Los Angeles

The Next Urban Challenge — And Opportunity

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In the next two years, America’s large cities will face the greatest existential crisis in a generation. Municipal bonds are in the tank, having just suffered the worst quarterly performance in more than 16 years, a sign of flagging interest in urban debt.  read more »

California’s Third Brown Era

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Jerry Brown’s no-frills inauguration today as California governor will make headlines, but the meager celebration also marks the restoration of one of the country’s most illustrious political families. Save the Kennedys of Massachusetts no clan has dominated the political life of a major state in modern times than the Browns of California. A member of this old California Irish clan has been in statewide office for most of the past half century; by the end of Jerry Brown’s new term, his third, the family will have inhabited the California chief executive office for a remarkable two full decades since 1958.

Brown, at 72 the oldest governor in state history, may well determine the final legacy of this remarkable family. His biggest challenge will be to reverse the state’s long-term secular decline — a stark contrast to the heady days of the first Brown era, presided over by paterfamilias Edmund “Pat” Brown.  read more »

Overselling Transit

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A recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times eloquently illustrated the limits of mass transit in modern societies. This is not to imply that that transit does not have its place, nor that it does not provide a most useful service where it can. The problem has been the overselling of a mode that has very serious limitations.  read more »

If California Is Doing So Great, Why Are So Many Leaving?

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Superficially at least, California’s problems are well known. Are they well understood? Apparently not.

About a year ago Time ran an article, "Why California is Still America's future," touting California's future, a future that includes gold-rush-like prosperity in an environmentally pure little piece of heaven, brought to us by "public-sector foresight."  read more »

Building the Train to Nowhere

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The California High Speed Rail Authority has approved building its first 54 miles in the San Joaquin Valley. A somewhat longer route, 65 miles, has been indicated in a number of press reports, but Authority documents indicate that only 54 miles of high speed rail track will be built. The route would start in Corcoran, and go through Fresno to Borden, a small, unincorporated community south of Madera. All of this would cost $4.15 billion. The route would include two stations, in Fresno and Hanford/Visalia.  read more »

Geography of the Election: A New Era of Racial Politics

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Laura Jean Berger worked on the Congressional Campaign of Assemblyman Van Tran. This is her account of the results.

Energy and free beer flowed through Assemblyman Van Tran's campaign headquarters, the crowd anxiously building with anticipation each time Fox News reported another House seat for the Republicans. Every major network's live trucks crowded the parking lot of the converted Blockbuster video store, their cameras trained on a stage set for a victory speech.  read more »

The Real OC: Diverse, Dynamic and — Dare I Say — Progressive

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I recently returned to Orange County after a decade’s absence, fully aware that a stereotype of all-white, card-carrying-John Birchers still exists among many who remain unfamiliar with facts on the ground here.

I never bought that old saw in the first place.

And now, on a second venture into OC, I’m amazed by how deeply those old stereotypes have been buried under the accumulated accomplishments of everyday folks.  read more »

The Urban Bike Tribes of Los Angeles

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A recent Los Angeles Times article chronicled a showdown between drivers and bicyclists, inspired by the installation of bike lanes and — more significantly — the reduction of auto traffic lanes on a San Fernando Valley boulevard. The change was clearly intended to encourage cyclists, but I had to wonder: Which ones? In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, even the bike riders are divided, loosely, into different tribes.  read more »

Decade of the Telecommute

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The rise in telecommuting is the unmistakable message of the just released 2009 American Community Survey data. The technical term is working at home, however the strong growth in this market is likely driven by telecommuting, as people use information technology and communications technology to perform jobs that used to require being in the office.  read more »

California’s New Grassroots Movement: High-Speed Rail on the Peninsula

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In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 1A to allocate $9.95 billion of the state’s money to a high-speed rail system. Just two years later, many of these same voters are yelling and screaming at the High-Speed Rail Authority to revise their plans. Why have Californians turned against this project so quickly?  read more »