Weekly Links

Georgia Tenants Can Now Safely Report Illegal Housing

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

Housing

Georgia Joins Other States in Banning Retaliatory Evictions

From The AJC. Governor Brian Kemp signed HB-346, which protects tenants from being evicted for taking certain actions against their landlords. According to the AJC, that makes Georgia the 42nd state to pass such a law. The bill prohibits landlords from evicting tenants after tenants have, among other things, made complaints about illegal, substandard housing like mold and building code violations. Similar bills have come up in the past, but have failed. So good for Georgia, but why did it take so long? We can probably take a few guesses as to why (see landlords).

Last session the Georgia Legislature passed a bill that allows victims of family violence to terminate their leases without penalty if the victim must do so to attain a safe environment. This is similar to the federal Violence Against Women Act, which applies to housing that receives certain federal funds. The Georgia law applies to all housing in the state.

But we’ve written about other areas that still need improvement. Notable items in Georgia law include the prohibition on cities from imposing caps on rent increases and allowing landlords to include in leases clauses that prohibit tenants from suing them for negligent acts.


Weather

Hurricane Michael Becomes 4th Category 5 Storm to Hit US Mainland

From Wunderground. No, you didn’t somehow sleep through a major hurricane hitting the U.S. last week (the new tropical season officially starts on June 1). We’re talking about last October’s Hurricane Michael that barreled into the Florida Panhandle as a strong Category 4 hurricane and continued north into Georgia bringing Category 3 winds to the state for the first time in over 100 years (see below). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently decided that Michael was actually a Category 5 storm with winds of 160 mph at landfall, which represents a 5 mph upgrade in wind speed. That’s significant because only three other storms have made landfall in the continental U.S. as Category 5 storms.

But why the upgrade now? After reviewing data, including flight-level winds and radar estimates, as well as surveying data, NOAA decided that everything pointed to a 160 mph storm instead of a 155 mph storm as indicated at the time of landfall. That difference may seem trivial, and it largely is, but the psychological effect of being told a Category 5 storm is approaching vs. a Category 4 storm may be significant. While people should take extreme care with a any high-end hurricane, a Category 5 storm hitting the U.S. is a rare occurrence and may induce more action and precaution.


Urban Planning

A Time-lapse of New York City’s Growth

From Kottke. Miles Zhang produced the below time-lapse of the growth of New York City’s population, area, and infrastructure. It’s interesting to see the city lay down a street grid long before any development occurred (some type of urban planning or something, who knows). There are obviously myriad stories that detail the human element of the growth (see taking Native American land and bulldozing lower-class, ethnic neighborhoods to make way for Central Park), but seeing the somewhat organized and structured growth is pretty neat.


Weather

The Many Disasters of the South

From The Washington Post. The southeast doesn’t fair too well in this series of maps of recent natural disasters. Not only is the area around the Mississippi River prone to frequent flooding, the area has quickly become the new Tornado Alley. Several months ago we wrote about how Tornado Alley has been shifting east towards Georgia and this map bears that out (this area is apparently now known as “Dixie Alley”). It’s hard to remember since we’re in a wetter-than-usual period, but since 2008 most of Georgia has experienced a significant number of days with extreme or exceptional drought. Also note how far inland the extreme winds of last year’s Hurricane Michael (now re-classified as a Category 5 storm) extend into Georgia.

Tornadoes and Hurricanes since 2004. Via Washington Post.


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