Friday, March 25, 2011

Preservation: way cool

Germans get so much of it right- diversity in education, family-supportive maternity leave laws, walkability in community design, snug fitting, big-buttoned military jackets (one of my favorite looks)...and here is another great example if them making something cool...preservation!

Under the name of “Dispatchwork” (all puns intended), Berliners are taking to the streets with a medium that will take you right back to your childhood: LEGOs! As described, the project “is part urban art installation, part historical highlighting (since many of the gaps date back to World War II) and part method of calling attention to buildings that could use some help.”

And while I doubt this fits the bill as “sensitive materials” for patching up places that matter, I adore the project as an attention-getting public service announcement. I’m also incredibly jealous. File under things I wish I had thought of.

Link here

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Legislative scorecard: March 16

Introduced in the House this week:  H100, would require nonprofit corporations get at least 35 percent of their funding from private sources and keep administrative expenses below 16 percent to receive state grants. Sponsors: Reps. Larry Brown, R-Forsyth, and George Cleveland, R-Onslow. Such changes would completely alter the landscape of "qualified" nonprofits.

In the committees: S27, to place a statewide moratorium on involuntary annexations until July 1, 2012. Recommended for approval, Senate State and Local Government Committee. Next: To the full Senate.

OTHER IDEAS: The union representing state employees offered a list of suggestions it said could close next year's budget gap without layoffs. The report by the State Employees Association of North Carolina recommends allowing four-day workweeks, consolidating state health services and ending corporate incentives and special tax breaks to the motorsports and film industries. The group says its proposals of more than $10 billion in savings or revenue options should be considered before cutting state jobs.

Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue is expected to release her budget Thursday. Perdue and Republican legislative leaders have said layoffs are likely in the next budget year as negotiators try to close a projected budget gap of between $2 billion and $3 billion

Monday, March 14, 2011

Planning bites: the billboard bill

S.183 would allow electronic billboards to be erected, override  community regulations regarding the location and appearance of those billboards, and expand the area where public trees can be cleared along roadways.
The legislation is strongly opposed by neighborhood associations, the N.C. League of Municipalities, N.C. Association of County Commissioners, N.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association, and N.C. Metro Mayors Coalition.
Key Features of Legislation
Among other things, S.183 would:
1)    Allow digital billboards every 1,500 feet on each side of any interstate or primary highway – as many as 7 digital billboards every mile.
2)    Allow ad changes every 8 seconds -- more than 10,000 messages/billboard each day.
3)    Override local regulations and allow existing billboards to convert to digital, as long as the billboard is at least 1500 feet from another digital billboard.
4)    Expands the area where trees can be cleared in front of billboards, and overrides local tree cutting ordinances on interstates and federally assisted highways.
Key Points About Billboards
1)      Billboard messages cannot be controlled.  Too often, advertising on billboards is for alcohol and sex businesses, which cannot be legally prohibited. 
2)      Billboards installed today will be here for generations.  As a result of 2004 state legislation, taxpayers have to buy out billboards if they want them removed.  The cost can be hundreds of thousands of dollars per billboard, making them all but permanent.
3)      This is an issue of local control and community values.  Please protect the right of citizens to make their own decisions about their community appearance.

Planning bites: internet sweepstaks

NC Senate introduced a bill that would prevent local ordinances from regulating internet sweepstakes and video lotteries. This bill, if voted into law, also prohibits local taxes and fees on the industry and repeals any such existing regulations.  Here is the link for the proposed House Bill 228 - video lottery entertainment: