Urban Issues

The Truce That Could Save American Cities

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Some states, such as New York and California, are loudly proclaiming that they have returned from the fiscal abyss. Maybe for now, but the future doesn’t look so good when long-term debt and pension obligations are factored in. Taken together, our 50 states owe $1 trillion in unfunded pension obligations.  read more »

New Data on Commuting in Canada

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New data from the National Household Survey indicates that driving to work continues to surge in Canada. In addition to providing work access market shares, the National Household Survey provides one-way work trip travel time estimates for all metropolitan areas.

The National Data

Between the 2006 census and the 2011 National Household Survey indicates an increase of nearly 750,000 additional work-bound cars on the road. The increase in driving exceeded the overall increase of 585,000 in employment (Figure 1).  read more »

The Persistence of Failed History: “White Infill” as the New “White Flight”?

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“There is a secret at the core of our nation. And those who dare expose it must be condemned, must be shamed, must be driven from polite society. But the truth stalks us like bad credit.” – Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates

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With the recent Supreme Courts strike down of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was created to protect minority representation, the headline in the Huffington Post read “Back to 1964?” While some contend the title hyperbolic, the HuffPost lead, if not the strike down itself, reflects the reality of a country still tethered to its discriminatory past.  read more »

A Million New Housing Units: The Limits of Good Intentions

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In May 2013, the district of Husby in suburban Stockholm, Sweden was shaken by “angry young men” engaging in destructive behavior for about 72 hours,1 including the burning of automobiles and other properties and attacks on police officers (over 30 officers were injured). The violence spread to the nearby districts of Rinkeby and Tensta as well as to other parts of Sweden.  read more »

Suburbia's Sacred Spaces

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From the earliest times, cities have revolved around three basic concepts – security, the marketplace and what I call "the sacred space." In contemporary America, everyone wants safe streets and a thriving economy, but what about the ethereal side, the places that makes us take note of a place and feel, in some way, a connection with its history?  read more »

Public Unions for Private Benefits: Public Sector Unions Enrich their Members by Distorting State Finances

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Concerned citizens of California are already familiar with the undue political influence of California’s prison guard union. According to Tim Kowal of the Orange County Federalist Society, the union raises $23 million dollars per year and spends $8 million of it lobbying. As a result, the state has found it impossible to engage in meaningful reform of its correctional system.  read more »

The Hall of Gimmicks

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Occasional Urbanophile contributor Robert Munson has talked about how Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was among the first to recognize that there was a “taxpayer strike” in America. That is, given the breakdown in the social contract in our cities, taxpayers were increasingly unwilling to pour money down a rat hole.  read more »

Crime Down in Urban Cores and Suburbs

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The latest data (2011) from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) indicates that violent crime continued to decline in both the suburbs and historical cores of major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000 residents). Since 2001, the rates of decline have been similar, but contrary to media reports, the decline has been slightly greater in the suburbs than in the historical cores.  read more »

Angry Young Men

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“'Angry young men' lack optimism.” This was the title of a BBC News story earlier this year, exploring the deeply pessimistic views that some young working class British hold about their own future. Two-thirds of the young men from families of skilled or semi-skilled workers, for example, never expect to own their own home. Angry young men, this time of immigrant origin, were also recently identified as the group causing riots in Swedish suburbs such as Husby.  read more »

Cities Still Being Squeezed

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Recent announcements of state budget surpluses have led to the popping of corks across the deepest-blue parts of America, particularly here in California. In some cases, the purported fiscal recovery has been enshrined by an emerging hagiography about Jerry Brown's steadfastness in the face of budget debacles.  read more »