California

The Golden State Is Crumbling

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The recent announcement that California's unemployment again nudged up to 12 percent—second worst in the nation behind its evil twin, Nevada—should have come as a surprise but frankly did not. From the beginning of the recession, the Golden State has been stuck bringing up a humbled nation's rear and seems mired in that less-than-illustrious position.  read more »

Megabus – King of the Road

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In recent years there’s been a resurgence in intercity bus travel, driven by the rise of low cost, non-stop service linking tier one cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC with other regional hubs in their surrounding areas. This is a lively and diverse market, particularly on the east coast, with providers like Megabus, Bolt Bus, Greyhound, and a host of so-called “Chinatown” buses.  read more »

World High-Speed Cost Increase Record

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California's high-speed rail project is setting speed records, not on tracks, but rather in cost escalation. Last week, the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) announced that the Bakersfield to Merced section, part of which will comprise the first part of the system to be built, will cost between $10.0 and $13.9 billion. This is an increase of approximately 40 percent to 100 percent over the previous estimate of $7.1 billion, an estimate itself less than two years old.  read more »

How Los Angeles Lost Its Mojo

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Los Angeles today is a city in secular decline. Its current political leadership seems determined to turn the sprawling capitalist dynamo into a faux New York. But they are more likely to leave behind a dense, government-dominated, bankrupt, dysfunctional, Athens by the Pacific.

The greatness of Los Angeles stemmed from its willingness to be different. Unlike Chicago or Denver or New York, the Los Angeles metro area was designed not around a central core but on a series of centers, connected first by railcars and later by the freeways. The result was a dispersed metropolis where most people occupied single-family houses in middle-class neighborhoods.  read more »

California Wages War On Single-Family Homes

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In recent years, homeowners have been made to feel a bit like villains rather than the victims of hard times, Wall Street shenanigans and inept regulators. Instead of being praised for braving the elements, suburban homeowners have been made to feel responsible for everything from the Great Recession to obesity to global warming.  read more »

The Costs of Smart Growth Revisited: A 40 Year Perspective

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"Soaring" land and house prices "certainly represent the biggest single failure" of smart growth, which has contributed to an increase in prices that is unprecedented in history. This  finding could well have been from our new The Housing Crash and Smart Growth, but this observation was made by one of the world's leading urbanologists, Sir Peter Hall, in a classic work 40 years ago.  read more »

The New State of Coastal California?

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In 2009, former California legislator Bill Maze proposed dividing his state, hiving off thirteen counties as Coastal (or Western) California (see map). Maze, a conservative from the agricultural Central Valley, objects to the domination of state politics by the left-leaning Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas. The initial impetus for his proposal was the passage by state voters in 2008 of Proposition 2, requiring larger pens and cages for farm animals.  read more »

Outlawing New Houses in California

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UCLA's most recent Anderson Forecast indicates that there has been a significant shift in demand in California toward condominiums and apartments. The Anderson Forecast concludes that this will cause problems, such as slower growth in construction employment because building multi-unit dwellings creates less employment than building the detached houses that predominate throughout California and most of the nation.  read more »

Natural Gas Vehicles Floor It in Long Beach

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The Alternate Clean Transportation Expo held in Long Beach earlier this month was a spectacular display of engineering ingenuity by Natural Gas Vehicle providers. The event's theme was that America’s self sufficiency in natural gas has decoupled our energy resources from petroleum prices. But the consensus among the gathered engineers and scientists was to look beyond the current prices of petroleum alone, and consider that domestic self sufficiency includes keeping jobs at home.  read more »

Is The Information Industry Reviving Economies?

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For nearly a generation, the information sector, which comprises everything from media and data processing to internet-related businesses, has been ballyhooed as a key driver for both national and regional economic growth. In the 1990s economist Michael Mandell predicted cutting-edge industries like high-tech would create 2.8 million new jobs over 10 years.  This turned out to be something of a pipe dream.  read more »