Also: More research indicates that gun control works, and London makes it more expensive to drive older cars.

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What We’re Following

Here we come: California’s housing crisis is stark. By one estimate, the state needs about 3.5 million homes to meet demand, and the median home price is over a half-million dollars. That’s why Senate Bill 50, drafted by State Senator Scott Wiener, has a sense of urgency. It proposes a rewrite on zoning laws that have long blocked new housing construction; currently, it’s illegal to building anything but single-family housing in about 80 percent of California’s residential neighborhoods.

“Unfortunately, however, the housing crisis isn’t just about math,” CityLab’s Laura Bliss writes. “These politics probe deep into fundamental emotional concepts about ownership, sovereignty, and identity.” As a result, California housing politics has made for strange bedfellows, with people from some of the country’s richest suburbs fighting alongside rent-strained neighborhoods to oppose SB 50. But the concerns make sense when you consider how development affects each group’s self-interest, whether that’s increasing property values or preventing displacement. Laura was on the scene in Sacramento as the bill cleared its first hurdle in the legislature. Read her story: Why SB50’s Strange Opposition Makes Perfect Sense

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

The United States Needs a Universal System to Pay for Public Transit

Why doesn’t the United States have a national system for transit payment? In some countries, a single travel card works to ride any train, bus, subway or tram.

David Zipper

The 3 Gun-Control Laws That Work Best in the U.S.

States with stricter gun-control laws have fewer homicides, especially when they’re used in combination, according to a new study.

Richard Florida and Nicole Javorsky

London Puts a High Price on Driving Older, Polluting Cars

A new Ultra Low Emissions Zone is expected to affect more than 60,000 vehicles on the streets of central London—and it’s just the start of something much bigger.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Can Artist Theaster Gates Help Bridge a Town-Gown Divide?

A school at the University of Chicago is opening itself up to the South Side through public policy and architecture, with help from Theaster Gates.

Zach Mortice

Why France’s Former Prime Minister Wants to Be a Mayor in Spain

Manuel Valls is running for office in Barcelona, where his trumpeting of European values has gained little traction in the face of everyday politics.

Rachel Donadio


Electric Avenue

Emma Jacobs/CityLab

Long before New York piloted Nissan Leaf cabs in 2013, there were all-electric taxi fleets on the city’s streets. In 1896, a battery-powered car called the Electrobat was created by a pair of inventors in Philiadelphia. In New York, it beat out the horse-drawn cabs during some bad winters and competed seriously against gas- and steam-powered vehicles. Electric fleets spread all over the world for a few decades. Eventually, though, they ran into trouble, with maintenance cutting into profits and the Texas oil boom making gasoline-powered cars cheaper. Today on CityLab, visual storyteller Emma Jacobs shares an illustrated history of the electric taxi.


What We’re Reading

Open-streets festivals are good practice for congestion pricing (Curbed)

How the Appalachian Trail was a project in regional planning (Places Journal)

Recycling isn’t about the planet. It’s about profit. (Slate)

Motel 6 to pay $12 million after improperly giving guest lists to ICE (NPR)

Democratic candidates visited 115 cities across 20 states in one month (New York Times)


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About the Author

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