Los Angeles

Thinking Outside the Rails on Transit


To many in the transit business – that is, people who seek to profit from the development and growth of buses, trains and streetcars – Southern California is often seen as a paradise lost, a former bastion of streetcar lines that crossed the region and sparked much of its early development. Today, billions are being spent to revive the region’s transit legacy.  read more »

The Next Urban Crisis, And How We Might Be Able To Avoid It


Urban boosters are rightly proud of the progress American cities have made since their nadir in the 1970s; Harvard economist Ed Glaeser has gone so far as to proclaim “the triumph of the city.” Yet recent events — notably Detroit’s bankruptcy and the victory of left-wing populist Bill de Blasio in the Democratic primary of the New York mayoral election — suggest that the urban future may prove far more problematic than commonly acknowledged.  read more »

A Map Of America's Future: Where Growth Will Be Over The Next Decade


The world’s biggest and most dynamic economy derives its strength and resilience from its geographic diversity. Economically, at least, America is not a single country. It is a collection of seven nations and three quasi-independent city-states, each with its own tastes, proclivities, resources and problems. These nations compete with one another – the Great Lakes loses factories to the Southeast, and talent flees the brutal winters and high taxes of the city-state New York for gentler climes – but, more important, they develop synergies, albeit unintentionally.  read more »

Southern California's Road Back


If the prospects for the United States remain relatively bright – despite two failed administrations – how about Southern California? Once a region that epitomized our country's promise, the area still maintains enormous competitive advantages, if it ever gathers the wits to take advantage of them.  read more »

Manufacturing in Los Angeles: A Test Case in Why Increasing Concentration Isn’t Always a Positive


What comes to mind when you think of Los Angeles’ big industries? Motion pictures and other entertainment sectors, yes. Real estate and corporate headquarters, too. But probably not manufacturing.

No other sector, however, contributes more to the Los Angeles metro area’s gross regional product – the final market value of all goods and services in a region – than manufacturing. It accounted for 11% of L.A.’s GRP in 2012, narrowly beating out the real estate and rental and leasing sector (10%).  read more »

Observations on Urbanization: 1920-2010


Ninety years have made a world of difference in the United States. Between 1920 and 2010, the nation's population nearly tripled. But that was not the most important development. Two other trends played a huge role in shaping the United States we know today. The first trend was increasing urbanization, a virtually universal trend, but one which occurred earlier in the high income countries, while the other was a rapidly falling average household size. 

National Trends  read more »

Disney Stops Thinking About Tomorrow


Walt Disney's first version of Tomorrowland came to life in 1955. The attractions were geared towards the space age, and towards the future of transportation that Disney believed scientists of his time were about to create. The imaginary world was intended to “give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future.” When Tomorrowland opened, its showpiece was the TWA Moonliner exhibit, which contained the Rocket to The Moon; later, its Flight to the Moon gave another perspective.  read more »

The Dispersion of Financial Sector Jobs


When you think of financial services, one usually looks at iconic downtowns such as New York’s Wall Street, Montgomery Street San Francisco's or Chicago’s LaSalle Street. But since the great financial crisis of 2007-8 the banking business is on the move elsewhere. Over the last five years (2007 to 2012), even as the total number of financial jobs has declined modestly, they have been growing elsewhere.  read more »

California's Poor Long-term Prognosis


California's current economic recovery may be uneven at best, but things certainly look better now than the pits-of-hell period in 2008. A cautiously optimistic New York Times piece proclaimed "signs of resurgence," and there was even heady talk in Sacramento of eventually sighting that rarest of birds, a state budget surplus.  read more »

A Housing Preference Sea Change? Not in California


For some time, many in the urban planning community have been proclaiming a "sea-change" in household preferences away from suburban housing in the United States.

Perhaps no one is more identified with the "sea-change" thesis than Arthur C. Nelson, Presidential Professor, City & Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah. Professor Nelson has provided detailed modeled market estimates for California in a paper published by the Urban Land Institute, entitled The New California Dream: How Demographic and Economic Trends May Shape the Housing Market: A Land Use Scenario for 2020 and 2035 (He had made generally similar points in a Journal of the American Planning Association article in 2006).  read more »