The War Against Suburbia


A year into the Obama administration, America’s dominant geography, suburbia, is now in open revolt against an urban-centric regime that many perceive threatens their way of life, values, and economic future. Scott Brown’s huge upset victory by 5 percent in Massachusetts, which supported Obama by 26 percentage points in 2008, largely was propelled by a wave of support from middle-income suburbs all around Boston. The contrast with 2008 could not be plainer.  read more »

Reducing Traffic Congestion and Improving Travel Options in Los Angeles


While traffic congestion plagues many cities, Los Angeles stands apart. The Texas Transportation Institute tracks congestion statistics for U.S. metropolitan areas on an annual basis, and Los Angeles routinely ranks first for both total and per-capita congestion delays. Considering the value of wasted time and fuel, TTI estimates the annual cost of traffic congestion in greater Los Angeles at close to $10 billion.  read more »

Housing: Density & Desire

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Density — the number of units per acre on a proposed site plan — is at the heart of the developer’s mantra: More density, more profit. Meanwhile, environmentalists and many planners preach high density as the promise for a better future. The compression of families is an attempt to curb sprawl and reduce transportation energy consumption. For these reasons, many Green programs demand a minimum density to qualify for certification.  read more »

Urbanity Drives Gay Rights Victory in Washington


If anyone were to doubt that there really are two Washingtons, that the Seattle metropolitan core (and its playgrounds) are another world from most rural to small city Washington (especially east of the Cascade crest), a look at the maps for the vote on Referendum 71 last November should be persuasive. These are not subtle, marginal differences, but indisputable polarization in what political and cultural researchers may call the modernist-traditional divide.  read more »

The Suburbs are Sexy


The Administration’s Anti-Suburban Agenda: Nearly since inauguration, the Administration has embarked upon a campaign against suburban development, seeking to force most future urban development into far more dense areas. The President set the stage early, telling a Florida town hall meeting that the days of building “sprawl” (pejorative for “suburbanization”) forever were over.  read more »

The Green Movement's People Problem


The once unstoppable green machine lost its mojo at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. After all its laboring and cajoling, the movement at the end resembled not a powerful juggernaut but a forlorn lover wondering why his date never showed up.

One problem is that the people of earth and their representatives don't much fancy the notion of a centrally dictated, slow-growth world. They proved unwilling to abandon either national interest or material aspirations for promises of a greener world.  read more »

Personal Rapid Transit: Twenty-First Century Transport?

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Recently I had the chance to visit Taxi 2000. This Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) company is based just minutes from my office in Minneapolis. I’m no expert on rail systems, but I’ve always believed that an elevated system that can run freely over existing right-of-ways makes more sense than an antiquated system based on nearly 200 hundred year old technology.  read more »

Detroit Needs a Bolder Plan


The Brookings Institution recently unveiled “The Detroit Project”, a plan to revive Detroit, in the New Republic. Brookings' plan has good elements and recognizes some important realities, but also has key gaps. It relies excessively on industrial policy and conventional approaches that are unlikely to drive a real turnaround in America's most troubled big city.  read more »

What To Look For In Healthcare Reform: Location, Location, Location

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A Reuters article that was widely picked up around the globe recently raised the question, Are Doctors What Ails US Healthcare? Comparing the New York suburb of White Plains to Bakersfield, California, the article uses the evergreen two-Americas paradigm to discuss disparities in health care.  read more »

Demographics May Be Destiny, but Mind the Assumptions


Demographic projections have become an essential tool of national, state and local governments, international agencies, and private businesses. The first step in planning for the future is to get a picture of what the terrain is going to look like when you get there. That’s mainly what I do for clients, audiences and subscribers, and demographics provide the frame (like assembling all the straight-edge pieces of a jigsaw puzzle first).  read more »