Thursday, May 30, 2024
Urban Planning

YouLam No. 1 – Jan. 28, 2020 Handbuilt News Digest

Exciting things are afoot around this globe, as I’m sure you well know, dear reader. This series will be a new, brief digest of the news you need to know. I get a little bit tired of the parking lots, one of my longtime readers confessed to me this weekend.

The idea of YouLam is an admittedly esoteric pun on GluLam— the idea of a composite news digest, similar to the idea of a composite construction material.


Toronto, Ontario, faced with mounting public deficits, has started going after decades-delinquent parking tickets. They’ve hired debt collectors to achieve this. Some violators didn’t even remember the incident in question– from, like, 1999. Seems prudent, right?

Across the river from Detroit, Windsor, Ontario just passed a heavily contested tax increase. The 2.1% tax increase was far larger than the city had originally proposed. But as the third small tax increase after an eight-year freeze, this works out to a decennialized increase of 0.43% per year. Yep, austerity is great! It’s possible that they might want to consider ways to densify the downtown parkingscape as part of a strategy to rectify stagnant municipal revenues. I’m just saying.

Farther north, Thunder Bay, Ontario is struggling with questions about the future of economic development. One new cultural initiative draws attention to points of cultural interest and the natural environment through Lake Superior lighthouses. I may wait til the warmer months. But it sounds neat.

Detroit, it turns out, has overtaxed its homeowners by $600 million! Wow! Good thing all of that corporate welfare to Brother Gilbert, the Ilitches, and the Moroun Clan is trickling down, huh?

A frozen Lake Huron. (March 2015).


San Francisco wants to pedestrianize Market Street. The “Ban Cars” crew can’t wait. Across the Bay, entrepreneurs in Oakland have engaged a novel form of regulatory arbitrage to open new cannabis dispensaries. Ready for it? They’re incorporating as churches. Hosanna in the highest! Indeed!


New York’s Hudson Yards, that monument to global corporate power will not, after all, have a wall to keep out the poors. This was cold comfort until, of course, I saw comic Connor O’Malley’s world class parody, Hudson Yards: The Video Game. Which made everything all better.

Inside some ridiculously fancy, taxpayer-funded building at Hudson Yards. January 2020.


The Wuhan coronavirus has infected thousands with a 2-4% mortality rate. It’s a nasty bug. Almost all of the nearly 5,000 infections have been in China so far. But cases continue to crop up in North America and elsewhere. Is it actually worse than the flu? Influenza kills several hundred thousand people every year. SARS and MERS were also pretty bad. The argument that yes, it is worse, is basically that a novel virus is far less predictable than the common flu.

In the mean time, I just spent a few days at home, much of it at Lancaster General Hospital By The University of Pennsylvania™ to visit with the old man, who is dealing with an ongoing, congenital heart problem that mysteriously went 70 years before being diagnosed. OG Penn, in Philly, was at 106% capacity for several days, a doctor told me, while LGH was only around 103%. Good thing we don’t have socialized medicine, huh? The capitalist free market is working fine! Oh, wait– those over-capacity numbers aren’t actually any better than in Canada.

Got an exciting story from your neck of the woods?

Let us know. Tweet: @handbuiltcity @nzorach

Nat Zorach

Nat M. Zorach, AICP is a city planner, community development professional, and MBA candidate at American University's Kogod School of Business, based in Detroit.

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