Urban Issues

Guaranteed Minimum What?

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I was on the road a while back and needed to stop to use the facilities. A chain restaurant on the side of the highway seemed like a reasonable spot. As I headed to the men’s room I noticed iPads on all the tables. These are the new electronic menus. They don’t replace wait staff, but they do make the whole process of ordering food more efficient with a likely reduction in the overall number of humans needed to do the same amount of work. And there are all the other benefits that come with data mining and systems optimization. The global supply chain managers must love it.  read more »

Déjà Vu and the Dilemma for Planners

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Some planners may be feeling a little angst. A few months ago, the Federal Highway Administration released 2016 vehicle miles of travel data, indicating robust travel demand growth in 2016, up 2.8%. The increase pushed total vehicle miles of travel (VMT) to a new record and boosted travel per capita to levels not seen since mid-2008.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Warsaw

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Like other major cities in the high income world, Warsaw has seen central area population losses, with all of the population growth taking place outside the urban core, principally in the suburbs and exurbs (Graphic 1). The city's districts were reconfigured so that direct comparisons cannot be made before the 2002 census.  read more »

The Springfield Strategy

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I just enjoyed an adventure in Springfield, Massachusetts with Steve Shultis and his wife Liz of Rational Urbanism. Steve does a far better job of describing his town and his philosophy than I ever could, but my interpretation can be summed up with an analogy about an old college room mate.  read more »

The Great Non-Profit Die Off

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Marc Lapides wrote an op-ed in Crain’s Chicago Business calling for an 1871 accelerator for creating new non-profits.

Most cities could actually use the opposite. What they need is an infrastructure for euthanizing non-profits that are past their expiration date.

When I look around older cities, I frequently see that they’ve got a veritable armada of non-profits. Rarely do I see these making a huge difference in the trajectory of the city.  read more »

Subsidies Haven't Increased Transit Ridership

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In 2015, the American Public Transportation Association issued a press release whose headline claimed that transit ridership in 2014 achieved a new record. However, the story revealed that 2014 ridership was the highest since 1956. That’s no more a record than if it was the highest since 2013.  read more »

California Squashes Its Young

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In this era of anti-Trump resistance, many progressives see California as a model of enlightenment. The Golden State’s post-2010 recovery has won plaudits in the progressive press from the New York Times’s Paul Krugman, among others. Yet if one looks at the effects of the state’s policies on key Democratic constituencies— millennials, minorities, and the poor—the picture is dismal. A recent United Way study found that close to one-third of state residents can barely pay their bills, largely due to housing costs. When adjusted for these costs, California leads all states—even historically poor Mississippi—in the percentage of its people living in poverty.  read more »

America the Cheap

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America is a price dominant culture, and we need to take responsibility for that when we complain about bad customer service, poor infrastructure, etc. Certainly American business and political leadership could be better, but they aren’t the ones who decided to shop at Wal-Mart instead of the local store (favoring short term financial gain over long term community loss). Nor are they the ones who force us to vote for politicians promising something for nothing.  read more »

Driving Alone Hits High, Transit Hits Low in "Post-Car" City of Los Angeles

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According to The New York Times, the car used to be “king” in the city (municipality) of Los Angeles. “'A Different Los Angeles', The City Moves to Alter its Sprawling Image,” was another story that seeks to portray the nation’s second largest municipality as having fundamentally changed.  read more »

Reason #1 to End Transit Subsidies: It’s the Most Costly Transportation We Have

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Fifty-three years ago, the transit industry was mostly private and earned a net profit. Today, it’s almost entirely publicly owned, and subsidies have grown out of control. It’s time to take a stand and say all transportation subsidies are bad, but transit subsidies are the worst.  read more »