Also: How France keeps English out of public life, and a city planner rethinks the public meeting.

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What We’re Following

Backdoor plan: On Monday, the Trump administration will introduce a new rule making it harder for people to bring discrimination complaints under the Fair Housing Act. The proposal from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would reverse Obama-era rules and raise the burden of proof for parties claiming discrimination through “disparate impact,” a civil rights legal theory that allows challenges to policies that have an adverse affect on minorities without explicit discrimination.

The new HUD rule also carves out unprecedented guidance for the automated decision-making tools that power the housing market. It outlines new defenses for landlords, lenders, and others accused of discrimination, shielding their use of third-party algorithms that measure credit risk, home insurance, mortgage interest rates, and more. But critics say the loophole could essentially build an industry backdoor to bias in housing. CityLab’s Kriston Capps has the story: How HUD Could Dismantle a Pillar of Civil Rights Law

Andrew Small

Editor’s note: This section of Thursday’s newsletter included a broken link! You can read Laura Bliss’s “The Ocean Can't Claim the Rockaways Yet” here.


More on CityLab

How France Tries to Keep English Out of Public Life

France has a long history of using official institutions to protect the French language from outside influence. Still, English keeps working its way in.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Between Texas and Mexico, a Restless Border Defies the Map

In El Paso, we call it the Rio Grande; our neighbors in Juárez know it as Río Bravo. It’s supposed to be a national border, but the river had its own ideas.

Nicole Antebi

A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

Sarah Holder

Boston Saved $5 Million by Routing School Buses with an Algorithm

With 25,000 students and the nation’s highest transportation costs, the Boston Public School District needed a better way to get kids to class.

Emma Coleman

Why Speed Kills Cities

U.S. cities are dropping urban speed limits in an effort to boost safety and lower crash rates. But the benefits of less-rapid urban mobility don’t end there.  

Andrew Small


So You Like Long Walks...

(Madison McVeigh/CityLab)

For a lot of folks, a week at the seashore means an escape from the city. Even the rallying cries of French anarchists (“Beneath the paving stones, the beach!”) found the promise of untamed shores useful as a relaxing foil to the urban grind. The beach is where the water meets the city, washing up the first signs of change that are bound to end up on land soon.

To that end, we’ve been basking in the mid-August wonder that is Beach Week. With stories about a lack of affordable housing on a tony island, an oceanfront neighborhood weathering the waves of climate change and gentrification, a beach bum innovation in bikes, and how to survive a shark attack in your mayoral election, we’re sure to have a few beach reads for you. See the CityLab Beach Week series here.


What We’re Reading

Is a recession coming? Here’s what that means for housing (Curbed)

Have developers found a gentler way to gentrify? (New York Times)

Mexico City’s rain-harvesting could change how cities manage water (Next City)

Higher prices threaten Silicon Valley’s micromobility revolution (Time)

Why Route 66 became America’s most famous road (Vox)


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