Urban Issues

What’s This Place For?


I was recently asked by Gracen Johnson (check out her site here) to elaborate on the possible future of suburbia. How are the suburbs likely to fare over time? This coincided with a city planner friend of mine who asked a more poignant question about the suburban community he helps manage. “What’s this place for?” If we can answer that question we might be able to get a handle on the possible trajectories of various suburbs.  read more »

Prairie Metropolitan Areas Drive Canada's Growth


In Canada, growth is moving west, but not all the way. The big growth now is in the Prairies between central Canada and British Columbia, the Canadian part of the Great Plains.

Yet you can’t talk about metropolitan Canada without first mentioning the Toronto region.  read more »

10 Most Affluent Cities in the World: Macau and Hartford Top the List


The United States and Europe continue to dominate the list of strongest metropolitan areas (city) economies in the world, according to the Brookings Institution's recently released Global Metro Monitor 2014. This is measured by gross domestic product per capita, adjusted for purchasing power parity (GDP-PPP).  read more »

The New New Thing: Suburban Bunker Buildings


I have a theory about where the next culturally dynamic neighborhoods are likely to emerge and which building types will be the engine of that transformation. It may not be exactly what most people expect.  read more »

Is Jakarta the World's Most Congested City?


The world's second-largest city, Jakarta, is its most congested according to the Castrol Magnatec Stop-Start Index. The Start-Stop Index estimates the average number of starts and stops per vehicle in 78 cities around the world. Jakarta drivers had 33,240 starts and stops annually according to the survey.  read more »

America Needs The Texas Economy To Keep On Rolling


In the last decade, Texas emerged as America’s new land of opportunity — if you will, America’s America. Since the start of the recession, the Lone Star State has been responsible for the majority of employment growth in the country. Between November  2007 and November 2014, the United States gained  a net 2.1 million jobs, with 1.2 million alone in Texas.  read more »

The Emerging New Aspirational Suburb


Urban form in American cities is in a constant state of evolution. Until recent years, American suburbia was often built without an appreciation for future evolution. This has left many older suburbs in a deteriorated state, and has accelerated claims of a more generalized suburban decline.  read more »

Go East, Young Southern California Workers


Do the middle class and working class have a future in the Southland? If they do, that future will be largely determined in the Inland Empire, the one corner of Southern California that seems able to accommodate large-scale growth in population and jobs. If Southern California’s economy is going to grow, it will need a strong Inland Empire.

The calculation starts with the basics of the labor market. Simply put, Los Angeles and Orange counties mostly have become too expensive for many middle-skilled workers. The Riverside-San Bernardino area has emerged as a key labor supplier to the coastal counties, with upward of 15 percent to 25 percent of workers commuting to the coastal counties.

In a new report recently released by National Core, a Rancho Cucamonga nonprofit that develops low-income housing, I and my colleagues, demographer Wendell Cox and analyst Mark Schill, explored the challenges facing the region.  read more »

Praying in the Streets: Ritual as an Urban Design Problem


“[T]he city as World icon is being destroyed, not by being secularized (it was always secular at base with some sacral potencies shooting through it from every angle) but by being radically profaned. The city has become the playground not of Wisdom but the battleground of savages, as in Belfast and Beirut. The city’s sacral potentialities have been removed and invested in the sovereign individual. Its central workshop, where radical transactions with reality used to summon a citizenry to meet in peace, was given notice that its lease was up.  read more »

The Argument for Less Infrastructure


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 »