A morning roundup of the day’s news.
Tax attacks: Largely engineered by lawmakers from rural and Southern red states, the GOP tax bill creates a host of challenges for urban America, Politico notes, with the largest blow for high-tax, expensive cities coming from a new cap on state and local tax deductions. Other hits threaten historic preservation, commuting patterns, and charter schools, as city leaders across the country are steaming:
Local officials aren’t shy about blaming federal lawmakers for digging a budget hole and shifting national burdens onto them. That chafes [Picsataway, New Jersey, Mayor Brian] Wahler, whose city has a nearly perfect credit rating and whose residents pay a higher share of overall federal taxes than those in other parts of the country like the South.
But civic leaders from large cities in that region said they'll feel the pinch as well. Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, S.C., said he feels like he's being punished for doing something Congress hasn't been able to: balance its books. His city has finished with a budget surplus in five of the seven years he’s been in office, he said, doubled its reserves, had its credit rating increased twice, and its property tax rate remains at the same level it was a decade ago.
Seattle’s housing splurge: The city’s mayor is directing $100 million-plus toward affordable housing, including nine new apartment buildings and 26 homes available to first-time buyers. (Seattle Times)
2017 reflections: The Brookings Institution rounds up seven key takeaways for urban America from the past year, including the digital transformation of the workforce, “black cities matter,” and that there’s “no such thing as a federal infrastructure bill.”
Barcelona streets makeover: The Catalan capital is moving forward with plans to transform its downtown district into a network of “superblocks,” cutting off cars to liberate public space. But a pilot test has been controversial, with traffic snarls and business impacts, as the pro-car lobby resists the concept. (Urban Land)
HQ2 hint? Amazon recently registered a lobbyist with a Georgia ethics commission. Could that be a good sign for Atlanta’s prospects for hosting the retail giant’s $5 billion second headquarters? (Business Insider)
Urban planning’s sexism problem: A Next City op-ed calls for female leaders and change-makers to confront the dominance of male voices in the seminal texts and buzzwords of city planning, along with conferences rife with #manels (all-male panels).
The urban lens:
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