Archive for ‘City Government’

January 27, 2016

Florida Beachgoers Cling to a Right to Make the Sand Their Driveway | The New York Times

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Beach driving, although popular among locals and Orlando visitors, has long been a subject of dispute. Environmentalists dislike it, saying it harms plant and animal life. They threatened to sue over sea turtles, which nest in the sand, and the county negotiated an agreement. Cars must now stay clear of nesting areas.

Others see such driving as an unnecessary danger. The beach has grown more crowded in spots because it is narrower than before and only 17 miles are open to cars. Since 2005, three people have been killed on the beaches, including two children, and 67 have been injured, according to Volusia County records.

Read more here.

October 1, 2013

How will State and Local Governments Fare with Federal Shut Down?

State and local government budget experts say the first federal government shutdown in 17 years shouldn’t be too disruptive to their operations in the short-term, but if it lasts more than a week, they could start to encounter serious challenges.

“A couple of days is a pain in the neck … but doable; nobody likes it, but it happens,” says Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. “The longer a shutdown goes, the longer the impact it starts to have.”

Read more here.

March 25, 2013

Americans Warned: Home Schoolers Stripped of Rights

Homeschooling

Recently, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that home schooling is not a parents right. It is a statement some are saying should frighten American parents.Nations like Germany and Sweden show that when governments take away home schooling rights, its a slippery slope to no parental rights. America the Refuge or NotThe Romeike family came to the United States from Germany five years ago hoping to find refuge. They wanted to home-school their children in freedom and a federal judge granted them asylum.But now the Obama administration has been trying to deport them, arguing that home schooling is not a right. The case is currently before a federal appeals court.

via Americans Warned: Home Schoolers Stripped of Rights.

December 28, 2012

Phonehenge West creator jailed: When folk art and building codes collide – CSMonitor.com

The builder of a fantastical fortress in the Mojave Desert has been sentenced to jail for failing to pay for the demolition of his lifes work. Why art isnt sacred in the eyes of code enforcers.

via Phonehenge West creator jailed: When folk art and building codes collide – CSMonitor.com.

December 11, 2012

How the Tea Party Is Upending Urban Planning – Politics – The Atlantic Cities

Planners would do well to listen to Tea Party activists, not because they are funded by big interests and mega huge corporations, but because they can be a counterpoint to unmitigated coercive planning. As a planner, I was not trained to impose my viewpoint on the majority, on property owners or on anyone else. My training and practice has always involved inviting all stakeholders to the table to discuss and negotiate outcomes. Planning is a give and take between differing interests and viewpoints to arrive at the best possible solution for most of the community. While not everyone can be pleased, or ever will be pleased, neither developers nor city officials have carte blanche to impose regulations or projects. Fortunately, regulations reflect agreements, or should reflect agreements between different sectors of a community. When they no longer reflect these inherent agreements, they should be changed. Closer inspection by affected individuals should lead these to determine whether community regulations matter, whether they reflect the vision of the community. When they cease to reflect the true vision of the community at large, they become coercive. It is at this point that they should be revamped, community by community. Regulations are not one-size-fits-all. They must be customized if need be.

In the spring of 1968, Jane Jacobs walked into a high school auditorium in the Lower East Side and addressed a rowdy crowd opposed to the Lower Manhattan Expressway, a 10-lane highway proposed by Robert Moses that would have blasted through what we now know as SoHo.

The public hearing was a sham, she said. The city and state officials had already made all the decisions to move ahead – they were just collecting neighborhood opinions so they could fulfill the obligation to get citizen input. After leading a defiant march in front of the transportation bureaucrats, somebody ripped up the stenotype roll and threw it in the air like confetti.

For her trouble, Jacobs was arrested for inciting a riot and driven away in a squad car. The charges were knocked down to a misdemeanor, but one of the author’s greatest legacies grew out of that night: that when it comes to our homes and communities, the power should be with the people. Citizens must be truly involved with plans and projects, not just told that proposals will be good for them and society. A generation of planners and environmentalists has grown up dedicated to the notion of civic participation.

So it is with particular angst that many of these same planners now are forced to reckon with the modern-day Jane Jacobs, at least in terms of tactics and a libertarian streak: the Tea Party.

via How the Tea Party Is Upending Urban Planning – Politics – The Atlantic Cities.

November 7, 2012

Study: Electric Cars Made using Fossil Fuels Worse for the Environment than Conventional Cars

Is this a surprise? Often, the media and policy wonks discuss the consumer-side effects of environmental protection, but the environmental effects of manufacturing “green solutions” should not be taken lightly.

Electric cars actually harm the environment more than their gas-powered counterparts in many places, a new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has concluded. That’s in part because electric car production “proved substantially more environmentally intensive,” the report said, according to the BBC. “The global warming potential from electric vehicle production is about twice that of conventional vehicles.”

That higher production cost might pay off if you live in an area powered by clean electricity sources—particularly if the car stays on the road a long time. But if your area gets its power from fossil fuels like coal or lignite, “it is counterproductive to promote electric vehicles,” the report said—they may even wind up causing more carbon emissions than gas burners. In addition, electric car batteries require toxic minerals like nickel, copper, and aluminum, increasing the potential for acidification.

via Study: Electric Cars Hurt the Environment – At least in areas that burn fossil fuels for electricity.

November 7, 2012

New York Failed to Heed Advice from Local Storm Experts: Build Sea Walls to Avoid Floods – NYTimes.com

This article appeared on September 10, 2011 in the New York Times, calling for swift action on building disaster-mitigating infrastructure such as “sea walls” around New York City, to prevent Sandy-force hurricane damage post-Irene one year before. As this article shows, one year and almost two months before Superstorm Sandy hit, storm experts were already worried about how vulnerable New York and its environs were to increasingly-violent coastal storm events, now rendered even more so in Sandy’s wake. While some planning experts are calling for 100-year planning horizons, the city had been in the process of spending more than $2 billion over the course of 18 years, clearly a drop in the needs bucket, and too late for Sandy and its aftermath just one year later.

In this Aug. 28, 2011, file photo, a biker makes his way around a taxi stranded in floodwaters of Hurricane Irene, downgraded to a tropical storm, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan, File)

Only a year ago, [city officials] point out, the city shut down the subway system and ordered the evacuation of 370,000 people as Hurricane Irene barreled up the Atlantic coast. Ultimately, the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm and spared the city, but it exposed how New York is years away from — and billions of dollars short of — armoring itself. “They lack a sense of urgency about this,” said Douglas Hill, an engineer with the Storm Surge Research Group at Stony Brook University, on Long Island. Instead of “planning to be flooded,” as he put it, city, state and federal agencies should be investing in protection like sea gates that could close during a storm and block a surge from Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean into the East River and New York Harbor.

via New York Faces Rising Seas and Slow City Action – NYTimes.com.

Sadly, Hill’s words have been proven true.

November 4, 2012

Fun Town Pier at Seaside Heights Destroyed | 6abc.com

The Fun Town Pier in Seaside Heights is now a pile of twisted metal and broken rides lying on the beach as waves lap over it.

It’s one of two piers destroyed in hurricane Sandy where the iconic Ferris wheels seem to be the only thing left standing. “I think anybody who’s ever been to Seaside or grew up here loves this place; this the way I make my living and a lot of other people make their living. They’ll be back,” arcade worker Helen Stewart said. It’s hard to conceive of how long that could take. Seaside Heights and nearby towns are under martial law.

via Seaside Heights residents wait to see what remains | 6abc.com.

November 4, 2012

New Jersey agonizes over whether to rebuild shore – Salon.com

The phrase “Jersey Shore” is taking on a new meaning, emblematic of disaster recovery.

…environmentalists and shoreline planners urged the state to think about how – and if – to redevelop the shoreline as it faces an even greater threat of extreme weather.

“The next 50 to 100 years are going to be very different than what we’ve seen in the past 50 years,” said S. Jeffress Williams, a scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts.

The sea level is rising fast, and destructive storms are occurring more frequently, said Williams, who expects things to get even worse.

He and other shoreline advocates say the state should consider how to protect coastal areas from furious storms when they rebuild it, such as relocating homes and businesses farther from the shore, building more seawalls and keeping sand dunes high.

How to rebuild after the disaster is becoming an issue even as New Jersey assesses its damage.

via New Jersey agonizes over whether to rebuild shore – Salon.com.

November 4, 2012

What’s Really Happening In Blacked-Out Manhattan | Co.Exist

The lack of an official, coordinated door-to-door response here in downtown, close to some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country, is a bit chilling. Currently across the five boroughs almost half a million people are still without power. If you were going to target people most likely to need help when the power and water is out, it would be the elderly residents of high-rise towers like the ones that surround us. According to a 2011 NYU report, the East Village, Lower East Side, and Chinatown have a population of 169,000. Over 34% of the housing is low-income, 60% more than in the rest of Manhattan, comprising tens of thousands of people. And the lights are out for all of them.

via 1 | Whats Really Happening In Blacked-Out Manhattan | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.

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