Also: How I. M. Pei and Boston made each other, and flying cars are real.

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What We’re Following

Street fight: Is Uber a transportation company or just an app that connects riders with drivers? That distinction has big consequences for deciding who regulates the company, and how they do it. While many local, state, and national governments around the world have grappled with this question, in Buenos Aires, it’s a battle that’s playing out in the streets.

Uber asserts that it is a “connecting app,” rather than a taxi operation, but the Argentinian government disagrees. It says drivers are operating illegally and subject to steep fines if caught. Drivers, as a result, prefer cash payments and pick up passengers discreetly. Some have even faced attacks from taxi vigilantes called “Uber hunters.” Meanwhile, the government is demanding unpaid taxes from Uber and hindering credit card payments to the company. “When Uber is legal, maybe they’ll reclaim this debt,” one Uber driver in the country tells CityLab. “But I don’t think Uber cares. Why? Because Buenos Aires—Argentina—we’re a little town to them. Nothing. Zero. Uber doesn’t care because it has the whole world.” Today on CityLab: The Dangerous Standoff Between Uber and Buenos Aires

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

A Glimpse of an Unbuilt ‘Pei Plan’

The late architect and planner had some very big ideas for Oklahoma City in the 1960s. But the final result wasn’t exactly what he had in mind.

Mark Byrnes

Flying Cars Are Real—And They’re Not Bad for the Climate

They might even be greener than electric ones.

Robinson Meyer

Boston Is an I. M. Pei City

Boston was where I. M. Pei produced work that would come to define the city and cement his own reputation as one of the world’s most evocative architects.

Chris Grimley

The California Legislature Is Getting Played by Micromobility Companies

If the California legislature passes AB 1112, cities can’t require companies like Bird, Lime, and Jump to limit numbers, meet equity goals, or fully share data.

David Zipper

Having a Library or Cafe Down the Block Could Change Your Life

Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government.

Daniel Cox and Ryan Streeter


Cash Cab

“They sell us medallions, and they knew it wasn’t worth price. They knew,” said Wael Ghobrayal, 42, an Egyptian immigrant who bought a medallion at a city auction for $890,000 and now cannot make his loan payments and support his three children.

“They lost nothing. I lost everything,” he said.

The New York Times has the first two parts of its 10-month-long investigation into New York City’s taxi medallion bubble. How these permits rose to a value of $1 million before crashing in late 2014 looks a lot like the 2008 housing crisis: A confluence of reckless lending practices and a lack of regulation across state and city agencies led to cheerleading medallions as a vehicle for long-term investment that left thousands drivers with loans they couldn’t afford to pay. The city, meanwhile, earned more than $855 million from medallions under the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations. Read part 1 and part 2 of the New York Times investigation.

CityLab context: Taxi driver suicides are a warning to us all


What We’re Reading

The suburbs are coming to a city near you (New York Times)

This town didn’t want to be a radioactive waste dump. It has no choice. (Earther)

Why racial disparities in asthma are an urban planning problem (Next City)

Podcast: Sound and health in cities (99 Percent Invisible)


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About the Author

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