Urban Issues

Why Attitude Matters: How Nebraska is Reaping the Stimulus

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In what are tough times for most states, conditions for business remain surprisingly good in Nebraska. Like other states in the “zone of sanity” Nebraska is especially supportive of small businesses.

Nebraska is one of a series out of mid-American outliers. In 2008 – a year of a severe national contraction – the state experienced a 3.6 percent growth in gross domestic product. Its current unemployment rate of just 4.4 percent stands at less than half the U.S. rate of 9.4 percent  read more »

Exurban Growth Greater than Central Growth: Census Bureau

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The US Bureau of the Census has just released an analysis of suburbanization showing that the nation continues to suburbanize, despite the consistent media “spin” that people are leaving the suburbs to move to core cities.

The report, Population Change in Central and Outlying Counties of Metropolitan Statistical Areas: 2000 to 2007, goes further than our previous 2000 to 2008 analysis that showed strong domestic outmigration from central counties to suburban counties and beyond.  read more »

How Phoenix Will Come Back

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I have heard Paul Krugman say that ‘the end is nigh’ so many times that it seemed like the only sensible way to think about the housing market. It was identified as a bubble, and that could only mean that it would eventually burst. A steady diet of NYT editorials and Economist charts leave you with one conclusion — this is not going to end well.

This certainly seems to be true in Phoenix. Even though I’ve lectured for years about ‘the growth machine’, how the economy in a city like Phoenix depends on building more homes, I did not expect the whole thing to collapse quite so precipitately, and with so many repercussions.  read more »

On Our Knees: Prince Charles vs. Lord Rogers

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It is no wonder that architect Richard Rogers is feeling a bit peeved at Prince Charles. This month, the heir to the British throne scuppered plans for a £1 billion development putting 552 apartments on the 12.8-acre site of the old Chelsea Barracks. Rogers was most offended that the Prince used his Royalty to by-pass the usual planning law consultation, by speaking direct to the Qatari royalty who owned the site.  read more »

How Can Cities with Unaffordable Housing be Ranked Among the Most Livable Cities in the World?

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The Economist magazine's "Economic Intelligence Unit" (EIU) has published its most recent survey of the most livable cities in the world.

Vancouver, Canada, ranks number one, Vienna, Austria number two, Perth, Australia number five, Geneva number 8, Zurich, number 9, (both in Switzerland) and Auckland, New Zealand, number twelve.  read more »

Sustaining Localism in the English Suburban Context

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Localism, a longstanding agenda of the Green Party in the context of the UK economy, is gaining ground in the current economic crisis. In a recent edition of the London-based Daily Telegraph, a striking contrast is made between Chester in north-west England – which is suffering from the decline of its relatively narrow economic base and Totnes in south-west England, which with its longstanding interest in alternative living, and more localised economy, seems to be weathering the situation much better. The underlying message from the article is that small is good – particularly for businesses not overextended in their borrowing, and familiar enough with their immediate context to be able to adapt to a changing economy.  read more »

The Geography of Class in Greater Seattle

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Most readers may not be initially very interested in the detailed geography of “class” in Seattle, but it actually matters not only for our area but for the whole debate over the shape of the urban future. Academics, perhaps Americans in general, are loath to admit to class differences, yet they remain very crucial to the understanding of how cities and regions evolve.

Seattle is a great example of the transformation of a 20th century model of the American metropolis to a 21st century-cum-19th century “old World” model of metropolis. It is often held up as one of the role models for other cities, so its experiences should be considered seriously not only for American cities but for regions throughout the advanced world.  read more »

Special Report: Infill in US Urban Areas

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One of the favored strategies of current urban planning is “infill” development. This is development that occurs within the existing urban footprint, as opposed that taking place on the fringe of the urban footprint (suburbanization). For the first time, the United States Bureau of the Census is producing data that readily reveals infill, as measured by population growth, in the nation’s urban areas.

2000 Urban Footprint Populations  read more »

Kauai, Hawaii: Local Merchants Make Waves

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Many have by now heard or read the story of the plucky group of Hawaiians on the island of Kauai who, when faced with the loss of their businesses due to the state government’s inability to open park roads to a popular beach and camping area, took care of it themselves for a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time. How very Tocquevellian. Or, better, how very American.  read more »

The Fate of America’s Homebuilders: The Changing Landscape of America

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During the first ten days of October 2008, the Dow Jones dropped 2,399.47 points, losing 22.11% of its value and trillions of investor equity. The Federal Government pushed a $700 billion bail-out through Congress to rescue the beleaguered financial institutions. The collapse of the financial system in the fall of 2008 was likened to an earthquake. In reality, what happened was more like a shift of tectonic plates.

History will record that the tectonic plates of our financial world began to drift apart in the fall of 2008. The scale of this change may be most evident in housing.

PART TWO – THE HOME BUILDERS  read more »