Image by abrackin licensed under Creative Commons.

Because of ride-hailing companies' unique model, some experts say congestion pricing won't help traffic — but a different tax will. Some MIT scientists think they can use blockchain and other technology to zone cities more optimally. Lots of companies don't want Google to win the self-driving car maps race.

Taxing ride-hailing before congestion: Congestion has always been a part of big thriving cities, but with the advent of ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, it seems to have gotten worse. Felix Salmon argues that the only way to solve the problem is not through congestion pricing, an often-suggested economic solution, but rather by taxing ride hailing companies for the amount of space they take up on the roads. (Wired)

Zoning with algorithms: Zoning codes have been organizing cities for almost a century, and yet most cities in the United States are having problems with affordable housing and equitable development. Research scientists at MIT's Media Lab believe they can use blockchain, machine learning, and a system of "tokens" to optimize community and environmental benefits. I'm not sure how much they know about zoning, but this seems like an uphill climb to me. (Tech Crunch)

The war for the self-driving map: Google has long been the leader in mapping due to their early innovations, but both new and existing players don't want them to have the upper hand this time around. These companies are pouring money into a massive, data-intensive project to create with maps for self-driving vehicles — maps that they might not know works until a decade into the future. (Bloomberg)

Charlotte shakeup: Marcus Jones, Charlotte's new City Manager, is making changes to the city's upper management by moving around long-time city employees and leaning on old colleagues from his previous job in Norfolk, Virginia. Most of council seems happy with his performance (even giving him a 6 percent raise), but some longtime council members aren't excited about the changes. (Charlotte Observer)

Palo Alto ditches transit tunnel plans: After years of debate and study, Palo Alto officials are ready to throw in the towel on building a tunnel through the city that would support high speed rail and Caltrain lines. The price tag is estimated to be over $2 billion, and engineering challenges (including digging beneath a creek) make the tunnel infeasible. (Palo Alto Online)

Quote of the Day

"Small- and medium-size apartment complexes account for a quarter of existing units built in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the report. Since 1990, though, the category has accounted for just 15 percent of new housing stock."

Patricia Clark writing in Bloomberg about the missing Missing Middle housing.