Infrastructure Digest: Investments and Policy in Our Cities and States
MuniNet Guide’s August Infrastructure Digest provides some of the more notable news stories relating to state & local infrastructure investments, involving transportation, environmental sustainability, energy, and economic development.
- Developer seeks funds for tiny homes village for homeless in Santa Rosa (The Press Democrat via the American Planning Association) – Our August infrastructure news starts in California. Sonoma County is looking into an opportunity to test the policy of transforming vacant lots into groupings of tiny houses for the homeless. A temporary ‘village’ of 12 homes is to be built for homeless veterans, to eventually be moved to another parcel along with 20 additional units. The homes will be built with grant financing, and veterans must meet income requirements for housing vouchers, in addition to paying 30% of their income towards rent.
- What Do State Economic Agencies Do? (Urban Institute) – Norton Francis of the Urban Institute researched the role of state economic agencies and the actions they take, including marketing to tourists and new residents, attracting new business and expanding existing businesses, providing start-up support, and coordinating economic development efforts. Economic development more than ever means developing a state’s existing workforce and infrastructure, requiring growing relationships with other state agencies.
- Conventional Bike Lanes Left These Cities Wanting More (Planetizen) – MuniNet Guide previously wrote about the benefits of active transportation, citing findings by the Urban Land Institute. Planetizen reports that Orange County in California is making a $19.5 million investment in bicycle lanes, taking a page from neighboring Long Beach and its use of protected lanes and specific bicycle traffic signals. Demand for biking infrastructure continues to be high.
- The Economics of Inclusionary Development (Urban Land Institutue) – Speaking of the UBL, they issued a report on inclusionary zoning and its increased use as a policy tool for increasing workforce housing at affordable, below market rates. Among other findings, UBL highlights that inclusionary zoning is more likely to be successful in communities where demand is high enough to warrant ongoing market rate development.
- Systematizing Privacy and Governance of Data and the Internet of Things (Data Smart City Solutions) – Glynis Startz of Harvard Kennedy School looks at the steps taken by Chicago, New York, and Seattle to establish systematic policies and procedures in big-data collection and protection. The balance between the value of resources dedicated versus value of data collected, transparency vs. security, and other policy tradeoffs are examined.
- The Many Faces of Innovation in U.S. Cities (New York Times) – Switching from data infrastructure to more brick and mortar projects, the New York Times looks at innovative uses and revitalizations undertaken by cities across the country. Case studies include Stony Island Savings & Loan in Chicago, The Pizitz Building in Birmingham, and Chevy Commons in Flint.
- The United States of Solar (Priceonomics) – The staff at Priceonomics looks solar data to formalize which states derive the largest percentage of their energy from solar, which have the most rooftop solar total wattage, and wattage per capita.
Our August Infrastructure Digest is a sampling of the projects, policies, and efforts to build strong states and cities by government, academia, and private interests. Find more information and stories on state and local infrastructure and the factors that contribute to prosperous communities at our infrastructure page, and its subcategories.