Today, Airbnb is revealing a new division tasked with inventing new futures for the company, called Samara. Airbnb is also unveiling Samara’s first project: a communal housing project designed to revitalize a small town in Japan. That model isn’t meant to be a one-off. After this project, Airbnb will look to scale it to other declining small towns across the world. The idea is that Airbnb could become a force not only in sharing homes, but in urban planning. — FastCo.Design
To help ease California’s housing crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers are turning to people’s backyards.
Multiple bills with the endorsement of Brown are moving through the Legislature to make it easier for homeowners to build small units on their properties, whether in their garages, as additions to existing homes or as new, freestanding structures.
[Mayor] Eric Garcetti and other supporters hope the relaxed rules will spur backyard home building to combat a housing shortage.. — Los Angeles Times
Sidewalk Labs, a secretive subsidiary of Alphabet, wants to radically overhaul public parking and transportation in American cities, emails and documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.
Its high-tech services, which it calls “new superpowers to extend access and mobility”, could make it easier to drive and park in cities and create hybrid public/private transit options that rely heavily on ride-share services such as Uber. — the Guardian
Although the game was simulating an environment from 1989, urban planners these days still run into problems trying to get officials to think about their city in the long run. Climate change and sea level rise is a very crystalline example of the way city officials get in their own way and set themselves up for larger obstacles later on [...]
Playing SimCity 2000 nowadays is a strange but wonderful way to realize what defines a city is not what it currently is, but what it could be. — inverse.com
I’m not so critical about New York, because they have this very firm grid-pattern. Even the newer buildings are lined up on good streets. If you stand in front of the Empire State Building, you can’t really guess how tall it is, because it meets the street in a friendly way. [...] It’s not so important how high the building is, or how much it looks like a perfume bottle, it’s more important how it interacts with the city. — commonedge.org
There would be homes and industry surrounded by trees, hills and lakes. Above all, there would be no prejudice, poverty or slums, according to a Soul City brochure...Despite its name, Soul City was never intended to be an all-black town, but rather, a multi-racial community built and managed by black people.
[But] Portions of the area resemble a ghost town, rotting – or perhaps waiting. Could Soul City ever be resurrected? — The Guardian
Outdoor air pollution has grown 8% globally in the past five years, with billions of people around the world now exposed to dangerous air, according to new data from more than 3,000 cities compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
While all regions are affected, fast-growing cities in the Middle East, south-east Asia and the western Pacific are the most impacted with many showing pollution levels at five to 10 times above WHO recommended levels. — The Guardian
She would ask us to look at the consequences of these sub-economies for the city – for its people, its neighbourhoods, and the visual orders involved...Talking with Jacobs, it became clear that community battles were, for her, simply part of a wider inquiry as she sought to better understand, and develop concepts for, the role of cities in the economy. — The Guardian
“I believe it’s important for all ages to interact on a day to day basis. It...hopefully removes the labelling of people as ‘elderly’ or ‘past it’ and the self-fulfilling behaviours that are often generated by this.”
“Cities need cross-generational activities...People living alone of whatever age can become isolated, lonely and then mental health problems can develop.”
“Teach young people that we are not going to move over, nor do we have to.” — The Guardian
A religious organization sued the city of San Francisco to remove an open-air urinal from a popular park that it calls unsanitary and indecent.
The Chinese Christian Union of SF filed a civil complaint last week demanding the city remove the concrete circular urinal from iconic Dolores Park.
The group says the urinal, which is out in the open and screened only with plants for privacy, "emanates offensive odors," ''has no hand-washing facilities" and "it's offensive to manners and morals." — AP
Facing a potentially bruising ballot fight over real estate development next year, Los Angeles' political leaders announced Wednesday that they will seek a sweeping update of the plans that govern the size and density of new buildings that go up in scores of neighborhoods.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and several council members said they want the Planning Department to revise nearly three dozen “community plans” by 2026, a task that will require the hiring of 28 new employees at a cost of $4.2M a year. — latimes.com
Everything from sidewalks and curbs to streets, building designs, urban layouts, and living patterns will change as computers take the wheel.
“We’re looking at the broader urban effects—and urban opportunities—of this technology,” says Illinois Tech architect Marshall Brown, one of the team members in the Chicago school’s Driverless Cities Project. “It’s in the news a lot, but nobody’s been discussing what it will actually do to cities.” — wired.com
The thorny task of comparing crime rates across the world is tricky because legal interpretations vary. Sweden's definition of rape is not the same as America’s, for example. Murder however should be easier to record because there is an identifiable victim, something that can be counted. But the way in which this is done in poorer, often more corrupt countries makes truly comparable statistics hard to pin down. Where there are inefficient public health systems or police, it is even harder. — the Economist
The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2016 is conferred on Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia after the capital Bogotá.
Having overcome challenges of uncontrolled urban expansion and years of violence due to social inequalities, Medellín has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past two decades. Through bold leadership, long-term plans and social innovation, the city’s leaders have tackled its most pressing issues and improved the economy... — Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
This got us thinking about what it takes to build an ideal town: should pubs be on every residential corner or on the high street? How many trendy coffee shops are too many? Are libraries still a thing? We didn't have the answers to any of those questions, so we spoke to Matt Richards – a planner at property consultancy Bidwells – to find out what makes the perfect town. — VICE
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