

INSIGHTS :  Oct. 23, 2015

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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 and the staff of the Kinder Institute highlight the week’s most interesting articles from around the web about urban policy and city life.

Arizona first to establish lifetime limit on cash assistance program

Arizona will become the first and only state to impose a one-year, lifetime limit for those receiving federal welfare benefits in a move that advocates say will endanger vulnerable families. The cuts affect those getting aid from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, which is intended to provide a safety net to families when the parents are out of work. A state spokesperson said the move would save Arizona $3.9 million per year, the Arizona Republic and Cronkite News Service report.

How a Good Idea Can Survive a Mayoral Transition

When a new mayor takes office, "even the most innovative ideas are subject to termination,” writes Governing’s Stephen Goldsmith. But that wasn't the case when Jorge Elorza succeeded Angel Taveras as mayor of Providence, R.I. earlier this year. He continued – and breathed new life into – an effort dubbed “Providence Talks.” The city’s innovative program is designed to promote language development in low-income children.

The Hidden, Sometimes 'Frightening' Beauty of America's Parking Garages

City Lab highlights the photography of Ben Marcin, who captures intriguing photos of parking garages across the country. Marcin focuses on the patterns present in the buildings and finds beauty -- and occasionally terror -- in the geometry of the structures.

The case for affordable housing in pricey neighborhoods

As real estate in the urban core of cities like Houston become more valuable, owners of private apartments may opt out of affordable housing programs if they think they can get better returns on the open market, the Urban Institute says in a new report. “The researchers said Houston's affordable units that receive government subsidies are already concentrated mostly in areas with higher poverty, which puts greater stress on preserving those units that exist in the more affluent, ‘low poverty’ neighborhoods,” the Houston Chronicle writes.

What Makes a Great Public Space?

The Italian piazza is a form that's often been imitated in the U.S. but rarely duplicated, writes anthropology professor Dean Saitta for Planetizen. He breaks down what it takes to build a really glad piazza -- or more generally, a great place: a central location, easy connectivity and lots of cachet. He uses Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore to explain what it takes to make the ideal space.

The ethical quandaries of self-driving cars

Tesla's newly-debuted "Autopilot" feature didn't go exactly as planned -- some users shared videos of near crashes -- and made clear that "technology is outpacing public debate on the regulatory, safety and ethical issues these vehicles present," George Mason University's Jesse Kirkpatrick writes for the Baltimore Sun. He outlines ethically questionable hypotheticals involving self-driving vehicles to show just how far our legal system -- and possibly our own sense of morality -- needs to be examined before we embrace the technology.

Ryan Holeywell
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