News Roundup: July 19, 2013

Lots of links today, so I'm gonna limit the descriptions this time:

This shouldn't be illegal. Photo from

Seattle Times


Legalizing Inexpensive Housing


This series is getting a lot of well-deserved recognition, including

a good summary over at Atlantic Cities

. Alan Durning has three not-so-big ideas (in a good way) that can make a big difference: 1) legalizing rooming houses, 2) decriminalizing roommates, and 3) welcoming in-law apartments and backyard cottages. A ton of work went into this and it shows—check it out, and consider supporting Sightline by

picking up the e-book

as well.

As the House aims to slash, tell the Senate to protect money for rail, transit & TIGER in next week’s budget vote

(Transportation for America)

Republicans are trying to cut money for transit, bicycling, walking, and rail. No surprise here. Contact your Representatives and your Senators: they need to know that these programs are important to their constituents, and if they don't care they need to be made extremely uncomfortable.

"Running transit like a business": Digging under the slogan

(Human Transit)

A few recent articles on transit manager Mark Aesch's success reforming the Buffalo bus system, improving service and lowering fares, is making the rounds, and Jarrett Walker has a few words of caution. While what Aesch accomplished is laudable, it was dependent on cutting the low ridership "coverage" aspect of transit service. Not every city is going to go for that, and we need to be clearer about the trade-offs when balancing ridership goals with coverage goals.

The Curse of Nonprofit Property Tax Exemptions


So with complete awareness that some people will hate me for even linking to this, there are serious costs and perverse incentives associated with granting non-profits exemption from property taxes. We'd be better off giving them the exact same amount of money through a different tax incentive, or even a straight-up grant. The answer may not be to completely abolish the exemption (at least not yet), but something needs to change.

"You know what this needs? More roads." Photo from

Discuss America


Road advocate says car dependence is an argument for more

(Greater Greater Washington)

A local road lobbyist is making the case that roads deserve more funding because "that's the way things have always been," and the argument is about as persuasive as it's ever been. (Not at all.) 

New Brunswick Improves Pedestrian Safety by Daylighting Intersections

(Together North Jersey)

This is a clever, simple way to improve sight-lines and increase safety for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, yes. But I actually really appreciate that it also makes clear where you can park and where you can't—no more wondering if you're three feet too close to the stop sign and might come back to an impounded vehicle.