Weekly Links

Paul Newman Talks Zoning, Destroys Shadows

Weather+Climate

Is it Hotter or Colder Than Normal in Atlanta?

We have a new tool that tracks and puts into historical context the daily and monthly weather in Atlanta. The charts on the right (desktop) or below this article (mobile) show basic temperature data including the high and low for the day, the record high and low for today, the average temperature today, and the normal average temperature for today. Records go back to 1930, the first year data was recorded at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. NOAA determines the normal temperature for the day based on recorded temperatures between 1980 and 2010. All of this information is updated on an hourly basis.

The second chart shows the temperature that must be reached each day for the current month to be the warmest or coldest on record (again, back to 1930). For instance, based on the average temperature from June 1 to June 3, the average temperature on June 4 needs to be at least 100.2°F for June 1-4, 2018 to be the warmest June 1-4 on record; but, it needs to be no greater than 1.4°F for June 1-4, 2018 to be the coldest on record. These numbers may get even more extreme. For instance, May temperatures were so far above normal that on May 31 the average temperature could be no greater than -215°F for May 2018 to be the coldest May on record. However, the average temperature only needed to reach 77.5°F on May 31 for May 2018 to be the warmest May on record (it reached 79°F and May 2018 was the warmest May on record).

The last chart shows how temperatures up to this point in the month compare to temperatures in previous years. On June 3 the chart said “So far, this month is the 14th warmest June on record”. This means that the average temperature in Atlanta from June 1 to June 3, 2018 was the 14th warmest June 1 to June 3 on record. This information will also update on an hourly basis, so the ranking may change throughout the day as temperatures increase or decrease.


Zoning

Paul Newman Talks Zoning, Destroys Shadows

From YoutubeIn a video from the 1980’s, Paul Newman explains why New York City’s zoning revisions allowing taller buildings is bad for residents of the Upper East Side. The major complaint, and one we continue to hear today, is that taller buildings upend the human-scale of neighborhoods while casting large shadows over streets and apartments. As Newman states, “[tall buildings] reduce the play of sunlight on the street, which invites people out of their homes to enjoy the outdoors.” Wise words from a wise man. We need taller buildings to provide more affordable housing units, but through creative zoning regulations they can be built in ways that don’t suck the energy and light from neighborhoods.


Housing/Urban Planning

Ignoring Historical Rules, Baby Boomers Join in the Renting Craze

From The Washington PostBaby boomers are one of the fastest growing groups of renters, bucking the historical rule that says you must rent, buy a starter home, buy a better home, and so on. The main attraction in renting for older generations and younger generations alike is mobility. While older generations aren’t necessarily moving into downtown areas like millennials, they are opting for town centers and more urban areas in traditional suburban communities. Renting adds the additional benefit for older generations of providing community and eliminating maintenance and yard work.

Moreland Avenue, Atlanta. Image Credit: SustainAtlanta


Law

US Supreme Court Strikes a Major Blow to Employees

From ScotusBlogThis will sound boring, but it’s important for both employees and consumers (aka everyone). Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that under the National Labor Relations Act and the Federal Arbitration Act, employers can mandate in employment contracts that employees arbitrate claims against employers on an individual basis. Meaning they can’t join a class-action suit against the employer or arbitrate a claim against the employer along with other aggrieved employees. We’re highlighting this because our recent article about tenant’s losing again in court hit on the larger issue of consumers routinely being prohibited from exercising their rights to sue in court.

If an employer improperly withheld $20 from you paycheck every month, your total damages against the employer may only amount to a few hundred dollars. This may not be a large enough sum to warrant your (or a lawyer’s) time, effort, or money in arbitrating or suing to get your money. Without federal or state regulators enforcing regulations to prevent or rectify unlawful acts, you essentially have no remedy. But, if the employer was withholding money from all their employees then all the employees could get together, hire a lawyer, and sue or arbitrate the claim together. This is a much more attractive case for both lawyers and employees. You can imagine a similar scenario playing out between banks and consumers, internet providers and consumers, etc.

The US Supreme Court, though, said that employers are free to include in their employment contracts clauses that prohibit employees from banding together to arbitrate their claims. The good news is that the ruling was based on statutory interpretation grounds and not on constitutional grounds, so Congress is free to amend federal statutes to make clear that employers are not allowed to include such clauses in their contracts.

Cover Photo Credit: Gryffindor via Wikipedia


 

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