Also: Berlin’s take on a high-end smart city, and remembering the city boosters of the 19th century.

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What We’re Following

Troubled waters: As climate change threatens heavier rainfalls and worse flooding in urban areas, many cities are getting serious about their climate action plans. But when basements flood, residents tend to place their blame on the city, not the climate. That’s what researcher Christine Carmichael found as she surveyed flood victims in Detroit: Residents told her the flooding was caused by what the government wasn’t doing, like fixing the drainage or modernizing the sewer system. Sometimes the government even blamed the floods on homeowners.

This happened as the city poured millions into climate mitigation projects like rain gardens and solar arrays. As residents stared at the water flooding their backyards, Carmichael found they were skeptical of those efforts because they didn’t trust the officials who said they wanted to solve the crisis. The research points to the ways climate plans can suffer if cities haven’t dealt with the infrastructure problems that are already afflicting residents regularly. CityLab’s Brentin Mock reports: Why Flood Victims Blame Their City, Not the Climate

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Remembering the ‘City Boosters’ of 19th-Century Journalism

Before economic-development agencies existed in America, some journalists amassed reams of data and published thousands of pages to promote their home cities.

Carl Abbott

Berlin's Take on a High-Tech ‘Smart City’ Could Be Different

The German company Siemens is launching an ambitious adaptive reuse project to revitalize its historic corporate campus, with a modern data-collecting twist.

Cathrin Schaer

The Homestead Child Detention Center Closed. Fight Plans to Reopen It

Activists in Florida shut down the nation’s largest detention center for children with migration complications. The Trump administration wants to reopen it.

Kristin Kumpf

Donald Trump Knows How to End Homelessness

As a real-estate developer, he repeatedly argued that building adequate housing requires federal subsidies. As president, he’s forgotten that.

David A. Graham

Six U.S. Cities Make the List of Most Surveilled Places in the World

Atlanta and Chicago top the list of U.S. cities that are watching their citizens with security cameras, but China leads the world when it comes to official surveillance.

Emma Coleman


Rough Numbers

(Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

In yesterday’s newsletter, we shared the news about nearly 60 mayors and former mayors endorsing South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg’s candidacy for president. Last night on the Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a gut check on that number. “Sixty mayors! Wow, that’s a lot... or not very many?” he asked. “Depends on what the total number of mayors is!” Well, Colbert’s team looked into it and found that in the United States, there are somewhere between 1,400 and 20,000 mayors, “if you count honorary animal mayors.”

From the CityLab archives: Meet San Francisco’s Newest Mayor, Who is a Dog


What We’re Reading

Trump wants San Francisco to get an environmental violation for homelessness (New York Times)

Ten trends that will shape real estate in 2020 (Curbed)

Chicago city council announces a package of reforms to parking fines and fees (ProPublica)

Just in time for Park(ing) Day: A blueprint for equitable parklets (Next City)

How Bill de Blasio’s absence left city council in charge (City and State)


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