CityLab Daily: Can Cities Make Big Business Pay?

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What We’re Following

Head hunters: Last month, Seattle passed a controversial tax to tackle its housing crisis. The bill became known as the “Amazon tax” after the company threatened to halt construction if the measure was approved, but other companies also said it would stifle business development in the city. The “head tax,” based on the number of workers hired by businesses, isn’t unprecedented, but Seattle became a prominent example that others are watching closely.

Now, after the tax’s approval, Amazon, Starbucks, and others have quietly poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a campaign to revoke the tax by a citywide vote this November. If the ballot initiative collects enough signatures this month, the referendum is sure to reignite the fight between housing and labor activists who advocated for the bill and the companies that want to stop it. CityLab’s Sarah Holder reports: The Battle Over Seattle’s ‘Amazon Tax’ Isn’t Actually Over

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

New York City Will Cut Transit Fares for Low-Income Riders

It’s financial redistribution in a capital of income inequality.

Laura Bliss

There’s One Thing Uber Hasn’t Disrupted: Work.

Despite the gig-economy hype, the share of independent workers in the U.S. has dropped over the last decade. And Uber itself has a smaller role as an employer

Sarah Holder

One Nation, United Yet Different: Valuing Localism

The United States is an amalgam of places and people. As long as essential values are preserved we should appreciate the ability of local government to respond to unique communities.

Stephen Goldsmith

The Indigenous Voice of Mexico City

Slowly, native culture seems to be emerging from the shadows.

Feike de Jong and Gustavo Graf

The Case for ‘Sanctuary Cities’ for Endangered Species

Non-native animals and plants often arrive in cities by happenstance and carve out ecological niches for themselves. But if cities were more deliberate about biodiversity, they’d take in well-suited species that are struggling elsewhere.

Ursula K. Heise


Stop Signs

A map of street and traffic stops by Chicago police between 2014 and 2016. (Lucy Parsons Lab)

In 2014, Chicago had a four-month stretch when its residents were stopped-and-frisked at four times the rate of New Yorkers in 2011, when the city’s practice was at its peak. After the ACLU of Illinois released a report drawing out that shocking contrast, the city agreed to keep better records of the stops and searches. Now the Lucy Parsons Lab, a non-profit technology collective focused on police accountability, is visualizing the information made available to see where people are being stopped in Chicago.

The map above compares street and traffic stops overall by Chicago police between 2014 and 2016, but the project drills down to a neighborhood level to determine how these interactions between police and residents breakdown by race. Read Tanvi Misra’s analysis on CityLab: Where Chicagoans Are Being Stopped and Frisked


What We’re Reading

ICE came for a Tennessee town’s immigrants. The town fought back. (New York Times)

Ford buys a train station in Detroit (Detroit News)

Why Anthony Bourdain meant so much to marginalized communities (Slate)

How racial segregation influenced California’s upzoning bill failure (Next City)

Stuffed crust infrastructure: Domino’s Pizza is paving potholes? (Yahoo)


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