Policy

California: Codes, Corruption And Consensus

Two Tree Hill, Ventura, CA.jpg

We Californians like collaboration. Before we do things here, we consult all of the “stakeholders.” We have hearings, studies, reviews, conferences, charrettes, neighborhood meetings, town halls, and who knows what else. Development in some California cities has become such a maze that some people make a fine living guiding developers through the process, helping them through the minefields and identifying the rings that need kissing.

Here’s an example. This is a (partial?) list of the groups who will have a say on any proposed project in my city, Ventura:  read more »

Let’s Level the Inter-generational Playing Field

bigstock_unemployed_woman_showing_a_mes_15470339.jpg

With President Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kansas decrying the growing economic inequality and lack of upward mobility in America, the issue has finally arrived at the center of this year’s campaign debates.  read more »

Durban, Reducing Emissions and the Dimensions of Sustainability

bigstock_Eco-friendly_car_concept_16843013.jpg

The Durban climate change conference has come to an end, with the nations of the world approving the "Durban Platform," (Note 1) an agreement to agree later on binding greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets by 2020.  read more »

Tilting at (Transit) Windmills in Nashville

bigstock_Nashville_Skyline_736450.jpg

As in other major metropolitan areas in the United States, Nashville public officials are concerned about traffic congestion and the time it takes to get around. There is good reason for this, given the research that demonstrates the strong association between improved economic productivity and shorter travel times to work.  read more »

Illinois: State Of Embarrassment

rahm-obama.jpg

Most critics of Barack Obama’s desultory performance the past three years trace it to his supposedly leftist ideology, lack of experience and even his personality quirks. But it would perhaps be more useful to look at the geography — of Chicago and the state of Illinois — that nurtured his career and shaped his approach to politics. Like with George W. Bush and Texas, this is a case where you can’t separate the man from the place.  read more »

Wall Street Plays Occupy White House

bigstock_Wall_Street_Bull_4242491.jpg

Wall Street is disdained in the court of public opinion — detested by the tea party on the right and the Occupy movement on the left. The public blames financial plutocrats for America’s economic plight more than either President Barack Obama or former President George W. Bush. Less than a quarter of all Americans, according to Gallup, have confidence in the banks, which vie for the lowest spot with Big Business and Congress.  read more »

Is Suburbia Doomed? Not So Fast.

bigstock_Suburbs__2977023.jpg

This past weekend the New York Times devoted two big op-eds to the decline of the suburb. In one, new urban theorist Chris Leinberger said that Americans were increasingly abandoning “fringe suburbs” for dense, transit-oriented urban areas.  read more »

Good Morning, Vietnam

bigstock_Colorful_and_chaotic_houses_in_16662566.jpg

While many experts are pronouncing the demise of the American era and the rise of China, other East Asian nations complicate the picture. As America continues to participate and extend its influence in the dynamic Asian market, there may be no more suitable ally than its old antagonist, Vietnam.  read more »

Mass Transit: Could Raising Fares Increase Ridership?

mass transit bus, madison.jpg

Conventional wisdom dictates that keeping transit fares as low as possible will promote high ridership levels. That isn't entirely incorrect. Holding all else constant, raising fares would have a negative impact on ridership. But allowing the market to set transit fares, when coupled with a number of key reforms could actually increase transit ridership, even if prices increase. In order to implement these reforms, we would need to purge from our minds the idea that public transit is a welfare service that ought to be virtually free in order to accommodate the poor.  read more »

Social Market Housing for the USA: Dream or Nightmare?

bigstock_A_Block_Of_Hdb_Flats_In_Singap_1459418.jpg

Imagine a future America where the home ownership rate climbs from the current 65%1 to 87%2.  Libertarians as well as many social democrats would be cheering.  Imagine that this rate was achieved by the state itself acting as the builder of 88%3 of the housing.  Imagine also that the state imposes rules on home purchases to favor first time  read more »