Urban Issues

Ten Years After Lehman Collapsed, We’re Still Screwed

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The collapse of Lehman Brothers 10 years ago today began the financial crisis that crippled and even killed for some the American dream as we had known it. Donald Trump might be starting to change that, at least for Americans who aren’t determined to remain in our bluest and priciest cities.  read more »

“Middle America” in America’s Urban Century

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In the late 1990s and the early Aughts, when the last Gen Xers and the first Millennials were launching into their adult lives, “Urban America” was a very different place. On many fronts, the choices young ambitious graduates had were fast becoming limitless, save on one key front: the cities where they could reasonably want to live.  read more »

The Unbearable Sameness of Cities

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The person who sent me Orianna Schwindt’s New York magazine piece on the “unbearable sameness of cities” asked if I had written it under a pen name. Indeed, she hits so many of my themes about American cities:  read more »

Auckland: “A Vancouver of the South Pacific; Beautiful, but Utterly Unaffordable”

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New Zealand’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford reasserted the coalition government’s intention to abolish Auckland’s urban growth boundary at a recent environmental summit. Environmental Defense Society (EDS) CEO Gary Taylor expressed concern about eliminating “rural-urban boundaries” (urban growth boundaries, or UGBs) altogether, an Labour Party election promise.  read more »

The Boom in Urban Housing Prices is Holding Back Economic Growth

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Last year the New York Times ran a story on Ms. Sheila James, a 62-year-old woman who commutes two hours and 50 minutes each way between her home in Stockton, California, and her $81,000-a-year government job in San Francisco.   read more »

The Battle for Houston

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Over the last half-century, Houston has developed an alternative model of urbanism. As the New Urbanist punditry mounts an assault on both suburban growth and single-family homes, Houston has embraced a light regulatory approach that reflects market forces more than ideology. But last year’s Hurricane Harvey floods severely tested the Houston model.  read more »

How We Lit The Fuse On The Population Bomb

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We’ve been here before – concerns about our capacity to house a large population are not new. But lately, hostility to rapid rates of population growth is gaining traction. There have been calls for a population inquiry and former PM Hon Tony Abbott has called for immigration (and hence population growth) to be slashed. He joins a chorus of other voices, from business to community groups. Voters are pushing back against growth and political leaders are feeling the pressure.  read more »

The New-McCarthyism Of Our Censorious Age

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“If my thought dreams could be seen

They’d probably put my head in a guillotine” — Bob Dylan, “It’s All Right Ma”, 1965

We live in a newly censorious age, where old crudities are never forgotten. To be sure, there are some clear malefactors, like Harvey Weinstein and many others, who should be punished to the extent of the law, but there’s clearly a distinct danger to free expression as the emboldened thought police steadily expand their domain.  read more »

Columbus, Ohio’s Structural Advantages

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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is hiring a research associate for their global cities program. If interested, check out the listing.

In 2009 I posted an article that proclaimed Columbus, Ohio “the new Midwestern star,” a prediction which proved prescient. I won’t go too much into performance right now as I’m planning an article on the subject, but just as one quick stat, Columbus has been the fastest growing major Midwest metro in population since 2010 at 9.0%, with a bit of a gap to the #2 performer Minneapolis at 7.3%.  read more »

The Hollowing-Out of the California Dream

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Progressives praise California as the harbinger of the political future, the home of a new, enlightened, multicultural America. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has identified California Senator Kamala Harris as the party leader on issues of immigration and race.  read more »