Urban Issues

The Argument for Less Infrastructure

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What would our neighborhoods look like if we voluntarily reduced the amount of infrastructure? This isn’t a purely academic question. As municipal, state, and federal budgets get squeezed there’s going to be a point at which we have no choice but to stop building new roads and even reduce the amount of maintenance on the roads we already have. We could approach this situation with dread and a sense of loss, or we could embrace it as an opportunity to get a better quality of life for a whole lot less money.  read more »

Largest 1,000 Cities on Earth: World Urban Areas: 2015 Edition

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According to the just released 11th edition of Demographia World Urban Areas (Built-Up Urban Areas or World Agglomerations), there are now 34 urban areas in the world with more than 10 million residents, the minimum qualification for megacity status. Tokyo-Yokohama continues its 60 year leads the world's largest urban area.  read more »

The U.S. Cities Where Hispanics Are Doing The Best Economically

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Since 1980, the percentage of Americans who claim Hispanic heritage has grown from 6% to 17%. By 2040, Latinos will constitute roughly 24% of the population.

Many Democrats no doubt see President Obama’s executive actions on immigration as a step not only to address legitimate human needs, but their own political future. But perhaps a more important question is how these new Americans will fare economically.  read more »

Military Memorials: Is This Really the Best We Can Do?

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I was researching material for a blog post about the town I grew up in (Toms River, New Jersey) and accidentally stumbled on something completely unrelated that I find deeply disturbing on multiple levels. It was a roadside memorial dedicated to a fallen soldier. I looked up his name and realized that he had gone to my high school and his family lived very near the house I had once lived in. United States Navy SEAL Denis Miranda was twenty four years old when he perished in Qalat, Afghanistan. He has two surviving brothers on active duty.  read more »

World Megacities: Densities Fall as they Become Larger

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There is an impression, both in the press and among some urban analysts that as cities become larger they become more densely populated. In fact, the opposite is overwhelmingly true, as Professor Shlomo Angel has shown in his groundbreaking work, A Planet of Cities. This conclusion arises from the fact that, virtually everywhere, cities grow organically so that they add nearly all of their population on the urban fringe, which has considerably less expensive land.  read more »

Bicycles and Race in Portland

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The flashpoint for the gentrification conversation along Portland’s North Williams revolves around the bicycle. The cultural appetite for what the creative class likes and enjoys is in stark contrast to that of the African-American community. “North Williams Avenue wasn’t hip back in the late 1970s. There was no Tasty n Sons. No Ristretto Roasters. No 5th Quadrant. Back then, it was the heart of the African American community.  read more »

Peak Oil, Yes and No

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I have an Australian friend who works on an oil drilling platform off the coast of Tasmania. He sent these photos from his phone. Pretty cool, huh? These photos got me thinking about the Peak Oil meme. For the uninitiated there are two camps on the subject.  read more »

Looking Back: The Ideal Communist City

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Over time, suburbs have had many enemies, but perhaps none were more able to impose their version than the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In its bid to remake a Russia of backward villages and provincial towns, the Soviets favored big cities – the bigger the better – and policies that were at least vaguely reminiscent of the “pack and stack” policies so popular with developers and planners today.  read more »

International Housing Affordability in 2014

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The just released 11th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey shows the least affordable major housing markets to be internationally to be Hong Kong, Vancouver, Sydney, along with San Francisco and San Jose in the United States. Honolulu, which should reach 1,000,000 population this year (and thus become a major metropolitan market) was nearly as unaffordable as San Francisco and San Jose. An interactive map in The New Zealand Herald illustrates the results.  read more »

Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Sprawl (Sort of)

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I’m a longtime advocate of walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-served neighborhoods. But lately I’ve been having impure thoughts about suburbia. Let me explain.  read more »