Can Florida Escape the Horse Latitudes?


When it comes to the winds of change, Florida remains in the horse latitudes.  This zone of the Atlantic around 30 degrees latitude was so named by ship captains because their ships, becalmed in the water, seemed to move faster when they lightened their load by throwing off a few horses.  Florida’s governor Rick Scott, who campaigned on a promise to create 700,000 jobs in this state, appears to have adopted the same tactic by throwing overboard the Department of Community Affairs, the state agency that regulated real estate development.  Other bureaucracies may be next in line  read more »

Outlawing New Houses in California


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 »

Detroit: A Century On The Smart-Growth Grid

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The following excerpts are from a report that was intended to solve many of the planning issues facing one of America's largest cities: Detroit. Its conclusions are in many ways counter to the ‘Smart Growth’ principles being promoted by influential decision makers. It was compiled by the city's highest level planners and engineers:  read more »

Will the Last Family Leaving Seattle Please Turn out the Lights?


New Census data for the Seattle area's population changes, 2000-2010, permit a preliminary look at age and at types of households in the region. Let's look at patterns of geographic variation in selected age groups and household types for places in greater Seattle. It provides more evidence for how rapidly Seattle in particular is changing in fundamental ways.  read more »

Why Compact Cities Aren't so Smart


I was interested to read the views of Rick Boven of the New Zealand Institute about central and local government needing to resolve their differences about the future of Auckland.  Well, they have worked on that since the establishment of GUEDO in 2005 (now the Auckland Policy Office).   read more »

Inside Sydney's Central Business District: the Retail Core


World famous for its beautiful harbour setting, Sydney’s Central Business District is undergoing a resurgence. As the hub of Australia’s finance sector, it stumbled during the global crisis. Office vacancies jumped from 5.7 per cent in early 2008 to 8.8 per cent in mid 2009, despite stable supply. Ultimately, though, Sydney was spared the worst, owing to its rise as a staging post for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, which averted the havoc of Europe and North America. Recovery is now underway, if slowly.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Jakarta (Jabotabek)


There is probably no large urban area in the world that better illustrates the continuing dispersion of urban population and declining urban population density than Jakarta. Recently released 2010 census data indicates over the past decade that 84 percent of the metropolitan area (Jabotabek) population growth occurred in the suburbs (Note 1). This continues a trend which saw more than 75 percent of growth in the suburbs between 1971 and 2000 (Figure 1).  read more »

Transit: The 4 Percent Solution


A new Brookings Institution report provides an unprecedented glimpse into the lack of potential for transit to make a more meaningful contribution to mobility in the nation's metropolitan areas. The report, entitled Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America, provides estimates of the percentage of jobs that can be accessed by transit in 45, 60 or 90 minutes, one-way, by residents of the 100 largest US metropolitan areas.  read more »

The Recipe for Unlivable Cities in New Zealand


The Auckland Council’s great vision is to make Auckland one of the world’s most livable cities. Yet the outcome of its currently proposed plans will be a city which is second best for most Aucklanders.

Some 60% to 80% of residents of New World cities state a clear preference for a single family home with its own backyard. In Victoria state, where Melbourne is located, 70% of the population, for example, preferred a single family home according to one government study. There have been similar findings from US based groups like the National Association of Realtors.  read more »

Condo Culture: How Florida Became Floridastan

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Welcome to Griftopia. The Florida housing industry needs a karmic rebalancing. Our recent roar of building new structures is echoed today by the squeaks and pops of a different type of construction industry. Invasive testing – the architectural equivalent of a biopsy – seems to be on the rise. Saws, hammers, and cranes can be heard through the quiet suburban developments and subdivisions around Florida, as shingles and stucco are cut off in small patches to reveal serious problems within.  read more »