Weekly Links

Don’t Lecture Savannah On Climate Change

Weekly Links: brief commentary on local, state, and national stories from (roughly) the past week



Don’t Lecture Savannah On Climate Change

From SavannahNow. The federal government released its “Fourth National Climate Assessment” during the Thanksgiving holiday, which details current and future repercussions of climate change. Many outlets have reported on it, but the Savannah Morning News is perhaps the most relevant source for Georgians. That’s because Savannah needs no report detailing the effects of climate change; residents routinely witness those effects.

The week before the report was issued, US-80, which runs between Tybee Island and Savannah was closed due to flooding. It’s become a routine situation over the past several years for flooding to occur on clear sunny days as rising oceans inundate the road. According to the report, such flooding could occur at a minimum of 100 times per year within a couple of decades. While other effects of climate change are difficult to see on a day-to-day basis, routine flooding during non-storm events is hard to dismiss.

Urban Planning/Housing

Minneapolis Just Stepped Up the Zoning Game

From CityLab. Single-family homes aren’t going away in Minneapolis, but there will no longer be areas of the city zoned exclusively for them. The city’s new comprehensive plan does away with the lowest density zoning and will now allow triplexes in areas that used to be reserved for single-family homes. Minneapolis also eliminated minimum parking requirements for all new construction and increased density in transit corridors.

Why is this a big deal? Many cities, including Atlanta, simply aren’t using their space wisely. From Seattle to San Francisco to Atlanta, large swaths of cities are reserved for the lowest density uses: single-family homes. At the same time, housing prices are skyrocketing. The simple solution is to just increase supply, but that’s harder than it sounds. Residents in areas zoned exclusively for single-family homes are often supportive of efforts to increase affordable housing, though they often vehemently oppose increasing density in their neighborhoods.

Atlanta will hold a meeting this morning to discuss similar efforts, though the proposals don’t come close to approaching what Minneapolis just enacted. As we’ve previously written, planning commissioner Tim Keane would like to eliminate minimum parking requirements in many zones and allow accessory dwellings in additional areas of the city.


Power Plant Causes Nebraska Snowstorm

From Forbes. From buildings in Houston changing the structure of Hurricane Harvey to urban areas increasing temperatures, humans influence the weather in all sorts of ways. Power plants that emit steam can also change local weather. During a recent storm in Nebraska, the steam emitted from two power plants led to additional snowfall. As Dr. Marshall Shepherd explains, steam adds more moisture to the air, which condenses in clouds and falls as precipitation. The power plants are simply enhancing the natural process. The radar image below shows a clear line of snow developing downwind of the power plants located in Norfolk.



This Is What a Bicycle Parking Garage Looks Like

From Twitter. It’s apparently pretty similar to a parking garage for cars, except cleaner and perhaps less dangerous. There’s probably still someone going 40 mph around curves, though. This is located in the Utrecht Centraal Railway Station in Utrecht, Netherlands.



Urban Planning

Atlanta May Allow Residents to Propose and Vote on Projects

From CurbedAtlanta city council member Amir Farokhi has proposed allowing residents to directly vote on how city funds are used. The idea is called Participatory Budgeting and it allows residents to propose projects, place projects on a ballot, and vote on which projects get funded. The city would set aside funds each year for the process, but everything else would be done without government interference.

Thousands of cities across the world have already adopted similar practices, so Atlanta wouldn’t be braving the unknown. Mr. Farokhi introduced the legislation on December 3.




Cover Photo: Downtown Athens, GA by Richard Chambers via Wikipedia

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