Cities

Oregon voters roll back destructive property-rights legislation

Sheepish Oregon voters have approved Measure 49, which significantly scales back development rights under the state’s Measure 37. When voters passed Measure 37 three years ago, it was the farthest-reaching legislation in the U.S. in terms of protecting individual property rights, requiring Oregon to compensate landowners for property-value changes brought on by state land-use decisions. Under the law, property owners filed 7,500 claims to develop some 750,000 acres of farms and forests, wishing to build everything from single homes to shopping malls to gravel mines. “People stood back and watched it for three years and said this isn’t what we …

Bike culture

Biking communities thrive in San Francisco and Santa Cruz

We moved offices earlier this year, and are now a little off the beaten track. To deal with the increased distance, and because I broke my colleague Gwen's foldable bike, I brought in a couple of bikes for the office: a pink Stumpjumper of '80s vintage at a garage sale in Lee Vining, and a more recently minted Hardrock bequeathed by good friend and noted environmental economist Michael Greenstone. This is all to say that I've been biking around San Francisco quite a bit recently, and I am struck by how much better things are. The lane striping, for one, makes a big difference. It creates a margin of safety that borders on acceptable. The city, with prodding by the super-effective SF Bike Coalition, has done a fantastic job of laying out lane-striped bike routes through popular corridors. For example: to get from downtown to the Haight, you take the Wiggle. Most people have to wait until they get to the Haight before they start wiggling, but not bike riders. They get their wiggle in early, on the way.

Green career tips for locavores

How to find a job in your local area

I’ve been on the road. I started the first week in October at the University of Michigan and ended it at a “career visioning” retreat in the Connecticut woods with students from Yale. My impressions? At both universities, I found aspiring environmental professionals who are committed to building a sustainable society. (I also found great vegetarian food.) As we talked about “sustainable solutions” careers, more than one student let me know that their most important career concern was location and that national statistics about job prospects were pretty much meaningless. Having already decided to make a life in, say, Missoula, …

Hawaii legislature allows Superferry to resume voyages

The Hawaii legislature has approved a bill allowing resumption of voyages by the Hawaii Superferry, halted by court order in August because a state-required environmental-impact assessment had not been completed. The new legislation, backed by Gov. Linda Lingle (R), will allow the ferry to make its Oahu-to-Maui and Oahu-to-Kauai treks while the assessment is being made. The ferry is strongly supported on Oahu, but county councils on Kauai and Maui raised concerns about heavy traffic, invasive species, and depleted fish stocks.

Major car-sharing companies will merge

Major car-sharing companies Flexcar and Zipcar announced yesterday that they plan to merge. Zipcar, the larger of the two, has had strong growth mainly in large cities on the East Coast; Flexcar is more widely available on the West Coast. In both schemes, members can reserve a car over the phone or the interwebs, generally at a cheap hourly rate, then return it to its same location. Gas, repairs, parking, and insurance are all covered; a survey of Zipcar members indicates that they save some $5,000 a year by car-sharing instead of owning a vehicle. The new car-sharing company — …

Growing cooler

Can urban planners save the earth?

A couple of weeks ago I was in Vancouver, B.C., at a conference where it seemed like everyone was talking about a new book called Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change. Reviewing dozens of empirical studies, the book's central argument is that urban form is inextricably linked to climate. Low-density sprawl has been a principal contributor to North American climate emissions. And by the same token, smart compact development -- the kind that fosters less driving -- is essential to curbing climate change. From the executive summary:

Along the Mississippi: A flood of coverage

A recap of our week on the river

Huckleberry Wroth and I survived our travels down the Mississippi last week, and we’ve now returned to our respective coasts to reflect on everything we learned. I must say, visiting three cities in seven days is no lazy float down the river — we covered a lot of ground. Here’s a recap: In Dubuque, we: Chatted with the charming mayor, Roy D. Buol. Lunched with city leaders at a conference led by the American Institute of Architects’ Sustainable Design Assessment Team. Found some interesting bathroom reading material. Talked with the city’s planning services manager about re-embracing the Mississippi. Drove the …

A hopeful letter from 2034

An electrified transit advocate tries soothsaying

Maybe too optimistic, but very little untried technology in here, so it's at least a possible future.

Along the Mississippi: The end of the road

On politics, ponyshoes, and PBR

All good things must come to an end, and the Gristissippi Road Trip is one of them. Sarah and I wrapped up our enlightening week of interviews and explorations with a visit to Beale Street (fried pie, yum!) and a beer with a Gristmill fan. As we recuperate from the trip in our respective cities, collecting our thoughts and notes for the more in-depth features to follow, I thought I’d throw down a few of the things I learned along the way. Seven, in fact, one for each day of travel: Plenty of people swim in the Mississippi, especially the …

Welcome to the new Grist. Tell us what you think, or if it's your first time learn about us. Grist is celebrating 15 years. ×