Weekly Links: brief commentary on local, state, and national stories from (roughly) the past week
Oh Yeah, Transit Is Supposed to Go on The Beltline
From The AJC. Facing pressure from transit supporters, community advocates, and people who remember the point of projects, MARTA revised its funding of transit projects that will receive money from the $2.7 billion generated from the transit sales tax passed by Atlanta voters in 2016. The initial plan released in May dedicated $370 million to build 7 miles of light rail along the northeast and southwest portions of the Beltline. After many cited the report as an indication that MARTA and the City of Atlanta weren’t taking transit along the Beltline seriously, MARTA added an additional $200 million in the latest list as a down payment for more Beltline light rail. Consequently, MARTA cut funding for the Clifton Road/Emory light rail by more than $150 million. Additional funding for that project will have to come from Emory University and other partners.
The Beltline is a great recreational trail, but it was meant to be more than just a walking and biking path. Light rail is needed to accomplish the goal of quickly and efficiently moving people and connecting communities. It’s the entire point of the Beltline. Revising plans is encouraged when circumstances, perspectives, and facts change, but that isn’t the case in this situation. Gentrification and affordable housing issues are, of course, significant concerns, but they’ve always been significant concerns and they’re significant concerns with any project, including all of the projects on MARTA’s transit list. The solution can’t simply be to under-invest or fail to invest.
Funds will also be dedicated to building light rail along Campbelton Road, expanding the streetcar, and building 13 miles of bus rapid transit. While the City of Atlanta has significant input on the plan, MARTA ultimately makes the decision. They’ll be voting on October 4.
Weather + Climate
It’s Been Hot
As we near the end of the month, September 2018 is currently the warmest September on record here in Atlanta – see charts to the right (desktop) or below this article (mobile). Twice we hit the 95°F mark, which bested the high of 94°F we saw in July and multiple 93°F days we saw in June and August. Both our low and high temperatures are running about 8°F above normal. This is in contrast to the rest of the year, which has been relatively normal, though still above average. In fact, only 5 of the previous 20 months have seen below average temperatures.
As Brandon Miller, Senior Meteorologist with CNN, pointed out on Twitter, we’ve been on an interesting streak of temperatures failing to drop below 60°F:
Atlanta is currently enduring its longest streak of lows greater than 60F in its history (144 days and counting – old record was 136 days).
We had the earliest final Spring low <60 on May 4th and will now be one of the latest Fall first lows <60.
— Brandon Miller (@BrandonCNN) September 25, 2018
Finally, the Model Solar Zoning Ordinance You’ve Been Waiting For
From Energy News Network. Emory Law School, GA Tech, and UGA joined forces to create a model solar zoning ordinance for use throughout Georgia. While solar energy offers clean, cheap electricity, it isn’t without harm. Fortunately, those harms are much less significant than many other energy sources. Solar panels can block sunlight to neighboring properties, destroy vegetation, and threaten tortoise habitat. The harms, though, vary by location – while a rural property owner may be concerned with how the panels will affect grazing animals, an urban property owner may be concerned with upholding the existing character of the neighborhood. The model ordinance attempts to ameliorate those harms by providing guidance on setback requirements, easements, and buffer zones.
Many cities and counties across the state, including Atlanta, are already looking at adopting portions of the ordinance.
1 in 3 Americans Lives in California, Texas, and Florida
Our World in Data and US Census. Cartograms are maps that use some data point to replace true geographical size. They’re useful for quickly visualizing the size or importance of something. For instance, a cartogram reflecting the population of countries quickly shows the shear population of China and India. But most people already know those are the two most heavily population countries. More importantly, it gives prominence to countries like Nigeria, Japan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia – four lesser-known high-population countries.
This cartogram of the changing US population by states shows just how quickly California, Florida, and Texas have grown since 1890. One in 8 Americans lives in California while 1 in 3 Americans lives in California, Texas, and Florida.
Categories: Weekly Links