Urban Issues

Los Angeles: City Of Losers?

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When I arrived in Los Angeles four decades ago, it was clearly a city on the rise, practicing its lines on the way to becoming the dominant metropolis in North America. Today, the City of Angels and much of Southern California lag behind not only a resurgent New York City, but also L.A.’s longtime regional rival, San Francisco, both demographically and economically.  read more »

How Oklahoma City Decided to Change Its Image

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I was in Oklahoma City for the first time earlier this year. I got to see a lot of the things I’d heard about, such as the in-progress Project 180, a $175 million plan to rethink and rebuild every downtown street.  read more »

How Many People Will Live in Africa in 2050 and 2100?

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Large declines in fertility will depend on raising female literacy above 80%.

Every few years, the United Nations Population Division releases demographic projections for the entire world and for every country, region and continent. Although the UN’s database is the most used source on demographics, the data is not equally reliable for all countries.  read more »

Deindustrialization, Depopulation, and the Refugee Crisis

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The refugee crisis facing Western nations has begun to peak both demographically and politically.  The United Nations has reported that more than 6.5 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and Europe, and even nations that until recently welcomed refugees are frantically trying to change immigration policy or protect borders.  read more »

White House Economist Links Land Use Regulations: Housing Affordability and Inequality

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There is a growing body of research on the consequences of excessive land use regulation. The connection between excessive land use regulation and losses in housing affordability, has been linked to  the doubling or tripling of house prices relative to incomes in places as diverse as Hong Kong, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  read more »

How Portland Is a Lot Like Texas

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One theme I always hammer is that you have to look at proposed policy solutions in the context of the area where you want to apply them.

A great example of this is Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). The UGB, a policy that limits suburban development outside of a line drawn around the Portland region, is widely admired and perhaps even seen a type of holy grail policy in terms of preventing sprawl.  read more »

2014 Journey to Work Data: More of the Same

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The major metropolitan area journey to work data is out, reported in the American Community Survey ‘s 2014 one year edition. The news is that there is not much news. Little has changed since 2010 despite all the talk about “peak car” and a supposed massive shift towards transit. Single occupant driving remains by far the largest mode of transport to work in the 53 major metropolitan areas (with over 1,000,000 population), having moved from 73.5 percent of commutes to 73.6 percent.  read more »

The Cities Where Your Salary Will Stretch The Furthest 2015

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Average pay varies widely among U.S. cities, but those chasing work opportunities would do well to keep an eye on costs as well. Salaries may be higher on the East and West coasts, but for the most part, equally high prices there mean that the fatter paychecks aren’t necessarily getting the locals ahead.  read more »

When Detroit Stood Tall and Shaped the World

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My recent post about how urban planning decisions helped lead to the Motown sound in Detroit was inspired by David Maraniss’ new book Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story.

The book takes a deep dive into Detroit 1963, a city that was, although in some ways already in decline, in others near its zenith.

It’s a great read, in particularly for the depth of characterization. Too often Detroit writing is a story of heroes, villains, and victims. Maraniss rejects that approach and provides mostly nuanced portrayals of Detroiters that allows them to be the actual real, red-blooded human beings that they are.  read more »

Too Many Places Will Have too Few People

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The adage “demographics are destiny” is increasingly being replaced by a notion that population trends should actually shape policy. As the power of projection grows, governments around the world find themselves looking to find ways to counteract elaborate and potentially threatening population models before they become reality.  read more »