Also: What I learned by working as a mail carrier, and how zoning decisions change when black lawmakers get elected.

What We’re Following

California soul: Who should pay for a city’s homelessness crisis? It’s a question San Francisco will have to answer this November. A new ballot initiative, if approved, would nearly double the city’s spending on homeless shelters, paying for it through a small tax increase on businesses. The proposal falls in line with plans in other California cities, including Google’s hometown of Mountain View, and Apple’s Cupertino. It’s no coincidence that efforts are becoming more apparent in cities with large tech presences, as rapid economic growth couples with rising inequality.

The San Francisco initiative comes just a few weeks after Seattle’s rapid U-turn on a tax aimed at fighting homelessness; the city walked back the new tax after outcry from companies like Amazon and Starbucks. But with a more modest tax—and less of a “company town” political vibe—the Golden City might have better shot of addressing its longstanding problem of homelessness. CityLab’s Sarah Holder reports on how California cities are angling to make big business pay for affordable housing.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Man of Letters

What I learned about America, and myself, working as a mail carrier.

Stephen Meyers

When Black Lawmakers Get Elected, Zoning Decisions Change

Bias in land use decisions is difficult to measure, but new research in Durham reveals that race has been a significant factor.

Andrew H. Whittemore

Don’t Enact a ‘Lazy’ Ride-Hailing Tax

A former mayor of Portland, Oregon, outlines what a smart ride-hailing tax looks like for American cities.

Sam Adams

Just How Bad Is the European Heat Wave?

As fatal wildfires ravage the Athens region, Northern European cities are broiling in record-breaking summer heat.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Scientists Decry the Border Wall’s Harm to Wildlife

More than 2,500 scientists have co-signed a paper describing the “significant” harm to wildlife posed by infrastructure on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Nicole Javorsky


For Whom the Ride Hails

Charts show where ride-hailing trips happen by size of US city
(Schaller Consulting)

Over the last six years, ride-hailing has added 5.7 billion vehicle miles traveled on the streets of the nine largest urban areas in the United States, The Washington Post reports. That statistic comes from a new study by transportation consultant Bruce Schaller, which finds that even shared options like UberPool and Lyft Line are contributing to increased road congestion. The charts above compare the share of ride-hailing trips in U.S. metropolitan areas to their overall population. In 2017, nine cities—New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington—accounted for 1.2 billion trips, or 70 percent of ride-hailing trips nationally, while having just 23 percent of the total U.S. population.

CityLab context: Ride-hailing means more cars, more trips, and more miles


What We’re Reading

Cash is a miracle. So why are businesses refusing it? (Slate)

Electric scooters and e-bikes might not just be for young adults (Morning Consult)

As red light enforcement winds down, red-light runners are killing more Americans (Streetsblog)

The case for building $1,500 parks (Fast Company)

11 things to know about living in a sanctuary state (California Sunday)


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