Airbnb Ate Up 10% Of NYC’s Available Rentals In 2015


“Airbnb hosts in New York City who take advantage of the platform by illegally renting out entire apartments for at least three months each year took about 10% of the city’s available rentals off of the market in 2015, according to a report out this week from a duo of affordable housing nonprofits.

‘Airbnb’s own data demonstrates that the illegal short term listings of residential units on its site exacerbate the acute affordable housing crisis that plagues our city,’ said Marti Weithman, a supervising attorney for MFY Legal Services…This week’s report also found that more than half of 2015 Airbnb listings, about 56%, violated the Multiple-Dwelling Law, which prohibits New Yorkers from renting out entire apartments for under 30 days at a time if the tenant on the lease is not present. This finding is in line with Airbnb’s own December 2015 data dump.

At the neighborhood level, the report shows that impact listings are concentrated in Manhattan and Brooklyn, from 599 in the East Village to 105 in Fort Greene. The table below shows what percentage of potential rentals in these neighborhoods were lost to Airbnb. In Crown Heights, for example, Airbnb hosts allegedly withheld 12% of available rentals.

‘Landlords will displace long-term families, only to operate illegal rentals or hotels,’ said Crown Heights Tenant Union organizing director Kerri White in a statement. ‘Today’s report proves what we know from our experience in the neighborhood to be true.’

On the Abolition of the Police

“I’ve said this before: there is no justice where there are dead black people. I’ll continue saying it, because if we’re satisfied with charges and potential prison time, we’ve missed the entire point of #BlackLivesMatter. This isn’t about getting ‘better’ police, ones who exercise discretion in using force, but getting away from ‘needing’ police altogether.
In 1966, James Baldwin wrote for The Nation: ‘…the police are simply the hired enemies of this population. They are present to keep the Negro in his place and to protect white business interests, and they have no other function.’ This remains as true today as it was in 1966, only now we have bought into the myth of police ‘serving and protecting’ wholesale. What do you do with an institution whose core function is the control and elimination of black people specifically, and people of color and the poor more broadly?
You abolish it…
When I say, ‘abolish the police,’ I’m usually asked what I would have us replace them with. My answer is always full social, economic, and political equality, but that’s not what’s actually being asked. What people mean is ‘who is going to protect us?’ Who protects us now? If you’re white and well-off, perhaps the police protect you. The rest of us, not so much. What use do I have for an institution that routinely kills people who look like me, and make it so I’m afraid to walk out of my home?”

Criminalizing the Hustle: Policing Poor People’s Survival Strategies from Eric Garner to Alton Sterling

“‘Over the past few decades cities have turned to policing to fulfill two functions: to surveil and discipline black populations hardest hit by economic shifts and to collect revenue in the form of fines,’ emails Lester Spence, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and the author of ‘Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics.’ ‘The black men most likely to be left out of the formal economy — who have to engage in various illegal hustles to make ends meet — are far more likely to suffer from police violence than other black men.’…
The contemporary era of policing and mass incarceration emerged precisely to confront black people with limited or no access to formal work. As the sociologist Loïc Wacquant puts it, ‘in the wake of the race riots of the 1960s, the police, courts, and prison have been deployed to contain the urban dislocations wrought by economic deregulation and the implosion of the ghetto as ethnoracial container, and to impose the discipline of insecure employment at the bottom of the polarizing class structure.’

“What Works for Men Doesn’t Work for Everyone” – Gender and City Planning


“I bet you’ve never thought about snow clearing as a gendered issue. Neither had city officials in Karlskoga, in Sweden. ‘The community development staff made jokes about how at least snow is something the gender people won’t get involved in,’ explained Bruno Rudström, one of the city’s gender equality strategists.

But on reflection, they realised that even something as seemingly neutral as snow-clearing, actually could have a markedly different impact on men and women, due to the gender split in travel style. Women are more likely than men to walk, bike, and use public transport, whereas men are more likely to drive. By prioritising clearing the roads, the city was prioritising the way men choose to travel, despite the fact that walking or pushing a stroller though 10cm of snow is much harder than driving a car through it.

So the city changed the order of snow-clearing to focus on the pavements and cycle paths first, particularly around schools. As an unexpected by-product, it found a marked decrease in injuries: pedestrians are three times as likely as motorists to be injured in accidents due to slippery conditions.

Parks are another area you might not immediately think of as gendered spaces – but a study in Vienna found that, after the age of nine, there was a dramatic decline in the number of girls using them. The reason behind this decline was not that girls stopped liking the parks: rather, if they had to compete with boys for space, they tended to lose, because they were less assertive.

In response, the city redesigned the parks to include a variety of courts to encourage different activities. It also divided large open areas into smaller semi-enclosed spaces. The effect was dramatic, and almost immediate: now that they didn’t have to share the same space as the boys, the girls returned. A small change, but an effective one.

There are a number of other hidden ways in which cities can exclude women – for example, the traditional ‘human scale’ for buildings as advocated by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, where human meant a 6 foot male. But the number one way in which women are let down in city planning is through a lack of safety, which in turn can impede women’s access to work, a social life, housing and transportation.

“Unequal Scenes” Portrays Scenes of Inequality in South Africa From the Air

“Discrepancies in how people live are sometimes hard to see from the ground. The beauty of being able to fly is to see things from a new perspective – to see things as they really are. Looking straight down from a height of several hundred meters, incredible scenes of inequality emerge. Some communities have been expressly designed with separation in mind, and some have grown more or less organically.
During apartheid, segregation of urban spaces was instituted as policy. Roads, rivers, ‘buffer zones’ of empty land, and other barriers were constructed and modified to keep people separate. 22 years after the end of apartheid, many of these barriers, and the inequalities they have engendered, still exist. Oftentimes, communities of extreme wealth and privilege will exist just meters from squalid conditions and shack dwellings.
Thanks to Aimi H. for the link!

River Revives After Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History


“In August 2014, workers completed the largest dam removal project in U.S. history, as the final part of the 210-foot-high (64-meter-high) Glines Canyon Dam was dismantled on the Elwha River in northwestern Washington State.

The multistage project began in 2011 with the blessing of the U.S. National Park Service, which administers the surrounding Olympic National Park. The goal was to remove unneeded, outdated dams and restore a natural river system, with presumed benefits for fish and other wildlife.

Pierre Bourdieu’s Photographs of Wartime Algeria


“If you know the work of Pierre Bourdieu, you probably know it as sociology, or perhaps philosophy. Whatever you call the discipline he worked in, the man remained thoroughgoingly concerned with the dynamics of power in every context. This interest extended even to his artistic endeavors, such as the photographs he took in Algeria in the late 1950s and early 60s, when he worked in that country as a university lecturer. The time and place of the Algerian War would have given anyone plenty to document, visually or otherwise, but it proved, for obvious reasons, an especially rich intellectual ground for a Frenchman thinking about power dynamics. Columbia University Press recently assembled the fruits of Bourdieu’s labors with open eyes and ready camera into the collection ‘Picturing Algeria,’ which they’ve spent a week examining on their blog. The photos in this post come from a post of theirs featuring a few selections from the book. ‘Bourdieu’s photography offers a sympathetic and insightful portrait of a country and a people,’ they write there, ‘who were ostensibly the enemies of France.’ Another post offers sociologist and London School of Economics and Political Science Director Craig Calhoun’s introduction to Picturing Algeria, in which he describes the book’s photographs as ‘neither the completely naïve snapshots of a newcomer nor products of a fully formed sociologist or anthropologist.‘”