Our weekly roundup of the most intriguing articles about cities and urbanism we've come across in the past seven days. Share your favorites on Twitter with #cityreads.
"San Diego Has Fallen Behind on Combating Police Racial Profiling," Liam Dillon and Megan Burks, Voice of San Diego
The San Diego Police Department and its chief, William Lansdowne, used to be national leaders in addressing concerns about racial profiling. Now they're not.
More than a decade ago, San Diego police were among the first to use data to examine how frequently officers targeted minorities in traffic stops. Today, that policy has become the norm in big urban departments across the country. But in San Diego, the effort has largely fallen by the wayside. Officers here now track race in fewer than one out of every five stops and a sergeant in the department’s research and analysis division wasn’t aware that the requirement to gather the information still existed when we asked about it.
This spring, a federal judge ruled that two officers violated the Fourth Amendment rights of two black residents, Dante Harrell and Shannon Robinson, during a City Heights traffic stop in 2010. Harrell and Robinson’s lawsuit didn’t specifically allege racial profiling, but Harrell said he believed the stop happened because police look for reasons to pull over minorities in minority neighborhoods. The city agreed to settle the case last month for $450,000.
Lansdowne isn’t troubled by the decrease in the department’s data collection efforts. He and his top deputies said residents don’t believe racial profiling is a problem.
"Can Too Much Infrastructure Doom a City?" Daniel Otis, Next City
In 2012, an international team of researchers conducted a groundbreaking 370-square-kilometer aerial survey of the mediaeval city of Angkor and several of its satellites in north-western Cambodia. Founded in the 9th century, Angkor was the seat of an empire that had conquered most of mainland Southeast Asia by its height in the 13th century. With the famed temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom forming its nucleus, the city of Angkor would eventually cover an area of more than 1,000 square kilometers. Housing an estimated one million people, it was the largest preindustrial settlement in the world.
Widespread drought, the failure of Angkor’s intricate hydrological system and the ascension of the Ayutthaya kingdom in present-day Thailand would contribute to the empire’s demise in the 15th century. While Angkor’s stone temples remained places of worship, the city’s reservoirs and canals would be neglected while its thousands of wood, bamboo and thatch dwellings were left to rot until nothing but overgrown piles of dirt remained.
"Good Show, but This Bridge Goes Nowhere," Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker
Nevertheless, and notwithstanding his bravura performance on Thursday, Chris Christie has probably lost his chance to be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2016. He was a long shot to begin with. The civility to Obama that yielded him his overwhelming reëlection victory last November also made him anathema to the ultras in the G.O.P. base. With so much more Bridgegate baggage still to be delivered, the load is just too heavy. I expect that the Republicans, once the Rand Paul-Ted Cruz Punch-and-Judy show exhausts itself, will go with some intermittently rational-sounding intercoastal governor. Tea Party or no Tea Party, they usually end up picking one of their most electable—anyhow, least unelectable—candidates. That might’ve been Christie. It isn’t anymore.
"After a Building Boom, Solar Energy's Prospects Now Aren't as Sunny," Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times
Five years after the Obama administration's renewable energy initiative touched off a building boom of large-scale solar power plants across the desert Southwest, the pace of development has slowed to a crawl, with a number of companies going out of business and major projects canceled for lack of financing.
Of the 365 federal solar applications since 2009, just 20 plants are on track to be built. Only three large-scale solar facilities have gone online, two in California and one in Nevada. The first auction of public land for solar developers, an event once highly anticipated by federal planners, failed to draw a single bid last fall.
"Gentrification of Work in the City," Jim Russell, Pacific Standard
Manhattan had no need to house the working class. So its neighborhoods catered to Jane Jacobs and company, the creative class. Jacobs did not so much save SoHo as she was invited in to help along the process of gentrification. The blue collar were banished to the fringes of New York to make room for the Sidewalk Ballet.