Weekly Links

As Young People Make Their Voices Heard, College Republicans Take a Stand on Climate Change

Land Use

How Light Pollution Affects the Night Sky

From Sriram MuraliIn this beautiful time-lapse video, Sriram Murali shows viewers what the night sky looks like at various light pollution levels.

 


Georgia

Atlanta Gets Serious About Transit 

From The AJC. Over the last few days, metro Atlanta has scored several major transit victories. Regional transportation bills that would dramatically increase funding for transit across the region passed both the House and Senate, MARTA named a new CEO, and the federal government awarded MARTA $12.6 million for bus rapid transit (BRT). The proposed BRT line would link Georgia State University and Midtown. A true BRT line features dedicated bus lanes with limited stops. In this scenario, a BRT line can be just as effective as heavy rail at a much cheaper price. However, the effectiveness of the line relies on dedicated bus lanes; the more you co-mingle buses with general traffic, the less effective the service.

BRT Line in Quito. Produced by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

 


Housing

Parking Increases the Price of Housing

Development on Highland Avenue in Atlanta

From Bloomberg View. Cities around the country are facing massive shortfalls in affordable housing. The often overlooked, though not by transit and planning nerds, is the cost that parking adds to construction. Even more overlooked is the fact that many cities have minimum parking requirements; meaning each new commercial or residential project must provide a certain number of parking spaces. It’s estimated that in Los Angeles one surface parking space costs $27,000 and one underground space costs $35,000. When two spaces are required by law for each residential unit, it’s easy to see how construction costs (and consequentially rent) can skyrocket.

 


Urban Planning

What Trailer Parks Can Teach Us About Good Urban Planning

From Strong Towns. Trailer parks are often the butt of jokes, but they offer a lesson in good urban planning. As Nolan Gray writes, local governments often attempt to provide little land for trailer parks, but where trailer parks do exist they are often subjected to very few land use regulations. This results in denser communities that have a more European or Japanese-feel to them. Given this, trailer parks may provide an example of how we should approach low-income housing. While Mr. Gray points out that private regulations (think homeowner’s associations) often take shape in these communities to provide order and cleanliness, homeowner’s associations can often be the cause of bad urban planning and the source of scorn among residents.

 


Politics 

College Republicans Resurrect the Carbon Tax 

By Dave Sizer via Flickr

From The New York Times. College Republicans across the country are resurrecting the carbon tax as a way to combat climate change. This may seem strange to people under age 30 since, after all, Republicans aren’t supposed to believe in climate change. However, the phenomenon of a major political party denying the existence of climate change is a relatively new concept. The debate between the two sides used to be more focused on how best deal with climate change, and less focused on whether climate change exists.

The real take-away from the story is that young people are tired of being ruled by a generation of Americans who seem disinterested in critically thinking about issues and who fail to acknowledge actual problems. This sentiment has been voiced by young black Americans, high school students in Florida, and now by young Republicans. Many of the College Republicans believe their party is undermining future generations and repelling voters by denying science and running from problems instead of confronting them. Younger Democrats have similarly pushed their party to stop hiding, denying, and forgiving rampant sexual assault and harassment. It’s clear that young Americans – across the political spectrum – believe this country will be made great again when we start acknowledging and confronting problems with meaningful discourse and debate.


 

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