Cities across the country have been cracking down on Airbnb and homeowners who rent through the service but may be playing fast and loose with the rules: from enacting city laws and creating offices to enforce said regulations, to ordering the company to pay millions of dollars in hotel taxes and levying fines against those who provide accommodations through the site. The latest such case comes out of San Diego where a woman was recently ordered to pay $15,000 for renting rooms in her home in violation of city laws. [More]
Sales taxes are variable from place to place and very visible, and they’re visible day-to-day as we dig in our pockets for change to pay a coffee tab of $3.14. Starting next year, Chicago will have the highest sales tax in the country, with state, county and city taxes adding up to 10.25%. [More]
The hot trend in big-box stores is now small-box stores. First, tiny Walmarts proliferated across the country, and now Target is joining the mini urban store boom by expanding its TargetExpress brand into more markets. Target has announced fifteen planned store openings for the coming year, and nine of them are the tiny-format TargetExpress. [More]
People tend to under-report food poisoning: generally, we don’t visit the doctor for a small digestive disturbance or report our illness to the local health department unless it happens to be part of a widely-publicized outbreak. What if there were another way to learn about these outbreaks, though? What if health departments could use Yelp? [More]
In its continuing quest to become a caricature of outsiders’ clichés , the city of Portland, Oregon has decided to stop investing in Walmart. Wait, Portland invests in Walmart? Yes, just under 3% of the city’s portfolio consists of Walmart bonds, the last of which will mature in 2016. The city’s total Walmart holdings were $36 million. [More]
Airbnb is a site that lets people rent rooms or entire apartments or houses, directly from the homeowner or renter. It has proven popular with travelers, but less popular with landlords, the hotel industry, and local governments. Why do local governments care? Airbnb rentals aren’t subject to sales and hotel changes. In some cities, that’s about to change. [More]
A shopping center in Yonkers, N.Y. (yep, Consumerist’s global headquarters) didn’t think that it was doing anything wrong when it set up its own parking meters along the private streets on its property. Customers fed them. You park next to a meter, you feed it, right? Park Ridge has collected money and even issued its own parking tickets since the spring of 2011. The problem, of course, is that the city of Yonkers is the only entity with the authority to issue parking tickets and run meters. According to city officials, the shopping center’s developer kept collecting meter money and ticketing non-payers even after the City Council asked them to stop. [More]
Know what American retail needs? More receipt checks. DCist reports that a Washington, D.C. Safeway store has traded uniformed security guards posted at the door for plainclothes Walmart-style greeters who politely block shoppers from exiting until their receipts are checked. There’s an almost literal escape hatch, though: for now, tipsters say that there are no receipt checkers posted at the exit to the parking garage. [More]
Remember the Downtown Dollars that Ardmore, PA sold to its citizens this year? Sara Lepro at American Banker looked at that and other “homegrown currency” experiments happening across the country, which are intended to stimulate the local economy and take advantage of “a growing ‘localism’ movement.” [More]
The new trend in government cost-cutting involves disbanding the police department, says the WSJ. The paper has an article about Maywood, a tiny city southeast of Los Angeles. The city lost its insurance after its carrier decided to cancel its policy “because of the $21 million in legal expenses and judgments against the city stemming from the conduct of its police department.” This means that Maywood can’t employ anyone. [More]
Kiplinger has put together a list of 10 cities that it says are primed to be great places to build a career and enjoy your life at the same time. Even better: the magazine didn’t put the list in a slideshow format, so you can read the entire thing on one page! Austin and Seattle take top spots, but there are some less predictable choices on there as well; how about Burlington, VT or Topeka, KS? [More]
The awesome narrative non-fiction writer Lee Sandlin has posted online for the first time ever his 54-page 1984 essay “The Road To Nowhere – On Suburbia, the Interstates, and the National Defense: A Confession.” It’s full of little gems like how interstates plowing through poor neighborhoods were justified in part because their increased light would reduce crime and their concrete barriers would serve as excellent firebreaks in the event of nuclear war.
The Road to Nowhere [Lee Sandlin]
If you live in Chicago, New York City, or Philadelphia, expect to start hearing some noise about Walmart in the coming months. The retailer has announced that it’s going to “step up efforts to mobilize local political support” so that it can finally open stores in those cities, reports the Financial Times.
HomegrownEvolution.com is sort of a simplified Instructables for people interested in “mead making, beer brewing, bread baking, urban poultry raising, container planting, pirate gardening, foraging, pickling,” and more, according to Cool Tools. We have a feeling “pirate gardening” isn’t as fun as it sounds.
The National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo have put together an index of the most and least affordable metro areas. The index was created by calculating what percentage of a city’s residents making the median income can afford a house in that city.
BusinessWeek asks, assuming that we keep sliding down into an official recession, where are the best places to live? They’ve pulled data from PolicyMap.com and the U.S. Census to make some educated guesses about local economies that will be least damaged by a large-scale downturn. They reason that no matter how the national economy fares, there will always be government jobs and a need for health care; higher education institutes provide a cushion for local economies, too.