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Photo: An aerial image of suburban sprawl in the Houston area. (Paul Sableman)

Harvey and Houston planning 11 MIN, 55 SEC

Texas National Guardsmen rescue a resident by boat during
flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
Photo courtesy of the National Guard

Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, is dumping torrential rains on Southeast Texas. Severe flooding has caused a number of deaths and left thousands displaced from their homes in Houston and surrounding towns. This is Houston's worst flood but not its first -- the country's fourth largest city deals with floods about once a year.

Is there something about the region's design and planning that makes it susceptible to flooding? Wesley Highfield considers the impact of runaway construction in the fast-growing city, and explains how infrastructure, hydrology, and how you build on the floodplain affect your chances of staying wet or dry.

Wesley Highfield, Texas A&M University at Galveston (@AggiesByTheSea)

CityLab interview with Sam Brody about Houston development
Houston fears climate change will cause catastrophic flooding: 'It's not if, it's when'
Boom town, flood town: How Houston's development increases flood risk
ProPublica: Why Houston isn't ready for Harvey
Houston's flooding shows what happens when you ignore science and let developers run rampant

Road diets and road rage 16 MIN, 22 SEC

A fight over a road diet in Playa del Rey has turned a community on itself and raised questions about the roll-out of efforts to calm streets regionwide.

Workers reinstate lane stripes on a stretch of Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey.
Photo by Frances Anderton

The story began back in June, when transportation planners removed car lanes from Culver, Jefferson and Pershing Boulevards and installed bike lanes in place of those car lanes.

They also removed a lane from each side of Vista del Mar, the road running parallel to Dockweiler Beach, and they moved parking from the east side of the street to the Westside. This was to reduce dangerous crossings between beach and parked cars following several deadly collisions.

Karla Mendelson, Lance Williams, Kimberly Hunnell and Ray Karapetyan
meet at the street corner of Culver Boulevard and Nicholson Street
in Playa del Rey to discuss the controversial "road diet."
Photo by Frances Anderton

 But after all these changes traffic became too slow. Enraged drivers created a petition to recall City Councilman Mike Bonin, and they filed a lawsuit. Bonin took to the Internet to offer a mea culpa.

Now the Department of Transportation has rolled back some of the changes and a task force has been formed to rethink how to calm traffic in the beach community. 

We talk to residents and commuters on both sides of the issue, and hear from a transportation planner about how best to ease the transition from a car-based region (as one resident points out, "people going to Costco, if they could park their car inside of the store, they would do that not to walk") to one in which "no one traveling around the city of Los Angeles is dying getting from one place to another."

Robin Perkins, Selbert Perkins Design
Kimberly Hunnell, resident of Playa del Rey
Lance Williams, Playa del Rey Florists
Ray Karapetyan, Miracle Instant Shoe Repair
Karla Mendelson, KeepLAMoving
Dan Mitchell, LA Department of Transportation (@danmitchelldot)

LA reverses course on lane reductions that 'most people outright hated'
Readers react: We want safe streets, not 'road diets' — and we are not 'selfish'
LA councilman 'truly sorry' for Vista del Mar traffic mess; 4 lanes to return in August
Twenty members named to task force tackling Playa del Rey 'road diets'
LA Mobility Plan 2035

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