Small Cities

The Best Cities For Jobs

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This year's "best places for jobs" list is easily the most depressing since we began compiling our annual rankings almost a decade ago. In the past--even in bad years--there were always stalwart areas creating lots of new jobs. In 2007's survey 283 out of 393 metros areas showed job growth, and those at the top were often growing employment by at least 5% to 6%. Last year the number dropped to 63. This year's survey, measuring growth from January 2009 to January 2010, found only 13 metros with any growth.  read more »

The Millennial Metropolis

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Back in the 1950s and 60s when Baby Boomers were young, places like Los Angeles led the nation’s explosive growth in suburban living that has defined the American Dream ever since. As Kevin Roderick observed, the San Fernando Valley became, by extension, “America’s suburb” – a model which would be repeated in virtually every community across the country.  read more »

The War For Jobs, Part II: Teamwork On The Frontlines

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So if we are in a new war -- this one for business and job growth -- what role does local government play?

It would be a mistake to over-emphasize the role of government, especially at the local level. Despite the claims of politicians from both parties about how many jobs their policies "created," governments don't create jobs, at least not in the private sector. Ventura, for example, is estimated to generate about seven to eight billion dollars in annual economic activity. The sales and profitability of thousands of individual businesses are only marginally impacted by what goes on at City Hall, no matter what cheerleaders or critics might claim.  read more »

The War For Jobs Trumps The War For Sales Tax Dollars: Part I

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At the beginning of every war, generals always try to fight the last one. Experienced professionals are often the last to realize the times and terrain have changed.

Since the passage of Proposition 13 — the 1978 'taxpayer revolt' against California property taxes — most California cities have focused on generating sales tax. Property tax, which had been the traditional backbone of local revenue, was slashed by 60%, sparking an intense Darwinian struggle between cities for sales tax market share. During the nineties, the cities along the 101 Corridor in Ventura County competed intensely in the “mall wars” over which cities would get auto dealers and major retailers. The City of Ventura  read more »

Denver Relocation: The Search for Higher Ground

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In 2003 our family relocated to Folsom, California from Carson City, Nevada, after my father-in-law was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, to help with his care. In many ways the transition felt like an immersion into what Joel Kotkin calls the “city of aspiration.” Folsom, a Sacramento region suburb of 50,000, was notable for its robust economy, impressive K-12 schools, world-class bike paths, and low crime. It offered a favorable environment for families and upwardly mobile professionals.

Seven years later, the landscape has certainly changed. My father-in-law has passed on, and California's high cost of living continues to have a profound impact on our personal finances. This scenario, coupled with the currently dire economic picture, gave my wife and I pause to again rethink our future path. After many long nights of thoughtful dialogue, we came to the realization that it was time to break ties with the Golden State. In early summer, Denver will become our next home.

This pending relocation offers our family an opportunity to embrace what I call “the geography of place”— the merging of what one wants to do with where  read more »

All In The Family

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For over a generation pundits, policymakers and futurists have predicted the decline of the American family. Yet in reality, the family, although changing rapidly, is becoming not less but more important.

This can be traced to demographic shifts, including immigration and extended life spans, as well as to changes of attitudes among our increasingly diverse population. Furthermore, severe economic pressures are transforming the family--as they have throughout much of history--into the ultimate "safety net" for millions of people.  read more »

The Heartland Will Play a Huge Role in America's Future

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One of the least anticipated developments in the nation’s 21st-century geography will be the resurgence of the American Heartland, often dismissed by coastal dwellers as “flyover country.”

Yet in the coming 40 years, as America’s population reaches 400 million, the American Heartland particularly the vast region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi will gain in importance.  read more »

New Urbanism, Smart Growth, & Andres Duany: A Critique From Suburbia

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In 1998 Hollywood introduced us to a new star when it released The Truman Show, shot on location at Seaside in Florida. No I’m not talking about Jim Carrey, Laura Linney or Ed Harris. I'm talking about none other than Andres Duany.

A few months ago, I stayed at the magnificent WaterColor Inn, which is in the neighborhood adjacent to Seaside.  read more »

America in 2050 -- Where and How We'll Live

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The presence of 100 million more Americans by 2050 will reshape the nation's geography. Scores of new communities will have to be built to accommodate them, creating a massive demand for new housing, as well as industrial and commercial space.

This growth will include everything from the widespread "infilling" of once-desolate inner cities to the creation of new suburban and exurban towns to the resettling of the American heartland -- the vast, still sparsely populated regions that constitute the majority of the U.S. landmass.  read more »

Forced March To The Cities

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California is in trouble: Unemployment is over 13%, the state is broke and hundreds of thousands of people, many of them middle-class families, are streaming for the exits. But to some politicians, like Sen. Alan Lowenthal, the real challenge for California "progressives" is not to fix the economy but to reengineer the way people live.  read more »