Urban Planning Links Worth Clicking: Scatalogical Edition

Human Wasteland
Screencap of Human Wasteland’s heat (ewww) map.

Of all the crappy problems cities have to deal with—traffic, climate change, hipsters—actual, literal crap often gets overlooked. Not today! I’m leading off my roundup of vaguely planning-related news items with a pair of fecal matters. Hold your noses, everybody! Let’s dive in.

1. Crap Map

“San Francisco’s public defecation map highlights a shitty situation” [engaget.com]

Is there anything that can’t be GIS’ed? Human Wasteland, a website that geographically plots reports of human defecation submitted to San Francisco’s 311 customer-service center, says the answer is “no.” In all seriousness, the map makes a pretty strong case for the need for more public toilets around the Civic Center to serve the homeless population.

2. Great Taste, Less Sewage!

“Why Dump Treated Wastewater When You Could Make Beer With It?” [npr.org]

Oregon is considering bending its rules to allow a confederation of home brewers to use treated wastewater. If the experiment works—and I’m betting folks at beer fests might be just drunk enough to give Poopy Porter a try—it could be an important step toward getting the public over the psychological hurdle that prevents us from drinking (perfectly potable) recycled sewage.

3. So You’d Prefer Weedy, Abandoned Lots?

“What to Do With a Dying Neighborhood” [theatlantic.com]

The Atlantic profiles one planner’s attempt to revitalize a suburban Atlanta subdivision that stalled out during the recession, with the city essentially operating as a developer and bringing some low-income housing to the neighborhood. Residents are divided over whether the efforts are exacerbating a crime problem.

Lyft in SF
Lyft in SF [Lyft Pink Mustache by Pkg203Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.]
4. Transit’s Uber/Lyft Problem

“How Uber and Lyft have exploited long waits, slow travel and poor service to crack open transportation” [washingtonpost.com]

Wonkblog provides a nice layman’s overview of the latest academic findings on ridesharing services, conducted by UC Berkeley researchers in San Francisco. Particularly telling is the graph showing the difference in travel time between summoning Uber and taking public transit. (Spoiler alert: It spells trouble for Muni.)

5. Bring on the Tube!

“Mayor Lee gets on board with proposal for 2nd BART tube” [sfgate.com]

At a meeting of the Alameda Planning Board a few months ago, the city planner was asked about the possibility of resurrecting streetcar service on the island. He replied that a BART line through the city and connected to San Francisco via a second transbay tube was a lot more feasible. I was skeptical, but dang if more and more people aren’t talking seriously about the prospect. Ed Lee is the latest. Thumbs up, let’s do this!

6. Sorry Your Commute Sucks. Will Road Pricing Make You Feel Any Better About It?

“What is the Bay Area’s Plan for 21st Century Transportation?” [kqed.org]

KQED’s Boomtown series, in response to a Silicon Valley commuter’s question asking when somebody is going to get serious and freakin’ do something about Highway 85, gave Transform and MTC a platform to talk about TOD and variable-pricing toll lanes. Somehow I don’t think that’s going to satisfy the guy, but kudos to writer Bryan Goebel for doing his best to explain the complicated issues surrounding regional transportation planning.

Crocker, Daly City
San Francisco’s hottest neighborhood. For reals. [photo by Tim Adams via Flickr]
7. Daly City is so Hot Right Now

“Redfin Predicts the Hottest Neighborhoods of 2015” [redfin.com]

The real-estate website says Crocker will be the San Francisco neighborhood seeing the most action this year. Wait, Crocker? Where the heck is Crocker? Turns out it’s not in San Francisco at all. It’s in Daly City. Housing prices have so skyrocketed in trendy, more urban neighborhoods that people are, once again, being driven to the ‘burbs in search of affordability. (Inner ‘burbs, but still). And Redfin is seeing this type of thing across the board, not just in San Francisco.

8. Raising the Bar

“To Save a Bar, Sometimes You Must Pick It Up and Move It Down the Street” [citylab.com via SPUR’s Facebook page]

The owner of a renowned dive bar in Oakland’s trendy Temescal/Rockridge area decided it was easier to move the darn thing than to keep fighting off the condo developers. Citylab has the story and time-lapse video.

9. High Birth Rate + Low Death Rate + Average Migration Rate = ?

“Mapping America’s Futures” [urban.org via citylab.com]

The Urban Institute’s new interactive mapping tool lets users explore a range of population predictions for every region in the country based on varying birth, death and migration rates. Basically it lets you play God and see what the effect will be on a city’s demographics. Fun stuff!

10. When a Novel Idea That Fills an Unmet Need Isn’t Good Enough

“How a Start-Up That Wouldn’t Break the Rules Was Forced to Fail” [psmag.com via SPUR’s Facebook page]

Night School tried to take an underused transit resource—namely, school buses when school’s not in session—and use them to shuttle folks from the Mission District back to the East Bay after BART stops running. Why did it fail? Pacific Standard magazine blames good ol’ California bureaucracy.


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