The California Dream has Moved Away

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Southern California faces a serious middle income housing affordability crisis. I refer to middle income housing, because this nation has become so successful in democratizing property ownership that the overwhelming majority of middle income households own their own homes in most of the country.  read more »

Are Suburbs Causing Crime?


Reihan Salam, often an insightful critic, argues in Salon that poverty has come to the suburbs at a higher rate than it has grown in big cities because poorer service workers have followed the service jobs required in the suburbs. This has caused problems.  read more »

Not so Unequal America?


The extreme and rising inequality of income and wealth in the United States has been exhaustively reported and analyzed, including by me. Incomes are strikingly unequal just about everywhere, but not to the same degree. To discover a more egalitarian America, I used US Census American Community Survey data (2007-2011) estimates of the Gini coefficients of all US counties and equivalents.  read more »

Growth Concentrated in Most Suburbanized Core Cities


An analysis of the just-released municipal population trends shows that core city growth is centered in the municipalities that have the largest percentage of their population living in suburban (or exurban) neighborhoods.

Improved Urban Core Analysis  read more »

Malls Washed Up? Not Quite Yet


Maybe it’s that reporters don’t like malls. After all they tend to be young, highly urban, single, and highly educated, not the key demographic at your local Macy’s, much less H&M.

But for years now, the conventional wisdom in the media is that the mall—particularly in the suburbs—is doomed. Here a typical sample from The Guardian: “Once-proud visions of suburban utopia are left to rot as online shopping and the resurgence of city centers make malls increasingly irrelevant to young people.”  read more »

Better Suburbs = Better Cities: Employment and the Importance of the Suburban Economy


Australia’s inner city areas and CBDs are a focus of media and public policy attention, with good reason. But it’s also true that the real engines of employment are outside the inner city areas and that the dominant role of our suburban economy as an economic engine is grossly understated, even ignored. This is not good public policy. It’s not even common sense. 

I have a view that the focus on urban renewal and inner urban economic development has become a policy obsession of late.  read more »

Celebrating Strips Malls: Strength in Standardization


Our current urbanized form has become remarkably homogenous. Anywhere in Florida, and in much of the United States, one now experiences a new sense of sameness in the texture and the pace of places. America has entered a period of uniform buildings, roads, and infrastructure, differing only in the details. We live in a very standardized America today.  read more »


Suburban Migration In Baltimore


One unique aspect of Baltimore is that it is a so-called “independent city” that is not part of any county. Because of this, migration data from the IRS allows us to look specifically at the city of Baltimore. So I wanted to take a quick look at migration between Baltimore and its suburbs.

As you might expect, there’s been a net outflow of people from the city for quite some time. From 1990 to 2011 (the most recent year the IRS has released), Baltimore lost almost 151,000 people on a net basis to its suburbs. Here’s the chart:  read more »

Dispersion and Concentration in Metropolitan Employment


The just released County Business Patterns indicates a general trend of continued employment dispersion to the newer suburbs (principally the outer suburbs) and exurbs but also greater concentration in the central business districts of the 52 major metropolitan areas in the United States (over 1 million population in 2013). County Business Patterns is a Census Bureau program that provides largely private-sector employment data by geography throughout the nation.  read more »

Land Use Regulations and “Social Engineering”


All forms of land use regulation are explicitly “social engineering”. Full stop. Let’s acknowledge that reality as we move forward. The question is never whether we’ll be engaging in manipulating society through land use regulations, but how and why.  read more »