10 Simple Steps to Keep Amazon From Ruining Your City

Amazon Spheres

11. Oh, and definitely don’t let anything like this happen. [By SounderBruce [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons.]

The Failing New York Times reported today that Amazon is going around and asking the finalists for its second headquarters “how to avoid soaring housing costs and paralyzing traffic.”

Easy. Duh. Lemme walk you through it, Jeff. (Can I call you Jeff?)

  1. Put the new HQ right on a central, well-connected transit line.
  2. Build a limited amount of employee parking, and manage demand by charging for it and offering transit vouchers.
  3. Create some sort of totally-unheard-of-in-America regional government entity that can regulate land use in the central city and surrounding suburbs.

  1. Update the zoning around high-frequency transit stops all throughout the region, with height and density limits set high enough to provide a number of homes that will meet the increased demand caused by new Amazon jobs and multiplier effects, no minimum parking requirements, and a special tax assessment to take advantage of increasing property values.
  2. By-right approval of projects that meet the new zoning and provide a predetermined (but financially feasible) percentage of subsidized, below-market-rate homes, with priority given to existing low-income residents in the neighborhood.
  3. Beef up renter protections such as right of return, free legal representation to challenge evictions, and, yeah, OK, some controls on preposterous, sudden rent increases.
  4. Devote increased tax revenue to improving transit frequency, converting car lanes and on-street parking to bus-priority lanes and separated bike lanes, and, if there’s anything left over, expansion of the transit network.
  5. Bring all public schools in region up to level of wealthiest suburban schools in terms of facilities, equipment, and teacher pay.
  6. Convince wealthy suburbanites not to revolt—literally or at the ballot box.
  7. While you’re at it, get anti-displacement activists and the Sierra Club on board, too, by … I dunno, convincing them that you’re absolutely addressing their concerns and involving them in the process without compromising any of the nine previous steps.

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