Unappreciated Robots; Online Sales Tax; and Rethinking Jacobs: Urban Insights From Around The Web

INSIGHTS :  May. 6, 2016

Highlighting the week’s interesting, important and downright weird news about cities.

White picket fence

Highlighting the week’s interesting, important and downright weird news about cities.

While the Urban Edge strives to provide readers with daily news and insights about urban policy, we’re also voracious readers of city news ourselves. As part of a new weekly feature, Senior Editor Ryan Holeywell highlights the week’s most interesting articles from around the web about urban policy and city life.

Billions Are Being Invested in a Robot That Americans Don't Want


As the biggest firms in the automotive and tech fields spend massively on developing autonomous vehicles, they may have overlooked one key factor: survey after survey shows Americans aren't eager to embrace the technology, Bloomberg reports. "In a survey released last week, J.D. Power found that just 23 percent of Baby Boomers would trust self-driving technology," Bloomberg wrote. "Acceptance improves with younger cohorts, but it’s not overwhelming. Less than half of Gen Xers (41 percent) would trust robot cars, while 56 percent of Gen Y and 55 percent of Gen Z are comfortable with the concept."

How Your Parents Affect Your Chances of Buying a Home

Image via Jim Bauer. Image via Jim Bauer.

The biggest obstacle to homeownership for many Americans is the down payment required on a first house, and unsurprisingly, a new paper finds that those who can tap the "Bank of Mom and Dad" have a huge leg up over their peers, the Washington Post's Wonkblog reports. What is more surprising is that this practice is linked to racial disparity in homeownership for young adults, even when controlling for other factors.

In South Dakota, a Test Case for Online Sales Taxes

Image via flickr/Mike Mozart. Image via flickr/Mike Mozart.

South Dakota lawmakers might have intentionally goaded online retailers into filing a lawsuit over online sales taxes. The state passed a law that officials knew would be challenged by retailers by levying sales taxes on Internet purchases and saying retailers had to comply by May 1. Now, seemingly all parties -- both the government and the companies -- are hoping the litigation goes to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to bring clarity to the issue once and for all, Governing reports.

The Importance of Aging in Place

Image via flickr/Jonas Boni. Image via flickr/Jonas Boni.

An estimated 90 percent of Americans age 65 or older plan on staying in their current homes as they age, the New York Times reports, even though for many of them, their homes face obstacles like stairs that will make this a challenge. In many communities, volunteers are working to outfit homes with things like wider doorways that accommodate walkers; walk-in showers; and lever-style doorknobs.

Happy 100th birthday, Jane Jacobs! It's time to stop deifying your ideas about cities

Image via flickr/Steve Santore. Image via flickr/Steve Santore.

Jane Jacobs is revered by urban planners, but maybe it's time to rethink her legacy, a Slate columnist writes. The column notes that Jacobs' beloved Greenwich Village is today a playground for the wealthy. Though she had long warned the community was poised for transition, Peter Moskowitz writes, urban planners and governments have always focused more on her message about walkability and quality-of-life than her message about the importance of affordable and public housing.

Ryan Holeywell


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