Suburbs

What’s This Place For?

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I was recently asked by Gracen Johnson (check out her site here) to elaborate on the possible future of suburbia. How are the suburbs likely to fare over time? This coincided with a city planner friend of mine who asked a more poignant question about the suburban community he helps manage. “What’s this place for?” If we can answer that question we might be able to get a handle on the possible trajectories of various suburbs.  read more »

The New New Thing: Suburban Bunker Buildings

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I have a theory about where the next culturally dynamic neighborhoods are likely to emerge and which building types will be the engine of that transformation. It may not be exactly what most people expect.  read more »

The Emerging New Aspirational Suburb

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Urban form in American cities is in a constant state of evolution. Until recent years, American suburbia was often built without an appreciation for future evolution. This has left many older suburbs in a deteriorated state, and has accelerated claims of a more generalized suburban decline.  read more »

Go East, Young Southern California Workers

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Do the middle class and working class have a future in the Southland? If they do, that future will be largely determined in the Inland Empire, the one corner of Southern California that seems able to accommodate large-scale growth in population and jobs. If Southern California’s economy is going to grow, it will need a strong Inland Empire.

The calculation starts with the basics of the labor market. Simply put, Los Angeles and Orange counties mostly have become too expensive for many middle-skilled workers. The Riverside-San Bernardino area has emerged as a key labor supplier to the coastal counties, with upward of 15 percent to 25 percent of workers commuting to the coastal counties.

In a new report recently released by National Core, a Rancho Cucamonga nonprofit that develops low-income housing, I and my colleagues, demographer Wendell Cox and analyst Mark Schill, explored the challenges facing the region.  read more »

Military Memorials: Is This Really the Best We Can Do?

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I was researching material for a blog post about the town I grew up in (Toms River, New Jersey) and accidentally stumbled on something completely unrelated that I find deeply disturbing on multiple levels. It was a roadside memorial dedicated to a fallen soldier. I looked up his name and realized that he had gone to my high school and his family lived very near the house I had once lived in. United States Navy SEAL Denis Miranda was twenty four years old when he perished in Qalat, Afghanistan. He has two surviving brothers on active duty.  read more »

World Megacities: Densities Fall as they Become Larger

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There is an impression, both in the press and among some urban analysts that as cities become larger they become more densely populated. In fact, the opposite is overwhelmingly true, as Professor Shlomo Angel has shown in his groundbreaking work, A Planet of Cities. This conclusion arises from the fact that, virtually everywhere, cities grow organically so that they add nearly all of their population on the urban fringe, which has considerably less expensive land.  read more »

Looking Back: The Ideal Communist City

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Over time, suburbs have had many enemies, but perhaps none were more able to impose their version than the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In its bid to remake a Russia of backward villages and provincial towns, the Soviets favored big cities – the bigger the better – and policies that were at least vaguely reminiscent of the “pack and stack” policies so popular with developers and planners today.  read more »

Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Sprawl (Sort of)

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I’m a longtime advocate of walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-served neighborhoods. But lately I’ve been having impure thoughts about suburbia. Let me explain.  read more »

Don't Boost Cities by Bashing the 'Burbs

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There is nothing like a trip to Washington, D.C., to show how out of touch America’s ruling classes have become. I was in the nation’s capital to appear on a panel for a Politico event that – well after I agreed to come – was titled “Booming Cities, Busting Suburbs.”

The notion of cities rising from the rotting carcass of suburbia is widely accepted today by much of our corporate, academic and media leadership. This notion has been repeatedly embraced as well by the Obama administration, whose own former secretary of Housing and Urban Development declared several years back that the suburbs were dying, and people were “moving back to the central cities.”  read more »

Measuring Economic Growth, by Degrees

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In this information age, brains are supposed to be the most valued economic currency. For California, where the regulatory environment is more difficult for companies and people who make things, this is even more the case. Generally speaking, those areas that have the heaviest concentration of educated people generally do better than those who don’t.  read more »