Watts at 50; Rising Rent; and the Tiff About Toilets: Urban Insights From Around the Web

INSIGHTS :  Aug. 14, 2015

Ryan Holeywell | August 14, 2015A new feature highlighting the week’s interesting, important and downright weird news about cities.

Outdoor Portland toilet

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.

Is Professional Development for Teachers One Big Boondoggle?

Slate highlights a new study that questions whether billions of dollars spent on professional development for teachers actually does any good. Researchers looked at several districts that spent an average of $18,000 on training per teacher per year but found that only 30 percent of those teachers actually improved (and 20 percent got worse). But, notably, the study was conducted by an organization that supports education reform.

Renting in America Has Never Been This Expensive

No, it’s not your imagination. Bloomberg reports than American renters are spending nearly a third of their income on housing, the highest amount ever recorded in data that goes back to 1979. Landlords are increasing rent, as demand for apartments remains strong. No surprise here: rental affordability worsened in 28 of 35 metro areas studied by Zillow.

This Collapsible Bike Helmet Doesn't Welch On Safety To Save Space

Cities have rushed to embrace bike sharing programs, but they have one major shortcoming: those bike rentals don’t come with helmets. A new collapsible bike helmet folds small enough to fit into a briefcase without scrimping on safety. But it’s not cheap: expect it to set you back about $100.

Watts, 50 Years On, Stands in Contrast to Today’s Conflicts

The Watts riots broke out Aug. 11, 1965. In the wake of unrest in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., the New York Times revisits the community and finds that Watts is dramatically different. Homicides are down drastically, and activists say relations with cops have never been better.

What Tourists Think of Houston

Space City has always struggled with its identify. The Houston Chronicle speaks with tourists to get their take on the city. But mostly they seem confused by the traffic.

How $500 Million Turned Car-Centric Indianapolis Into a More Walkable City

Next City explores how the city that's home to one of the most famous automobile races in the world decided to use a $500 million cash infusion to build sidewalks, trails and bikeways. Before 2010, the city didn't have one mile of bike lanes. Today there's more than 90. Now, city leaders are trying to figure out how to keep up the momentum as that windfall gets depleted.

San Diego Installed Public Loos, But Now They're Flush With Problems

The city spent more than $500,000 installing a pair of public toilets, but (unsurprisingly) residents soon complained that the facilities attracted the homeless. As a result, city leaders stuck one of the toilets in storage, prompting an uproar from activists. NPR interviewed one critic who noted San Diego still provides free bags for dog waste. "I just wonder what kind of message we're sending as a community when we're basically saying we value dog owners more than we value human beings and their basic dignity,” she advocate said.

Ryan Holeywell


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