A Bid to Solve Californias Housing Crisis Could Redraw How Cities Grow

Scott Wiener, the California state senator representing San Francisco, has a pretty good idea for how to save the world. In fact, sitting in a coffee shop in his city’s Financial District, Wiener seems downright perplexed that anyone would be against it. Here’s the idea: Build more housing.

So, with his fellow senator Nancy Skinner, he authored a bill, SB 827, that overwrites some metropolitan zoning—putting policies that had been in the hands of cities under the authority of state government—to allow medium-sized multistory and multiunit buildings near transit stops.

Lots of urbanists and housing activists believe the bill will shift California cities into a denser, transit-oriented, multi-use future. But an unlikely coalition has emerged in opposition: homeowners who don’t want their neighborhoods to change and advocates for the lower-income people of color who almost always get hurt by gentrification.

This isn’t some dry policy fight. The mayor of Berkeley called the bill “a declaration of war against our neighborhoods.” A Los Angeles City Council member said it will make the residential areas he represents in LA’s tony Westside “look like Dubai.” A community organizer in LA wrote that Wiener is a “real estate industry puppet” who supports gentrification and displacement, and compared SB 827 to President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act.

Housing costs are crushing American cities, perhaps nowhere as severely as in California. It’s catastrophic—homes are priced 2.5 times the median in other places; rents are sky high; the population is increasing (but construction of places to live for them is not); poor people are getting pushed out; homelessness is severe, and on the rise.

Wiener says his fix can, over time, address all that without worsening the state’s drumbeat of evictions. And it'll do even more: “If you want to limit carbon and reduce congestion on freeways, the way you do that is by building a lot more housing near public transportation,” he says. “You get less driving, less carbon emissions, less sprawl so you can protect open spaces and farmland, and healthier families.”

It might even work.

Wiener came to San Francisco in the late 1990s, just in time to see the first dot-com boom turn the city into the center of the world and wreak centrifugal havoc, pushing longtime residents out and housing costs up.

As a community activist and then a politician, Wiener saw the other side of the problem. It’s really hard to get anything built in San Francisco. Booms, critical to the state economy because of the tax money they dump into state treasuries, don’t benefit cities the same way. Unemployment falls to nothing, but housing costs rise. The poorest people get forced out by gentrifying newcomers. The current boom, Wiener says, “has caused lasting damage to the culture and diversity of our city.”

"When we push people into areas like Phoenix and Houston, we see the climate impacts, from flooding to sprawl, with people in these high-polluting areas where they don’t necessarily even want to be."

Wiener has been full of ideas to counteract that. He’s behind a bill to make net neutrality a state law and another to let bars stay open until 4 am. (“Great cities have great nightlife,” he says.) He got a bill passed to force California cities to live up to their unenforced commitments to build new housing. And now he’s saying that within walking distance of mass transit, housing shouldn’t be single-family, suburban style. It should be tall, like 45 feet or up to 85, depending on how wide the street is.

The goal, Wiener says, isn't Hong Kong–style high-rises. It's what housing advocates call the “missing middle,” things like side-by-side duplexes, eight-unit apartment buildings, six-story buildings—a building form even San Francisco built plenty of in the early 20th century. Typically these are wood-frame construction, cheaper to build than luxury steel-and-glass high-rises.

If cities don’t build those housing units, other places will. “People first look for cheaper housing as far away from their jobs as they can that is still a reasonably feasible commute,” says Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at UC Berkeley Law School’s Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment. “When we push people into areas like Phoenix and Houston, we see the climate impacts, from flooding to sprawl, with people in these high-polluting areas where they don’t necessarily even want to be.”

Denser urban cores, it so happens, are more environmentally responsible. Downtowns have lower per-capita carbon emissions than suburban and rural areas. A household in the heart of Wiener’s district has an average carbon footprint of about 31 tons of CO2 per year. In downtown Phoenix, it’s 34. In suburban Phoenix, it’s 82.

Thanks to global warming, the San Francisco Bay is full of rising seawater. Like Florida and New York, the region faces a future of chronic floods. It also faces fire: Seasonal wildfires like the ones that scorched huge swaths of California this year (including the biggest one in state history) begin at the wildland-urban interface, where human beings build near nature, like in the hills of the East Bay. Spread between mountains and the ocean, Southern California faces similar boundary conditions.

These regions can’t build outward; they have to build inward and upward. After all, one of the fundamental functions of a city is to serve as a bulwark against disaster.

"What you have are two strips of land on both sides of the Bay that are flat, high enough above sea-level rise, and not as prone to fire," says Kim-Mai Cutler, an urbanist and a partner at Initialized Capital. "Longer term, the safest and probably most inclusive way to handle the region's growth is missing-middle or more dense housing along transit lines." (Like many of the people I talked to, Cutler stresses that she's in the "support, if amend" camp on SB 827—pending tenant protections, controls on demolitions, and some way to deal with affordable housing.)

But economics and the law don't accommodate those pressures. Strapped California cities accrue more tax benefits from commercial development than from residential. (As American retail crumbles, “commercial” increasingly means office space and hotels.) Eventually, that pushes out everyone but the richest rich and the poorest poor. “We have offices in cities elsewhere in the US,” says Jeremy Stoppleman, CEO of Yelp and one of 120 signatories to a letter supporting Wiener’s bill. “As someone who lives in California, I’d love to allocate as many positions to San Francisco as possible, but I have to look at performance and retention.”

Yimbys—the “yes in my backyard” supporters of efforts like Wiener’s—slough off aesthetic concerns about “neighborhood character,” sightlines, or the shadows cast by taller buildings. At best, they’ll say, that’s old-people whinging. At worst, this apparent concern for architecture and planning is cover for redlining, keeping affluent neighborhoods closed to young people, lower-income people, and people of color. “It’s areas that have the land values to support multifamily development but don’t want newcomers and more density,” Elkind says. “They’re happy to accept all the benefits of new transit—the property value and benefits it gives them at taxpayer expense—but when it comes to providing housing around those transit networks they consistently say no.”

So the Yimbys instead want more housing to deal with population growth, more transit, more infrastructure, more everything. More city.

Some of the Nimbyism—“not in my backyard” (or, even worse, Banana, as in “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything”)—that Wiener encounters argues that building new housing doesn’t reduce housing prices, because it attracts even more upper-income people. That doesn’t seem true—Seattle’s recent home-building binge apparently lowered rents, for example. Some opponents, like the California Sierra Club, argue that allowing increased density near transit might quash people’s willingness to pay for any new light rail lines at all.

To be fair, not everyone sees value in denser, more urban cities. You might think that having a place to get a coffee and drop off dry cleaning on the way to a bus stop or train is the best, but some city dwellers don't want to see changes like new four- to eight-story apartment buildings. They bring parking difficulties, traffic, and more crowds.

“It’s becoming rapidly apparent to lots of people that, in fact, the Nimbys are greedy, and they benefit dramatically from the housing shortage.”

Because of a state law called Proposition 13 and its follow-ons, Californians pay property tax based on the value of their home when they bought it—not on real-world increases in its value caused by, let’s say, a new subway nearby or a neighborhood suddenly turning “hot.” Now, changes to residential neighborhoods potentially lower the value of the houses there. Maybe young people keen on biking to work want apartments and light rail. But not so much for families with three kids to drop at two different sports practices, or someone who’s lived in the same house for 50 years who can’t easily move away because they’d face a steep increase in property taxes—again, thanks to Prop 13.

To be really fair, though, putative improvements to cities have often benefited the rich at the expense of people who live there—especially people of color. Some of the opposition to Wiener’s SB 827 and the ideas behind it comes from a real concern for displacement, racism, and classism. It’s already happening. Retail stretches of hair salons and dry cleaners at area-appropriate price points begin to give way to the Four Riders of the Gentrification Apocalypse: bike shops, yoga studios, artisanal tchotchke stores, and third-wave coffee.

The history of urban change in the United States is full of examples of low-income neighborhoods getting erased by capitalists in the name of renewal and modernization. Boston’s West End, Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles, and San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhoods all used to be vibrant (low-income) communities.

Urban renewal in the mid 20th century didn’t emphasize density or climate change, of course. It was about “blight,” in a literal sense because of the health issues all poor communities face, but also (as the writer Alexis Madrigal has discussed) as a metaphoric term to cover failing infrastructure and economic collapse. But the end was the same.

So the interests of the rich and powerful align here with the interests of disenfranchised people of color—which should be great! Except they’re aligned against the young, new migrants, and the middle class.

Right now it’s hard to tell the players without a scorecard. “The Nimby movement for years stifled development and higher-density projects under the guise of ‘developers are greedy,’” Stoppleman says. “It’s becoming rapidly apparent to lots of people that, in fact, the Nimbys are greedy, and they benefit dramatically from the housing shortage.”

For his part, Wiener doesn’t believe that new housing will ruin neighborhoods and displace poor people. And, he says, people in well-to-do areas are co-opting that argument to protect their own interests. “It makes me nuts when I see wealthy Nimby homeowners in Marin and elsewhere suddenly becoming defenders of low-income people of color,” Wiener says. “These are communities that fought tooth and nail to keep low-income people out.”

Still, he knows the bill still needs work. California already gives a bonus to developers for higher density and mixed-income development, and in 2016 Los Angeles passed a law to do more of the same. “It’s very important that this bill not undermine those incentives,” says Sam Tepperman-Gelfant, an attorney with Public Advocates who works on low-income housing issues. “Giving developers of 100-percent market-rate housing the same or greater benefits awarded to mixed-income developments could really undermine the mixed-income development.”

One risk is that SB 827 could increase the speculative value of land near transit. That would give landlords an incentive to tear down cheaper rental housing and build luxury condominiums. Worse, the death-spiral outcome ousts low-income people who live next to a transit station and replaces them with upper-income people, who use the available transit less often, leading to the demise of that transit. On the other hand, inclusionary housing requirements that force developers to subsidize low-income units sometimes scare developers off altogether—as may be happening in Portland, Oregon, for example.

“The rhetoric and tone in the debate has gotten extremely heated,” Tepperman-Gelfant says. The solution: Making sure people in any potentially affected neighborhood, not just richies from the hills, are at the negotiating table. “If we’re going to get good solutions for low-income people of color, they need to be involved in shaping the policy.”

Wiener knows the negotiations aren’t over. Far from it. “I don’t pretend the bill will be in its pristine form by the end,” he says. “And it’s not by any stretch of the imagination guaranteed to pass.”

Cities change. That’s their nature. If California has to add 100,000 houses a year for the foreseeable future, someone’s going to have to goose that change along. Maybe it’ll be the guy trying to keep San Francisco bars open late. “I’m a progressive urbanist, and I embrace cities,” Wiener says. “A city’s character is not just the physicality of a neighborhood. It’s about who lives there.” A city underwater, on fire, with no young people, no families, no people of color, and restricted to only the richest rich and the poorest poor—that’s not a city at all.


Life in the City

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/scott-weiner-california-housing-bill-cities/

To Save Our Infrastructure, Make Every Road a Toll Road

Few things exemplify the United States’ disconnect between personal freedom and collective responsibility like our automobile habit. Drivers travel at will, as long as they have money for gas and road snacks. But what they pay for that privilege, in the form of gas and other taxes, doesn’t come close to covering the costs of maintaining the roads on which they travel—let alone recoup all the productivity lost in congestion and the damage that tailpipe emissions do to our health. Compared to what society pays, driving is practically a free ride.

Transportation economists have long sought to make drivers pay their fair share without raising the federal gas tax—a political nonstarter. In recent decades, a broad swath of experts has settled on an idea with the potential to fix the three big problems that come with cars: road damage, congestion, and pollution. The answer? Charge ‘em by the mile.

It’s not too crazy to think some version of this might happen. The Highway Fund, meant to provide for road maintenance, is perpetually broke, because its current funding mechanisms are broken. Many states have studied, and some have even tried, what are known as Vehicle Miles Traveled taxes. It just sounds fair. But if the feds ever take the idea national, you can bet it won’t be as ideal as the one I’m about to describe.

Where Has All the Money Gone?

In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave US road infrastructure a D grade, noting that one out of every five highway miles is in poor condition—potholed, pitted, poorly painted lines, the full catastrophe. This is because there’s no money to fix them. Federal gas taxes were supposed to keep the Highway Trust Fund afloat, but politicians have refused to raise them since 1993.

“Funding for highways has basically gotten worse since then,” says Robert Atkinson, a longtime transportation policy wonk and current president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Unlike politicians, inflation doesn’t worry about reelection, and the 73 percent increase since 1993 means the 18.4 cents Americans pay per gallon is worth less than ever. As cars get more efficient, drivers are pumping less gas, exacerbating the problem.

Things are so bad that, since 2008, Congress has had to periodically cover the Highway Fund’s shortfall through (potentially illegal) transfers from the general fund—that is, tax money paid by everyone, no matter how much (or how little) they drive.

That’s just at the federal level. In a majority of states, direct user fees (gas taxes, tire taxes, registration fees, and so on) cover less than half of road spending, according to research done by the Tax Foundation. The perceived unpopularity of gas taxes leads many states to draw from their general funds to pay maintenance. So even if you spend the next year on your couch, exploring every inch of PlayStation 4’s Shadow of the Colossus rerelease, some portion of the taxes you paid for the console and game will go toward improving those real life roads you never use.

It gets worse, because shoddy roads slow cars down, worsening traffic—traffic that already costs American drivers an annual $75.5 billion in fuel and time that they could have spent working instead of listening to podcasts, according to a 2014 study by the Center for Economics and Business. Congestion adds to the cost for businesses providing goods and services via those roads. You better believe the price of your Sunday pork chop includes the overtime and excess fuel the driver of that delivery truck (whose CB handle is probably Porkchop) wasted sputtering through your city’s clogged beltway. These indirect costs from congestion add up to a staggering $45.6 billion. And that’s in 2013 dollars. Inflation is unforgiving here too.

Finally, let’s talk about health care costs. Numerous studies have linked tailpipe emissions and tire wear—which include both particulates and volatile gases—to a variety of health problems. An abridged list includes asthma, heart attacks, childhood leukemia, low birth weight, immune system damage, and lower fertility rates. The cost to the health care system and lost productivity comes to billions or trillions of dollars, depending on the study.

If your appetite for doom and gloom left you with some room for dessert, remember that personal automobiles account for about 17 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on the county you live in, the effects of, and adaptations to, climate change could eat up as much as 30 percent of your local GDP.

A Fair and Balanced Remedy

More than a decade ago, Congress realized the funding problem was becoming intractable, so they recruited a bipartisan, independent commission of experts to find solutions. “We dug into the analysis on gas taxes, looked at electric vehicle adoption rates, and sort of came to the Vehicle Miles Traveled tax as the obvious conclusion,” says Atkinson, who led the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission.

A Vehicle Miles Traveled tax is what it sounds like: a toll that applies wherever you go. Drivers pay by the mile, at a rate that reflects the actual cost of driving. The idea is popular. More than half of states have looked into taxing VMT. The most prominent has been Oregon. In 2006 the state recruited 300 drivers for a pilot program, and outfitted their cars with GPS. For each mile, they pay 1.5 cents. (They are also exempt from paying the state gas tax.)

Oregon’s ruling class considered the program a success and enshrined it in law, capping participants at 5,000—presumably to limit any potential negative effects of having everyone suddenly opt out of the gas tax.

Your Car the Smartphone

Such limited trials have been fairly successful, but a simple price per mile doesn’t come close to tapping the VMT tax’s full potential. “This is a broad tool that allows you to adjust the price of driving based on a number of different factors,” Atkinson says. Consider the VMT framework a platform on top of which other fee structures could be layered.

In 2011, the RAND Corporation released a research brief that outlined how “rates could be structured to help reduce congestion and harmful emissions, metering devices could provide value-added services (e.g., safety alerts, real-time traffic information and routing assistance, and the ability to save money with pay-as-you-drive insurance), and the system could generate rich travel data for improved transportation planning.”

A VMT tax could tamp down on congestion by adding a few pennies to the per-mile fee during rush hour or when drivers enter city centers. (That second bit is also known as a congestion charge.) To control emissions, gas guzzlers could pay a higher per-mile rate.

The technological challenges are minimal. “Modern cars are essentially giant smartphones,” Atkinson says. It’s not difficult to imagine coupling a financial framework (like those used by extant tolling agencies) to a mapping application on your car. Older cars would be gas tax laggards—the fleet takes 10 to 15 years to fully change over. Even there, you could rig up a dashboard GPS unit capable of calculating vehicle miles traveled.

In any case, these mapping systems would need additional data. “Every road segment can be annotated by who owns it, prices by time of day, and notes saying who gets the money,” Atkinson says. At the end of the month, your car aggregates the various fees and sends your payment off to the relevant agencies—local, state, and federal.

How granular can this sort of externality-tracking get? Take tailpipe emissions. Particulates and volatile gases disproportionately impact children and the elderly. Municipalities with a heart could code a buffer around schools, hospitals, or retirement communities and charge a premium for people driving nearby. A city below sea level might implement a surcharge for greenhouse gas emissions, filling the coffers in preparation for battling rising seas. (Though the punitive attention would probably be better spent on big polluters like coal plants and the oil industry.) Hyperconscious mapping software might even be programmed to detect cars that spend too long idling in one place—more wasteful emissions. And real-time congestion mapping à la Waze has obvious implications for easing traffic.

While this sort of nuanced and dynamic system might seem excessive, something like it will be essential going forward. “If we do get to point where fewer cars are fueled by gasoline, we need to think of alternatives to gasoline tax,” says Jessika Trancik, an energy systems engineer at MIT. The gasoline tax now responsible for funding our roads.

No Panacea

All of this potential for equitably charging drivers is super exciting—unless you drive. The sense of revulsion you feel in response is partly why VMT taxes are more policy wonk fantasy than reality. Maybe you understand that the direct fees you pay for road use will actually lower the overall cost of living, as you spend less time driving, on better roads, through cleaner air. You probably still have reservations.

Like privacy. Government-installed tracking hardware in every car sounds like a rejected Black Mirror plot device. Such concerns are understandable, but not totally warranted. GPS systems can be rigged to only collect location information; no transmitting. That data would be stored in your car’s brain, then aggregated at the end of the month, with mileage totals organized by road type, time of day, and proximity to any pertinent landmarks. That total would ping your account, which would dispense the dollars—this is how multiagency toll networks like E-ZPass work. The cofounder of the libertarian Reason Foundation has even testified before Congress that GPS-based VMT collection systems could be designed such that they pose no significant privacy concerns.

And if you (or your elected representatives) still aren’t comfortable with that, the RAND Corporation outlined eight different technological categories capable of taking down Vehicle Miles Traveled information—ranging in sophistication from self-reporting odometer readings to toll-like transponders to GPS (which would be the most versatile and effective).

Other critiques concern equity. Poor, disadvantaged, and rural people tend to commute farther than the affluent, and drive less efficient cars. The gas tax already charges them disproportionately. A straightforward VMT would too. Any lawmakers crafting a Vehicle Miles Traveled framework would need to consider such concerns. Again, technology could come to the rescue, identifying drivers who merit discounts or subsidies.

For now, any arguments for or against VMT taxes are stuck in political gridlock. But Atkinson sees a glimmer of hope for road payment reform—Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure promise might put Congress in a fund-raising full Nelson. And who knows—state-level interest in VMT taxes might foment into a national schema. The only sure thing is that freewheeling personal travel is running out of road.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/gas-tax-vmt-toll-road/

Self-Driving Car Tech Can Help Another Form of Transport: Wheelchairs

Autonomous vehicle technology often prompts discussions about profit, safety, efficiency, jobs, and more. But this innovation can change millions of lives today without introducing a single car to the road. Think: self-driving wheelchairs.

WIRED OPINION

ABOUT

Elizabeth Jameson (@jamesonfineart) is a health policy analyst and an artist in the San Francisco Bay Area who uses neurotechnology, science and art to shift the narrative of chronic illness. Catherine Monahon is an art educator and project manager who works with individuals, small businesses, and nonprofits to tell their stories through various media.

I have a progressive disease, multiple sclerosis, which has now rendered me quadriplegic; I no longer have use of my hands or legs. I am a part of a growing group of people with mobility challenges. With an aging population, an increase in chronic illnesses worldwide, and longer lifespans, the number of people over age 65 is expected to nearly double in the next 30 years, to 88 million by 2050. Since disability rates rise with age, this issue will affect all of us.

People with mobility challenges dream of autonomy. Assistive technology is crucial for our independence, for helping us succeed in the workplace, live meaningful lives, and get through everyday tasks that would otherwise be impossible. Self-driving wheelchairs would provide entirely new levels of independence for people living with disability. What's more, this technology exists and is even affordable. The primary obstacle is a lack of investment from the tech community.

Silicon Valley sees itself as developing technology that improves lives. It’s also famous for innovation and firsts. Self-driving wheelchairs represent an excellent opportunity for tech companies and venture capitalists to invest in a growing industry while simultaneously transforming the lives of millions.

Users of power wheelchairs are the primary potential customers. In the US alone, 6 million people like me require a power wheelchair, and many of us require assistance to operate it, as I do, since I cannot use my hands. Self-driving wheelchairs uses a power chair as a base. Unlike a manual wheelchair, the power wheelchair has a motor that allows the person to move about without physically operating the wheels.

An estimated 8 million people desperately need a better solution. There is a broad and diverse market for self-driving wheelchair users, from children or people in nursing homes often denied power chairs due to safety regulations, to people who can't operate power chairs for various reasons, such as difficulty with sensory or fine motor skills.

Even people who are able to operate their device report it can sometimes be stressful and fatiguing—navigating through crowds and tight spaces, determining the best route, and using the right amount of precision (via neck muscles, finger, or breath) to control the chair.

Here’s where self-driving car technology comes to the rescue. A handful of institutions and companies — Samsung, MIT, and Northwestern University, to name a few—are currently pursuing self-driving wheelchairs. Of all the prototypes, there is one option that is cost-effective and ready for implementation: a wheelchair designed by a Toronto-based robotics company called Cyberworks.

Last summer, Cyberworks announced a self-driving wheelchair that is expected to hit the market in the next few years, at a cost of $1,000. For comparison, a power wheelchair can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $30,000, depending on the level of disability. While so far Cyberworks’ wheelchair can only be used inside, this is the first step toward self-driving wheelchair technology that operates in all terrain.

Self-driving wheelchairs can be a profitable, stable market: after all, 8 million people in the US alone stand to benefit from such a technology. Companies that enable mobility-impaired users with self-driving technology can show that these types of systems are safe and reliable.

For those of us with mobility challenges, a wheelchair is our car. It may travel slower, using pathways other than the open road, but it is imperative to our mobility. Now the tech industry has the chance to be an absolute hero for millions of people in the coming years, especially as the world’s population ages. Investing in assistive technologies means investing in our collective survival: disability and access is everyone’s issue.

WIRED Opinion publishes pieces written by outside contributors and represents a wide range of viewpoints. Read more opinions here.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/self-driving-car-tech-can-help-another-form-of-transport-wheelchairs/

Uber offers free rides after deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history

Scenes of panic as Route 91 Harvest country music festival attendees struggle to get away.
Image: David Becker/Getty Images

UPDATED (3:15 p.m. ET) Updated to include additional services offered by Lyft


In the chaotic wake of the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, Uber and Lyft have altered their prices in Las Vegas so people could exit the chaos without being charged exorbitant fees.

The swift moves come after ride services have been criticized in the past for price gouging in the aftermath of disaster.

According to a statement, Uber waived all fares “around the affected area” on Sunday night and continues to offer free rides for some shooting-related trips.

Our hearts ache for everyone affected by this senseless tragedy. We stand ready to support the victims and the Las Vegas community as they recover from this devastating act.

Shortly after hearing about the incident, we worked to ensure all rides from around the affected area were free of charge. Additionally, we are providing free rides to and from area hospitals, the family reunification center, and United Blood Services donor centers for those who wish to donate blood.  

Lyft announced it had suspended its “Prime Time” surge functionality in Las Vegas

We’re heartbroken. Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. We suspended Prime Time immediately after we understood what was happening. We also communicated to drivers about the developing situation.

In addition to this, Lyft announced later on Monday it was offering free rides of up to $40 with the code “VEGASHOPE” to several blood donation centers, relief centers, and hospitals in Las Vegas. The full list is below.

Blood Donation

Labor Health & Welfare Clinic: 7135 W Sahara Ave #100, Las Vegas, NV 89117

United Blood Services: 6930 W. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89117

United Blood Services: 4950 W. Craig Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89310

United Blood Services, Henderson:  601 Whitney Ranch Dr. Bldg. D, Ste 20, Henderson, NV 89014

Hospitals

Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center: 3186 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89109

University Medical Center: 1800 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89102

Desert Springs Hospital: 2075 E Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89119

Valley Hospital: 620 Shadow Ln, Las Vegas, NV 89106

Relief Centers

UNLV Thomas & Mac Center: 4505 S. Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154

Family Reunification Center: Metro Headquarters, 400 S. MLK BLVD Building B

After Uber was criticized for massive surge pricing in the wake of the June 2017 London and September 2016 New York City terror attacks, they issued refunds to all victims who were affected by surge pricing, attempting to send a strong message that victims should feel comfortable turning to Uber in times of emergency. 

In January, both Uber and Lyft were criticized for high prices after travel ban protests at JFK left travelers stranded without an affordable way to get home, though much of the public’s ire focused on Uber. The high prices inspired the hashtag campaign #DeleteUber.

Both Uber and Lyft have received positive responses on social media for stepping up, while drivers and citizens have offered to drive for free or pay for rides.

President Donald Trump has expressed condolences to shooting victims on Twitter, and called for unity in a speech Monday.

If you want to help shooting victims, Las Vegas hospitals are reportedly in desperate need of blood donations. Here’s how to help.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/02/uber-lyft-las-vegas-shooting/

Ford scrubs its cars off their new car smell, for a sensitive-nosed Chinese market

That “new car smell” can be pretty divisive. Some of us love it, yet the rest absolutely can’t stand it.

In China, it seems the majority hate it. And the fast-growing market is so valuable that Ford is going out of its way to get rid of the new car smell, so people don’t get turned off.

According to Reuters, Ford has appointed 18 “golden nose” smell experts in its Chinese research plant, to weed out anything that contributes to a perceptible odour in a car.

A lot of a new car’s smell comes from new fabrics and materials on steering wheels and seats. So instead of wrapping seats in plastic, as they do in many overseas markets, the car seats in China are stored in cloth bags to ventilate them before they get put in a new Ford.

China’s distaste for chemical smells comes from a society that has grown paranoid about its perennial air pollution, a local parts manufacturer was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Don Yu, China general manager at CGT Automotive, which supplies car interior material to many large makers, said: “In China, people open the car and sit inside. If the smell isn’t good enough, they think it will jeopardise their health.”

But while the Chinese hate the new car smell, plenty of other people love it.

Ford Spain figured out how to bottle that new odour for used cars, to persuade people to buy them.

And products like the Ozium air sanitizer, and the Chemical Guys’ New Car Smell promise to do what it says on the tin.

Image: chemical guys

Who knows, there may be an opportunity in the Chinese market for these products to go in and provide a new car smell for the minority that still craves it.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/21/ford-new-car-smell-china/