Transportation Pods, a Concrete River, and the Swimming Pool Legacy: Urban Insights From Around the Web

INSIGHTS :  Aug. 21, 2015

Ryan Holeywell | August 21, 2015A new feature highlighting the week’s interesting, important and downright weird news about cities.

Photo of an empty swimming pool

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

New York’s bold plan to create affordable housing: Make developers build it

It costs a fortune to rent an apartment in New York City, so city leaders are considering a bold plan that would create more affordable units by forcing developers to include them – a lot of them – in their plans. The proposal would require developers to set aside 25 percent of a building's units for households makings less than 60 percent of the median income. The proposed “inclusionary zoning” policy sets aside twice as much affordable housing as similar policies in Chicago, Boston and L.A, the Washington Post reports.

A Houston Bayou Fraught With Streel, Concrete and Boulders

KUHF takes a canoe ride along Houston’s Buffalo Bayou and discovers that wealthy homeowners living above the river’s banks have littered the waterway’s bluffs with steel pilings, bags of cement and concrete pavers in an effort to keep the river from eroding their land. Critics, however, say it’s futile to try to fight the bayou, which they say has a mind of its own.

Why the Word ‘Infrastructure’ Replaced ‘Public Works’

What’s in a name? A lot, says Governing magazine, which explains the evolution of the nomenclature surrounding big capital projects. Fifty years ago the term “infrastructure” was an unknown. Today, the word – which originated in the French language – has largely replaced the term “public works.”

How Pools Became Democratizing Forces in Rapidly Changing Washington, D.C.

As the mercury rises, you can cool off with this story from NPR. D.C. has more public pools per capita than anywhere else. The reason why lies in the history of segregation. In most cities, black residents either didn't get pools or were provided with just one. But in D.C., the federal government built black-only pools to serve its large African-American population. Today, they’re part of the reason why the city has so many aquatic facilities.

The Town That Decided To Send All Its Kids To College

CityLab tells the story of Baldwin, Mich., the town of 1,200 that’s pooling its money in order to offer college scholarships to all of its students. Not only does the program make college more affordable, but it’s changing the entire community’s expectations about education.

Is Austin Ready for Personal Rapid Transit?

Here’s a wacky idea, courtesy of Next City. An Austin businessman hopes residents will commute in tiny, automated vehicles. The car-sized units would travel on guideways but operate as an on-demand, non-stop service. He says if all goes as planned, he could launch a PRT system in Austin in three years.

Ryan Holeywell
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