Smart Growth and the Quality of Life


The idea of “smart growth” should be like mom and apple pie. But take a closer look and you find, for the most part, that smart growth policies often have unintended consequences that are anything but smart.  read more »

Toward a Continental Growth Strategy


North America remains easily the most favored continent both by demography and resources. The political party that harnesses this reality will own the political future.

America cannot afford a prolonged period of slow economic growth. But neither Democrats nor Republicans are prepared to offer a robust growth agenda. Regardless of what happened in the November midterm elections, the party that can outline an economic expansion strategy suitable to this enormous continental nation will own the political future.  read more »

Dallas: Building America's Largest Urban Park on the Trinity Riverside

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A flood protection site in Dallas is being transformed into America’s largest urban park. The economic and ecological benefits of conserving this slice of North Texas are destined to reverberate well beyond the city limits. Blackland Prairie is the most endangered large ecosystem in North America. The development that is underway —thankfully — to preserve this remnant of our past will also shore up our natural assets for the future.  read more »

Education Wars: The New Battle For Brains


The end of stimulus — as well as the power shift in Congress — will have a profound effect on which regions and states can position themselves for the longer-term recovery. Nowhere will this be more critical than in the battle for brains.

In the past, and the present, places have competed for smart, high-skilled newcomers by building impressive physical infrastructure and offering incentives and inducements for companies or individuals. But the battle for the brains — and for long-term growth — is increasingly tied to whether a state can maintain or expand its state-supported higher education. This is particularly critical given the growing student debt crisis, which may make public institutions even more attractive to top students.  read more »

Retro Rail Alert


The New Zealand Government recently decided to follow the example of Montreal and Toronto by amalgamating the six City councils and the single Regional Council of the Auckland Region to create a united “Super City” of 1.4 million people.

Like similar amalgamated bodies, the new Auckland Council, which came into being on the 1st November, 2010, has fallen for the notion of regionally determined smart growth built around a huge investment in heavy rail.  read more »

Florida Goes Underground


By Richard Reep

Last year’s report that Florida had lost people marked a new low in our state’s boom-and-bust history. But this autumn’s news seems to surpass even that sorry milestone with a combination of sluggish tourism, empty state coffers, and a reputation as one of the top real estate foreclosure states. Florida just can’t seem to get out of its own way, and with the fourth highest population in the country, it could have competed with Texas to replace California as one of the best business climates in the nation. Instead, Florida, which boasts one of the lowest tax rates in the nation, continues to see businesses and citizens depart  read more »

Could the Dallas Way be the Right Way?


Dallas was George W. Bush’s first choice for a retirement destination but it gets low approval ratings elsewhere. A recent poll of readers of American Style magazine rated Dallas only 24th out of 25 large American cities as an arts destination. It came in immediately behind those well-known cultural magnets Milwaukee and Las Vegas, and ahead of only Jacksonville FL, even though it dwarfs all three places in terms of population, arts institutions and urban amenities. An apparently typical assessment residing in the blogosphere states flatly “God I hate Dallas.  read more »

Looking Down Under for a California Turnaround

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At a time when government in California faces an existential crisis, it’s telling to observe a starkly different picture in Australia. Forty years ago, local officials in fast-growing suburban communities in Queensland, Australia looked to their colleagues in fast-growing suburban communities in California as kindred spirits. They began a tradition of trading annual exchange visits to compare notes. Last month I had the opportunity to participate in that exchange. This year’s gathering took place on the “Sunshine Coast” north of Brisbane.  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 »

Toronto Election Highlights Failure of Amalgamation


In my pre-election piece on the Toronto election, I discussed the city’s lingering malaise. It developed slowly but its roots can be traced to the 1998 amalgamation that swallowed up five suburban municipalities. This led to a six folds expansion of city boundaries and a tripling the population base. This amalgamation was initiated by the province of Ontario as a cost saving measure and faced major local opposition.  read more »