Legislation that criminalizes the homeless in Maine. A report that recommends bulldozing a fifth of Detroit. And treasure hunters digging up a California park. Plus an update: One man's plan to ruin an entire state by carving it up WITH LIES. It's What's Ruining Our Cities.
This is one of those "this is not The Onion" stories: In the city of Portland, Maine, a new law was passed that makes it illegal for people to ask for money while standing on medians. If someone's caught doing it, they could be fined... which makes absolutely no sense because they were asking for money? A federal judge has ruled the law unconstitutional and advocacy groups are angry because laws like this and other bans against living in cars or camping criminalize the homeless instead of making efforts to help them. [NPR]
Detroit's rose-colored rebirth was documented in this week's New York Times Magazine, but a new report recommends bulldozing a full one-fifth of the city. One-fifth? A watchdog group that calls itself the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force claims that 22 percent of the city's buildings are blighted, many of them occupied by squatters, and taking those buildings down would allow the city to start fresh. Meanwhile, the city has its own plan, Building Detroit, which helps by auctioning vacant properties for low, low prices. Seems like that might be a better alternative than steamrolling the place? [New Statesman]
San Francisco real estate investor Jason Buzi hides envelopes of money throughout the state and drops clues to their whereabouts at @HiddenCash. Sounds innocent and fun, right? A recent clue sent people running, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World-style, through a Southern California park. "Roughly 1,000 people trampled on plants, destroyed fences and sprinklers and even tried to uproot a newly planted tree believing cash was hidden in the fresh dirt," according to the Los Angeles Times. @HiddenCash will give the park $5000 to repair the damages—which is $5000 less that he'll be able to hide in the future. [LA Times]
We already knew that VC guy Tim Draper had a wacky idea to divide California into six mini-states. Now, it seems that his team will stop at nothing to get his idea on the ballot—including lying to voters and saying it's about raising the minimum wage so they'll sign the petition. [Valleywag]
Photo: Betsy Blaney/AP