News and Views: April 21, 2017
Solutions to the challenges our communities are facing today and in the future will depend on bringing perspectives together and thinking differently about how we approach development and infrastructure in our neighborhoods. We hope this weekly snapshot of what our VERDUNITY crew was discussing this week will help inspire more communication and sharing of ideas.
What we're reading this week:
FINANCE & INFRASTRUCTURE
This session of the Texas Legislature will likely have more impact on the future of the state than any other in recent memory. With budgeting efforts ramping up and only a few more weeks remaining in the regular session, cities, counties and school districts are all anxiously waiting for decisions. The state's approach to balancing the budget, financing education, capping property taxes and the controversial bathroom bill will all be decided soon.
Omaha man spends thousands of dollars to fix potholes the city won’t (Omaha World-Herald)
The costs of sprawling infrastructure add up—and not every city has a Steve Robinson to take matters into his own hands. Residents in cities across the U.S. are finding that there's a limit to what their tax dollars pay for.
Strong Towns' founder Chuck Marohn was mentioned in CNBC's recent article on infrastructure. We're encouraged that the discussion about the financial fragility of our post-WW2 development pattern is making its way to national media platforms. Not fake news!
Emmitt Smith advocates for a pair of bills before the Texas Senate and House aimed at "would establish a food retail incentive fund, which would provide financial assistance to businesses looking to expand healthy retail into these markets, while also attracting additional private and philanthropic dollars to further bolster development." Count us as fans, too.
Climate Change Reroutes a Yukon River in a Geological Instant (New York Times)
“We may be surprised by what climate change has in store for us — and some of the effects might be much more rapid than we are expecting.”
Social/Quality of Life
Eighty percent of Boomers own homes, and two-thirds of them say they want to age in place. We've been warned for a while that Millennials aren't going to want to buy their (suburban) homes when they do sell, which isn't entirely true, but it is the case that this now-larger-than-Boomers group is less likely to want a McMansion on a cul-de-sac—and more likely to prefer a walkable urban setting. One takeaway is that Boomers in exurbs are going to be in a tough spot when it comes time to selling their homes—“It’s not that Boomers are going to ‘age in place;' they’re going to be stuck in place.” The other takeaway: more housing that appeals to broadly to Millennials needs to be built now, "scaled to their desires, not their parents.'"
Inspiring story (and images) about how a group of local residents in a small rural community completely transformed their downtown Main Street.
It looks like more and more people are realizing that when it comes to pedestrian deaths, the culprit is not drunk or distracted drivers—and it's definitely not pedestrians wearing dark clothing. Any guesses where the blame really lies?
So, things aren't looking good for brick-and-mortar retailers—especially the ones that made their name by setting up shop in the 'burbs. They moved there in the first place to take advantage of tax incentives and cheap land amid a pretty robust retail era. These retailers closing doors isn't just a problem for them and their workers—it's going to be a serious shock to municipal budgets. Many suburbs are still heavily dependent on sales tax revenue, much of which has come from big boxes and chains. As these continue to close down, suburbs will need to find new ways to replace this lost revenue.
One of the things we value most about our culture here at VERDUNITY is our commitment to being completely transparent with each other. We don't always agree, but we are able to share our ideas and viewpoints and accept constructive critique because we understand the underlying intent is to make our work and each other the best they can be. Jeff Bezos summed this up in 3 words: Disagree and Commit.
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