A round-up of the best stories on cities and urbanism we've come across in the last seven days. Tweet us your favorites with #CityReads.
"As it turns out, suburban sprawl actually peaked 20 years ago," Payton Chung, Greater Greater Washington
The rate of suburban sprawl peaked in the mid-1990s and has declined by two-thirds since then, even through the giant housing boom. Could this quiet change in land use have caused many of the changes that we're seeing today, from recentralizing job growth to the decline in driving?
"For some couples, parking tickets signal a serious relationship," Martine Powers, Boston Globe
After two years of dating his girlfriend, Brad Verter of Brookline expected some pressure to take the next step and move into her Cambridge apartment.
But he never expected the prodding would come from the Cambridge Traffic, Parking, & Transportation Department — the agency that slapped him with six parking tickets in two weeks for overusing his girlfriend’s visitor parking permit so he could stay overnight.
"One of the things they told me was . . . 'Why don’t you just move in with her and get your own resident parking pass?'" recalled Verter, a professor at Emerson College. "And I was like, 'That’s a lovely suggestion — you know, my mother agrees with you.'"
"De Blasio’s Vow to End Traffic Deaths Meets Reality of New York Streets," J. David Goodman and Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times
The announcement was bold, if somewhat quixotic: Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose campaign was focused on reforming the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactics, would commit his administration to reducing traffic deaths “literally” to zero.
In his administration’s first 40 days, that pledge translated into a series of ticket blitzes against drivers — and, in unusually large numbers, jaywalkers.
Jaywalking tickets are up nearly eightfold this year, despite the mayor’s insistence that his plan for safer streets did not include singling out pedestrians. Through Feb. 9, there were 215 jaywalking summonses issued, compared with 27 over the same period last year; tickets issued to drivers were down slightly.
"In Taking Back Urban Areas, Latinos Are Causing A 'Gente-fication' Across The U.S.," Soni Sangha, Fox News Latino
A growing number of upwardly mobile Latinos would rather take the good and bad of Lincoln Heights than idyllic suburbs, in a trend that some refer to as “gente-fication” (as in "gente," Spanish for "people") This movement of Latinos returning to long standing urban neighborhoods is most noteworthy in Los Angeles, but as the Latino population grows more educated and wealthier it is repeating itself in a variety of cities across the country, such as Houston, Phoenix and Washington Heights, in New York City.
It’s not just affordable housing that is pulling Latinos back to neighborhoods that others have written off. Some say they chose their homes as a civic obligation to give back to their communities. But the trend echoes a growing desire among Latinos, in particular, to live in walkable communities that can support many generations under one roof. And those preferences are inspiring developers to embrace new designs in heavily Latino neighborhoods to keep degree-holding professionals from fleeing to the suburbs.
"The Wunderkind New Jersey Town President Who Wants to Seek Out Other Wunderkinds," Nancy Scola, Next City
Running towns, Torpey reasons, should naturally appeal to problem-solving geeks more intrigued by how systems work than by ideology. “They won’t be political, because they’re not political people,” he says. “[They’re] smart people who care about helping the community, the world.” His new ambition is, he says, “to try to get a couple percent more” such candidates on ballots around the country.
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