Urban Issues

Are Housing Declines Evenly Spread? - An Examination of California

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To read the popular press, one gets the impression that the collapse of the housing market is concentrated largely in the suburbs and exurbs, as people flock back to the cities in response to the mortgage crisis and high gas prices. A review of mortgage meltdown “ground zero” California indicates the picture is far more nuanced.  read more »

The Social Function of NIMBYism

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Opposition to new development is fraught with so many acronyms that you need a lexicon to decode them. The catch-all term is NIMBYism, sufficiently well known to merit an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, which identifies its first use in a 1980 Christian Science Monitor story. The term arose to describe opposition to large infrastructure projects undertaken by public agencies or utility companies, such as highways, nuclear power plants, waste disposal facilities, and prisons.  read more »

Subjects:

Minority America

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Recent news from the Census Bureau that a “minority” majority might be a reality somewhat sooner than expected --- 2042 instead of 2050 --- may lead to many misapprehensions, if not in the media, certainly in the private spaces of Americans.  read more »

Skipping the Drive: Fueling the Telecommuting Trend

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The rapid spike in energy prices has led politicians, urban theorists and pundits to pontificate about how Americans will be living and working in new ways. A favorite story line is that Americans will start trading in their suburban homes, move back to the city centers and opt to change everything they have wanted for a half-century --- from big backyards to quiet streets to privacy --- to live a more carbon-lite urban lifestyle.

Yet, there has been little talk about what could be the best way for families and individuals to cut energy use: telecommuting.  read more »

Wondering About Skid Row: Whatever Happened to Work?

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I found myself in separate, private discussions with a couple of high-ranking city officials recently. They were pleasantly challenging exchanges, especially because both of my conversation partners displayed intellectual curiosity and willingness to consider divergent viewpoints. Those are wonderful qualities in general, and encouraging when found in individuals who have some influence on public policy.  read more »

Excavating The Buried Civilization of Roosevelt’s New Deal

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A bridge crashes into the Mississippi at rush hour. Cheesy levees go down in New Orleans and few come to help or rebuild. States must rely on gambling for revenue to run essential public services yet fall farther into the pit of structural deficits. Clearly we have gone a long way from the legacy of the New Deal.  read more »

The New Deal & the Legacy of Public Works

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Almost completely ignored in the press this year has been the 75th anniversary of the New Deal. Social Security, public housing, school lunches, deposit insurance, labor relations standards and banking regulations are among its many enduring legacies. On this anniversary, it is worth looking at the public works programs that constructed roads and buildings that still exist in every county in America.  read more »

New York’s Next Fiscal Crisis

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Mayor Bloomberg needs to prepare the city for the crash of the Wall Street gravy train.  read more »

Thoughts on the Future of Seattle: A Vision of 2040 for Pugetopolis

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I have been attacked as a defender of ‘sprawl’ although I consider myself a man of the left, with a political-economy philosophy that is ‘social democratic – far to the left of the contemporary Democratic party. I view global warming as very serious, but consider continuing global warfare over resources, land and religion, and increasing national and global economic and political inequality as even more critical.  read more »

Questioning Conventional Wisdom: Should Poor Folks Stay Put?

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There is reason to think again about the now-current idea of dispersing the population of poor folks in the Skid Row district of downtown Los Angeles and similar precincts in other cities across the U.S.

There’s cause to pause over notions such as mixing “affordable housing” that’s priced in the range of working-class or poor folks alongside spiffy market-rate units.  read more »