Urban Issues

The 'Great State' of San Francisco

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The public stock offering by Twitter reflects not only the current bubble in social media stocks, but also the continuing shift in both economic and political power away from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay Area, home to less than one in five state residents. Not since the late 19th century, when San Francisco and its environs dominated the state, has influence been so lopsidedly concentrated in just one region.  read more »

Affordability: Seattle’s Ace in Becoming the Next Tech Capital

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Silicon Valley has been well recognized as the nation’s hub of technology, having easily surpassed both Southern California and Massachusetts, but it’s now Seattle that may emerge as its greatest rival. Home to tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon, Seattle has attracted creative and entrepreneurial talent, which has been the foundation to its low unemployment rate of 5.9% and continuous economic growth.  read more »

New Zealand Has Worst Traffic: International Data

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Three decades ago, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University began a ground-breaking project to quantify traffic congestion levels in the larger urban areas of the United States. The Urban Mobility Report project was begun under Tim Lomax and David Shrank, who have led the project over the first 30 annual editions.  read more »

Jerry Brown and California’s “Attractive” Poverty

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Jerry Brown is supposed to be a different kind of politician: well informed, smart, slick, and skilled.  While he has had some missteps, he's always bounced back.  His savvy smarts have allowed him to have a fantastically successful career while generally avoiding the egregious dishonesty that characterizes so many political practitioners.  read more »

Are Millennials Turning Their Backs on the American Dream?

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In his classic 1893 essay, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” historian Frederick Jackson Turner spoke of “the expansive character of American life.” Even though the frontier was closing, Turner argued, the fundamental nature of Americans was still defined by their incessant probing for “a new field of opportunity.” Turner’s claim held true for at least a century—during that time, the American spirit generated relentless technological improvement, the gradual creation of a mass middle class, and the integration of ever more diverse immigrants into the national narrative.  read more »

Long Island's Flawed Housing Policy is the Real Brain Drain

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Affordable housing is Long Island's greatest regional failure and the key to our success in the 21st century. Yet, for such an important topic, there is still a fundamental lack of understanding of the problem, and a marked lack of standardization in studying it.  read more »

The Tough Realities Facing Smaller Post-Industrial Cities

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A couple weeks ago the Economist ran a leader and an article on the plight of smaller post-industrial cities, noting that these days the worst urban decay is found not in big cities but in small ones. They observe:  read more »

American Cities May Have Hit 'Peak Office'

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Despite some hype and a few regional exceptions, the construction of office towers and suburban office parks has not made a significant resurgence in the current recovery. After a century in which office space expanded nationally with every uptick in the economy, we may have reached something close to “peak office” in most markets.  read more »

Density, Unpacked: Is Creative Class Theory a Front for Real Estate Greed?

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“The heresy of heresies was common sense”—George Orwell

The stories we tell affect the lives we lead. I do not mean to be abstract here. I mean, literally, the stories that are told make up a kind of meta-reality that soaks in us to form a “truth”. This “truth” affects policy, which affects investment, which affects bricks and mortar, pocketbooks, and power. Eventually, the “truth” trickles down into a more real reality that defines the lives of the powerless.  read more »

L.A. Ports Face Challenge from Gulf Coast

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In this strange era of self-congratulation in California, it may be seen as poor manners to point out tectonic shifts that could leave the state and, particularly, Southern California, more economically constrained and ever more dependent on asset bubbles, such as in real estate. One of the most important changes on the horizon is the shift of economic power and influence away from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf Coast – the Third Coast – a process hastened by the imminent widening of the Panama Canal.  read more »