Also: Cities ask the EU to help rein in Airbnb, and the Bradford pear tree can’t be tamed.

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What We’re Following

Endzone: On Sunday, Oregon lawmakers took a historic step toward becoming the first state to eliminate single-family zoning. Democratic Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign a bill that will allow for duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and “cottage clusters” on land currently reserved for single-family houses in cities with more than 25,000 people. Duplexes will be allowed in single-family zones in cities with at least 10,000 people. The move puts Oregon at the forefront of a nationwide surge in “upzoning” to make cities denser, greener, and more affordable in the face of housing shortages.

While the bill resembles similar efforts to curb single-family zoning in Minneapolis, Seattle, and California, Oregon’s take on this trend reflects the state’s longstanding agreement about tight land use. Since 1973, every city in the state has had an “urban growth boundary” designed to keep homes from sprawling into farms and forestlands, encouraging denser urban development. With unlikely political bedfellows aligning around housing at the national level, will Oregon’s new law herald more upzoning efforts beyond the state line? CityLab’s Laura Bliss has the story: Oregon’s Single-Family Zoning Ban Was a ‘Long Time Coming’

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Can Pods Save America?

Now that office walls have come down, workers are ducking into closet-sized “pods” for privacy and quiet. Is this a retreat from the open office or the next phase of it?

Sarah Holder

The Detested Bradford Pear Tree Is Coming to a Forest Near You

Cities and states are trying to remove Bradford pears‚ but the “weed trees” have already intruded deep into some forests, a biologist warns.  

Amanda Kolson Hurley

European Cities Ask the EU for Help With Airbnb

Facing housing shortages and mass tourism, 10 major cities want the European Union to protect their ability to regulate vacation rentals at the local level.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Facebook Posts Are No Longer Police Officers’ Dirty Little Secrets

The Plain View Project has found more than 5,000 racist, sexist, and Islamophobic Facebook posts and comments by law enforcement.

Lornet Turnbull

The Prophetic Demise of an Ancient City

Two millennia ago, an earthquake liquified the ground beneath an Egyptian port—a fate that could await other cities as sea levels rise.

Parker Richards


Industrial Modern

Lower Hill Cultural Center Redevelopment Area: rendering from 1953. (Monacelli Press/Mitchell & Ritchey)

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, industrialization brought great wealth to Pittsburgh’s tycoons, but not much for anyone else. That started to change in the 1940s as the city began to think big, passing a smoke-control ordinance and setting the stage for a Modernist civic realm that included parks, cultural centers, and new skyscrapers. After presenting the story of Pittsburgh’s 20th-century Modernist wave in an exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2014, the curators have turned their research into a book of the built and unbuilt ideas that transformed the city. Read: Revisiting Pittsburgh’s Era of Big Plans


What We’re Reading

An appreciation of the pyrotechnic anarchy of Fourth of July in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times)

Youngstown loses its only daily newspaper. More cities will follow (Nieman Lab)

American suburbs swell again as a new generation escapes the city (Wall Street Journal)

Learning to love the world’s ugliest building (The Boston Globe)


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