Urban Issues

Private Investors Shun Brazil High Speed Rail Bid

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In April of 2011 the California High Speed Rail Authority held a meeting of potential investors and vendors interested in participating in the proposed Los Angeles to San Francisco high-speed rail project. Project sponsors have insisted they could gain substantial private investment for the project. The Authority indicated that the meeting drew 2000 attendees at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which supporters indicated was proof of the interest of private investors in the project.  read more »

The Demise Of The Luxury City

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The Republican victory in New York City’s ninth congressional district Sept. 13 — in a special election to replace disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner — shocked the nation.  But more important, it also could have signaled the end of the idea, propagated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of New York’s future as a “luxury product.”  read more »

What Boomers Are Choosing

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In 1989, a man came to my office and introduced himself as the vice president of development for the Del Webb Corporation.  He retained my firm to prepare a master plan for their first active-adult community outside of their typical desert southwest market. 

This led me to an exploration of what made a successful active adult community.  I learned they required unique and distinct considerations quite different from those used in more conventional master planned communities.  During the information gathering process, I toured each of the Sun City projects, interviewing staff and visiting residents to understand the qualities and features which attracted buyers and provided the lifestyle sought by retirees.   read more »

Being Dense About Dwellings: Check the Numbers!

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Recently I suggested that in New Zealand we are heading into the perfect housing storm. Now we have news that house prices and rentals are on the climb again, although stocks remain tight, as an annual inflation rate of 5.3% hits a 21 year high.  The economists are suggesting this is good news, although it means interest rates may have to be pushed up sooner than expected.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Milan

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Italy's population growth has been stagnating in recent decades, but has turned around during the last decade, with the annual growth rate increasing 16 times (from 0.04 percent to 0.69 percent). According to United Nations data, Italy added more international migrants in the 2000s (3.8.5 million) than it added people in any ten year period since 1960. Some of the strongest growth has been in the Milan metropolitan region, which has begun to grow again after years of stagnation.  read more »

The Ambiguous Triumph of the “Urban Age”

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In its State of the Population report in 2007, the United Nations Population Fund made this ringing declaration:  “In 2008, the world reaches an invisible but momentous milestone: For the first time in history, more than half its human population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas.”  read more »

Waging a Green Jihad on Suburban Homes

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It seems rarely a month passes without some new assault on the lifestyle and housing choice preferred by the overwhelming majority of Australians: the detached suburban home. Denigrated by a careless media as ”McMansions” or attacked as some archaic form of reckless housing choice which is suddenly “no longer appropriate” (according to some planning or environmental fatwa), the detached home is under a constant assault of falsely laid allegation and intellectual derision.  read more »

Beyond Words: A 9/11 Remembrance

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On September 7, 2001, a Friday, the communications staff of New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gathered to plan for the week ahead. I had joined the Giuliani administration the previous April as a speechwriter, one of three on the mayor’s staff.

The biggest event on the schedule was the primary election on Tuesday, September 11, when New Yorkers would choose each party’s nominee to succeed Giuliani. The mayor would be casting his own ballot at Public School 66 on East 88th Street at 7 a.m., followed by a fairly routine round of staff meetings.  read more »

Ground Zero Tolerance: With No Politician Willing to Take Charge, the 9/11 Recovery has Dragged on Far Too Long

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This piece originally appeared in the Village Voice.

A decade into its unhappy and unexpectedly long life, Ground Zero has undergone its annual if short-lived transformation from New York politicos' red-headed stepchild to belle of the ball, at least until September 12.  read more »

A Fly in the Econometrics? Exaggerating Urbanization

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I was surprised to read in Science Digest that the increase in the urban land from 2000 to 2030 could be as much as 590,000 square miles (1.53 million square kilometers), which Science Digest went on to say would house an increase in the urban population of 1.47 billion people.  read more »