In the spring of 2003, I chaired an Urban Land Institute Advisory Services Panel focused on strategies for continuing the revitalization of downtown Birmingham, Ala. As in many cities this was driven by the stock of historic downtown buildings slowly being converted to either new office buildings or loft condominiums, supported by a handful of downtown cultural assets and public spaces. Our tour host proudly invited to the panel’s attention that three of the four buildings anchoring downtown’s “100 percent corner” were the high-rise headquarters of three regional banks. read more »
My eldest child tells me that when she arrived at an East Coast college her classmates—many of whom had never visited LA—would ask, “Does your family live in the city, or outside of it?” Her answer, she says, was always long — really long — and of eye-glazing complexity.
Anyone who has raised kids in the middle-class neighborhoods of multipolar LA might chuckle at the thought of trying to define urban or suburban. read more »
Fifty years ago, Phoenix was Tiny Town in the Desert, smaller than Oshkosh or Santa Fe today. Now, it is larger than Philadelphia and the metro area has the bulk of Arizona’s population. That does not mean it gets any respect; on the contrary, it is, to many, a joke, with all of Los Angeles’ traffic and smog but without the ocean, the celebrities or the Lakers. read more »
I have been attacked as a defender of ‘sprawl’ although I consider myself a man of the left, with a political-economy philosophy that is ‘social democratic – far to the left of the contemporary Democratic party. I view global warming as very serious, but consider continuing global warfare over resources, land and religion, and increasing national and global economic and political inequality as even more critical. read more »
One of the most enduring urban myths suggests that most jobs are in the core of metropolitan areas, making commuting from the far suburbs more difficult. Thus, as fuel prices have increased, many have expected that people will begin moving from farther out in the suburbs to locations closer to the cores. Indeed, in some countries, such as Australia, much of the urban planning regime of the last decade has been based upon the assumption that urban areas must not be constrained because the residents on the fringe won’t be able to get to work. read more »
Even in the best of times, Sacramento tends to be a prisoner to low self-esteem. The region's population and economic growth have been humming along nicely for the past decade, drawing ever more educated workers from overpriced coastal counties, but the region's leaders have often seemed defensive about their flourishing town. read more »
As gas prices inch up toward $5 per gallon, many environmentalists and elected officials are looking to public transit as a solution to higher transportation costs and rising fuel consumption. A closer look at the numbers, however, warrants more than a little skepticism that public transit can fulfill the nation’s energy conservation goals. read more »
Everyone except the fabulously wealthy and the truly disconnected knows energy has become much more expensive in recent years, but it's worth taking a step back and examining just how much it has jumped and what we should (and should not) conclude about the impact on nearly all aspects of modern life. read more »
Will high gas prices doom the suburbs? The short answer is no. America’s investment in suburbia is too broad and deep and these will drive all kinds of technological and other adaptations. But the continued outward growth of new suburban housing tracts and power centers is unsustainable. read more »
In the 1960s, California Gov. Edmund Gerald "Pat" Brown laid the foundation for building modern, suburban California with massive new highway projects and one of the most significant public water projects in history. The resulting infrastructure gave us broad, low-density developments with room for millions of Californians to have a home with a backyard and two cars in the driveway.
Those were the good old days. Today, Pat Brown's son Jerry is waging war on the very communities his father helped make possible. Why? Global warming. read more »