Elon Musk is pictured.
Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

A morning roundup of the day’s news.

Tunnel vision: For all the brilliant engineering in Elon Musk’s plans for a network of high-speed transport tunnels beneath Los Angeles, the vision remains a shallow one, a Governing column notes, in its failure to predict impacts to the built environment above ground. Pointing to the transformative impact of subways, streetcars, and highways, New York City planner Alex Marshall writes:

With this in mind, you can see where Musk goes wrong. He talks of the built environment as if it were static—as if you could have all of these tunnels going between places and nothing would change up on the ground.

But of course if you had high-speed tunnels under Los Angeles, developers would build to dovetail with them: things like apartments, office buildings and retail. Churches and schools would spring up in new places. Musk envisions his tunnels as helping get people to Pasadena in minutes. But if these tunnels really work, then Pasadena would have new residents living there, and it and wouldn’t be like present-day Pasadena anymore. Giant parking garages might develop above tunnel stations. Or if some driverless car scenario minimizes the need for parking, even-denser collections of apartments and shopping and office centers would come.

  • See also: Fast Company notes that the L.A. tunnels would be a major time saver for one commuter in particular—Musk himself—since they’re planned to run directly between his home and his SpaceX headquarters. Meanwhile, Musk has announced plans to answer Chicago’s call for an express link between the city’s two airports.

Perplexing policy: In Ben Carson’s first nine months leading a “directionless” HUD, The Economist writes, his only significant policy decision was a mystifying one: delaying a rule that’s been tried and tested in several cities to improve calculations for Section 8 housing vouchers.

London’s parking diet: As part of a suite of reforms to reduce London’s air pollution, Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to ban the construction of new parking spaces in home and office development in large swaths of the city. (Curbed)

Refugee receiving zone: Best known for its Amish population, the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania has recently established a reputation as “America’s Refugee Capital,” with over Puerto Ricans making up 30 percent of its population. As the city now welcomes refugees from Hurricane Maria, its mayor forecasts Lancaster’s role as “receiving zone” for other climate-displaced citizens. (Newsweek)

Most photogenic: According to Instagram, the cities that appeared most frequently in the photo-sharing app for 2017 were New York City, London, Moscow, and Sao Paulo; while the most Instagrammed spaces include several Disney parks worldwide, Times Square, Central Park, and the Eiffel Tower. (CTV)

The urban lens:

Show us your city on Instagram using #citylabontheground.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: A metro train at Paris' Gare Du Nord.

    Can the Paris Metro Make Room for More Riders?

    The good news: Transit ridership is booming in the French capital. But severe crowding now has authorities searching for short-term solutions.

  2. photo: An elderly resident of a village in Japan's Gunma Prefecture.

    In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted

    Facing declining birthrates and rural depopulation, hundreds of “marginal villages” could vanish in a few decades. But some small towns are fighting back.

  3. a photo of traffic on the ring road outside Paris.

    Traffic Is Unbearable on Paris's Beltway. The Fix? Remove Lanes.

    The city wants to turn the Boulevard Périphérique, one of Europe’s most congested highways, into a slower, smaller, and greener “urban boulevard.”

  4. Design

    How Advertising Conquered Urban Space

    In cities around the world, advertising is everywhere. We may try to shut it out, but it reflects who we are (or want to be) and connects us to the urban past.

  5. Life

    Tailored Place-Based Policies Are Key to Reducing Regional Inequality

    Economist Timothy Bartik details the need for place-based policy to combat regional inequality and help distressed places—strategies outlined in his new book.