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Microchip Business

On Wednesday that it had agreed to negotiate with a group led by Bain Capital, the American investment firm, that also includes two organizations controlled by the Japanese government. They will seek to strike a deal over Toshiba’s chip business, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of flash memory chips, which are used to store data in millions of smartphones and other digital devices.

A deal, which Toshiba hopes to complete by this month, is widely expected to value the chip business at more than $20 billion — a potential shot in the arm for a company struggling with the aftermath of a disastrous bet on building nuclear power plants.

But Toshiba said the negotiations would not be exclusive. That could leave an opening for new bids from Western Digital, another potential American suitor, and Foxconn, an electronics manufacturer based in Taiwan that has extensive operations in mainland China.

Toshiba is racing to shore up its finances. Once a symbol of Japan’s technical prowess and postwar rise, Toshiba said this year that it would have trouble staying in business because of losses from Westinghouse Electric, its nuclear power business in the United States, which was slammed with cost overruns and filed for bankruptcy court protection in March.

Toshiba’s banks are keeping the company afloat, but if it does not secure a significant infusion of new capital by March, it could be expelled from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. That would essentially cut it off from a broad swath of public investors.

The chip negotiations have been complicated, however.

Western Digital shares ownership with Toshiba of a flash memory production operation in Japan and argues that the Japanese company cannot sell the chip business to an outside party without its approval. Western Digital immediately objected to Toshiba’s decision on Wednesday to name the Bain group its favored bidder.

“We are disappointed that Toshiba would take this action,” Western Digital said in a statement. “Our goal has been — and remains — to reach a mutually beneficial outcome that satisfies the needs of Toshiba and its stakeholders.”

Toshiba had already picked the Bain-led group once before, in June. But the choice provoked a furious response from Western Digital. Legal pressure from the American company prompted Toshiba to back away from its previous commitment to Bain and reopen talks with other potential bidders.

Foxconn, which makes iPhone and other devices and hardware that carry the brand names of other electronics heavyweights, has publicly pushed to be the buyer. But its heavy manufacturing footprint in mainland China has promoted fears in Japan that the business could eventually leave the country and end up on Chinese soil.

Toshiba’s microchip unit is second only to Samsung Electronics of South Korea in producing so-called NAND flash memory chips. The business has been profitable for Toshiba, which pioneered NAND technology.

The Food halls Bussines

Food halls are a place where there’s life and there’s buzz,” said David LaPierre, vice chairman of the global retail services team at CBRE, a commercial real estate services firm. “It’s a real social environment where people want to be.”

In Downtown Brooklyn, the DeKalb Market Hall food hall opened recently in the basement of City Point, a retail, entertainment and restaurant project spanning six levels on the former site of the Albee Square Mall. Traffic for the food hall ramps up primarily in the lunch and dinner hours, and some spills into the rest of the mall, said Christopher Conlon, chief operating officer for City Point’s developer, Acadia Realty Trust, a retail property investor based in Rye, N.Y.

“DeKalb Market Hall has already had a tremendous impact on tenant traffic in the upper levels,” he said. “But we also have space on the ground floor still to lease, and the interest driven by the excitement surrounding the food hall has been just as tremendous.”

At 36,000 square feet, the food hall features 40 vendors, including the first Katz’s Deli outside Manhattan and a few Foragers Market concepts operated by Anna Castellani, who worked with Acadia Realty to select the tenants and manage DeKalb Market. A 7,500-square-foot entertainment venue opening this fall will extend food hall business hours past midnight, Mr. Conlon said.

Food halls have been around for years, especially in Europe. But the concept is becoming increasingly popular in the United States as consumers demand healthier and better-tasting “quick casual” food options in entertaining environments, observers say. The number of food halls operating in the United States is expected to exceed 200 in 2019, about double the number that were open in late 2016, said Pamela Flora, director of research for Cushman & Wakefield. That would also be a roughly 700 percent increase since 2010, according to research compiled by the brokerage firm.

Food halls are not just for retail outlets, however. Pinnacle Red Group, based in San Jose, Calif., plans to put a small one on the ground floor of a planned residential and office tower in downtown Oakland. The developer hopes to leverage a bustling street and nearby transportation hubs to create a regional destination, said Ronnie Turner, development manager for the firm.

In downtown Chicago, the 15-vendor Revival Food Hall opened last year on the ground floor of a 110-year-old, 20-story office building designed by Daniel Burnham. The food hall’s developer, Craig Golden, is finishing a renovation of the property, now known as the National. He and the restaurateur Bruce Finkelman worked as partners on Revival, which features taco, seafood, poke bowl and other restaurants as well as a book and record shop.

Food halls are still so new that they lack a standard template for success, said Philip Colicchio, a food and beverage consultant in New York, who has added food halls to his chef and hotel client list. The properties range from 5,000 square feet to more than 40,000 square feet, and developers can choose to lease out and operate a food hall themselves, collaborate with a local restaurateur to vet vendors and potentially manage it, or lease to one operator and let it find tenants and run the place.

The management piece will become critical as the concept matures, competition increases and vendors fail, he added. When developers accelerated the food hall boom a few years ago, consumers were spending as much or more on eating out than at grocery stores. But a glut of new restaurants and a change in consumer spending habits have dinged the industry.

Same-store restaurant sales dropped 2.8 percent in July and have been relatively flat or down for about a year, according to the latest report by TDn2K, which tracks weekly sales from 28,5000 restaurants.

Against that unnerving backdrop, developers of large, full-blown food halls can expect to spend at least $200 a square foot to provide expensive infrastructure like venting for open-flame cooking, Mr. Golden said. Alternatively, developers can seek vendors that prepare food off site to simplify operations and minimize costs. Smaller food halls with seven to 10 vendors are popping up with more regularity, too, Ms. Flora said.

Developers establishing food halls with those themes include North American Properties, which bought the 1970s-era Colony Square mixed-use project in Atlanta two years ago. It will soon begin demolishing a food court to make way for a food hall that will feature up to 15 vendors and emphasize live entertainment and other events.

“It’s less about bringing people onto the property to drive retail and more about being a place where people can come and commune,” said Mark Toro, a managing partner for North American Properties.

Food halls are beginning to migrate to the suburbs, and although observers expect more growth in those environments — and eventually malls — they wonder if enough demand exists to support food halls in those locations. Jeffrey A. Bayer, the chief executive of Bayer Properties, a mixed-use developer based in Birmingham, Ala., is betting there is.

DowDuPont into distinct businesses

The new plan, announced in a statement, would divide DowDuPont into three distinct businesses: an agricultural company, a materials science specialist and a specialty products business.

But as part of the reorganization announced on Tuesday, DowDuPont would shift several units that had been destined for the materials science company, which makes plastics and materials, into the specialty products business instead. As a result, the material science company would be smaller than originally planned and the specialty products business bigger.

The new specialty products division will add several businesses that are expected to account for more than $8 billion in combined sales this year. The change is expected to ease concerns by some investors that the materials science company would have too broad a product range, dividing its focus.

After the realignment, the new materials science company, which is expected to be called Dow, is expected to have about $40 billion in annual revenue. The specialty products business would have about $21 billion in annual sales and the agriculture business would have about $14 billion in annual revenue.

Andrew N. Liveris, the DowDuPont executive chairman, said in an interview that the reorganization created a “more focused material company, an exciting specialty products company that will have four distinct, independent businesses that will have growth because they’re best in breed in each of their market verticals.”

“That’s the work we’ve done,” Mr. Liveris said. “If you study any other chemical company out there, they’re still in 30 or 40 markets. There’s been no corporate restructuring of this type, of this value creation, in any sector, let alone the chemicals sector.”

Activist investors had criticized the original plan as unwieldy and unfocused, and the hedge fund Third Point had urged in May that the company be split into six, rather than three, businesses. That suggestion was not accepted, but Third Point’s warning that several units might be “stranded” in the new materials science company appears to have had an effect.

The merger behind DowDuPont was announced in December 2015, bringing together DuPont, the inventor of Kevlar, which was founded more than 200 years ago, and Dow, a maker of plastics and chemicals that is more than a century old.

It has taken nearly two years to complete the transaction as the companies have navigated regulatory concerns.

The European Union signed off on the deal in March after the companies agreed to sell off parts of DuPont’s global pesticide business. In June, the United States Justice Department required the companies to sell certain herbicides, insecticides and plastics products in order for the transaction to proceed.

At the time they announced the transaction, the two companies made clear that they intended to separate the merged company into three. But that plan met opposition from activist investors like the hedge funds Trian Partners and Third Point, which argued that the new companies would each be too large and unfocused.

DowDuPont had been working with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company for several months on the reorganization plan — as part of the merger, a review of the combined company’s operations had been long planned for after regulatory review.

The company’s shares rose 1.9 percent in early trading to $68.13.

Trian Partners, the hedge fund run by the billionaire investor Nelson Peltz, welcomed the announcement on Tuesday, saying it “fully supports the portfolio adjustments announced today by DowDuPont.”

Third Point said it was “pleased to be part of a dialogue that created such a positive outcome for all of DowDuPont’s shareholders.”

Glenview Capital Management, another activist firm that called for changes in the breakup proposal, also praised the new plan.

Activist investors have gone after some of the world’s biggest companies in recent years as their influence has increased.

Strategies for First Time Homeowners

Are you ready to leave your apartment behind and join the ranks of homeowners across the country? It’s an exciting step and one that can also be very daunting. Instinct is to spend hours online dreaming about potential properties. The reality is that it takes a lot more than dreaming to actually get the keys to your first home. The advantages of homeownership include tax deductions, wealth accumulation and a sense of roots. Follow these strategies from the professional real estate agents and mortgage bankers to ensure your venture into home ownership is a positive one. There’s no better time than today to get started.

The first step in the process is to make an appointment with a mortgage broker. The mortgage broker will prepare a prequalification statement based on your current and historical earnings history, credit rating, assets and liabilities.  Be honest and forthcoming with all documents and application questions. The prequalification statement will provide a maximum mortgage amount for which you would qualify.

Connect with a reputable real estate agent that has experience working with first time buyers and present the prequalification statement. Negotiating the sale of a home is a huge undertaking and should be left to the professionals. Many homeowners will not negotiate directly with prospective buyers. Discuss with the real estate agents the types of homes and general location you’re interested in. The agent will research available homes on the market that meet your criteria and arrange for showings. After an offer is submitted, the agent will negotiate the price on your behalf and upon acceptance will make arrangements for closing on the property.

Prior to taking occupancy of your new home, make arrangements for utilities to be placed in your name and supply your post office with a new mailing address. Take advantage of the awesome deals offered Groupon coupons and select one of the many phone plans offered by Straight Talk. Set a date with the movers and prepare to move into your first home. Congratulations to you!

The Best Air Freight Company to Expand Your Business

Exports become simplified when you have a good freight company with you

You might be a king in the local market, but the problem is that you may not get ahead in the race as far as the foreign market is concerned. But you need to put in a few efforts for the same. So, just make sure that you know how you can get ahead and check out things that will really help you in making your exports perfect by all means.

For people who always want to get ahead in the rat race the option should be air freight transport and for that you will have to seek help of Air Freight Forwarders. The company that has very good reputation in the market and the one that would get you towards your goals should be the best one for you.

You should always talk frankly with the experts in the freight company and this will provide you better idea about the terms of the company. You should present the list of your requirements in proper way. If your items are special or fragile then these things should be presented in front of them.

The budget part

Often, people settle down for the cheap options in terms of international freight. But this should not happen. This is because; if you find out a company that is good and that would also have reasonable budget then it would be better. But a good service comes with a good price tag. So, these petty things should not matter to you. The main target should be to find a company that is good enough and that would help you even when things go wrong.

Freight companies are truly helpful to those who would need their business to be spread ahead of the local boundaries. This will really help you in making your business a perfect and complete success. When you are in a business you should always think out of the box. If you just keep conservative thinking then you will never be able to expand the way you should.

Influential Comic Book Writer

Mr. Wein wrote for Batman, the Flash, Superman, the Justice League of America and numerous other comics series. He was also a comic book editor, perhaps most notably on DC’s pivotal Watchmen series in the 1980s. He had writing credits on numerous television shows, many of them based on characters he had helped create.

“I first met him in 2008,” Hugh Jackman, who played Wolverine in films, said on Sunday on Twitter. “I told him — from his heart, mind & hands came the greatest characters in comics.”

Ms. Valada said Mr. Wein was aiming to become an artist until someone at DC, assessing his offerings, told him, “I don’t think the art’s quite there, but I kind of like these stories.” He and Mr. Wolfman sold their first work to DC in 1968.

Mr. Wein found success relatively quickly when he and the artist Bernie Wrightson created Swamp Thing, who first appeared in 1971. (Mr. Wrightson died in March.) The creature, a humanoid, plantlike superhero, made a strong impression, especially on others who were writing comics or aspired to.

The character proved both durable and adaptable, turning up over the years on television and in film. And Mr. Wein became an early example of a change that would wake up the somewhat predictable world of comics, one that made the stories deeper and more ambitious.

“For more than a decade, from the early ’70s to the mid-’80s, as both a writer and an editor, he really sat on the leading edge of what the comics medium could be as it was growing up,” Paul Levitz, author of “75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking,” said in an interview on Monday.

In 1975, Mr. Wein joined with the artist David Cockrum to relaunch Marvel Comics’ X-Men, the team of mutant superheroes created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Mr. Wein and Mr. Cockrum created new characters, including Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus.

Wolverine, who first appeared in an “Incredible Hulk” story Mr. Wein wrote, also joined the X-Men universe, which yielded not only many comics but also a profitable series of movies.

Mr. Wein was an editor for Marvel, DC and Disney Comics. He brought the British writer Alan Moore into the Swamp Thing series in the early 1980s, and in 1986 he was editor on the Watchmen series by Mr. Moore, the artist Dave Gibbons and the colorist John Higgins. That work, Mr. Levitz, said, was “arguably the most important comic published by a traditional comics publisher in the ’80s” and helped usher in the era of the graphic novel.

Mr. Wein and Ms. Valada were married in 1991. Mr. Wein’s previous marriage, to Glynis Oliver, a colorist who worked with him, ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a stepson, Michael Bieniewicz-Valada.

Ms. Valada said Mr. Wein had recently returned to writing Swamp Thing. But his favorite characters to write, she said, were two he did not create: Batman and the Incredible Hulk.

That suggests a fondness for tradition, but Mr. Wein in fact helped bring a younger, innovative sensibility to the art form. Years ago, barely in his 20s, he got a sense of the generational divide in the comic-book-making world of the time when he worked on the television-tie-in comics for “Star Trek” being published by Gold Key. The staff there, he once said at a panel discussion, was on the older side.

Chief Executive to Step Down

The financial technology start-up known as SoFi, which has been accused of having a toxic office culture, joins a substantial list of companies grappling with cultural issues in the workplace.

Mr. Cagney wrote in a letter to employees that “the combination of HR-related litigation and negative press have become a distraction from the company’s core mission.”

• Several former employees said that Mr. Cagney had inappropriate relationships with SoFi employees. Mr. Cagney often overstepped personal and business boundaries, according to interviews with more than 30 people familiar with the company.

• In 2012, Mr. Cagney sent sexually explicit text messages to an executive assistant named Laura Munoz. The company and its board agreed to pay Ms. Munoz a $75,000 settlement. The same year, he also pursued a relationship with another employee.

• A spokesman for SoFi said that the board had investigated a dispute between Mr. Cagney and a former employee and found no evidence of a romantic or sexual relationship. The company reached a settlement after the investigation.

• A former employee of SoFi filed a lawsuit in August saying that he had witnessed female employees being harassed by managers and was fired after he reported it. The lawsuit did not initially name Mr. Cagney, but he was added later as a defendant and accused of “empowering other managers to engage in sexual conduct in the workplace.” SoFi said in September that it was investigating the allegations.

• Mr. Cagney may have been overaggressive in expanding the business, skirting risk controls and compliance rules, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The SoFi spokesman disputed this.

• There were also questions about one of its initial products. The company said it had raised $90 million in debt financing for one of the loan products that it sold to investors in 2012, but that financing never took place. The issue was brought to the board, which made no changes. SoFi eventually bought the loans back from investors.

• Employees who spoke to The Wall Street Journal also described a culture in which they felt pressure to work extra hours for fear of being fired. One said that Mr. Cagney would tell workers that if they weren’t waking up twice a week in a cold sweat, they weren’t working hard enough. These employees also described angry executives breaking furniture and throwing telephones.

These kinds of problems have been far from rare in Silicon Valley.

Venture capitalists have faced questions about their behavior toward women entrepreneurs, while accusations of sexual harassment and questions about business tactics have led to an exodus of senior leaders at Uber.

(The ride-hailing company, which recently appointed a new chief executive after a year of turmoil, is said to be closer to selling a stake to SoftBank, according to Recode.)

If a hotel were to double the price of a room during an emergency, a family might choose to rent fewer rooms at the higher price, or they might choose to tough it out at home if their house were damaged but livable.

Either option would increase the supply of hotel rooms, making them available to those who most need them, argues Matt Swolinski, director of the Center for Ethics, Economics and Public Policy at the University of San Diego.

The arguments may make sense in theory, but when it comes to trying to protect those who can’t afford the most basic goods, they seem like an inhumane affront to our sensibilities, Andrew Ross Sorkin writes.

There could be even more insidious side effects of anti-gouging laws.

Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University, warns that a black market could emerge. Customers could buy up valuable supplies and resell them at higher prices, or store employees could funnel scarce goods to friends and family.

Maybe the lesson is that during national emergencies — the ultimate distortion in daily economic activity — a free market can make the distortion worse.

The Last Old-School Restaurateur Standing

Drew Nieporent was born in 1955 and was obsessed with food by the early 1960s, before New York diners and newspaper critics became infatuated with everything French. “I had amazing exposure to restaurants of the ‘60s that nobody around today visited except my brother and me,” he recalled. “I had to parlay it into something.”

He forgot nothing, exquisite training for a child who would grow up to become one of New York’s pre-eminent front-of-the-house men and surely the most singular. Say what you will about his fellow empire builders like Danny Meyer, Keith McNally and Nick Valenti: As influential and successful as they have been as hosts, money assemblers and deal makers, none are still patrolling their restaurants with the same passion as Mr. Nieporent has.

In an age when marquee restaurants are often defined by their celebrity chefs, he may be the last of the great meet-and-greet men, a breed of owners who reigned over their personal dominions, the seemingly insignificant space between dining room and front door.

They assigned tables (momentous in Manhattan), communicated with their chefs, turned away the less fortunate (or less famous), dispensed perks of food and wine, and determined who was a V.I.P. and who was like the rest of us. At one time they personified their places of business and became as well known as their restaurants, especially if they were as revered as Sirio Maccioni (Le Cirque), Joe Baum (the Forum of the Twelve Caesars, the Four Seasons) and George Lang (Café des Artistes).

These days you will often find Mr. Nieporent on the premises when you walk into Bâtard, Tribeca Grill or one of the two Nobus in New York that he oversees. He remains intensely hands-on at a time when franchising and financing are the priorities in an increasingly difficult business. Remarkably, after more than 30 years of opening (and often closing) restaurants, Mr. Nieporent has hardly changed.

His famously cramped office has always been in TriBeCa; when his Myriad Restaurant Group was headquartered on Franklin Street, he used to sit outside, smoke a cigar and conduct business at a table brought down to the sidewalk. During business hours he is now more likely to be on the patio of Tribeca Grill.

He never hired a public relations firm, preferring personal contact. He remains the best resource for those who know him, have his phone number and need a last-minute reservation at any restaurant in town.

“If you’re a friend of Drew, you get in any door,” said the comedian and actor Paul Reiser, who took a photography class with Mr. Nieporent at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. “The whole point of getting famous is to hope for a good table, but you can end that heartache with a shortcut, just by knowing Drew. I once wanted to go to Rubicon in San Francisco while he was in Japan. He got me in. He’s hospitable from 5,000 miles away.”

Wherever Mr. Nieporent (NEE-pour-rent) appears — and he seems to be everywhere — he is a commanding figure, never content to hover in the background. He lights up a room like a bottle rocket on a birthday cake. He greets everyone he knows (and he knows everyone) in a voice that booms like a bugle call at sunrise or a ram’s horn on the Jewish High Holy Days.

“Taking care of people separates him,” said Marty Shapiro, a Myriad partner. “Others feel that way, but it’s in his soul.”

As everyone knows, attention from Mr. Nieporent can come at a price. “He will say anything that comes to mind,” his daughter, Gabrielle, pointed out. “He has no filter.”

He does it for love of a punch line, and perhaps from a certain cantankerousness that comes from knowing that what he set out to become — the Manhattan restaurateur as arbiter of everything culinary — has diminished drastically with the rise of the superstar chef.

“He loves to tell you to your face what he thought of your cooking,” said Eric Ripert, the chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin. “Mostly, it’s a compliment. He once said to me: ‘You’re the best seafood chef on the planet. Do you remember 30 years ago when you were at a charity event in New Jersey and you burned the tuna?’”

Growing Up, Eating Out

He was always going to become a restaurateur, even before he knew what the word meant. Mr. Reiser wrote in Mr. Nieporent’s high school yearbook, “Good luck with your restaurant.” As Mr. Reiser explained recently, “He was the only guy our age who knew exactly what he wanted to be when he was 17 or 18.”Mr. Nieporent’s father, who worked for the New York State Liquor Authority, received limitless invitations to dine on the house from owners hoping for an easy passage through bureaucratic channels. Such questionable largess was less scrutinized back then, although Mr. Nieporent recalls that Irwin Dubrow of Dubrow’s Cafeteria in the garment district — a restaurant he loved — would tape a $20 bill under the toilet for the health inspector, “until the wrong inspector showed up and blew the whistle.”

Mr. Nieporent said he remembers every restaurant he visited and everything he learned.

His mother taught him (wrongly, he points out) to twirl spaghetti with a fork, then capture it on a spoon, when the family was dining at San Marino. He was eating egg rolls and sweet-and-sour pork at China Song, next to the Ed Sullivan Theater, the night in 1964 when the Beatles first performed there. He learned the difference between Wiener schnitzel and schnitzel à la Holstein (which is about anchovies and capers) at Janssen’s. He sighs when recollecting his first chicken Kiev and the thrill of its bursting butter, at Two Guitars, a Russian nightclub in a basement on 14th Street.

“Eating out in the ’60s was for the privileged and the wealthy,” Mr. Nieporent said. “We were neither, but we were treated so well that I wanted to be a part of it. We’d sit at the table with the old-school guys who ran the restaurants. They’d ask my father, ‘What does he want to be?’ He’d say, ‘He wants to be in the restaurant business.’ They’d reply, ‘It’s getting terrible.’ They’d moan and bellyache. They were always crabby, always in a bad mood. But I would feel the aura.”

He graduated from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, and worked on the cruise ships Vistafjord and Sagafjord during summer vacations, carrying trays of food up escalators from the kitchen. “You had to know the proper names of six kinds of potatoes, all the different soups,” he said. “And if you dropped a platter, which I once did, the other waiters were pissed at you.”

After graduation, he recalled, “I worked all the La’s and the Le’s: Le Périgord, Le Regence, La Grenouille, La Reserve.” He was assistant restaurant director at Warner LeRoy’s celebrated Maxwell’s Plum and later restaurant director at Mr. LeRoy’s Tavern on the Green.

Housing Market Undaunted

At the same time, many economists are forecasting that the price of undamaged homes will rise as demand outstrips supply. Early estimates suggest that tens of thousands of homes were damaged, and developers are worried about labor shortages as repairs get priority over new construction.

But as insurance and government money comes in, developers and real estate agents are betting that the area will quickly clear the backlog and continue along its normal trajectory of adding homes and people.

Throughout Houston proper and the surrounding suburbs, developers sprawl ever outward, paving over pastures and former wetlands and leaving nothing to absorb the water, when it comes.

“It is one of the most affordable housing markets in the country because people were able to build in places where they were likely to get flooded in the future,” said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, the real estate data service.

Houstonians lose track of how many times they’ve been flooded. They repeatedly renovate or rebuild on elevated platforms and say they will go higher the next time if they have to.

Stefanie Asin and her husband, Jake Everett, live about a block from Brays Bayou in an area of Houston called Braes Heights, where the flood reached the middle of stop signs. After the storm they sat on their porch watching motorboats go by. Their closest neighbor was pulled from the roof of his house by a helicopter.

Their own home was fine because after the last flood, two years ago, they moved out and built a new one on an elevated platform, returning in March. The storm waters of Harvey rose up six of their seven front steps.

Elevated homes are common in Houston, particularly around Ms. Asin’s neighborhood. In July, the City Council approved construction on the first nine homes in a batch of 42 near Brays Bayou that will be elevated using FEMA funding.

The appeal is particularly obvious right now: Elevated homes sit untouched above devastated houses with massive piles of debris all around them. Across the street from Ms. Asin, Arturo Loza, part of a Mormon volunteer relief effort, was helping gut a flooded house with a sink, cabinets and piles of books heaped in front.

 Ms. Asin had been through three large floods since she moved near the bayou two decades ago. In Harvey, her losses were contained to the garage, which was not elevated, and so her daughters’ cars were ruined, and a refrigerator was left floating. But this was nothing new. She said her family had lost five cars to rain and water damage in the last three years.

Asked why they had bought a home in the neighborhood to begin with, Ms. Asin said: “The house was built in 1955 and it had never flooded. We thought, it hasn’t flooded yet!”

Then Tropical Storm Allison hit in 2001 and left a foot of water on the ground floor of the house. “We got it remodeled,” Ms. Asin said. “They told us it was a 500-year flood.”

But in 2015, the so-called Memorial Day flood almost completely covered their front yard, and Mr. Everett was photographed standing on a little patch of ground surrounded on all sides by water.

That flood left three inches of water in their home, enough that everything had to be torn out — Sheetrock, cabinets, floors.

They’d had enough, and considered moving away, but decided to stay put. “We were looking at how to come up with the mortgage for somewhere we didn’t really want to live versus building our dream house,” Mr. Everett said.

So they put up their dream house – seven feet above the street level.

A builder, Brian Silver of BAS Concepts, said that over the last 15 years, his company had built more than 50 homes around Brays Bayou that were elevated in some way – including Ms. Asin’s – and 10 just in the last year.

“If you elevate your house, you’re out of the floodplain,” Mr. Silver said, adding that it was his practice to build new homes a foot above the elevation that FEMA expected floodwaters to rise or the high-water mark of the last storm — whichever was higher.

He predicted that after Harvey, even more homeowners would decide to demolish their flooded homes and build from scratch, but higher, and that already elevated homes would increase in value. (According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners in flood-prone areas are often required to elevate their houses to get flood insurance, and the areas designated can change with storms and development.)

Driving System Faulted

The agency said the system, known as Autopilot, had performed as intended, but lacked safeguards to prevent drivers from using it improperly.

In the Florida case, the driver was able to use the system on a road for which it was not designed, and to turn his attention away from the road for an extended period just before the crash, the N.T.S.B. said.

In January, in what was interpreted as a victory for Tesla, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s report on the accident said that the company’s Autopilot-enabled vehicles did not need to be recalled. That inquiry, however, focused only on the question of whether any flaws in the system had led to the crash; it found no such flaws.

The renewed attention to the Tesla system came as automakers are jockeying to push driverless technologies forward, while lawmakers and regulators scramble to keep pace, with the Trump administration putting forward its approach on Tuesday.

The Transportation Department unveiled voluntary guidelines for testing autonomous vehicles on Tuesday as part of a broader government effort to encourage automakers’ development of self-driving technology.

The department announced the initiative as Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao visited a testing center for self-driving vehicles in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The proposal establishes a voluntary framework of safety guidelines for companies to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. The approach also aims to clarify the role that state governments play in regulating the technology, including the enforcement of traffic laws and vehicle insurance requirements.

The guidelines replace policies set down by the Obama administration last year that called for automakers to submit safety assessments of their self-driving models before testing them on public roads.

Under the new guidelines, it will be left to automakers and other companies to decide whether to submit safety reviews to federal regulators. While the Trump administration will encourage public disclosures of such assessments, the documents will not be subject to federal approval.

There will be no waiting period for a company to begin testing autonomous models, although the vehicles remain subject to broader safety rules and standards for equipment and parts.

Industry officials lauded the less restrictive guidelines, which are intended to be a model for state policies. “The guidance provides the right balance, allowing emerging innovations to thrive while government still keeps a watchful eye over new developments,” said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group.

Separately, the House approved a bill last week allowing automakers to deploy hundreds of thousands of autonomous vehicles on American roads over the next few years. A similar bill is being drafted in the Senate.

In addition to Tesla’s efforts, the competition to develop self-driving cars has become fierce among auto industry giants such as General Motors and Ford Motor, as well as technology companies including Google and Apple.

The companies have been accelerating their testing and have backed legislation exempting autonomous vehicles from current motor vehicle laws.

Some safety campaigners and consumer groups have been critical of the move toward voluntary rules covering self-driving technology, including the guidelines introduced by Ms. Chao, saying they reduce federal oversight that was already too limited.

Automakers and government officials contend that self-driving technology could reduce vehicle accidents and traffic fatalities, which rose by nearly 8 percent in 2015 to more than 35,000 deaths. Tesla reiterated that safety potential Tuesday after the transportation safety board issued its report on the Florida crash.

The accident killed Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio. His 2015 Tesla Model S was operating under its Autopilot system on May 7, 2016, on state highway in Williston, Fla., when it crashed into a tractor-trailer that was crossing the road in front of him.

The system’s forward-looking camera failed to recognize the white truck against a bright sky, and neither Mr. Brown nor the Autopilot system activated the brakes. Data from the car showed it had been traveling at 74 miles per hour at the time of the crash and that Mr. Brown had ignored several warnings to keep his hands on the steering wheel. A preliminary N.T.S.B. report found that he had at least seven seconds to notice the truck before impact.

Like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the N.T.S.B. found that the version of Autopilot in Mr. Brown’s car had performed as it had been designed to.

But Mr. Sumwalt said that version of Autopilot “gave far too much leeway to the driver to divert his attention to something other than driving.” He also said it was intended for use on limited-access highways rather than routes with cross traffic and intersections, such as the state highway Mr. Brown was traveling on.

Since the accident, Tesla has modified Autopilot to warn drivers more frequently to keep their hands on the steering wheel. After three warnings, the system cannot be engaged without stopping and restarting the car.

Tesla has also modified how Autopilot’s radar and camera sensors interact to improve its ability to recognize obstacles. The Autopilot upgrade was rolled out a year ago.

Tesla introduced Autopilot in October 2015, to great fanfare. And for a time it seemed that Tesla was far ahead of the big, established automakers as the notion of self-driving cars caught the imagination of both the media and technology enthusiasts.