Stadium Debt; L.A.'s Energy Disaster; and Uber vs. Texas: Urban Insights From Around The Web

INSIGHTS :  Feb. 4, 2016

Ryan Holeywell | February 5, 2015Highlighting the week’s interesting, important and downright weird news about cities.

Exterior of apartments

Highlighting the week’s interesting, important and downright weird news about cities.

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.

St. Louis Joins List of Cities Stuck With Unpaid Stadium Debt

The NFL’s St. Louis Rams will be leaving for Los Angeles soon, but one thing they’ve left behind is a whole lot of debt. St. Louis taxpayers will have to pay about $144 million in debt and maintenance costs on Edward Jones Dome, even though the city won't have an NFL team. City officials have asked the NFL to help pay the costs, but so far, they’ve received no response from the league, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

L.A.'s Slow-Moving Oil and Gas Disaster

The largest methane gas leak in U.S. history has been spewing in Los Angeles’ Porter Ranch neighborhood for three months, leading to vomiting, rashes, and bloody noses among residents. But there are 5,000 active oil and gas wells throughout L.A. County, and for years, residents of less-affluent neighborhoods have suffered similar symptoms, City Lab reports. Critics accuse the city, which oversees drilling permits, of regulating oil and gas producers differently depending on whether they want to operate in rich or poor parts of town.

Thriving U.S. Cities Grapple With Homelessness Surge

As once-quiet downtowns are evolving into thriving areas with 24/7 activity, cities nationwide are struggling with figuring out what, exactly, to do with the homeless people who live there, the Wall Street Journal reports. Overall, homelessness is down in the U.S. in recent years. But in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, among other places, it's on the rise. Advocates say cities are simply trying to remove the homeless from sight, rather than address its root causes.

Growing Consensus: Houston Apartment Market 'Overbuilt'

As Houston reels from the effects of falling oil prices, the city's real estate developers are facing a harsh reality: they built too many new luxury apartments for energy sector workers who are now out of work, the Houston Chronicle reports. Developers and apartment managers are offering incentives to lure renters, and they're facing the reality that until mid-2017, they're likely going to earn substantially less rent than they had projected. "(W)e expect Houston to be our slowest market in the near term," said Ric Campo, CEO of the developer Camden.

Across Texas, Uber Puts Cities in Tough Spot

Uber, the car-sharing service that has reputation for playing hardball, ended service in two Texas cities this week, citing burdensome regulations. City officials in Midland said they were baffled by the move and insisted they had met all of Uber's demands. The company left Galveston, meanwhile, over rules requiring drivers and the company to seek certain licenses. The company is currently feuding with Austin as well, the Texas Tribune reports.

The Problem With the Second Phase of Gentrification

The original neighborhoods that were gentrified decades ago -- think Wicker Park in Chicago or Soho in New York -- were places where a young person with one steady income could survive, Governing's Alan Ehrenhalt writes. That first wave didn't displace many people, since it occurred in blue collar areas that had been abandoned and factory districts that previously had few residences at all. Today, gentrification is playing out in places where demand for housing outpaces supply, and people with two incomes struggle to get by.

Ryan Holeywell


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