News and Views: May 5, 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:

The New Suburban Crisis (CityLab)

The suburbs have reached the end of a long era of cheap growth, and their advantages to economic mobility have mostly disappeared. Key passage from the piece: "The middle of our suburban geography is being hollowed out and squeezed economically: Growth is bypassing the older suburban areas that lie between the two poles of urban center and outlying new development." Sprawl used to power cheap economic growth, but we're moving into a world where that's no longer true—which is an especially big problem when we build places that become impossible to maintain in the long run.

The Worrisome Relationship Between Population Projections and State Spending on Kids (Governing)

It's pretty intuitive: states that spend more per child tend to have better outcomes when taking public education, health and social services into account, according to an Urban Institute report. But the disturbing trend is that the states that are expected to see the biggest population growth are also the ones that tend to spend the least on children. Texas is projected to see the most growth of any state, with 600,000 more children between 2013 and 2030. That means that Texas, just to keep pace with its annual $7,120 per child, would have to spend $4.4 billion more per year by 2030.

In the Elusive Search for Affordable Housing, Clues Emerge (Governing)

Economists, sociologists and political scientists have recently identified single-family zoning as a major obstacle to building more of it. Cities both big and small would benefit by better understanding the unintended consequences of our zoning codes. 

Why you should consider crowdfunding your neighborhood project (instead of writing a grant) (ioby/Strong Towns)

ioby is a crowd-resourcing organization that mobilizes neighbors who have good ideas to become powerful citizen leaders who plan, fund and make positive change in their own neighborhoods. They share 6 reasons why "crowdfunding can build a neighborhood’s civic strength in a way that traditional philanthropy can’t." We would definitely love to see more of this type of thing. 

Tree protection ordinances targeted by Republicans, defended by city officials (Texas Tribune)

City officials on Monday testified against a bill that would limit the ability of Texas cities to ban residents from cutting down trees on their properties. Republican lawmakers have filed several such bills this year.


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