Also: Why isn’t L.A.’s transit tax working? And it’s a weird time to be a thrift store.

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What We’re Following

Now That’s What I Call Populism, Vol. 2010: America’s current image of populism tends to graft on to the urban-rural divide. In that image, a movement fueled by the anger of the white working class—comprising the base that of support that sent Donald Trump to the White House—looked like an outgrowth of left-behind places. But populist movements can indeed take hold in diverse, progressive, urban areas. For proof, just look to Toronto.

A new study revisits the tenure of former mayor Rob Ford, digging in to the ways he turned key social issues—particularly toward feminism and the LGBTQ community—into a divide that pitted the city’s outlying areas against the “downtown elites.” It goes to show that the politics of fear and perceived economic and cultural threats can carry the day in an urban setting, too. In Trump’s case, it’s immigration, but in Toronto, it was fears of gentrification and the erosion of “traditional values” that gave Ford a target as he campaigned for office. CityLab’s Richard Florida writes on why “superstar cities are not immune to a brand of urban populism.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Los Angeles Passed a Historic Transit Tax. Why Isn’t It Working?

Voters who supported L.A.’s Measure M may like transit, but they don’t seem to want a city that’s built for it.

Laura Bliss

Remembering Atlantic City’s Black History and Segregated Past

After the Great Migration, black residents in the Northside neighborhood duplicated businesses that excluded African Americans, creating a thriving environment.

Carson Bear

The ‘Marie Kondo Effect’ Comes at a Weird Time for Thrift Stores

Netflix’s hit show has everyone tidying up, but that's not the only reason second-hand stores are being flooded with donations.

Sarah Holder

Paris Will Make Public Transportation Free For Kids

In a plan to help families and reduce car usage, anyone under 11 years old will be able to ride metro and buses for free, as will people with disabilities under 20.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Mapping the Chicago Neighborhoods Most at Risk From Pollution

New research on municipal pollution may help organizers push for more equitable policy.

Sophie Yeo


Netflix and Burn

As we head into a long weekend, many of you might have the same plans we do: watching one of the two new documentaries on the ill-fated Fyre Festival of 2017. No matter if you pick Netflix’s Fyre or Hulu’s Fyre Fraud, either telling of the story of a wannabe-Woodstock on an island will pin some blame on Millennial culture. But the concert’s disastrous failure was also an exercise in ignoring the basics of urban planning, as CityLab wrote in 2017:

The logistical challenges involved in housing, feeding, and attending to the bodily functions of hundreds of thousands of festival-goers are often beyond the capacities of those who organize these events. These are, after all, essentially pop-up cities, often sited in impractically remote locations and architected by young visionaries with little feel for such infrastructural necessities as toilets, transportation, and tents. Fyre co-founder McFarland appears now to understand this, somewhat belatedly. “We were a little bit ambitious,” he told Rolling Stone. “There wasn't water or sewage. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing.”

Yeah—almost! Indeed, some of the most memorable moments in festival-debacle history offer would-be organizers lessons that city leaders know all too well.

Take notes, Woodstock 50! And read: What Urban Planners Could Have Taught the Fyre Festival


What We’re Reading

Portland’s land rush for new Opportunity Zone tax breaks (Bloomberg)

Taxis in New York brace for battle over a $2.50 surcharge (New York Times)

Cities are tucking climate change fixes into new laws (Wired)

D.C.’s Metro says it’s losing $400,000 a day during the shutdown (Washington Post)

Biking is rising fast during the Seattle Viaduct closure (Streetsblog)


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