Planning

Downtown China

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In Downtown: It's Rise and Fall, 1880-1950, Robert M Fogelson says that downtowns are a uniquely American phenomenon. He refers to downtown as the commercial cores with high building densities that form "canyons" that, in some smaller urban areas, might be only a block long to a mile or more long.  Fogelson demonstrates that downtowns in the United States are largely a creation of rail transit (subways or metros, street cars and their predecessor horse cars).  read more »

Malthusian Delusions Grip Australia

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Entrepreneur Dick Smith wants Australian families to be subject to China-like population doctrine. Families should be limited to just two children, the father of two and grandfather of six says, because our population growth is something like ‘a plague of locusts.’

Yet in reality, as in many other advanced countries, our population crisis may have more to do with having too few --- specifically younger --- people than too many.  read more »

Cities and the Census: Cities Neither Booming Nor Withering

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For many mayors across the country, including New York City’s Michael Bloomberg, the recently announced results of the 2010 census were a downer. In a host of cities, the population turned out to be substantially lower than the U.S. Census Bureau had estimated for 2010—in New York’s case, by some 250,000 people. Bloomberg immediately called the decade’s meager 2.1 percent growth, less than one-quarter the national average, an “undercount.” Senator Charles Schumer blamed extraterrestrials, accusing the Census Bureau of “living on another planet.”  read more »

Actually, Cities are Part of the Economy

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“The prosperity of our economy and communities is dependent on the political structures and mechanisms used to manage and coordinate our economic systems.”

No politician expecting to be taken seriously would say that today.  read more »

What kind of Cities do we Want, Sustainable, Liveable or Resilient?

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A critical issue from the dreadful earthquake that has severely damaged so much of central Christchurch, taken so many lives, and terrified so many residents of the whole urban area, lies in whether the Central Area should be rebuilt. Some believe it should be abandoned for some other location; others see an opportunity to set new standards in sustainability, urban design, energy efficiency, or whatever ideal urban form takes your fancy.  read more »

Britain's Housing Crisis: Causes and Solutions

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British house construction has remained at a low level for a decade.   Total new house and flat completions for all tenures last year were 113,670 for England, 17,470 for Scotland, and 6,170 for Wales. Excluding Northern Ireland that is 137,310 for Britain. Under 140,000 homes a year is low for a nation of 60 million.

We are nearly at the lowest level of housing production since reliable records began in the 1920s. (Note 1)    read more »

China Housing Market More Stable Than You May Think

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The sensationalist reporting of rising China tends to celebrate the country’s ascent. But there is one area where both economists and casual observers see a potential disaster: the real estate market.  Media reports of skyrocketing housing prices in first tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai and photo essays of Chinese ‘ghost cities’ inject sober skepticism into the otherwise bewildering reality of rapid growth.  read more »

Why Duany is Wrong About the Importance of Public Participation

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One of the news stories circling lately is an interview with Andres Duany where he asserts that public participation requirements are too onerous to enable great work to be done.   Early in my career I worked as a public historian and historic preservation specialist, so rather than launch immediately into my opinion, let me tell you a true story.  read more »

China's Empty Trains... & Other Unintended Consequences

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In a technical sense, the economy has been in recovery since June of 2009. A year and a half into the rebound though, a general cloud of economic malaise continues to cover the nation. Fears of a diminished America are perpetuated from our political and punditry classes. We are told that our collective lack of preparation, education, innovation, industry, and of infrastructure are all setting us up to fall further. Economic indicators may reflect a bounce-back, but structurally, America is waning. It is China that is increasingly emerging as the world’s bright spot in terms of development.  read more »

Australia's Housing Affordability "Outrage"

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There is mounting concern in Australia about the nature and extent of country’s housing affordability crisis. Expressions of distress are not limited to the middle income households who are locked out of the Great Australian Dream of home ownership. There is heightened interest from advocates of low income households and an opposition political party. Moreover, Australia's overvalued housing is receiving renewed attention in international circles.  read more »