Are Developers Greedy, Or Just Misunderstood?


Construction starts in Australia, like much of the English-speaking world, are falling across a spectrum from commercial to retail, industrial and housing. Construction industry jobs - one of the few sources for well compensated blue collar employment - are going with them. Yet developers, the very group who would create these jobs, continue to suffer a poor public image. Why, and can it ever be improved?  read more »

Love and the City


It has been said that the modern city is soulless, that it is heartless, and that it is brutal. The modern city represents in its scale and complexity one of the most extraordinary of human inventions, but there is also no doubt that everywhere in the world it is also one of our biggest failures.

The dysfunction of a city in the past was an inconvenience. The dysfunction of a city in the future will be a profound disaster for that city and, ironically, a profound opportunity for another city, of a smarter city. It will be an opportunity for a city that has found out how to position itself better in the world of cities, but more importantly in the eyes and hearts of its citizens.  read more »

The Overdue Debate: Smart Growth Versus Housing Affordability


American households face daunting financial challenges. Even those lucky enough not to have suffered huge savings and retirement fund losses in the Great Recession seem likely to pay more of their incomes in taxes in the years to come, as governments attempt pay bills beyond their reasonable financial ability. Beyond that, America's declining international competitiveness and the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve Board could well set off inflation that could discount further the wealth of households.  read more »

Livability and All That


Livability is one of those once innocuous words, like sustainability, that now receive almost unquestioned acceptance in the bureaucracy, academia and the media. After all, words like sustainability and livability have no acceptable negative form. Who could be in favor of anything unlivable, insensitive, unhealthy or unsustainable?  read more »

The Two Worlds of Buenos Aires


Central Buenos Aires is undoubtedly one of the world's great tourist destinations. Days could be spent walking among its narrow streets admiring the plentiful art noveau, art-deco, beaux-arts and other architectural styles. The triumphal Avenida 9 de Julio is one of the world's widest boulevards with two interior roadways of up to seven lanes and two service roads of two lanes, with a Washington Monument type obelisk at Avenida Corrientes (Top photo). Avenida 9 de Julio is bordered by buildings that are both ordinary and impressive, such as the Colon Opera House.  read more »

Asia’s Go-to Cities: Moving Between Mumbai and Singapore


As someone who has lived in both Singapore and Mumbai, I can appreciate both in their uniqueness. Each city has its own unique place in the world, neither lesser than the other.

In 2006, I left behind a slightly laid back, well run Singapore, a city trying to come to terms with its boring and over-regulated image. The Singapore of 2010 that I returned to, as a newspaper put it recently, has “grown up‟. It is a speeding, futuristic looking city.  read more »

New Index Estimates New House Cost Impact of Land Regulation


In recent decades, an unprecedented variation has developed in the price of new tract housing on the fringe of US metropolitan markets. Nearly all of this difference is in costs other than site preparation and construction, which indicates rising land and regulation costs.  read more »

The EPA: Leading Into A Rain Garden?

EPA building, DC.jpg

Newly-installed solar Panels on the White House are an obvious signal that this administration wants to lead by example. Conservatives will no doubt find ways to ridicule the panels, and liberals will praise them as a display to the world that we are a green nation. About one year ago, on Oct. 5, 2009, the President signed Executive Order (EO) 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.” Like the white house solar panels, this EO also is intended to urge federal agencies to lead by example.  read more »

Aussie Urban Myths


Urban planning in Australia is lost in a dense fog of presumption and theory. What’s needed is to toss out the hype and to illuminate some of the common planning myths for what they really are: impediments to progress.

An example of planning hype occurred not long ago when ten urban academics loudly criticised the Victorian government’s decision to develop about 40,000 hectares of new land on Melbourne's fringe, calling the decision short-sighted and unsustainable.  read more »

Latino Dems Should Rethink Loyalty


Given the awful state of the economy, it’s no surprise that Democrats are losing some support among Latinos. But they can still consider the ethnic group to be in their pocket. Though Latinos have not displayed the lock-step party loyalty of African-Americans, they still favor President Barack Obama by 57 percent, according to one Gallup Poll — down just 10 percentage points from his high number early in the administration.  read more »