Suburbs

Public Pensions: Reform, Repair, Reboot

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Ill-informed chatter continues to dominate the airwaves when it comes to California public pensions. It’s a big, complex and critical issue for government at all levels in the Golden State. What makes debate so distorted is that public pensions actually differ from agency to agency — and advocates on the issue often talk past each other. Pension critics often point to outrageous abuses as if they were typical. On the other hand, pension defenders often cite current averages that understate long-term costs. All this fuels the typical partisan gridlock that Californians lament yet seem powerless to change in our state.

Credit Governor Jerry Brown for trying to overcome the polarization.  read more »

California in 2011: Suburbs Up, Exurbs Down?

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I had the fortune recently to stumble on the California Department of Finance’s estimates of population change in California during the period July 1, 2010 – July 1- 2011. This is distinct from the Federal census, which tried to establish the number of people in all localities as of April 1, 2010. These California statistics are for a short period of only one year; they are not as reliable, of course, as a real census.    read more »

California: Codes, Corruption And Consensus

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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 »

Durban, Reducing Emissions and the Dimensions of Sustainability

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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

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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 »

The Evolving Urban Form: Quanzhou

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Quanzhou? Quanzhou (pronounced "CHWEN-JOE"), despite its urban population that is approaching 5 million this urban area is so unfamiliar to Westerners and the rest of the world as to require an introduction. Quanzhou is a prefecture ("shi") in China's Fujian province. Fujian is just to the north of Guangdong, home of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong's former province (before the British) and just to the south of Zhejiang, the large rich province at the south flank of the Yangtze Delta (which abuts Shanghai). Quanzhou is also adjacent to Xiamen, one of the original special economic zones established by the legendary reformer Deng Xiao Ping.  read more »

Is Suburbia Doomed? Not So Fast.

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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 »

Will You Still House Me When I'm 64?

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In the song by the Beatles, the worry was about being fed and needed at 64. Things have changed. If the Beatles wrote those lyrics today, the worry instead might be about housing.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Delhi

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It has been a time of ups and downs for Delhi, which has emerged as the largest urban area (area of continuous urban development) in India. By a quirk in the Census of India definitions, an urban area (urban agglomeration) may not cross a state or territorial boundary. As a result, Delhi continues to be the second largest urban area in India according to the Census of India.  read more »

Back to the City?

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The 2010 Census results were mostly bleak for cities, especially for those who believed the inflated hype about the resurgence of the city at the expense of the suburbs.  Despite claims of an urban renaissance, the 2000s actually turned out to be worse than the 1990s for central cities.  The one bright spot was downtowns, which showed strong gains, albeit from a low base.  The resurgence of the city story seemed largely fueled by intra-census estimates by the government that proved t  read more »