Also: D.C.’s heated battle over tipped workers, and what Republican mayors said at the climate summit.

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***

What We’re Following

Front facing: Last month, The New York Times explored a paradox of modern New York City: In “a city teeming with tourism and booming with development,” some 20 percent of storefronts go empty.

Do cities need rent control for businesses? New York is ready to tackle that question next month, as a city council committee considers a bill to address storefront vacancy, Crain’s New York reports. The measure would entitle compliant commercial tenants to a 10-year renewal of their lease. But Mayor Bill de Blasio has signaled his skepticism with the bill, which would force landlords into negotiations over their own property.

As Oscar Perry Abello writes in Next City, storefront vacancy is a problem that “you can’t go back to not noticing.” The gaps in the streetscape reveal the challenges that mom-and-pop shops face from soaring rent, competition from e-commerce, and gentrification. The question for cities is: What can be done to fix it?

CityLab context:

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

What’s at Stake in Washington’s Heated Battle Over Tipped Workers

Does paying tipped workers the minimum wage spell doom for the local restaurant industry, or dignity for its employees?

Sarah Holder

When Transit Agencies Spy on Riders

For months, the Bay Area’s transit agency sent license plate information to federal immigration authorities, violating its own “sanctuary” policy.

Tanvi Misra

‘Policing for Profit’ in Philadelphia Comes to an End

For decades, the city’s police department confiscated the property and cash of suspects—even those who were never convicted. No more.

Brentin Mock

Spotted at the Climate Summit: Republican Mayors

A smattering of GOP city leaders attended the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last week: “We have to move away from fossil fuels,” said one.

Liz Enochs

Mexico City’s Architects of Destruction

On the first anniversary of the Mexico City earthquake, an investigation explores how engineers, builders, and politicians failed to follow building codes—with deadly results.

Martha Pskowski


Terrible Thing to Waste

Bridgeport Rental & Oil Services, Bridgeport, New Jersey, 1986 (David Hanson)
Bridgeport Rental & Oil Services, Bridgeport, New Jersey, 1986 (David Hanson)

There are nearly 40,000 EPA-monitored toxic waste sites across the United States; nearly 900 are regulated under the agency’s Superfund program. These heavily contaminated industrial sites leave deep scars on the landscape, which photographer David Hanson documented in the late 1980s. His new book, Waste Land, shows 67 sites together to dramatic effect. Even 30 years later, not much has changed: Most Superfund sites remain dangerously polluted. Take a glimpse of America’s toxic wastelands on CityLab.


What We’re Reading

How connected is your community to elsewhere in America? (New York Times)

As Bird scooters take off in Detroit, one guy wants to make them free for kids (Detroit Free Press)

What would a truly walkable city look like (The Guardian)

Can money create a neighborhood? (Curbed)


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