Also today: The case for a suburban HQ2, and does America have a caste system?

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What We’re Following

All aboard: Late last year, The New York Times published a bombshell story about the record-breaking expenses for New York’s Second Avenue Subway tunnels—an investigation spurred by construction costs that Alon Levy blogged about back in 2011. But this sticker shock isn’t just a New York affliction, as Levy writes for CityLab: The problem looks all-too-American when you compare the cost of U.S. transit projects to other cities in Europe and Asia.

Whatever happened to predictability? San Francisco has had three mayors in six weeks, after Ed Lee passed away in December. The most recent change laid bare the tensions of tech money, race, and politics in the Bay City. CityLab’s Alastair Boone and Ben Schneider explain what, exactly, is going on.

ICE on the road: The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is planning to use a nationwide license plate recognition system that would allow it to query billions of license plate records and use real-time location tracking tools, The Verge reports. Three things to keep in mind as this news develops:

  1. License plate readers have spread nationwide to local police departments and disproportionately capture images in low-income neighborhoods.

  2. Sprawling metros and suburbs have more immigrants making ends meet in a car-centric culture.

  3. Cities have been developing digital sanctuary policies as federal immigration enforcement takes more aggressive steps towards data-collection and surveillance.

CityLab Daily is written by Andrew Small. Tell us what’s on your mind at hello@citylab.com, and consider forwarding this newsletter to a friend!


More on CityLab

The Case for Putting HQ2 in the Suburbs

If it’s built on the urban fringe, HQ2 doesn’t have to be an inward-looking campus marooned in sprawl. It could be the mother of all suburban retrofits.

Amanda Kolson Hurley

The Incredibly Cheap Street Fix That Saves Lives

Say it with me: Leading pedestrian intervals.

Laura Bliss

Does America Have a Caste System?

Many Americans would be appalled to think that caste might exist in the supposedly meritocratic U.S. But is the country’s persistent, entrenched inequality really so different?

Subramanian Shankar

Homes Are a Language of Self-Expression in Queens

Photographer and architect Rafael Herrin-Ferri explores the borough’s expressive architecture.

Teresa Mathew

How Long Beach Is Trying to Cool Down

Temperatures have soared in the Southern California city in recent years, but taming them presents its own set of challenges.

Lucy Sherriff


Weekend Reading

An abandoned home in Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana.
An abandoned home in Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, where the population has dwindled to 99 people. (Michael Isaac Stein)

Don’t miss our story on Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, home of “America’s first climate refugees.” This town, southwest of New Orleans, has lost nearly all of its land to sea level rise, and it’s connected to the mainland by a single two-lane road that frequently floods. A first-of-its-kind climate resettlement project is helping the town’s 99 remaining residents pack up and move their entire community to a nearby town.

Also: If you liked the color chart of the world’s metro lines we featured in yesterday’s newsletter, check out this great interactive version that breaks it down by system.


What We’re Reading

Ranking Amazon’s shortlist (Wall Street Journal)

New York’s endangered economic miracle (Bloomberg)

Trump’s leaked infrastructure plan favors rich cities and neighborhoods (Quartz)

The history of traveling while black—and why fear still lingers (Washington Post)

The best drone photos of cities on Instagram (The Guardian)


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