CityLab Daily: The Most Blunderful Time of the Year

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What We’re Following

Billing address: The Seattle City Council passed a tax on the city’s largest companies to fund affordable housing and fight homelessness by a unanimous vote on Monday. The bill became a thermometer for Amazon HQ2 watchers, as the online mega-retailer halted construction of a new office building until after a vote on the bill. Opposition brought the initially proposed annual tax of $500 per employee down to $275 per head, yielding $47 million in revenue to address the city’s housing problems.

But that’s only a down payment by most estimates in the home of Amazon’s first headquarters. With the third-largest homeless population in the U.S. and nearly half of all households rent-burdened, Seattle’s debate about rapid growth and affordability rages on. Gregory Scruggs reports for CityLab on the tensions at play in the fervent high-tech ecosystem.

Will the real Infrastructure Week please stand up? Don’t miss the most blunderful time of the year… sigh… it’s Infrastructure Week. (Scroll down for more on this.)

Andrew Small

More on CityLab

Why Do So Many Young Adults Live With Their Parents?

For young black people, it’s because rents are too damn high: For white ones, it’s about jobs.

Tanvi Misra

The Problem With the ‘Cool’ City

Can increasingly unaffordable urban places have too many trendy restaurants and hipsters? Maybe that’s not the right question.

Alex Baca

London’s ‘War Zone’: What Trump and Others Don’t See

Trump angered Brits when he cited London’s increasing knife violence recently, saying a city hospital there was “like a war zone.” In this excerpt from Tales of Two Londons, the authors describe the joys and threats in a London neighborhood.

Stephen Griffith and Penny Woolcock

The Tube Gets in Touch With Its Feminist Side

A new program sponsored by the London Underground will feature female artists in public transit spaces.

Teresa Mathew

A Loving Glimpse of an Aging Concrete Utopia

A new documentary charts the recent history of Basildon, one of Britain’s first post-war new towns.

Feargus O’Sullivan

Infrastructure, weak

We might mock the Groundhog Day of potholes that is Infrastructure Week, but the burden of our failure to maintain essential services falls on the poorest households in the country. That’s the big takeaway from this post by Adie Tomer at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program that asks “can people afford American infrastructure?

The chart above shows what share of spending by households of varying incomes goes towards essential services such as water, electricity, transportation, and shelter. Just look at the outsized share that housing (orange) and personal vehicles (grey) make of expenses for the lowest-earning quintile of U.S. households. As Tomer writes, “While the highest earners can afford to spend more on infrastructure and still have income left to save, the lowest earners sometimes have nothing left to save from consuming the exact same services.” CityLab classic: Forget “innovators;” it’s “maintainers” that make the world spin

What We’re Reading

Uber will no longer demand silence on sexual harassment (Quartz)

Flint’s neighborhood approach to reducing crime (Next City)

Sanctuary cities could get a boost from Supreme Court’s sports betting ruling (PBS NewsHour)

A freeway-inspired folk song about induced demand at Portland City Hall (The Oregonian)

Where are our commuting jetpacks? (The Guardian)