Sacramento

The California Economy: A Strength Vs Weakness Breakdown

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Part two of a two-part report. Read part 1.

The problem with analyzing California's economy — or with assessing its vigor — is that there is not one California economy. Instead, we have a group of regions that will see completely different economic outcomes. Then, those outcomes will be averaged, and that average of regional outcomes is California's economy. It is possible, even likely, that no region will see the average outcome, just as we rarely see average rainfall in California.  read more »

The California Economy: When Vigor and Frailty Collide

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Part one of a two-part report

California is a place of extremes. It has beaches, mountains, valleys and deserts. It has glaciers and, just a few miles away, hot, dry deserts. Some years it doesn't rain. Some years it rains all winter. Those extremes are part of what makes California the attractive place that it is, and, west of the high mountains, California is mostly an extremely comfortable place to live.  read more »

High Speed Rail Decision: Victory for Rule of Law

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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 Poor Long-term Prognosis

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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

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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 »

How California Lost its Mojo

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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 »

Is California the New Detroit?

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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 »

High Speed Rail Advocates Discredit Their Cause - Again

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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 »

The Export Business in California (People and Jobs)

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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 »

Megalopolis and its Rivals

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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 »