Also: Cities can’t build their way out of inequality, and unpacking Bill de Blasio’s SUV habit.

What We’re Following

What a trip: Yesterday it looked like Denver voters had rejected a ballot initiative to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms (and we reported as much in this space). As the final votes were tallied, however, Initiative 301 appears to have passed by a razor-thin margin. With 50.5 percent of votes cast in favor, the narrow victory is once again putting Colorado’s capital at the center of a national debate on drug policy.

While the ballot measure doesn’t legalize psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” it directs the city to make law enforcement of the drug its lowest priority. That approach follows the marijuana legalization playbook that made Denver a leader in cannabis reform in the mid-2000s. Now, opponents are asking if their city is taking another step toward becoming “the drug capital of the world.” The man behind the campaign, however, says he envisions a more modest future for mushrooms compared to recreational pot. Read the updated story: Denver Votes to Decriminalize Magic Mushrooms

Baltimore readers: A reminder to join us Thursday, May 16, for our live event with the local storytelling series “The Stoop” at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. We hope you’ll come and invite your friends for stories, food trucks, and live bluegrass. Purchase tickets here, and use the discount code CITYLAB to save $5.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Cities Can’t Build Their Way Out of Inequality

A new analysis finds that liberalizing zoning rules and building more won’t solve the urban affordability crisis, and could exacerbate it.  

Richard Florida

Bill de Blasio's SUV Habit Is Something American Voters Can Relate To

Inside New York City, the mayor's insistence on driving to the gym is maddening. But national voters would probably give him a pass.

Laura Bliss

How Does Toxic Stress Affect Low-Income and Black Children?

Traumatic childhood experiences can harm children’s ability to learn reading, writing, and math, according to a new report.

K.A. Dilday

The Technology That Could Transform Congestion Pricing

As cities like New York move ahead with plans to charge motorists to enter certain urban areas, we need to think about the best ways to manage road tolling.

Robin Chase

The Push to ‘Predict’ Police Shootings

Tracking officers’ stress exposure and body-camera practices could help keep them from pulling the trigger.

Sidney Fussell


Down to a Fine Art

Roy Lichtenstein’s Mermaid, with part of a new mural visible behind it. (Robin Hill)

Art plays an unmistakable role in the life and economy of the Miami area. Miami Beach unveiled its first public artwork—Mermaid by Roy Lichtenstein—in 1979. The nation’s largest art fair, Art Basel, arrived in 2002, cementing the city’s bond with art and the wealth that follows it.

Now, as the Miami Beach Convention Center completes a massive makeover, the final touch is an impressive program of public art—featuring a sculpture garden, multicolored murals, and other works. The $7 million budget for the Art in Public Places program may be small by art-world standards, but it represents a major investment from the municipal coffers. Such a big spend anchors greater Miami’s reputation as a city that takes fine art seriously. Today on CityLab: Why Miami Beach Spent Big on Public Art


What We’re Reading

Liberal America’s single-family hypocrisy (The Nation)

The rise in global obesity is happening faster in rural areas than in urban ones (NPR)

Knotweed in my backyard: An invasive plant can’t be killed, but can it be stopped? (Slate)

Offering child care at city meetings may be key to diversifying civic engagement (Next City)

The art of noticing: five ways to experience a city differently (The Guardian)


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