Blogs

Rail Transit Expansion Reconsidered

More than two years ago we suggested in these pages that the era of multi-billion dollar system-building investments in urban rail transit is coming to an end. We wrote: "The 30-year effort to retrofit American cities with rail infrastructure, begun back in the Nixon Administration, appears to be just about over. The New Starts program is running out of cities that can afford or justify cost-effective rail transit investment.  read more »

Near-New Seattle Residential High-Rise Faces Demolition

Seattle's tony Belltown condo neighborhood hardly needs more bad news. Like many other similar areas in central city cores, the supply of new high rise condominiums has far outstripped the demand. Over the past year, the downtown area condominium market has experienced a median price decline of 35%.  read more »

$300,000-$400,000 for a Levittowner?

An article in The Wall Street Journal details the difficulties that were faced by home owners caught in the Goldman Sachs/John Paulson finance scheme ("The Busted Homes Behind a Big Bet"). The article calls the situation a "dizzyingly complex transaction, involving 90 bonds and a 65-page deal sheet. But it all boiled down to whether people ...  read more »

VITAMIN G

I need a stronger dose of Vitamin G. No, not Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 as it is sometimes called, but Vitamin G: the Green Space Vitamin! Everyday there seems to be more data confirming my personal beliefs that being around, in and associated with green space promotes health, well-being and an enhanced social safety network (reducing stress, anger, frustration and aggression) in all of us. There is a strong, positive relationship found between the amount of green space in our living environment and physical and mental health and longevity.  read more »

Subjects:

LA the Least Gentrified Major City?

Los Angeles has been "gentrified" and made more stable in many of its areas by immigrant settlement, but the phenomenon of Anglo “gentrification” – what used to be "yuppies" or their more contemporary counterparts (original "yuppies" are now in their 50s) upgrading a formerly "bad" neighborhood by pushing up rents and squeezing out existing relatively poor folks – is rarer in Los Angeles than in almost any other American city.  read more »

A Bad Business Cycle for the Creative Economy

Here’s a simple question for you…which metro areas did prospered the most during the past business cycle? (2000-2008)  Were the winners the highly-educated communities that make up the Creative Economy?  Or did someone else zoom ahead?  read more »

What Jobs?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 290,000 more jobs in the US this month than there were last month. Twenty percent of those jobs were added by the federal government. While the federal government added 69,000 new jobs last month, every other level of government – including the post office – cut an average of 2,250 jobs. State governments were hardest hit last month, cutting 5,000 jobs.  read more »

Rating the Unaffordable: The Economist and Mercer

An article by Carl Bialik in The Wall Street Journal questions the value of city livability ratings, such as lists produced by The Economist and Mercer. This issue has been raised on this site by Owen McShane.  read more »

State Auditor Says Only Part of California High Speed Rail Line May be Built

The California State Auditor's report title says it all: High-Speed Rail Authority: It Risks Delays or an Incomplete System Because of Inadequate Planning, Weak Oversight, and Lax Contract Management.

The report, which can fairly be characterized as "damning," criticizes the California High Speed Rail Authority on a wide range of issues, some of which go to the very heart of the project itself.  read more »

Governance in Los Angeles: Back to the Basics

Few would want to be in Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's shoes. The Mayor, a tireless ally of public employee unions through his career is in the uncomfortable position of being forced to choose between his allies and the taxpayers. To his credit, as hard as it is, the Mayor seems inclined to favor the interests of the citizens who the city was established to serve in preference to the interests of those who are employed to serve the people.  read more »