A few things to know this week: August 9, 2019
Happy Friday! Every week, we round up some of the things we read, listened to, or watched that really caught our attention. Here are 9 things we think you should know this week (plus an announcement):
This week's things to know:
First, this week on the blog:
This week, Felix Landry argues for finding a bigger villain than single-family zoning: "Multi-family & mixed-use zoning districts don't necessarily promote affordability or avoid autocentric design. We could eliminate all exclusive single-family zoning everywhere and still have autocentric, segregated, oppressive cities."
And here's a bit of what we've been reading:
Will Climate Change Lead to a 'Fiscal Tsunami'?
I've cautioned cities for a while now that their growing infrastructure and pension liabilities would eventually have a negative impact on their credit rating. Now Moody's, one of the primary rating agencies for municipal bonds, is considering a communities' vulnerability to extreme weather events in its rating process as well. – Kevin
This Bill Could Save Rural Governments Millions in Infrastructure Financing
When small and rural communities issue debt, they typically do so with higher rates than larger cities or high-growth communities who borrow larger amounts on a more frequent basis. There's a proposal before Congress that would give small governments and districts access to cheaper financing for infrastructure. – Kevin
Does your town have a "chronic nuisance ordinance" on the books? About 2,000 cities and towns across the country do. The authors of this piece argue that not only do nuisance ordinances not make neighborhoods safer, but they're also very often used to make the most vulnerable less safe and less stable. Many of our laws come with unintended consequences (and even, historically and now, sometimes intended but ugly consequences); the nuisance ordinance has its own victims, including survivors of domestic abuse, people suffering from addictions, and generally people with the misfortune of living in over-policed neighborhoods. With these ordinances—as with all laws in our cities and towns—we should ask ourselves, are they generating outcomes that help or harm members of our community? This should also highlight the need to be extra-intentional about seeking to understand the needs and struggles of those people who don't usually serve on local committees or show up to public meetings or run for office. – Jordan
CityLab University: Zoning Codes
With all the legislative news around city ordinances and requirements or lack there of, it's as good a time as any to get familiar with some of the most-used terms. – Ryan
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A common refrain among the urbanist and Strong Towns crowd is that there is too much parking. And that's basically true in most senses. But for the growing number of people living out of their vehicles, there's often not enough legal off-street parking to occupy long-term, meaning that "most vehicle residents have no option but to survive in public parking, where they suffer through parking tickets, property seizure, and instability." This piece spotlights urban vehicle residency and explores what cities can do to make life less stressful for people in this situation. We've got to work to make our neighborhoods more affordable to live in under actual roofs—no small or simple task—but we can also take smaller, more immediate steps to help those seeking to make do with a home on wheels. – Jordan
Community-focused app wants homes to double as third places
Companies like AirBnB and Uber took the gig/sharing economy to a new level. Now a new company called Quilt is enabling women to offer their homes or apartments as gathering spaces for pop-up events and get-togethers. I can easily envision how cities could use a similar process to organize events to activate vacant parcels and buildings, or to generate additional activity for startup businesses seeking to increase exposure in the community. – Kevin
Bike and scooter use is on the uptick in communities across the country, but there are still safety challenges to be addressed. Indianapolis has come up with a plan to use the $1 scooter per day fee it's been collecting from scooter companies to construct multi-use paths and "neighborways" (specially marked areas on city streets) to provide safer spaces for riders to move around the city. – Kevin
New podcast that I know I'm going to be a big fan of: At the Table with Patrick Lencioni.
Lencioni's books like The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Ideal Team Player have been staples in my development as a leader. Pat takes complicated concepts around building successful teams and healthy organizational culture and breaks them down in an entertaining, easy-to-understand way that I think anyone in leadership or aspiring to be can connect with. – Kevin
Mark your calendar! Live Q&A Webinar on the TX 2019 Legislative Session
On our next webinar, AJ Fawver will be talking with municipal attorney Mick McKamie about some of the recently passed bills in Texas, how they are impacting cities, and what some cities are doing to address things like the property tax cap, annexation limitations, building materials and more. Sign up, submit your questions, and join the discussion Wednesday, August 21 at 4pm Central.
Hey, friends in local government:
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!