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✊🏙 NYC L train shutdown canceled; Elizabeth Warren’s housing plan; Quebec childcare; Venice arrival tax; LA’s urban forests; & more!

January 6 · Issue #67 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Hey urbanists,
I hope the new year is treating you well. This week we’re looking at the reversal on New York City’s L train shutdown and how housing may finally be on the (federal) political agenda in the United States. There are also a bunch of other great reads at the end, including a look at subsidized childcare in Quebec, Venice’s new arrival tax, and the importance of LA’s urban forest.
Have a great Sunday!

New York City's L train shutdown is off
After three years of planning, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that, actually, the planned 15-month L train shutdown that was due to start in April wouldn’t actually be happening. Instead, the MTA will use a method never before tested in the United States to complete the repairs in 20 months during nights and weekends.
To come up with his plan, Cuomo consulted Elon Musk and other “out-of-the-box” thinkers, so needless to say people are skeptical. Eric Holthaus wrote of the plan in Grist that “little is known if the tunnel’s ability to weather future storms is being sacrificed for the convenience of L-train riders.” It seems as though long-term planning is being abandoned for a quick fix, leading Holthaus to make a damning conclusion: “Welcome to infrastructure planning in the era of rapid climate change.”
Andrew J. Hawkins 🚂🚇🚀
apparently Andrew Cuomo was inspired by non-existent technologies (flying cars) and unproven ones (autonomous vehicles) in deciding to cancel the L train shutdown
Now that the closure is off, the fate of the planned improvements to bus service and bike infrastructure seems uncertain. A number of council members were quick to speak out in favor of them after Cuomo made his announcement; it’s essential they’re implemented regardless of the closure, and especially with limited service on weekends.
Of course, NYC’s subway needs a lot more work that what needs to be done in the Canarsie Tunnel — not to mention how it also needs to start expanding again. Over at CityLab, John Surico lays out five ways to raise the necessary funds, and only the fifth is particularly unappealing.
Riders Alliance🚇
The governor's plan may or may not work, but you'll pardon transit riders for being skeptical that a last-minute Hail Mary idea cooked up over Christmas is better than what the MTA came up with over three years of extensive public input.
Housing crisis on the political agenda?
With Sen. Elizabeth Warren jumping into the 2020 presidential race, people are wondering if housing is to be a major political issue going forward, given the plan she announced in December. Patrick Sisson writes in Curbed that housing is becoming a bigger political issue and ballot measures on the issue did well in 2018, while Kriston Capps writes in CityLab about the racial justice aspect of Warren’s plan. Some have compared it to reparations for redlining, but it targets the redlined census tracts, not the people who were affected by the practice.
However, the need for action on housing policy won’t wait until 2020. Rachel Kaufman writes for Next City about some of the issues that could be on the agenda in 2019, including further privatization of public housing. But the most pressing issue involves the ongoing government shutdown — something I don’t believe happens anywhere else in the world — during which time low-income tenants in public housing or relying on subsidies are in a dire situation that could get much worse the longer it drags on.
Angie Schmitt
Smarter urban planning -- basically building places where people can walk to destinations -- is part of the answer to so many pressing problems we have today:

--Climate change
--Social/economic exclusion
Other great reads
💶 Venice will start charging day trippers an arrival tax of up to €10 to help with cleanup of trash they leave behind
🗳 Ballot initiatives are helping West-coast US cities expand and improve their transit systems while those of East-coast cities are crippled
🌳 LA doesn’t do enough to maintain its urban forest; that needs to change since healthy trees could help mitigate the effects of climate change
🎭 London’s West End theaters are renovating to add more women’s toilets
🔥 Devastation caused by wildfires in Paradise, California was not inevitable, but the result of terrible planning: “the destruction was utterly predictable, and the community’s struggles to deal with the fire were the result of lessons forgotten and warnings ignored.”
🇱🇧 An international expo site designed by Oscar Niemeyer in Tripoli, Lebanon was abandoned when civil war broke out in the 1970s. A new push is being made to restore it.
🇬🇧 London’s nightlife is suffering as clubs keep closing; could Berlin provide a model to make it thrive once again?
🚲 Not even being mayor can protect you from cars: San Jose mayor hit by car while biking and sent to hospital
🏨 Massachusetts will require Airbnb hosts to register their properties and will tax short-term rentals at 5.7% hotel tax rate
🚼 Quebec’s subsidized childcare program has resulted in the province having a workforce participation rate among women aged 26 to 44 of 85% — the highest in the world — and it paid for itself through higher tax revenues and fewer families on social benefits
Aymara-led architecture in Bolivia. Click image for more examples on Twitter.
Aymara-led architecture in Bolivia. Click image for more examples on Twitter.
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading. You can follow me on TwitterMedium, or Instagram for even more!
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