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Then This Happened — June 2021

Then this happened

…crabs are coming back. It seems like aeons ago that the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (that’s our Maggie) passed, but now it’s time to celebrate! Two-thirds of the closely monitored fish species once devastated by overfishing have bounced back in a big way thanks to management plans instituted 10 to 15 years ago. “It’s not 100 percent. So it’s not unbridled good news but it does show the effectiveness of a law that has had its share of controversy,” according to Brad Sewell, author of a study using data from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Alaska fishery recovery was among the best.

…an observant local man wondered why some Thurston County Sheriff vehicles were driving around with a “thin blue line” flag sticker on their rear window. In a comment on Reddit, he suggested they should be removed, and symbols other than official logos and flags be banned. He said, “ it is impossible to ignore how [the thin blue line flag] has been used to signal support of abusive police practices, up to and including murder. Since it is essential for police to be welcome in a community for them to perform their duties, displaying the flag both makes it more difficult for deputies to perform their duties, and makes them less safe while they are carrying them out.”

…Los Angeles took a different approach to seeking “infill housing” aka “missing middle.” They ran a contest called Low Rise for local architects. The winners offered modest, inclusive possibilities for homes that look like places you’d want to live—and, critically, like housing that could easily already exist in Southern California. The winner of the “Corners” category, which looks at how to densify corner lots in low-rise residential neighborhoods, is Vonn Weisenberger’s “Branch-style” home, a play on the California Ranch that joins two lots with a community center for multi-generational living. Chief among the goals of the $100,000 design challenge was to yield new ideas not just for how low-density housing should look and feel, but a process that might lead to housing that actually gets built. In addition to the Subdivision and Corners categories (for duplex homes and joined lots, respectively), Low-Rise called for proposals for “Fourplex” housing. The winning Fourplex entry doesn’t scream gentrification, however. The entry by the L.A.–based firms Omgivning and Studio-MLA features interlocking apartments for households of different sizes. The complex shares public and private gardens, parking spots, another green alley and a community easement or parklet. For this design competition, the city turned the process inside out, asking Angelenos what they might like to see in housing (and what they dread, too). Hawthorne credits Alejandro Gonzalez, a fellow in the city’s design office, for spearheading five conversations—with designers, leaders, sustainability experts, residents and others—to fill out the design brief for the contest. This approach puts the community input hearings before the project design—an approach that can achieve both density and community acceptance.

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