Archive: Jul 2012

  1. On Principle and Pragmatism

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    Nothing gets done when pragmatism cedes to principle. The political paralysis at home and abroad has demonstrated this all too well. But even in times when idealistic grandstanding is typically followed by inaction, there are advocates, policymakers, philanthropists, and private sector groups that are showing us what can happen when pragmatism (informed by principle) rules the day. (more…)

  2. Marching to a Post-Redevelopment Era

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    The shuttering of the state’s redevelopment agencies continues to unfold with the passage of Assembly Bill 1484 (AB 1484). The bill clarifies some procedural elements of redevelopment (RDA) dissolution, adds new regulations, and all-but-guarantees a showdown between local governments and the state as both grapple to allocate scarce tax resources. (more…)

  3. New Directions in Stormwater Management

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    In Los Angeles County, the finger pointing about who is responsible for cleaning up polluted stormwater has bubbled up to the United States Supreme Court.

    In 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court found that the County and its Flood Control District were in violation of the Clean Water Act by allowing the release of untreated water into the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers. The Flood Control District claims that it cannot be held responsible for the polluted waterways, since it is not the source of the pollution. The County is hoping that the Supreme Court agrees, and finds that the County’s Flood Control District is not responsible for mitigating pollution from urban runoff that ends up in local waterways. (more…)

  4. Getting Transit Built Faster

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    Image from Metro Transportation Library and Archive: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30993133@N04/2925547715/

    Image from Metro Transportation Library and Archive: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30993133@N04/2925547715/

    There’s been some movement on the transportation front as of late, and much of it is good news for the Los Angeles area. First, Metro’s Orange Line extension opened on time and under budget. The line, a successful workhorse of Metro’s transit system earned praise recently, spurring a discussion about the region’s burgeoning rail-on-wheels network. The Los Angeles Times published an op-ed piece that billed LA as the nation’s most forward-thinking city in terms of transit (uh, move over Portland?). And the feds finally passed a transportation bill that extends a federal loan program that the city is relying on to put some transportation projects on the fast track. (more…)

  5. SF Better Streets: Public Engagement 2.0

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    As we noted a few months back, cities are rolling out more transparent platforms for public engagement and trying to demystify the complex and largely underwhelming processes that dictate local governance. In a move to make the inner-workings of the approvals process more accessible, San Francisco has launched sfbetterstreets. The program was developed to provide a comprehensive how-to guide that explains the city’s permitting system for different types of projects. (more…)

  6. A Couple Million For Your Thoughts

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    Mayor Michael Bloomberg (aka Mayor Mikey B) is launching a competition that’ll have cities vying for $9 million in prizes. This reward-driven do-gooder campaign, dubbed The Mayors Challenge, is offering up $5 million to the city with the best idea on how to make “government work better, solve a serious problem, or improve city life.” Four runners up will each earn $1 million.

    The rules are fairly straightforward: only mayors of cities with 30,000 residents or more can apply (sorry Zzyzx) and each applicant must fill out an online application. But act quickly mayors, the deadline to RSVP and secure your city’s spot in the competition is today.

  7. From Big Box Store to Ginormous Library

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    Nothing warms our cockles more than well-executed adaptive reuse. The city of McAllen, TX did just that when it teamed up with snazzy Minneapolis-based design firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle to transform an abandoned Wal-Mart store. The formerly empty (and totally depressing) 124,500 square foot structure was turned into the largest single-story public library in the country. (The library of Congress still holds top billing for the nation’s largest public library.) See what the McAllen library looks like now.