Will these voters' decisions stand? John Minchillo/AP

Also today: Is transit doomed in the U.S.? Discuss. And Europe’s capitals keep getting richer and younger.

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What We’re Following

Democracy how? City officials are used to getting overruled on matters of policy by state and federal lawmakers. But there's another trend on the horizon: City councils overruling their own residents on ballot initiatives that voters approved.

This played out dramatically in a recent Washington, D.C. incident. Just a few months after D.C. residents passed a referendum to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, the city council voted to repeal it. That reversal may seem unfathomable, but it’s legal almost anywhere these kinds of ballot measures give U.S. voters a direct voice on policy. Many lawmakers defend the process as a necessary check on bad decisions, but the risk is clear: Those same constituents can boot them out of office. CityLab’s Sarah Holder reports on where it’s legal to reverse the vote of the people.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Europe’s Capital Cities Keep Getting Richer and Younger

Other areas, not so much.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Is Transit Doomed in the U.S.? Discuss.

Two rival pundits face off over federal funding, the transit “death spiral,” and where all the riders have gone.

Andrew Small

Climate Change Might Be Bad for Your Mental Health, Too

Average monthly highs above 86 degrees Fahrenheit increase the probability of mental-health issues, a new study finds.

Nicole Javorsky

The Concrete of Hong Kong

What happens when you take the paint and neon out of the megacity? Pascal Greco’s stark photos reveal a harshly built environment.

Karim Doumar

The ‘Cafes’ Where Women Go to Breastfeed

Come for the free lactation consultation. Stay for the fellow moms.

Rebecca Bellan


Make Like a Tree

(Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

For us CityLab staffers in the Northeast U.S., today felt like the first day of fall. It’s a great time bust out the flannel, drink some warm apple cider, and take a brisk walk in the breezy streets. But just as the city quiets down, a whirring, noxious drone that sounds to be part-dirt bike, part-vacuum cleaner, and might as well be part-bagpipe disrupts any notion of peace. What fresh hell is this? It’s your neighbor’s leaf blower.

In this classic take, CityLab’s David Dudley details why you have every reason to be angry about these obsolete noise- and air- polluting blowhards. How many times must we tell you to buy a rake? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind: Here’s The Case Against Leaf Blowers.

What We’re Reading

A map of every building in the United States—and what these cityscapes can show us (New York Times)

London is kicking cars off half its roads (Fast Company)

Amazon ponies up more for warehouse workers after blowback (Bloomberg)

New York pilots a program that turns scaffoldings into art canvases (Next City)

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