COVID-19 planning roundup

By Richard L. Davis, associate editor, April 14, 2020

Mobility justice and COVID-19, by Untokening Collective in collaboration with Pueblo Planning, April 8, 2020

“The most marginalized find themselves on the frontlines [as essential service providers] … It is critical to center their lives and ask how we can make their movement safer, whether on public transit or at their jobs … Those of us with the privilege to choose physical immobility must protect and uplift those in our communities who are continuing to be mobile.” Go here to read Untokening’s mobility justice statement, their advocacy principles for mobility planning staff, and perspectives from transportation planners in the Untokening network.

Time outdoors is crucial to your health, even during the coronavirus pandemic, by Jack Wang, UChicago News, April 6, 2020

Measures being taken to shut down beaches, parks, and trails underscore a widespread urban problem. “If a city lacks enough green space for the people who live there, that’s a public health issue. Nature is not an amenity — it’s a necessity to be taken seriously. The ongoing crisis only underscores the psychological benefits of nature — as well as the need for urban infrastructure and policies that maximize those benefits. Research has also highlighted nature access as an issue of environmental justice in low-income neighborhoods.” Read the full article here.

Housing development likely to crash because of COVID, by Josh Stephens, CP&DR, April 6, 2020

“ ‘There’s a demand problem: you have 15 percent unemployment; you have a supply problem: you can’t build,’ said David Shulman, senior economist at the UCLA Anderson Forecast. He added that exact numbers have yet to be forecast, but he estimated that ‘single-family starts probably will be down anywhere between one-third and 50 percent.’ ” Developer advocates suggest an antidote: promote certainty in housing entitlement timelines and reassess certain restrictions in the California Environmental Quality Act. Read more here (paywall).

Coronavirus has potential to reshape government technology, by Alan Greenblatt, Governing, April 2, 2020

“Agencies long hampered by endless procurement processes have suddenly become nimble. Rules are being waived to move swiftly and buy, for example, licenses for Zoom and other teleconferencing platforms. ‘We’re in crisis and bureaucracy is suspended,’ says Meghan Cook, program director at the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University at Albany [SUNY]… It’s likely that the shutdowns triggered by the novel coronavirus will mark a turning point in the way governments use technology.” Go here to read to read how shutdowns will affect management, legacy systems, remote working, and technology investments.

Development permit processing and post-approval considerations in the wake of COVID-19, by Frank Petrilli, Steve Atkinson, Shahiedah Palmer, and Matthew S. Stone, Arent Fox LLP, April 1, 2020

This article alerts developers to potentials disruptions in entitlement processing caused by the pandemic. Go here for examples of extensions for discretionary approvals in several Bay Area jurisdictions and possible actions that the State and local governments might take to grant blanket extensions to sustain various approvals through the crisis.

How will public transit survive the COVID-19 crisis?, by Larry Buhl, Capital & Main, April 1, 2020

“The $2 trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill [as] signed into law … contained the largest aid package ever for U.S. transit agencies: $25 billion… Experts say the money, which has basically no strings attached, should be more than enough to keep workers employed, at least through the year.” However, there is still uncertainty over how soon the public will return to mass transit and whether smaller transit agencies will receive the aid they need. Read more here.

Primed for deliveries, by Lisa Nisenson, APA Planning Magazine, April 2020

Nisenson, vice president for new mobility and connected communities at design firm WGI, describes the potential impact of COVID-19 on retail trends and e-commerce in an interview with APA Planning Magazine. The article details 12 key technologies and trends in e-commerce poised to transform package delivery in cities, suburbs, universities, and rural areas.

Database documents cities that are repurposing car space during the pandemic, by Steven Vance, StreetsBlog Chicago, March 29 2020

“Dr. Tabitha Combs, a transportation researcher at the University of North Carolina, has started a crowdsourced database of what cities are doing to create safer, people-friendly streets during the ‘shelter at home’ era.” Go here to read about the ways that street space has been repurposed in cities around the world. The ‘database’ is a shared Google Spreadsheet, so anyone can contribute what their city is doing.

Why infrastructure is the only way to fight a COVID-19 recession in the US, by Shai Kivity, World Economic Forum, March 27, 2020

“When monetary policy isn’t enough, a country must turn towards fiscal policy. Right now, reviving the lagging US infrastructure sector may be the best approach: infrastructure creates economic growth, 5G cellular infrastructure will allow for faster data rates, a better electric grid allows us to drive electric cars, and new roads reduce congestion and commute times.” Read more here.

What can the coronavirus teach us about healthy cities? An Interview with Billie Giles-Corti, Foreground Magazine, March 24, 2020

Professor Billie Giles-Corey of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) argues that dense cities are “where there are shops, businesses and services nearby, where people can get around, they can walk and cycle” and “regional cities of villages, where there’s amenity nearby” provide the most in public health and disaster-resilience benefits.