TIME cities

New York City Just Froze Rent on One-Year Leases for the First Time Ever

Move comes after report shows renters struggling while landlord incomes grow

For the first time in its 46-year history, New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board voted on June 29 to freeze rent on one-year leases and to limit two-year lease increases to a comparatively low 2%. The freeze applies to leases on rent-stabilized apartments beginning in October.

The vote came after the board, which regulates rent for more than 1 million such apartments, released a report in April showing that while landlords’ incomes have grown for nine consecutive years, renters in stabilized housing have experienced both unchanged income and rising housing costs, the New York Times reports.

However, Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, an organization for landlords, said the outcome is ultimately negative and that “landlords will now have to forgo repairing, maintaining and preserving their apartments, which will trigger the deterioration of quality, affordable housing.”

A 2014 housing survey conducted by the city showed that the median rent-to-income ratio was nearly 34% and that a third of rental households paid more than half of their income in rent.

New York’s move comes as San Francisco grapples with imposing a construction moratorium in its Mission neighborhood to give the city a chance to purchase property for affordable housing. New York placed third behind San Francisco and Atlanta in speed of rising rents for 2014, and the city has periodically fielded calls for stricter rent control during this decade’s tech boom.


TIME cities

Charleston Bans Protests at Funerals of Church Shooting Victims

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is seen after a mass shooting five days that killed nine people, on June 22, 2015.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is seen after a mass shooting five days that killed nine people, on June 22, 2015.

New ordinance places restrictions on potential picketers

The Charleston City Council has unanimously passed a temporary ordinance that bans protests or picketing at funerals in advance of services this week for the nine people slain at a historic black church.

The ordinance passed Tuesday evening states that no one may protest or picket within 300 feet of a church or other building holding a funeral, memorial or burial for one hour before and one hour after the service.

Mayor Joe Riley said at the meeting that police recommended the ordinance after receiving information that a group may want to protest at one of the funerals.

Police Chief Gregory Mullen declined to say what group or groups may want to protest. He said the information about protests wasn’t related to the Confederate flag debate.

TIME Innovation

How the Maker Movement Could Reinvent Baltimore

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. How Baltimore’s vacant industrial buildings can spawn a new maker movement.

By Anthony Flint in CityLab

2. “How is it possible…not to think that we have witnessed a lynching?”

By David Remnick in the New Yorker

3. The in-house think tank for Congress costs taxpayers millions every year. Make its reports accessible to all.

By the editorial board of the New York Times

4. This game helps citizens understand the cost — and tradeoffs — of running a city.

By Jay Cassano in Fast Co.Exist

5. Can we afford to let Russia bail out Greece?

By David Francis in Foreign Policy

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.


Rachel Dolezal Breaks Silence: ‘I Identify as Black’

"This is not some freak, Birth of a Nation blackface performance"

Rachel Dolezal has spoken out about the “complexity” of her identity for the first time since news broke that she had been masquerading as a black woman despite her white roots.

In an interview on NBC’s Today Show, the former leader of Spokane’s NAACP said she identifies as black and has for a long time. “This is not some freak, Birth of a Nation blackface performance,” she said. “This is on a real connected level how I’ve had to go there with the experience.”

Dolezal says she has few regrets in regard to interviews she’s done over the years where she hasn’t been particularly clear about her race or “racial identity,” but ultimately she wouldn’t do anything differently.

“My life has been one of survival,” Dolezal said on Tuesday. ” The decisions I’ve made along the way, including my identification, have been to survive.”

Dolezal’s appearance and story have spurred controversy in the days since her parents told news reporters that she is Caucasian, not African-American, as she’s been telling people over the past several years.

But the activist said she had identified as black since she was about five years old. “I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon,” she said.

Amid the backlash, Dolezal also lost her post as a part-time professor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. The Smoking Gun reported she had once sued Howard University, a historically black institution, for discriminating against her because she was white.

And on Monday, Dolezal resigned as the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. In a Facebook post, the 37-year-old said despite stepping down she would “never stop fighting for human rights.”

“This is not about me,” she wrote. “It’s about justice. This is not me quitting; this is a continuum.”

TIME cities

Some Liquor Stores Damaged in Baltimore Riots Denied Recovery Aid

Alex Wong—Getty Images Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake speaks during a news conference in front of the burned CVS in the Sandtown neighborhood May 7, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.

They've been told to relocate or sell healthier items

Almost two dozen liquor stores that sustained damage in the Baltimore riots following the late-April funeral of Freddie Gray will not receive city recovery aid, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Monday, unless they pick up and move or start selling healthier items.

Acknowledging that the city’s decision involving 23 liquor stores was based on their noncompliance with a zoning ban on alcohol sales, the Baltimore Sun reports, she used the time to urge the impacted stores to rethink their sales identity. “I have a great amount of sympathy for those stores that have been damaged, and we want them to rebuild,” she said. “We want them to reopen. But with all the grants and the loan programs that we have available we have a unique opportunity for these nonconforming liquor stores to convert into uses that can uplift our community.”

Out of 40 liquor stores damaged in the rioting—of 400 businesses overall—these 23 are in residential neighborhoods where the sale of alcohol is banned, having been grandfathered in under an older system. Those in commercial areas will receive city aid, but ones that aren’t will not. (The state does not have a similar restriction and is offering interest-free loans up to $35,000.)

The city’s health commissioner joined Rawlings-Blake for the remarks in Park Heights, a neighborhood heavy with liquor stores, as did Sharon Green Middleton, the City Councilwoman who represents that area. “Crime and grime is around liquor stores,” Middleton said. “So if they’re not going to work with the community, and change, they need to go.”

Read more at The Baltimore Sun

TIME cities

This New Jersey Beach Town Closed Because It Was Out of Room

Sandy Second Summer-Pollution Flights
Wayne Parry/AP This July 11, 2014 aerial photo shows the Shark River Inlet in Belmar, N.J.

Belmar closed off all roads leading into town

One New Jersey town couldn’t handle the heat this weekend.

The mayor of Belmar announced via Twitter at 3 p.m. Sunday that the 1.6-mile beach town was effectively closed because it had “reached its capacity.”

“Belmar has reached it capacity and we are shutting down all traffic into town from Route 35 effective immediately,” Matt Doherty said.

All roads into the town were blocked off, although full-time residents could bypass the closures by showing their license. After an unprecedented influx of visitors, Doherty consulted the police department and decided to stop any more people from entering for public safety reasons, NJ.com reports.

Belmar’s population during the year is only 6,000, but it soars to more than 60,000 in the summer months. Sunday was what Doherty called a “perfect storm of good things,” with the town hosting the 29th annual New Jersey Seafood Festival under sunny skies. The festival drew 200,000 visitors over the course of the weekend.

The Route 35 entrances to Belmar reopened at 7 p.m. Sunday night.

MONEY Millennials

Do Millennials Really Want to Live in Cities?

MONEY's Millennials discuss whether urban living is really what they want for the rest of their lives.

Not necessarily. Census data shows more young people are leaving cities than are moving into them. Millennial homeownership is up from 28% to 32%, but millennials recognize it’s an expensive but life-enriching experience to live in a city. We agree it’s great to live in a city before you have a spouse and children, when you can really take advantage of a city’s culture, but those things — like a strong nightlife and good bodega — lose importance when you start having kids. Things like good neighborhoods with good schools take their place.

Read next: What Everyone Gets Wrong About Millennials and Home Buying

MONEY Startups

Google’s Sidewalk Labs Could Ease Cities’ Growing Pains

As more and more people move into cities, Google wants to make urban areas more efficient places to live.

Google’s new startup Sidewalk Labs is trying to help cities ease growing pains as more and more people leave the suburbs and rural areas to move to major metro areas like Austin, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; and Phoenix, Ariz. Former NYC deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff is leading the startup. Google already runs apps designed to simplify urban living, like Google Maps and Waze. The U.N. estimates 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2030.


Boston’s City Hall Is Getting Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

“Today marks a historic moment in Boston,” Mayor Martin Walsh said

Employees and visitors of Boston’s City Hall will be able to use gender-neutral bathrooms in the building.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh signed an executive order on Thursday to immediately establish the restrooms on the fifth floor, outside Walsh’s office and the City Council chamber. In a statement, the city said Boston was among the first City Halls to do so in New England.

“Boston thrives on diversity, and is an inclusive city,” Walsh said in the statement. “This change will foster a safe and welcoming environment for employees and visitors, and will go a long way as we continue to work towards improving the lives of those who love and call Boston home.”

And following up the statement with a tweet, he called himself #WickedProud to make this happen.

Read next: States Battle Over Bathroom Access for Transgender People

MONEY Sports

This Is Probably Why Boston Doesn’t Want to Host the Olympics

Travelpix Ltd—Getty Images Boston's Faneuil hall, cafes and Quincy market.

Half of Massachusetts doesn't want to host.

In early 2015, not long after Boston was selected as the U.S. Olympic Committee’s bid to potentially host the 2024 summer games, a poll indicated that locals were kind of meh about the prospect. In a survey by Boston NPR station WBUR, nearly half (48%) of Bostonians said they were “excited” about the possibility that their city could host the Olympics. Still, 43% said they were not excited.

When the issue was phrased slightly differently, 50% of Boston residents surveyed said they “support” the city hosting the Olympics, while 33% said they “oppose” them.

So while the locals may not be quite as excited as the Olympic Committee might have hoped, at least the people want to host, right? Maybe not. In the latest survey from WBUR—this one statewide rather than being limited to the Boston area—only 39% are in favor of the city playing host to the games. Slightly less than half (49%) of Massachusetts residents are opposed.

The survey didn’t explore the reasons why people are pro- or anti-Olympics. But it’s a safe bet that money is a big factor. Olympic host cities routinely wind up spending far more than they originally budget to prepare for the games. For instance, organizers of the London 2012 summer games estimated that the city would drop $4 billion in order to host, and in the end the city’s bill was in the neighborhood of $15 to $20 billion. Critics also say the economic upside of being host, through increased tourism and such, is often overstated.

Research from No Boston Olympics, the opposition group with a self-explanatory name, indicates that Boston organizers have already estimated that the city would spend $14.3 billion to host. That’s before any cost overruns. And there are always overruns, typically around 200% or so.

No wonder the folks up in Massachusetts aren’t welcoming the Olympics with open arms.

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