A few things to know this week: July 8, 2019
Happy Monday! Every week here, we package up a collection of things that caught our attention during the week. The following list is compiled by the whole Verdunity team — our favorite relevant or thought-provoking pieces of news, commentary, research, discussions, or cat videos we came across (or were thinking about) this week.
Here are this week's things to know:
How often do we shake our heads when looking at declining population figures, because we assume it is a harbinger of doom? We're oversimplifying it, and Richard Florida explains that a new study should give us pause before jumping to conclusions on shrinking cities. Florida writes, "shrinking population and economic decline don’t always come hand-in-hand: A striking subset of cities with declining populations are in fact economically prosperous." With some compelling graphics, and a ton of ground covered (886 shrinking cities were examined), there's much to unpack here. Bottom line? There are some key takeaways that cities can utilize in the quest for resilience, whatever the population. – AJ
In many of the cities we work in, the term "Texas Miracle" is often used to refer to the tremendous economic expansion across the state. However, this economic boon has not hit all cities in Texas, but often only benefits the major urban centers of Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. This article outlines a place I spent my college years in, Longview, and the ways that they are trying to attract young talent. Many of the efforts center around investing in their downtown, and being the center of the east Texas region. It provides some valuable insight into the challenges many of our smaller communities face. – Tim
Some of the biggest news in housing and development this year comes from Oregon, where the state legislature adopted the nation’s first statewide ban on exclusive, single-family zoning. It essentially re-legalizes duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes in urban neighborhoods, where single-family zoning had previously been enforced. What this legislation "signals to others nationally is a way out of the woods from our current devolution of nearly all housing supply decisions to local governments, who inherently have motives to constrain supply and divert demand to other places,"says Joe Cortright of City Observatory (who really should be in your weekly reading rotation if he's not already). By itself, this is not going to solve the imbalance between the supply and demand for housing in the country's top urban neighborhoods, but it's an important step (and an important realization of the state's role in the process). Read this article for proper context for the legislation, as well as an understanding of the key provisions and the takeaways for other states. – Jordan
While we're talking about it: upzoning in urban neighborhoods has been a hot-button topic for a while now. How did it become such a controversial issue? Richard Florida (in our second mention of him this week) explores. – Ryan
Is urbanism too formulaic? This column argues that relying upon the checklist of street grids, street frontage, and other elements does not in itself create the places we so desire, with "bustling street life, the sense of possibilities, the sheer randomness that makes a place vibrant and exciting." Rather, using some specific examples, the author argues that diversity in ownership is the secret. So, how can city governments be leaders in creating what Alex Marshall calls "human-scale capitalism"? It might just be easier than you think. – AJ
Hey, city people:
Have thoughts on any of the links above? Think we missed something essential? We’re discussing these topics and more over on our brand-new online community, exclusively for local government employees.* Sign up for the Community Cultivators Network and join the discussion!
* The network is currently only for those wonderful folks out there who work in local government. If you’re not currently working for a city, town, or county, we still love you (and are sure many of you would add value to the community), but we want to keep our commitment to making this a community focused specifically on our friends working in local government. Thanks for understanding!