California Judge Michael Kenny has barred state bond funding for the California high speed rail system, finding that “the state's High-Speed Rail Authority failed to follow voter-approved requirements designed to prevent reckless spending on the $68 billion project.” These protections had been an important in securing voter approval of a $10 billion bond issue in 2008. Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters suggested that without the protections in Proposition 1A, the measure “probably would have failed” to obtain voter approval. read more »
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 »
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 »
The preferred story for California's economy runs like this:
In the beginning there was prosperity. It started with gold. Then, agriculture thrived in California's climate. Movies and entertainment came along in the early 20th Century. In the 1930s there was migration from the Dust Bowl. California became an industrial powerhouse in World War II. Defense, aerospace, the world's best higher education system, theme parks, entertainment, and tech combined to drive California's post-war expansion. read more »
Most Californians live within miles of its majestic coastline – for good reason. The California coastline is blessed with arguably the most desirable climate on Earth, magnificent beaches, a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, and natural harbors in San Diego and San Francisco. The Golden State was aptly named. Its Gold Rush of 1849 was followed a century later by massive post-war growth. read more »
Is there any high speed rail boondoggle big enough to make rail transport advocates reject it? Sadly, for all too many of them, the answer is No, as two recent developments make clear.
The first is in California, where the state continues to press forward on a high speed rail plan for the state that could cost anywhere from $68 billion to $100 billion. Voters had previously approved $10 billion in bonds for the project, but as the state's economy and finances have continued to sour – including multiple major cities going bankrupt – the polls have turned against it, and with good reason. read more »
California Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg countered my Wall Street Journal commentary California Declares War on Suburbia in a letter to the editor (A Bold Plan for Sustainable California Communities) that could be interpreted as suggesting that all is well in the Golden State. read more »
Jean Gottman in 1961 coined the term megalopolis (Megalopolis, the Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the Unites States) to describe the massive concentration of population extending from the core of New York north beyond Boston and south encompassing Washington DC. It has been widely studied and mapped, including by me. (Morrill, 2006, Classic Map Revisited, Professional Geographer). The concept has also been extended to describe and compare many other large conurbations around the world.
Maybe it’s time to see how the original has fared? And what has happened to other metropolitan complexes in the US, most notably Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and should we say Florida? read more »
Ill-informed chatter continues to dominate the airwaves when it comes to California public pensions. It’s a big, complex and critical issue for government at all levels in the Golden State. What makes debate so distorted is that public pensions actually differ from agency to agency — and advocates on the issue often talk past each other. Pension critics often point to outrageous abuses as if they were typical. On the other hand, pension defenders often cite current averages that understate long-term costs. All this fuels the typical partisan gridlock that Californians lament yet seem powerless to change in our state.
Credit Governor Jerry Brown for trying to overcome the polarization. read more »
Everybody knows that California’s economy has struggled mightily since the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession. The state’s current unemployment rate, 12.1 percent, is a full 3 percentage points above the national rate. Liberal pundits and politicians tend to blame this dismal performance entirely on the Great Recession; as Jerry Brown put it while campaigning (successfully) for governor last year, “I’ve seen recessions. They come, they go. California always comes back.” read more »