Y Combinator’s next project is a better city

Looking towards the future.
Looking towards the future.
Image: AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File
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Cities designed for humans are hard to come by. At least that’s what Mountain View, California-based Y Combinator thinks. According to an announcement on the incubator’s blog today (June 27), Y Combinator is launching a project to research urban planning.

“We want to study building new, better cities,” YC president Sam Altman and partner Adora Cheung wrote. ”The world is full of people who aren’t realizing their potential in large part because their cities don’t provide the opportunities and living conditions necessary for success.”

Altman and Cheung cited most cities’ lack of affordable housing—an ongoing issue in San Francisco—as a key reason for their research. One of the goals of the incubator’s imagined city will be a 90% reduction in housing costs. They will also look at the role of emerging technologies, such as self-driving cars, in urban planning, as well as diversity, civic engagement and the complexity of rules and regulations (Y Combinator wants to see if they can simplify those to 100 pages or less).

“We want to build cities for all humans—tech and non-tech people,” Altman and Cheung wrote. “We’re not interested in building ‘crazy libertarian utopias for techies.'”

This isn’t Y Combinator’s first foray into urban policy. Earlier this month, YC Research—the incubator’s nonprofit research arm—launched a program in Oakland to test the concept of universal basic income, giving citizens $1,000 to $2,000 per month regardless of whether or not they work.

Applications to participate in YC’s project will be open through July 30.