Anti-Bus Laws, High Rents, and Pee: What's Ruining Our Cities This Week

Tennessee lawmakers tried to make Nashville's buses illegal, a dude pissed in a reservoir and Portland has to flush 38 million gallons of water, and—let's say it all together—the rent is too damn high. This is your weekly look at What's Ruining Our Cities.

Tennessee's senate almost ruined Nashville's transit

Earlier this week, transportation advocates were up in arms about a backward decision by the Tennessee state legislature to ban bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. Targeting Nashville's proposed Amp system, a bill was introduced that specifically banned construction of any type of BRT. Opponents of the Amp—which included the Koch brothers-founded conservative group Americans for Prosperity—said they were worried about safety, parking, and traffic congestion. Yeah, sure. But don't worry, a deal reached yesterday negates the bill and allows Nashville's Amp to go through. All aboard! [Wired]

Rising rents are ruining Los Angeles, Miami, College Station, Santa Cruz, San Diego, San Francisco, Salinas, San Luis Obispo, Santa Rosa, New York, Ithaca, Napa, Flagstaff... aw, forget it, we're all screwed

More bad housing news for Americans. And this time it's really bad. Most cities measure their housing affordability by looking at how much of the average household income goes towards rent and utilities. It's generally agreed upon that "affordable" means you spend less than 30 percent of your income on housing. Well, a study by Zillow found 90 cities where the median rent (and not including utilities!) was more than 30 percent of the median gross income. And some of the cities are in the 40 percent range. L.A., at 47 percent, is the place where you might spend almost half of your income on rent. [New York Times]

A peeing dude ruined Portland

Urine trouble, Portland. Thirty-eight million gallons of treated, ready-to-drink water will be flushed into the Columbia River after a teenager peed in a city reservoir. The city admits that there's no probable public health risk from a few drops of piss, but it's more of a service issue, says Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff: "The reality is our customers don't anticipate drinking water that's been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir." Amazingly, this happened at the same reservoir in 2011, too. Maybe install a public toilet nearby? [Gizmodo]

Top image: Nashville's proposed Amp BRT system