Los Angeles

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 »

The War For Jobs, Part II: Teamwork On The Frontlines

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So if we are in a new war -- this one for business and job growth -- what role does local government play?

It would be a mistake to over-emphasize the role of government, especially at the local level. Despite the claims of politicians from both parties about how many jobs their policies "created," governments don't create jobs, at least not in the private sector. Ventura, for example, is estimated to generate about seven to eight billion dollars in annual economic activity. The sales and profitability of thousands of individual businesses are only marginally impacted by what goes on at City Hall, no matter what cheerleaders or critics might claim.  read more »

The War For Jobs Trumps The War For Sales Tax Dollars: Part I

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At the beginning of every war, generals always try to fight the last one. Experienced professionals are often the last to realize the times and terrain have changed.

Since the passage of Proposition 13 — the 1978 'taxpayer revolt' against California property taxes — most California cities have focused on generating sales tax. Property tax, which had been the traditional backbone of local revenue, was slashed by 60%, sparking an intense Darwinian struggle between cities for sales tax market share. During the nineties, the cities along the 101 Corridor in Ventura County competed intensely in the “mall wars” over which cities would get auto dealers and major retailers. The City of Ventura  read more »

The Great Deconstruction - First in a New Series

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History imparts labels on moments of great significance; The Civil War, The Great Depression, World War II. We are entering such an epoch. The coming transformation of America and the world may be known as The Great Deconstruction. Credit restrictions will force spending cuts and a re-prioritization of interests. Our world will be dramatically changed. There will be winners and losers. This series will explore the winners and losers of The Great Deconstruction.

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The phrase, The Great Depression, was coined by British economist Lionel Robbins in a 1934 book of the same name.  read more »

Power in Los Angeles: The High Price of Going Green

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Greece and Los Angeles are up against a financial wall. Los Angeles had its bond rating cut on April 7. Greece managed to hold out until April 9. Greece has endured public employee strikes as it has attempted to reign in bloated public payrolls. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa drew the ire of the city's unions and city council opposition in proposing two-day a week furloughs for city employees.

A Bankrupt Los Angeles?  read more »