Urban Issues

Mexico's Real War: It's Not Drugs


Balding, affable and passionate, Uranio Adolfo Arrendondo may not be a general or political leader, but he stands on the front lines of a critical battle facing Mexico in the coming decade. This struggle is not primarily about the drug wars, which dominate the media coverage--and thus our perceptions--of our southern neighbor. It concerns the economic and political forces stunting the aspirations of its people.  read more »

On Cities, GHG Emissions, Apples & Oranges


Every day or so a new greenhouse gas emission report crosses my desk. Often these reports are very useful, other times they add little of value to the subject. The problem is separating the “wheat” from the “chaff.”

This dilemma is well illustrated by a paper called “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Global Cities,” authored by 10 academics. I had received notification of the paper from Science Daily, a useful website that provides notification of new research on a wide range of scientific subjects.  read more »

How Smart Growth Disadvantages African-Americans & Hispanics


It was more than 45 years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. enunciated his “Dream” to a huge throng on the Capitol Mall. There is no doubt that substantial progress toward ethnic equality has been achieved since that time, even to the point of having elected a Black US President.

The Minority Home Ownership Gap: But there is some way to go. Home ownership represents the core of the “American Dream” that was certainly a part of Dr. King’s vision. Yet, there remain significant gap in homeownership by ethnicity.  read more »

The Crisis of Academic Urban Planning


A wide gulf has opened up between mainstream Australian values and the prescriptions of our urban planning academics. So much so that the latter are at risk of degenerating into a cult. While it’s usually unfair to criticise a group in generalised terms, there are ample grounds in this case. Anyone who doubts the existence of an urban planning “establishment” in and around the Australian university system, and that it’s in thrall to ultra-green groupthink, should revisit some recent correspondence to our newspapers.  read more »

Pittsburgh Renaissance?


In the third of a three part New Geography series on Pittsburgh for the G-20 summit, Aaron Renn assesses Pittsburgh’s value as a model region for other cities suffering decline.

As the G-20 leaders prepare to convene in Pittsburgh, expect the recent chorus of praise for that city's transformation to reach a crescendo. Pittsburgh, once the poster child for industrial decline and devastation, is now the media darling as an exemplar of how to turn it around. The New York Times talks about how “Pittsburgh Thrives After Casting Steel Aside” while the New York Post informs us that “Summer in Pittsburgh Rocks”. The Economist named Pittsburgh America's most livable city. This emerging reputation for cracking the code on revitalization is prompting struggling burgs like Cleveland and Detroit to ask what lessons the Steel City holds for them.  read more »

Pittsburgh Didn't Volunteer for G20


As host of the G-20 summit, Pittsburgh briefly will sit in the global spotlight. With this article by longtime Pittsburgh resident and columnist Bill Steigerwald, New Geography opens a three part series looking at this intriguing metropolis from the point of view of planning, demography and economic performance.

Pittsburgh didn’t volunteer to host the G-20 Summit that is coming here next week to inflict so much civic pain and disruption.  read more »

Baseball Goes For Broke

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Other than the banking business, is there an industry more dependent on government handouts, sweetheart tax breaks, and accounting gimmicks than major league baseball?

What other than a baseball depletion allowance explains the economics of a team like the New York Yankees, which is paying Alex Rodriguez $275 million over ten years while building a new $1.3 billion stadium and charging front row season tickets holders $800,000 for a box of four seats?  read more »

Losing Touch With the Changing Definition of "Community"


Mathew Taunton opens his review of “The Future of Community – Reports of a Death Greatly Exaggerated” (Note 1) with the observation that:

“Community is one of the most powerful words in the language, and perhaps because of this it is frequently misused. A profoundly emotive word, it is also a coercive one, and a key political buzzword in modern times. That community is being eroded in modern Britain is a matter of cross-party consensus, and it is also widely agreed that one of the state’s roles is to devise means of counteracting the decline of communities.”  read more »

Traffic Congestion, Time, Money & Productivity


It is an old saying, but true as ever: “Time is money.” A company that can produce quality products in less time than its competitors is likely to be more profitable and productive. An urban area where employees travel less time to get to work is likely to be more productive than one where travel times are longer, all things being equal. Productivity is a principal aim of economic policy. Productivity means greater economic growth, greater job creation and less poverty.  read more »

California Golden Dreams


California may yet be a civilization that is too young to have produced its Thucydides or Edward Gibbon, but if it has, the leading candidate would be Kevin Starr. His eight-part “Dream” series on the evolution of the Golden State stands alone as the basic comprehensive work on California. Nothing else comes remotely close.  read more »