Municipal governments across the country are facing off against Airbnb as they try to enforce rules aimed at protecting affordable housing and force the home-sharing giant to collect and remit lodging taxes. Airbnb claims it is compliant with local regulations, but many city and county officials say the company has misled them -- and its users -- about its intentions to follow local rules.
Officials in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, have named Region of Peel Commissioner of Public Works Janette Smith to the post of city manager -- making Smith the city's first-ever female manager. "I'm excited to be able to serve the residents and businesses of this great city," Smith says.
A study published by Landscape and Urban Planning looked at 10 US metro areas to consider the relationship between green space and variables including income, race and education. The researchers noted people with more education and higher incomes tended to have more access to green space, while factors such as proportion of Latino and African-American residents held a negative association.
Residents of Helsinki, Finland, will be able to get around in any weather, thanks to the debut of a self-driving bus designed to drive in fog, heavy rain, or snow. The city's officials say autonomous-driving technology from Finnish autonomous-driving company Sensible 4 will ensure the bus can function year-round, regardless of road conditions.
Commissioners in Polk County, Fla., this week voted unanimously to ask Deputy County Manager Bill Beasley to take over when County Manager Jim Freeman retires in August. "I'm honored and humbled by your decision," Beasley told county officials.
Funding sources are still being determined for a $14 million riverfront park in Eugene, Ore., but construction is expected to begin this summer. The park will include separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as interpretative exhibits and plans for a neighboring plaza.
Duluth, Minn., could sell its two public golf courses, which are experiencing declining use and are losing money. Residents at a recent public meeting warned city officials about selling public land, an action that would require eight of nine council members to approve.
A splash pad will be added to the Washington Park in Neenah, Wis., as part of a $2.7 million redevelopment project. The attraction will feature interactive water play elements such as water cannons, fountains and a water-spouting car.
An advisory board for the Jefferson County, Wash., Parks and Recreation Department is pushing for a Parks Rx program to encourage time spent outdoors for health reasons. Separately, the department is improving recreation facilities, and a volunteer group is continuing the expansion of the Gibbs Lake trail network.
A program in Chicago that enables property owners to buy vacant lots for $1 has been a success, according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois. "With the simple acts of mowing, building a fence or installing a garden, they cared for these lots in ways that increased the value of the block to people who lived there," said William Stewart, who led the study.
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