Using Smart City Technology to Adapt to COVID Mobility Preferences

As cities continue to fight against COVID-19, citizens are changing their commuting preferences to adjust to a new way of life. Cities across the globe have experienced significant increases in the number of pedestrians, cyclists, and private cars on the roads as a result of public transport restrictions and social distancing requirements. This has created many new challenges, as cities previously dependent on public transport must now adapt to accommodate more vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists.

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Landlords Are Using Next-Generation Eviction Tech

In the ever-evolving cat-and-mouse game between landlords and renters, the latter have been getting the upper hand in several cities. Laws that guarantee a lawyer to people facing eviction have found traction in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, and other cities. Last year, New York State passed a suite of bills that one lawmaker in Albany called “the strongest tenant protections in history.”

In response, landlords are shifting their priorities from booting tenants to squeezing them for the rent as efficiently as possible. And landlords with large portfolios of hundreds or thousands of units are turning to technology to give them an edge. ClickNotices — a dashboard for tracking rents, from receipt through delinquency and all the way to eviction — is part of a new generation of online “delinquency management platforms” that can automate some of the unhappier chores of landlording.

Through a shared dashboard, property owners and their agents are able to prepare and deliver notices for late rents; corporate landlords can generate hundreds of late notices at once. With a few keystrokes, their lawyers can spit out all the necessary legal boilerplate language for a lawsuit. In some jurisdictions, the landlords can even bring the suits themselves.

Bringing such frictionlessness to the fraught world of landlord-tenant transactions has a number of positive effects, the company says: Namely, it facilitates more communication between landlords and tenants, which means more opportunities to settle a dispute before lawyers get involved. But some tenant advocates worry that this kind of software accelerates disagreements to the legal arena, where landlords — especially large or institutional landlords — enjoy a huge advantage.

For landlords, one-click-eviction software might be a novel response to new tenant protections. In New York City, for example, evictions have fallen 41% since 2013, in large part thanks to the city’s first-in-the-nation law guaranteeing tenants the right to eviction counsel.

“Right now, because of the laws, eviction is not something that benefits anybody,” says Craig T. Gambardella, a partner with Kucker Marino Winiarsky & Bittens, a firm that focuses on real estate law in New York. “It used to be, pursuant to the old law, that if you got an eviction from a tenant or a vacancy from a tenant in a rent-stabilized apartment, you were able to increase the rent 20% off the bat.”

That’s no longer possible in New York, where the so-called vacancy bonus was abolished, among other incentives, by the landmark package of protections passed by the state last year. “A lot of those increases have gone by the wayside,” Gambardella says. “In New York, the name of the game is streamlining your rent efficiency.”

Landlords with hundreds or thousands of properties under their charge are facing a wave of new regulations in progressive states. In New York, the period of time before a landlord can likely take a tenant to court over delinquent rent has jumped from about two weeks to roughly six weeks. Renters get more time between notices, too, and more time to settle up.

Investors have taken notice, too. Bloomberg reported in January that apartment building sales fell 40% in New York City. Building owners are convinced that it’s now too difficult to raise rents, even to recoup the costs of maintenance or improvements. So investors are steering clear of rent-regulated units, instead pursuing market-rate buildings at higher prices, analysts say. These changes — above all the repeal of vacancy decontrol and the vacancy bonus — are even prompting some landlords to hold units vacant.

Programs such as ClickNotices represent an alternative to holding out for Albany to reverse course. “Our goal is not to get tenants into court,” says the company’s CEO, Matt Barbieri. “That’s the last resort in terms of collecting rent.”

A ClickNotices dashboard for managing delinquent rental properties. (ClickNotices)

ClickNotices got its start in 2010 as a paper-processing company for failure-to-pay-rent actions in Maryland. Founder Toyin Bello launched ClickNotices as an answer to his own frustrations managing rental properties in Baltimore. As the company grew, its leaders came to realize that small and large landlords alike struggle with transparency and compliance. ClickNotices plugs into all the accounting programs used by big landlords — Entrata, MRI, Yardi, RealPage, and others. But what distinguishes the program is its ability to generate pre- and post-eviction litigation paperwork.  

Since 2016, when the founders sought Series A funding, the company has expanded: ClickNotices now operates in 13 states, mostly on the East Coast. Lawmakers in coastal states are taking up tenant protections rapidly, which is one reason that ClickNotices has repositioned itself as a tenant-engagement platform, as Barbiari says.

Tenant advocates say that programs such as ClickNotices or eWrit Filings, another delinquency management software company, are essentially helping landlords funnel tenants into rent court, regardless of the merits of the case. Large or institutional landlords might file thousands of late-rent notices per month, and when they go to court, it’s largely on the landlord’s say-so, according to Matthew Vocci, a founding member of Santoni, Vocci & Ortega, a firm that represents tenants and consumers.

“The reality is that when you file thousands of these, most of them are going to go through by default,” Vocci says. “The court is used as an arm of the landlord to collect. This is mass filing on just whatever information was plugged into the spreadsheet.”

ClickNotices allows landlords and their lawyers to generate pre- and post-eviction litigation paperwork from a single dashboard. (ClickNotices)

In Maryland, state law doesn’t require a landlord to hire a lawyer to represent a claim before rent court, so a filing company (such as ClickNotices) can send an agent instead. They’re rarely lawyers, Vocci says. In certain jurisdictions, they might appear before rent court three or four times a week on behalf of their clients. Vocci calls filing agents “super users” in Baltimore rent court; they sit where the police usually sit in traffic court. “Typically what they have is spreadsheets with names and how much they purportedly owe, and that’s about it,” Vocci says.

Mass filings shift the burden of proof onto tenants, who do not have access to a courthouse regular to represent them. Lawmakers are working to tilt the scales. New York City is expanding its successful eviction counsel pilot program, and Detroit, Minneapolis, San Antonio, Los Angeles and several other cities plan to follow suit.

Barbieri says that communicating with tenants, not hauling them to court, is the goal at ClickNotices. There’s hardly any communication between large property managers and tenants between the first of the month and the sixth, mostly because corporate landlords don’t go banging on doors and shouting about the rent. In Maryland, where ClickNotices is headquartered, there’s no notice requirement at all: The first time a tenant finds out there’s a problem might be when the sheriff tacks up a notice.

This is the old way of doing things, Barbieri says. ClickNotices offers different “baskets” of options for engaging tenants: automated texts, emails, and the like. Barbieri says that his company has worked to educate his clients about the value proposition in asking tenants why the rent is late. “We are all for, from a communication aspect, additional notice requirements,” Barbieri says. “We were on the early edge of those tenant-friendly laws.”

More states are setting stricter requirements for serving notices for appearances before rent court, such as first-class or certified mail or private servicers. That’s just one front in the new class of tenant protections coming online. As the company expands, ClickNotices is adding attorneys to provide more court services and guarantee compliance. The goal is still to get people to pay the rent.

But when notifications don’t work, delinquency management programs help landlords pivot to court action with the click of a mouse. Even if eviction is no longer the explicit goal as jurisdictions make evictions more difficult, the threat still does the same job.

“I went back and pulled some articles in the ‘70s about how rent court is being used as a collection arm for the landlords. It’s certainly easier to file these things when you have software on the backend,” Vocci says. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

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3 Cities Using Capital to Build More Inclusive Ecosystems

Coaching Cities to Build Inclusive Ecosystems

In order to lead these cities in developing their ecosystems to create the new capital structures that they require, they needed an investor and ecosystem builder who understands the capital challenges faced by entrepreneurs of color in their earliest fundraising rounds and how to create new models to help remove structural bias.

I’m a San Francisco-based venture capital investor who invests in early stage companies and has built startup ecosystems in the US and internationally. More than 60% of my investments have been in companies with one or more underrepresented founders.

The same coaching I give to founders can be extended to cities, and for 18 months, I became ‘the VC in their corner’ who would advise the (SU)3 cities on the business models and capital structures that would create sustainable pathways to support the building of these entrepreneurial ecosystems.

I have invested in all types of founders, but without equitable participation in the innovation economy from people of color – this nation’s fastest growing demographic – we rob ourselves of the full spectrum of innovation and we create an inevitable future where America’s persistent wealth gap will become even wider.

For (SU)3, we focused exclusively on high-growth entrepreneurs building the companies that can deliver innovation and opportunity at scale. Main Street and small business entrepreneurship are still incredibly important to local economies, but high-growth entrepreneurship transforms cities, allows companies to hire dozens if not hundreds of employees, and creates anchor institutions from which new entrepreneurs and companies will be created. Activating the relationships that make it possible for these high-growth entrepreneurs to succeed will increase the capacity of each city to build the entrepreneurial ecosystems necessary to meet the needs of founders of color, from small to large businesses.

These cities were selected for their unique cultures, economies, and the position that they all sit relative to high-growth entrepreneurs of color. In each city, we identified an institutional lead and I provided them with my coaching on venture capital and ecosystem building to carry this work forward:

  • Albuquerque Community Foundation
  • New Orleans Business Alliance
  • 42Phi Ventures (San Francisco Bay Area)

Three Cities Putting Inclusion in Focus

The strategies deployed locally by each (SU)3 team were focused on increasing investment, particularly private equity and venture capital, in entrepreneurs of color who want to scale their companies. “Key to this work,” as our team leads in New Orleans note, “is the identification of bias where it exists in capital allocation and eliminating the perception of race as representing risk.”

Not only is there an undersupply of capital that fits the needs of founders of high-growth businesses, but these founders are at best, largely ignored; and at worst, excluded from existing entrepreneurial support systems.

New Orleans represents a Southern city with a long tradition of entrepreneurship among people of color. Today, Black-owned businesses account for 40% of all businesses in the city, but these businesses receive less than 2% of all business receipts — a margin that has remained constant since 1997. New Orleans has a 60% majority Black population but where Black entrepreneurs have been underrepresented in the city’s emerging entrepreneur community of local accelerators, incubators, and angel investor networks. Of the $41 million of local angel investment in entrepreneurs, only $1.3 million was invested in entrepreneurs of color.

Team Lead: New Orleans Business Alliance

  • Create Capital from Customers
    A council of New Orleans’ private corporations and industry associations have committed to spending $232 million on contracts with entrepreneurs procurement needs of the participants. Raised a $6M Mobilization Fund to provide capital to companies granted contracts in order to give companies the capacity to fulfill larger commitments.

  • Entrepreneur Education Partnership
    Partnered with Tulane and Xavier universities to develop an education program for entrepreneurs who need additional training on sales and financial management. The first cohort of entrepreneurs are currently in the program.

  • CDFI Capital Consortium
    Worked with CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions) to create an innovative growth capital product with underwriting criteria and a loan-loss reserve that reduces risk and allows them to provide debt capital to entrepreneurs previously ineligible for CDFI loans. NOLA is also working on an equity capital product for high potential startups.

Albuquerque has a very nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem, but where frontier and space technology thrive around the region’s federal labs like Sandia and private space companies like Virgin Galactic. Despite a rich cultural landscape of Native and Latinx people, these sectors rarely see participation from entrepreneurs of color.

New Mexico is a state where there are more people of color than there are white people — a coming reality for the rest of the nation. Over 62% of New Mexico’s population is non-white and approximately 48% of the population is Latinx.

The rest of America is not far behind. If we can figure out how to support entrepreneurial growth in one of the first New Majority states, then we can begin to understand how to support inclusive entrepreneurial growth in an entire nation where people of color will soon be the majority.

Team Lead: Albuquerque Community Foundation

  • Entrepreneur Landscaping
    In Albuquerque’s young ecosystem, we first started by identifying founders and debunking the outsider’s myth of ‘no high-growth entrepreneurs of color in the ecosystem’. The team’s 1:1 outreach to founders discovered entrepreneurs of color leading businesses from pre-revenue startups to companies with millions of dollars in yearly revenue. Over half of those founders are Latinx and 20% are of Native or indigenous background.

  • E3
    On the back of this pipeline undertaking, ABQ then launched E3 – a quarterly event series that has been connecting entrepreneurs of color with the broader Albuquerque ecosystem and encouraging peer-led resource sharing among the region’s growing startups.

  • Loan & Equity Capital Vehicles
    ABQ challenged traditional methods of lending with the Nusenda Co-op Capital product that allowed member organizations to issue micro-loans to business partners. The pilot program made over $400,000 in loans with a delinquency rate of less than 1%. The Albuquerque team is continuing to create new capital products and has developed the structure for a new equity funding vehicle. Earlier sourcing will provide a deal flow pipeline for this capital product that invests in entrepreneurs of color.

San Francisco Bay Area is the mature startup ecosystem that others model themselves after and look toward for innovation. It is the place that birthed Uber, Google, and Salesforce, but it still hasn’t grocked how to create an ecosystem where entrepreneurs of color – specifically Black and Latinx entrepreneurs – have the same access to networks and capital that others do.

Today, you can build a great company anywhere. Many cities like New Orleans and Albuquerque will benefit from the expansion of opportunity beyond the coastal hubs of San Francisco/Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York City, but they still face an undersupply of capital that fits the needs of the high growth businesses that want to start there.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs of color are fleeing San Francisco and other Bay Area cities as a result of being priced out of both residential and commercial real estate markets and because the area often doesn’t meet their cultural needs.

Team Lead: 42Phi Ventures (San Francisco Bay Area)

  • Crowdfunding & Angel Investor Education
    In San Francisco, we wanted to go beyond venture capital, which has a long history of being inaccessible to Black and Latinx founders — especially at the earliest stages. We focused on educating professionals of color to create more angel investors and leveraging crowdfunding for people who have the capacity and interest in investing in entrepreneurs of color.

  • Housing Policy
    The skyrocketing cost of housing is the Bay Area’s biggest threat to its position as the nation’s innovation center and one of the biggest barriers to entrepreneurship for those who do not have a financial safety net. In the Bay Area, we are continuing to engage civic leaders on housing policy changes that will give qualifying entrepreneurs a financial buffer and access to more affordable housing supply.

  • General Contractor Education
    Related to San Francisco Bay Area’s technology and population boom, there has also been a tremendous increase in large-scale development projects. The development and construction industries also see disparities in firms owned by people of color having less access to high value (multi-million dollar) development projects either as prime or sub-prime contractors. We worked to address this with an education series that helped Black and LatinX construction firm owners navigate the complexities of public and private contracting opportunities and connect to more prime contract opportunities.

Philanthropy Working Together: Living Cities, Rockefeller, Surdna Partnership

Philanthropy isn’t always thought of as having a seat at the table of capital innovation, but it has an important role to play in lowering the barriers to economic opportunity.

Foundations and their endowments fund the venture and private equity funds that serve as the growth engine for innovation and new company development. As limited partners, this seat of influence can be both the carrot and the stick in encouraging and requiring the funds in which they invest to actively create a more inclusive table in both their investment partnership and the founders they invest in.

The collaborative efforts of philanthropic organizations can catalyze the creation of inclusive ecosystems and ensure that everyone has access to the resources to start and scale businesses that drive our nation’s innovation engine.

For (SU)3, three national philanthropic organizations came together to support these cities in laying the groundwork to evolve their entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Living Cities is a 28-year old collaborative of 18 foundations and financial institutions. Together, they are working to ensure that all people in U.S. cities are economically secure and can build wealth. To achieve this result, it is imperative that they address racial gaps in income and wealth and work with urgency to close them. Their institutions are committed to marshalling their resources to put racial equity and inclusion at the center of our entrepreneurial ecosystem-building efforts in (SU)3 cities in order to achieve greater results in income and wealth creation than is possible through our organizations’ separate efforts in these cities. There isn’t a blueprint to follow to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that puts founders of color at the center. But by leveraging existing relationships and networks, knowledge from grant programs and investments, communications platforms, and thought leadership from partners, they aim to provide a roadmap that leads to a national infrastructure that supports the start and growth people of color-founded businesses.

Rockefeller Foundation The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission — unchanged since 1913 — is to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today the Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations.

Surdna Foundation seeks to foster the creation of an inclusive and equitable economy in which people of color can maximize their potential as leaders, creators and innovators across sectors. Surdna believes that everyone’s economic well-being improves when all communities are empowered to participate on equal footing, and seeks an economy that truly works the same for everyone. Through strategic grantmaking, program-related investments, partnerships and field building, Surdna hopes to elevate communities of color across income and class.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Many cities are failing to benefit from the success and exponential impact on local innovation and wealth creation that high-growth founders of color can stimulate. Activating the relationships that make it possible for these entrepreneurs to succeed will increase the capacity of each city to build the entrepreneurial ecosystems necessary to meet the needs of founders of color and the ecosystem at large.

While we’ve wrapped up the (SU)3 cohort period, the work started in these three cities continues. They will continue supporting entrepreneurs, creating new capital structures that stand in the friends and family gap, and widening the path to early capital that allows local and national investors like me to discover and back the best entrepreneurs of color from their cities.

(SU)3’s successes and lessons learned around breaking down the barriers to capital, strengthening public policy, and expanding networks and technical assistance by this cohort will provide cities around the country with tested and adaptable approaches they can adopt to increase business dynamism, inclusion, and innovation in their own ecosystems.

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Using Data to Reduce Public Health Risk

Addressing the impact of heat on health is well-aligned with MCDPH’s vision and mission “to make healthy lives possible” by protecting and promoting the health and well-being of MC residents and visitors. The climate has significant impacts on our community’s health. Through extensive surveillance and community surveys, we have demonstrated the importance of local public health data to increase buy-in from new and existing partners and obtain funding to address this significant public health issue. We encourage other health departments to consider the power of data and collaboration as they seek methods for protecting the public’s health from a changing climate.

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This Conservative City Built a $132 Million Park Using One Weird Trick

In the early 1990s, a crisis of confidence—and urbanism—gripped Oklahoma City. Oklahoma’s capital wanted a bustling, active city center that would attract and retain large corporations and the people who would staff them. But the city had mostly been a luckless suitor. Foreshadowing the Amazon HQ2 cage match, in 1991, after a 21-month bidding war, United Airlines rejected Oklahoma City for a $1 billion dollar maintenance facility that instead went to Indianapolis, on the basis of its superior quality of life and urban amenities.

The city was “desperate,” says Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, a Republican. Land values were low, and there was no one downtown. “We realized we didn’t have any of the amenities of a great American city.” Even with a metropolitan population of over 1 million, Oklahoma City felt like it was punching below its weight. “We felt like America’s biggest small town,” says Holt.

The answer, in one of the most conservative states in the nation, was to raise taxes. Civic leaders developed the MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) program, a series of limited-time, one-cent sales taxes, which have brought in a total of more than $1.5 billion.

MAPS has paid for convention centers, sports arenas, transit, and more, with a strong emphasis on developing the city’s center. Its most recent achievement is the new Scissortail Park, named for Oklahoma’s state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher. Opened in late September, the park is a new civic front yard on the edge of downtown, framing views of the city’s skyline with its concert stage and broad lawn.

Young visitors play in a water feature at the park. The x-shaped Skydance Bridge and a row of “sky pillars” are visible at right. (Courtesy Doug Hoke)

“It’s an aspirational park, in that it’s the kind of amenity that people in Oklahoma City used to imagine only existing in other places,” says Holt. The $132 million park was designed by the landscape architects Hargreaves Associates. Mary Margaret Jones, a senior principal at Hargreaves, says that whatever the political orientation of her clients, “we’ve never found it hard to convince people that they want parks.”

As a gathering space in the heart of the city, Scissortail Park aims to find a large and diverse audience with a wide range of features and landscape types. Pedestrian and biking paths alternately curve or slice across it, though nearly everything orbits the park’s ovular great lawn and concert stage venue.

The park’s northern edge, bordering downtown Oklahoma City, is its most urban and connected, with a boulevard planted with lines of London planetrees. Along this edge is an entrance pavilion and café that marks the beginning of the park, designed with subtle references to the history of settlement and colonization in Oklahoma by Butzer Architects and Urbanism (who designed all of the park’s new buildings). The entrance pavilion’s 45-foot-high open-air tower is lined in red and orange metal panels and lit brilliantly, so that this crimson glow extends outside of its walls, like a hearth or campfire.

The café “lantern” at night. (Courtesy BAU)

“The image of the fires and gathering spots across a landscape seemed so relevant for a park in the midst of our city,” says Torrey Butzer, a partner at Butzer Architects and Urbanism. The original inspiration came from an 1889 quote from Harper’s Weekly. In “The Rush to Oklahoma,” William Willard Howard wrote, “At twilight the campfires of 10,000 people gleamed on the grassy slopes of the Cimarron Valley, where, the night before, the coyote, the gray wolf, and the deer had roamed undisturbed.”

The new buildings (the café, a performance stage, a boathouse, a play and picnic pavilion, and a multi-purpose shade pavilion) use low-key chromatic references to the Great Plains as well, with a champagne-colored metal that’s “the color of dust,” says Butzer. The hot and windy climate meant that the buildings are “as much about shade as they are about interior space,” says Jones; they deploy deep roof overhangs and low, broad profiles to block out wind and sun.

The eastern edge of the park hosts a promenade leading south, lined by native Shumard oaks, with 22-foot-high, luminous “sky pillars” by light artist James Carpenter. Further south, a pond offers paddle boating and plenty of shoreline.

To the south and west of the park are woodland gardens that are densely planted, more sylvan than civic; a “place for people to get lost,” says Jones. These areas are also home to one of the park’s most expressive landscape features: “lens gardens.” The lens gardens are slight depressions or mounds, about 40 feet in diameter. These are covered in themed plantings (cactus, grasses, perennials, sages) and adapted for several purposes, like stormwater retention or playscapes. With such clear artificial geometry, “we like to strike formal moves [that] are clearly discernible as manmade,” Jones says. “These perfect circles appeared within the field of ‘nature.’ [But] this is not nature. This is a made place. [It’s] form-giving to make a place memorable.”

View of the circular “lens gardens” and pond. (Courtesy Doug Hoke)

A dog park, picnic grounds, playgrounds, and more round out the park’s offerings. And this 36 acres is just the first segment of Scissortail Park to be unveiled. By 2021, Oklahoma City is planning to open a southern section of the park, to be connected over Interstate 40 at the existing park’s southern border via a pedestrian bridge, called the Skydance Bridge, also designed by Butzer Architects and Urbanism (with the consortium S-X-L) and completed in 2012. The upcoming park will feature more naturalistic plantings and sports fields, and together, the two halves will form a 70-acre park that stretches from the central business district to the banks of the Oklahoma River.

An overview map shows the recently completed northern portion of the park (foreground) linking to the future southern section and down to the Oklahoma River, via the Skydance Bridge, which spans Interstate 40. (Hargreaves Associates)

The linkage of downtown to the river via a park is the long-running manifestation of the Core to Shore plan, which Hans Butzer, a partner at Butzer Architects and Urbanism and dean of the architecture school at the University of Oklahoma, proposed more than a decade ago through a series of studio exercises focusing on Oklahoma City urbanism. Working with city planners, his students identified many of the key infrastructural revisions that would come to define the park space, setting up civic conversations that would encourage residents and leaders to “start to dream a bit,” says Hans Butzer.

One impediment was the previous location of Interstate 40, which cut off downtown from the rest of the city. It was relocated southward and bridged with Skydance, allowing the central business district to expand organically without having to hop over a freeway. “It was really an opportunity to build a new part of our downtown,” says Holt.

The upcoming section of the park will end at the Oklahoma River. Forty percent of residents live south of the river, but not a single mayor has come from this part of the city, says Holt. It’s less affluent and less white than the north side. “Decision-making and political power has favored the north side of Oklahoma City,” says Holt. “I think it’s really important that our city overcome that.” He hopes the park can pull people from disparate areas of the city together.

MAPS 3 (which funded the park) raised $777 million with a tax that ran from April 2010 to December 2017, slowly but surely providing debt-free financing for streetcar services, a convention center, streetscape projects, the park, and more. The MAPS program has an established record of investment in Oklahoma City’s civic center, but it’s not perfect. Sales taxes are regressive, meaning that they penalize poorer people more than affluent ones, because poorer people spend a larger percentage of their income. Asking voters to explicitly approve each tax doesn’t allow for a reliable funding source. And much (though not all) MAPS spending has been laser-focused on the city’s downtown.

But a wider test is coming for MAPS. In December, the city will ask voters to approve the largest MAPS package yet, $978 million dollars for what Holt calls “neighborhood and human needs.” This includes mental health services, homelessness, and domestic violence funding.

Scissortail Park is among MAPS’s most democratic offerings. It’s notable that Skydance Bridge was completed a full 7 years before the park, when the surrounding neighborhood was a disused warehouse district. Without the long track record of MAPS, it might have ended up as a literal bridge to nowhere, the kind that lawmakers enjoy lambasting as a feckless waste of public dollars. As Oklahoma City continues to invest money and resources into Scissortail Park, there’s reason to hope that, like the bridge, it creates more paths for investment to flow beyond the borders of downtown.

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