Train Strikes, Airbnb, Homogeneity: What’s Ruining Our Cities This Week

Train Strikes, Airbnb, Homogeneity: What’s Ruining Our Cities This Week

A train strike has paralysed France, Airbnb has screwed San Francisco’s housing market, a lack of diversity has wrecked Austin, and two Southern California mayors screwed up, in two very different ways. It’s our joyously optimistic look at What’s Ruining Our Cities!

A train strike is ruining France

Called the worst strike in 13 years, a massive train strike across France has lasted 12 days and counting. Half of the TGV trains are cancelled on most days, plus about two-thirds of commuter trains in Paris. Two big unions are looking for reform in their own industries, but some say the strike is also commentary on the way the country is going as a whole, with France’s government proposing austerity measures. Plus, people were furious because the strike dared to interrupt an important philosophical exam for French high school students. It’s all a little too existential. [The Economist]

Airbnb is really ruining San Francisco’s housing market

It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what’s ruining San Francisco when people like to blame the city’s problems on everything from tech buses to height restrictions. But here’s some particularly damning evidence that Airbnb is royally screwing up housing for the Bay Area. According to Valleywag: “Among nearly 5000 listings, two-thirds were entire houses or apartments where the host would not be present,” which not only goes against Airbnb’s whole homeowner-driven vibe, it also proves that these people are purchasing property for the express purpose of renting them out on Airbnb, borking real estate values. [Valleywag]

A lack of diversity is ruining Austin

“White flight” is the term for describing how well-to-do Caucasians fled their downtowns in the 60s and 70s, a trend that’s seen a reversal in the last few years as urban areas become more racially and socially diverse. Except in Austin, Texas, which seeing almost completely the opposite thing happen, says Vice: “Right now, Austin stands as the only fast-growing city in the country that’s actually losing people of colour.” Although many residents proudly proclaim to “Keep Austin Weird,” years of housing and economic policies may actually be keeping Austin segregated. [Vice]

Southern California mayors are ruining society

We’re not talking Rob Ford-level crack-smoking, but two California mayors managed to piss off their constituents in very different ways. First, in the city of San Marino, outside LA, Mayor Dennis Kneier was captured on video tossing a bag of dog poo on his neighbour’s yard. After it went viral, he resigned. Across town, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti caught controversy when he praised the Kings like this at their Stanley Cup celebration: “They say in politics you should never, ever be caught with a drink in your hand, and you should never swear, but this is a big f**king day.” Although the majority of Angelenos loved the foul-mouthed crack, others were taken aghast. To his critics, Garcetti said: Lighten up. [KPCC, LAT]

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