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Getting Creative With L.A. Rooftops; S.F.'s Housing Woes

Welcome to Curbed's weekly roundup of architecture, real estate, and urban planning-related feature stories. Please be in touch if you have a story to recommend.

1. Architect Judith Edelman died earlier this month at age 91, and the Times has a fascinating look at her life. She designed many New York City buildings, including health clinics, and also became known as an advocate for women in architecture.

Ms. Edelman, who attended a design criticism session two weeks before her death and then walked more than a dozen blocks home, was the model for a 1974 children's book, "What Can She Be? An Architect." The authors, Gloria and Esther Goldreich, changed the character's name to Susan Brody. 2. Detroit is in the midst of an effort to foreclose all properties that are three-plus years behind on their taxes. The Atlantic follows that news with a look at the 142,000 Detroit residents who could be evicted as a result of the city's initiative:

The city's still relatively new mayor, Mike Duggan, likes to say at press conferences and town-hall meetings that he wants to work with Detroit's "good" residents—those who seek to pay their bills and mow their lawns. But with little active effort put into retaining residents who are behind on their bills and facing foreclosure, some are beginning to feel like the evictions are a part of a bigger ploy to rid the city of large chunks of its poorer residents—a modern-day form of forced relocation. 3. Rules dating to the 1950s require Los Angeles skyscrapers over 75 feet tall to have helipads on their roofs, preventing those roofs from being put to any other use. But the city's fire department recently revised the rules, Architect Magazine reports, which will allow architects to be more creative on the city's skyline:

Any change to a building design is going to have to square with the developer's planned return on investment, says land use consultant Kate Bartolo. She's representing a handful of high-rise projects in downtown L.A., and says the plans are already responding to the rule change. One, a 38-story podium-and-tower condo project on Main Street called SB Omega and designed by L.A.-based David Takacs Architecture, will turn its now-available rooftop into a playground for residents. "You'll have landscaping, trees, a barbecue pit, a fire pit, fountains, indoor seating, a pool, a spa, more seating, another barbecue pit and fire pit," Bartolo says. 4. The tech industry is often labeled as the culprit behind San Francisco's rising rents, but the problem of extreme housing prices has multiple causes, Vox explains.

Jed Kolko, chief economist of residential real estate site Trulia, says tech is an important part of housing demand in San Francisco both on the rental market and the for sale market. The key difference between a tech hub like San Francisco compared to Seattle, Austin, and Raleigh — the first of which has a greater share of its economy rooted in tech — is housing supply. Other tech hubs around the country build more, which alleviates demand. San Francisco is one of the most regulated cities in America when it comes to urban development, which heavily restricts how much can be built. "It would take an enormous increase in construction sustained over many years to make the city more affordable," Kolko says. "It's hard to say how much more would be needed, though. Does the city need to build twice as much? Five times as much? Ten times as much?" · Recommended Reading archive [Curbed]