Planning

Enviro-wimps: L.A.'s Big Green Groups Get Comfy, Leaving the Street Fighting to the Little Guys

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So far, 2009 has not been a banner year for greens in Los Angeles. As the area's mainstream enviros buddy up with self-described green politicians and deep-pocketed land speculators and unions who have seemingly joined the “sustainability” cause, an odd thing is happening: Environmentalists are turning into servants for more powerful, politically-connected masters.  read more »

Telecommuting And The Broadband Superhighway

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The internet has become part of our nation’s mass transit system: It is a vehicle many people can use, all at once, to get to work, medical appointments, schools, libraries and elsewhere.

Telecommuting is one means of travel the country can no longer afford to sideline. The nation’s next transportation funding legislation must promote the telecommuting option...aggressively.  read more »

Lessons from the Left: When Radicals Rule – For Thirty Years

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Contrary to popular notions held even here in southern California, Santa Monica was never really a beach town or bedroom community. It was a blue-collar industrial town, home to the famed Douglas Aircraft from before World War II until the 1970s.

When I first lived there in the early ’70s, the city was pretty dilapidated, decaying and declining (except for the attractive neighborhoods of large expensive homes in the city’s northern sections). I remember a lot of retirees, students, and like me and my wife, renters of small apartments in old buildings. The tiredness of the place was incongruous with its great location and weather. But then the first of several spectacular rises in real estate values took off.  read more »

Shrinking the Rust Belt

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An article in the London Daily Telegraph suggesting that President Obama might back a major program of bulldozing parts of cities in the Rust Belt has put so-called “shrinking cities” back in the spotlight. Many cities around the country, especially in the Rust Belt have experienced major population loss in their urban cores which has sometimes spilled into their entire metro area. They have thousands of abandoned homes, decayed infrastructure, environmental challenges, and no growth to justify a belief that many districts will ever be repopulated.  read more »

Did Homeowners Cause The Great Recession?

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The person who caused the current world recession can be found not on Wall Street or the city of London, but instead could be you, and your next-door neighbor--the people who put so much of their savings and credit to buy a house.

Increasingly, conventional wisdom places the fundamental blame for the worldwide downturn on people's desire--particularly in places like the U.K., the U.S. and Spain--to own their own home. Acceptance of the long-term serfdom of renting, the logic increasingly goes, could help restore order and the rightful balance of nature.  read more »

The Suburban Economy and its Enemies

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Treasury Secretary Ken Henry’s recent address to business economists was an apt prism through which to survey Sydney’s immediate past and distant future. According to reports, he said ‘the [Chinese] resources boom had produced a “two-speed” economy, with unemployment rising in the south-eastern states but falling in the west and north’. Dr Henry is reported to have told his Sydney audience, ‘I don’t think everybody in this room should be moving to Perth.  read more »

Why Attitude Matters: How Nebraska is Reaping the Stimulus

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In what are tough times for most states, conditions for business remain surprisingly good in Nebraska. Like other states in the “zone of sanity” Nebraska is especially supportive of small businesses.

Nebraska is one of a series out of mid-American outliers. In 2008 – a year of a severe national contraction – the state experienced a 3.6 percent growth in gross domestic product. Its current unemployment rate of just 4.4 percent stands at less than half the U.S. rate of 9.4 percent  read more »

On Our Knees: Prince Charles vs. Lord Rogers

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It is no wonder that architect Richard Rogers is feeling a bit peeved at Prince Charles. This month, the heir to the British throne scuppered plans for a £1 billion development putting 552 apartments on the 12.8-acre site of the old Chelsea Barracks. Rogers was most offended that the Prince used his Royalty to by-pass the usual planning law consultation, by speaking direct to the Qatari royalty who owned the site.  read more »

Sustaining Localism in the English Suburban Context

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Localism, a longstanding agenda of the Green Party in the context of the UK economy, is gaining ground in the current economic crisis. In a recent edition of the London-based Daily Telegraph, a striking contrast is made between Chester in north-west England – which is suffering from the decline of its relatively narrow economic base and Totnes in south-west England, which with its longstanding interest in alternative living, and more localised economy, seems to be weathering the situation much better. The underlying message from the article is that small is good – particularly for businesses not overextended in their borrowing, and familiar enough with their immediate context to be able to adapt to a changing economy.  read more »

The Geography of Class in Greater Seattle

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Most readers may not be initially very interested in the detailed geography of “class” in Seattle, but it actually matters not only for our area but for the whole debate over the shape of the urban future. Academics, perhaps Americans in general, are loath to admit to class differences, yet they remain very crucial to the understanding of how cities and regions evolve.

Seattle is a great example of the transformation of a 20th century model of the American metropolis to a 21st century-cum-19th century “old World” model of metropolis. It is often held up as one of the role models for other cities, so its experiences should be considered seriously not only for American cities but for regions throughout the advanced world.  read more »