July 6, 2010 By Wayne Hanson from News Reports
Does Jane Jacobs Gets Too Much Credit?
Photo of Jane Jacobs by former Digital Communities Editor Blake Harris
It has been almost 50 years since the publication of Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and the book has been cited to support almost every position in debates about city planning and urban policy. Jacobs's ideas have become ubiquitous all over the country. At a recent meeting of the Urban Land Institute, a national organization of real-estate developers and professionals, for example, she seemed to be quoted by almost every speaker -- developers, architects and academics all cited her work when talking about the future and how to do progressive development. Her book is on reading lists at every planning school and urban-studies program. Yet the time may have come to give Jacobs (who died in 2006) and her ideas something of a rest. Wall Street Journal
InSeine Power Turbines
The river Seine, the historical "sacred river" running through Paris, inspired Monet, Matisse and even the British painter Turner, who sat on its banks to capture the scenery. Now the landscape is to undergo a subtle change, with a plan to install eight turbines underneath the city's celebrated bridges to raise energy from river currents. Paris City Hall is to launch an appeal this week for power companies to come up with suitable projects to install the turbines, or "hydroliennes." UK Guardian
Cell Phone Industry Attacks San Francisco Law
San Francisco, a city that banned the plastic bag, has now passed a law requiring retailers to inform their customers how much radiation the cellphones on their shelves emit, so shoppers can figure out how close the devices come to the upper limits on radiation set by the Federal Communications Commission. The law, which goes into effect early next year, didn't mention the word, but it was all about one thing: cancer, and whether cellphones cause it. The cellphone industry answered with its own C-word -- "cancel." After the vote, the CTIA wireless trade group called off its fall show, scheduled for San Francisco. Washington Post
City Losing Millions in Uncollected Parking Tickets
On a day when Los Angeles laid off more than 200 employees, a new audit released last week revealed that the city is losing tens of millions of dollars in revenue because of collection practices that barely capture half of parking ticket fines and other fees. "I don't know of any business that would stand for such a low collection rate," said City Controller Wendy Greuel, who released the audit of six departments -- police, fire, housing, transportation, sanitation and building and safety. "It's simply not sustainable, and the city cannot and should not allow this." Los Angeles Times
City Crafts a New Downtown Plan
When city officials in 1999 last wrote a downtown Milwaukee master plan, the wish list of key proposals included a riverwalk expansion, a new public market in the historic Third Ward, and a remodeled Amtrak station. All three are now a reality. So the city is now unveiling its latest downtown plan including "catalytic" projects such as creating better walking connections between downtown and the lakefront, and developing smaller forms of downtown housing, such as townhomes.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.