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✊🏙 Boring Company wins Chicago bid 🚇 Amazon defeats Seattle tax to help homeless 😡 and much more!

Hey urbanists, I'm trying a new format to dive a bit deeper into a couple of topics that dominated he
June 17 · Issue #38 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Hey urbanists,
I’m trying a new format to dive a bit deeper into a couple of topics that dominated headlines this week, then provide the links to other interesting reads at the end, as you’ve come to expect.
I hope you like it, and have a great Sunday!

Boring Company wins Chicago airport link
Elon Musk’s Boring Company won a bid to build a 17-mile link from Chicago O'Hare airport to downtown for less than $1 billion. It’s good that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel isn’t giving him any public money, because there’s no way it gets built at that price.
  • Musk wants construction to start in 3-4 months and for it to be operational in 18-24 months. That seems overly optimistic given the necessary regulatory and environmental approvals.
  • Yonak Freemark estimates the two stations will cost $100 million each, a maintenance facility will cost $50 million, and the 61 vehicles will cost $500,000 each, leaving $713 million for tunnels—or $42 million per mile.
  • How does that compare to other projects? Alon Levy has pegged the lowest-cost underground rail in the US between $600 million to $900 million per mile, and NYC’s Second Ave Subway cost $2.6 billion per mile. The lowest costs internationally were about $100 million per mile, though are typically $200 million to $500 million per mile.
In other words, don’t count on this project being built on budget or on time, and don’t be surprised if its scope changes as time goes on. Musk has a record of overpromising and underdelivering—a problem which could bring down Tesla.
Yonah Freemark
I'm not saying it's impossible to build this Chicago tunnel. I'm just suggesting that it faces a number of significant difficulties. The idea that *this* will be the project that is massively cheaper to build than all recent similar tunnels seems delusional. /end
Seattle repeals tax to fund homeless support
In May, Seattle passed a head tax on companies earning more than $20 million to have them contribute $275 per employee to fund $47 million for affordable housing and programs to help the soaring homeless population—the original proposal was $540 per employee to raise $75 million until Amazon threatened to cancel development of a new office tower. Earlier this week, city council repealed the tax after intense lobbying by Amazon and other companies with no new source of funding.
  • Amazon made a $3.03 billion profit in 2017. It would have paid $12 million for Seattle’s head tax—or less than 0.4% of its 2017 profit.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. His net worth is estimated to be $140 billion—$40 billion of which he gained in the past five months. He gains about $230,000 every minute, enough to pay the $12 million in less than 3.5 hours. For comparison, the average Amazon employee makes $28,446 per year, or what Bezos makes in 10 seconds.
  • Amazon’s growth in Seattle, and the accompanying influx of tech workers, has caused rents and home prices to soar—13.5% in 2017 alone. Seattle’s homeless population is now the third-largest in the US, even though Seattle is the 18th-largest city, and more than half are without shelter.
  • 169 homeless people died in Seattle in 2017, more than double the number of deaths six years ago.
Dae Shik Kim Hawkins Jr.
I hope the country is watching what is happening here in Seattle around the #headtax. Housing/Homeless advocates are NOT fighting Republicans for funding. We are fighting liberal Dems that are beholden to corporate dollars from companies like Amazon. We need to learn from this.
More great reads
🇬🇧 Thousands attended a silent march to remember those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire one year ago
🏚 NYC pledges $2 billion to public housing after federal investigation reveals deplorable conditions and housing authority’s attempts to cover them up
🇨🇦 Canadian federal government with give more money with fewer restrictions to cities to address homelessness—but is it enough?
🇨🇱 Santiago, Chile, which has the largest metro system in South America, will build two new lines and extend a third
📚 Public libraries in Canada’s large cities ranked best in the world
📱 Silicon Valley’s transit ideas “imply the upward redistribution of the benefits of public subsidy
🥐 New campaign seeks UNESCO recognition for Paris bistros to protect them from soaring rents
🌇 Denver’s new neighborhood plan would increase density in the downtown and promote transit use instead of driving
🚗 GM details training and protocols for their Cruise autonomous vehicle test drivers
📈 If it wasn’t already obvious, UCLA confirms higher rents and house prices increase homelessness
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading, and feel free to follow me on Twitter, Medium, or Instagram for even more!
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