California

This Train Won’t Leave the Station

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Governor Gavin Newsom has canceled the bulk of the state’s long-proposed high-speed line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, leaving only a tail of the once-grand project—a connection between the Central Valley’s Merced and Bakersfield, not exactly major metropolitan areas. “Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”  read more »

Pulling the Plug on HS2 (London-Birmingham High Speed Rail)?

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High speed rail may be proposed as a climate change panacea here and elsewhere, but the results on the ground are less than promising. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced this week that the California high speed rail project would be scaled back to the route between Bakersfield and Merced, in the San Joaquin Valley (which the state has enough money for). In his “state of the state” speech the Governor said “…let’s be real. The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”  read more »

Restoring The California Dream, Not Nailing Its Coffin

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Virtually everyone, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, is aware of the severity of California’s housing crisis. The bad news is that most proposals floating in Sacramento are likely to do very little to address our housing shortage.

Newsom has promised to have 3.5 million homes built over the next seven years to solve the problem. That is, conservatively stated, more than 2.6 million that would be built at the current rate of construction.  read more »

Beyond Beer, Bread and Bicycles: The Industrial Return To the City

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In San Francisco, the former site of the Hunters Point shipyard is now being developed with over 10,000 units of housing, 2.6 million square feet of office and R&D space, and about a half million square feet of retail. The project will also include about 75,000 square feet of maker space, or less than 1% of the total building area, most of which will probably go to artisanal firms making food, fashion and furnishing, things like beer, bread and bicycles, sold to the upscale consumers of the region.  read more »

The Bifurcated City

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After drifting toward decrepitude since the 1970s, many core cities have experienced real, often bracing, turnarounds. Yet concern is growing that the revitalization of parts of these cities has unevenly benefited some residents at the expense of others. The crucial, and often ignored, question remains whether the policies that have helped spark urban revivals have improved conditions for the greatest number of residents.  read more »

The High Residential Densities of California (and “Wild Wild” Texas)

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US major metropolitan areas show considerable differences in their median house sizes and median lot sizes among major US metropolitan areas. Reviewing the median square footage for owner occupied housing units (single-detached and manufactured/mobile homes) and median lot sizes for single unit houses varies significantly between metropolitan areas although, by contrast, median house sizes are remarkably similar.  read more »

Amazon, Google, Apple and the Late Capitalism Blues

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We think of the movements of high-tech firms as illustrative of totally new phenomena but it resonates as well with earlier industrial history. The “gilded age” of America, when industries expanded rapidly, produced a growing appetite for labor. Automation in production also expanded output and revenue, but also a growing need for workers.  read more »

Can High-Speed Rail Make Housing Affordable?

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UCLA management professor Jerry Nickerson thinks he has found a solution to California’s housing affordability problems: high-speed rail. Based on years of data, he has concluded that some Japanese who work in Tokyo and other expensive cities make long commutes on high-speed trains to more affordable cities elsewhere in the country.  read more »

Emmanuel Newsom?

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A youthful and handsome appearance, the blessings of the autocrats and clerics of our times, and a fawning media — all these belonged to French President Emmanuel Macron just a year ago. He was praised as everything from the “new leader of the Free World” to Europe’s Reagan.

Today Macron’s presidency is adrift, paralyzed by grassroots opposition to his policies — mostly from the middle and working classes — and a popularity rating about half of that suffered by Donald Trump. Is this the fate that awaits our new governor, Gavin Newsom?  read more »

Centennial at Tejon Ranch

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I was included in an e-mail thread last week about a 19,000 unit master planned community on the far edge of Los Angeles County. There’s an on-going debate about whether this is part of California’s housing solution or part of the problem. Centennial is one of three proposed residential developments at Tejon Ranch. It hugs the border of Kern County thirty miles outside of Bakersfield and three mountain ranges from LA proper. After a couple of decades of negotiations it was finally approved by the authorities.  read more »