With Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles moving forward with progressive land-use and transportation reforms last week, much of the conventional thinking behind how American cities work could soon be upended. As the converging threats of climate change, housing unaffordability, and pollution continue to hamstring the country’s urban areas, cities across the country are taking matters into their own hands by enacting bold but common-sense reforms in the face of federal and state inaction. For one, a groundbreaking comprehensive plan update in Minneapolis that would eliminate the city’s single-family zones took a step forward last week after two years of public debate and negotiations.
Not everyone is completely in love with Waymo’s self-driving cars zipping around local Arizona roads. The Arizona Republic reported Monday that the state has seen 21 cases in which an individual has assaulted a Waymo self-driving car over the past two years. According to the report, people have thrown rocks, slashed tires, and harassed the cars with human safety drivers inside. Another incident involved a Jeep driver running the self-driving cars off of the road. One individual reportedly pulled a handgun and aimed it at the car as it drove by. The handgun incident involved a man diagnosed with dementia, however. The suspect said he intended to scare the driver with the handgun and said he “hates” the Waymo cars and told police how an Uber self-driving vehicle killed a pedestrian this past March.
The purpose of the ordinance, according to city staff, is to limit low-density auto-oriented uses near transit stations and protect transit investments against incompatible uses. The city will ultimately seek to encourage the development of high-density housing and jobs near transit stations, which would encourage use of the light rail system, help make station areas more walkable and bike-friendly, and help reduce emissions by cutting down on car use in the region.
California is regarded as a global leader on climate-change policy, having put in place some of the world’s most ambitious carbon-reduction targets. Most recently, it extended its landmark climate law from 2020 out through 2030, drawing international praise and signaling that the state would stay on the path of decarbonization. But now comes the hard part: implementation. California must design and implement a system of emission reductions that can meet its aggressive 2030 target. If it doesn’t, all the hype will have been for nothing. If it designs a system that fails, California will go from an inspiration to a cautionary tale. And beneath all the happy talk, behind the scenes, there are troubling signs that the system California regulators have proposed will not be up to the task. At every juncture, the state’s oil industry has had enormous influence on program design. The result is a system fated to underperform.