Los Angeles

Time to Hate Those HOAs (again).

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The foreclosure crisis has been devastating for millions of Americans, but it has also impacted many still working as before and holding on to their homes. Even a couple of empty dwellings on a street can very quickly deteriorate and become a negative presence in the neighborhood, at the least driving down prices further, sometimes attracting crime. Untended pools can allow pests to breed. Many animals have been abandoned and shelters report overflowing traffic.  read more »

A Pill For Los Angeles? Medicating the Megacities

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Los Angeles — and other modern megacities — conjure increasingly unique genetic profiles that point the way to a new medical industry: Call it urbo-pharmaceuticals. Investors are needed.

Is there a pill that might inoculate us from smog?
Is there a gene we can target that would make us resistant to resurgent infectious diseases?
And is there a way to use genetic data to insulate new immigrants from some of the metabolic challenges of living in a new land of plenty?

Welcome to the slowly emerging world of environmental medicine and its inevitable outgrowth, environmental pharmaceuticals: compounds specifically suited for mitigating the physiological challenges of mega-city life in the 21st century.  read more »

Mass Transit: The Great Train Robbery

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Last month promoters of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Los Angeles rail projects, both past and future, held a party to celebrate their "success." Although this may well have been justified for transit-builders and urban land speculators, there may be far less call for celebration among L.A.'s beleaguered commuters.

Despite promises that the $8 billion invested in rail lines over the past two decades would lessen L.A.'s traffic congestion and reshape how Angelenos get to work, the sad reality is that there has been no increase in MTA transit ridership since before the rail expansion began in 1985.  read more »

The Decline and Revival of an American Suburb

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In 1952, a white Protestant couple from Pasadena, California along with their newly born first child, moved 22 miles east to a small town called Covina. There, among acres of open space and endless rows of orange, lemon, and avocado trees, the young family was able to purchase a plot of land and build a brand-new home with swimming pool for a total of $20,000.  read more »

Stagnation in the City of Angels: Whatever Happened to Ideas?

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It’s only been a couple of years since a red-hot real estate market had our city riding high. The market turned out to be a bubble, of course, and it eventually burst. Gone is the giddiness that comes when folks convince themselves that real estate or high tech stocks or any other trend or commodity can defy gravity and continue upward forever.

Yet giddiness isn’t the only thing that’s been lost. Ideas have disappeared from the political landscape of Los Angeles.  read more »

The Myth of the Back-to-the-City Migration

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Pundits, planners and urban visionaries—citing everything from changing demographics, soaring energy prices, the rise of the so-called "creative class," and the need to battle global warming—have been predicting for years that America's love affair with the suburbs will soon be over. Their voices have grown louder since the onset of the housing crisis. Suburban neighborhoods, as the Atlantic magazine put it in March 2008, would morph into "the new slums" as people trek back to dense urban spaces.  read more »

Time to Dismantle the American Dream?

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For some time, theorists have been suggesting that it is time to redefine the American Dream of home ownership. Households, we are told, should live in smaller houses, in more crowded neighborhoods and more should rent. This thinking has been heightened by the mortgage crisis in some parts of the country, particularly in areas where prices rose most extravagantly in the past decade. And to be sure, many of the irrational attempts – many of them government sponsored – to expand ownership to those not financially prepared to bear the costs need to curbed.  read more »

L.A.'s Economy Is Not Dead Yet

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"This is the city," ran the famous introduction to the popular crime drama Dragnet. "Los Angeles, Calif. I work here." Of course, unlike Det. Sgt. Joe Friday, who spoke those words every episode, I am not a cop, but Los Angeles has been my home for over 35 years.

To Sgt. Friday, L.A. was a place full of opportunities to solve crimes, but for me Los Angeles has been an ideal barometer for the city of the future. For the better part of the last century, Los Angeles has been, as one architect once put it, "the original in the Xerox machine." It largely invented the blueprint of the modern American city: the car-oriented suburban way of life, the multi-polar metropolis around a largely unremarkable downtown, the sprawling jumble of ethnic and cultural enclaves of a Latin- and Asian-flavored mestizo society.  read more »

Las Vegas: The World’s Convening City?

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Conventional wisdom, and in many cases wishful thinking, among many urbanists holds that America’s sunbelt cities are done. Yet in reality, as they rise from the current deep recession, their re-ascendance will shock some, but will testify to the remarkable resiliency of this emerging urban form.

Origins: Bright Light City  read more »

Leading a Los Angeles Renaissance

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Surprisingly, despite the real challenges Los Angeles faces today, the city is out in front of many of its urban competitors in transforming its capacity to provide a safe place to raise and properly educate children, exactly the criteria Millennials use in deciding where to settle down and start a family. It is the kind of challenge that cities around the country must meet if they wish to thrive in the coming decade.  read more »