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Better government through civic engagement

Legalize it? Regulate it!

Legalize it? Regulate it!
We are entering a new era of innovation, disruption and change. The very “norms” of how we live, travel and use energy are changing. Some of these changes are technologically-driven; e.g. ride- and home-sharing platforms such as Uber and Airbnb, or solar panels and their next generation, solar roofs. And some are cultural shifts—ten years ago we were telling kids not to talk to strangers online or get into unknown cars. Today, we casually hop into the car of a stranger we are connected to through an app and trust they will take us to our desired destination. Emerging responses While the sharing economy provides convenience and progress for many, it can also be quite challenging for government agencies to navigate. Across the country, the fight to determine how or if these changes will take permanent hold in our society continues to be waged. In fact, governments swing wildly on the spect......
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Marijuana and the Sharing Economy: The Top Government Regulatory Challenges of 2017

Presidential politics has the tendency to drown out all other electoral storylines. If you're in need of proof, consider this: marijuana was legalized for either recreational or medical use in eight of nine states in which it was on the ballot, including the big one – California. Cannabis is now legal in some form in 28 out of 50 states, yet that headline has barely been discussed in the mainstream media. This is just one of several public policy issues that will challenge government officials in 2017. Another is the sharing economy. State and local government officials throughout the U.S. have been trying to figure out how to handle the rise of Airbnb and ridesharing services Lyft and Uber for some time. In San Francisco, Airbnb hosts are now required to register and pay fees to the city. But of the 7,000+ residents who rent out their homes, only a little over a......
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Seattle & King County Partners with Stanford to Standardize Inspection and Scoring Methods with Peer-Reviewed Inspections

Seattle & King County Partners with Stanford to Standardize Inspection and Scoring Methods with Peer-Reviewed Inspections
I’m pleased to announce that our latest Building Capacity column can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Environmental Health. Written by our own Darryl Booth (SVP/GM of Accela Environmental Health), this column covers a project we’re exceptionally proud of as it comes from one of our own clients, Seattle & King County Environmental Health in Seattle, Washington. The Department knew that there was growing interest in publishing health scores from local restaurants. But when leadership began to investigate placarding methods, they identified variations in the data underlying existing scoring systems that they didn’t feel they could ignore. Luckily, Seattle & King County doesn’t lack for bright minds. Food and Facilities Section Manager Becky Elias contacted Daniel Ho, a preeminent scholar of government data disclosure and administrative law at Stanford Law School. Together, Ms. Elias and Mr. Ho set up a randomized controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of peer......
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Governing the Sharing Economy with Technology

Governing the Sharing Economy with Technology
What would happen if you and your family were living paycheck to paycheck and you lost your job tomorrow? For more than half of all Americans, this is an all too real fear as they have less than a thousand dollars in the bank and little to no financial cushion should a catastrophic life event occur. Whether out of necessity or a desire for greater financial freedom, one of the modern marvels of the headline-grabbing sharing economy is that it provides citizens immediate access to income if they need it, and flexible work arrangements that can fit into complex lives. That is, if the right technology is in place to help them quickly. Perhaps you have a spare room that could be posted for availability on Airbnb. Or a car you could drive for Lyft or Uber. I would venture to say that many Americans have been reassured knowing that they......
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The Solar Onboarding Experience Needs a Refresh

The Solar Onboarding Experience Needs a Refresh
The below is a guest article I published in North American Clean Energy earlier this month. In 2015, the solar industry celebrated three historic moments — in Paris, world leaders came together and agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach zero emissions by the middle of the 21st century; in Washington, D.C., Republicans and Democrats briefly put aside their differences and voted to extend tax credits for wind turbines and solar panels; and, fortuitously, this came on the heels of new federal regulations mandating a 32 percent cut in carbon from power plants that pollute our air by 2030. But before this is proclaimed a miracle for the planet, there is a government-created problem, from the horse and buggy era, which must be dealt with. And the solution may lie in our cities and counties. Disrupting the permit expediter Since 2008, residential solar panel installations are up nearly 2,000 percent. T......
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