Housing

The Great Conservative Suicide Pact

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Republicans have been celebrating their good fortune as Democrats vying for the presidential nomination propose free medical care for undocumented people and the elimination of private health insurance, and open borders, not to mention reparations for slavery and the near-term elimination of fossil fuels. Add it up, and it may be enough to keep Doctor Demento in the White House for four more years.  read more »

The Stockton Sandwich

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I just spent a few days in Stockton, California visiting old family friends. They’re a recently retired Lutheran pastor and his wife who relocated from Southern California and returned to their hometown. Being lifelong members of the church has many benefits, but making lots of money isn’t one of them. They run a lean operation and found a modest three bedroom two bath fixer upper for $195,000 and proceeded to do almost all the renovation work themselves.  read more »

The Good Life, Just Beyond

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Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City, by Amanda Kolson Hurley (Belt Publishing, 160 pp., $16.96)

If forced to compare an ice cream flavor with suburbia, many would pick vanilla. Yet, as Amanda Kolson Hurley writes in her new book, Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City, this is just one of many “misinformed clichés” about these peripheral communities. City-dwellers internalized these attitudes early on. In the early 1950s, novelist Raymond Chandler spoke for many urbanites when he disdained suburban life for its “eight-room house, two cars in the garage, chicken every Sunday and the Reader’s Digest on the living room table, the wife with a cast-iron permanent and me with a brain like a sack of Portland cement.”  read more »

Primer on Politics of Homelessness in LA

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I’ll start by giving you all a chance to consider some basic questions that Mayor Eric Garcetti and his staff failed to address –- and the mainstream media left hanging -- in the wake of a report that confirmed the obvious rise in homelessness in Los Angeles over the past year or so.  read more »

China's Urban Crisis

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China stands as the primary exhibit of twenty-first-century urbanism. At a time when elite cities in the West barely manage to grow in population, Chinese cities have emerged out of virtually nothing, as hundreds of millions of people have moved from farm to city.  read more »

What Is Social Justice?

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Perhaps no issue more motivates progressive activists than social justice. Good intentions may motivate the social justice warriors, albeit sometimes sprinkled with a dollop of self-hatred. But good intentions do not necessarily produce good results. Indeed, often the policies favored by progressive idealists hinder the economic and social progress of the very people they seek to rescue.  read more »

Obstacle Course

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I was in Atlanta last month and was encouraged to poke around by the people who invited me. For my entire life the greater Atlanta metroplex has grown in population, geographic size, economic importance, and cultural relevance. As the locals like to remind everyone, Hartsfield-Jackson is the busiest airport in North America. Half the people I went to school with in New Jersey in the 70s and 80s migrated to places like Atlanta for all the usual reasons.  read more »

The New Shame of Our Cities

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A metropolitan economy, if it is working well, is constantly transforming many poor people into middle-class people, many illiterates into skilled people, many greenhorns into competent citizens. . . . Cities don’t lure the middle class. They create it.
—Jane Jacobs  read more »

Europe’s Overlooked Suburbs: Key to EU Election?

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In the run-up to the elections for the European Parliament, The Economist magazine suggests that the old political divisions no longer apply (“Between somewhere and anywhere: The politics of suburbia in Europe,” May 11, 2019). As the chaos of a British Parliament is unable to meet its self-defined Brexit deadline, The Economist observes that “Culture wars have taken hold of European politics and eclipsed the old left-versus-right distinction,” suggesting that the traditional majority social democrats and Christian democrats could find themselves outnumbered after the election:  read more »

Densification Efforts Like SB50 Are The Wrong Fix To California’s Housing Problem

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For decades California’s regulatory and tax policies have undermined our middle class, driving millions out of this most favored state. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in a drive that seeks to destroy the single-family neighborhoods preferred by the state’s middle-income households.  read more »