Urban Issues

Congratulations Boston!


Congratulations Boston! Your rejection of the "honor" of representing the US as its candidate for the 2024 Summer Olympics is an inspiring example of government performing its obligation to taxpayers and their hard earned money. Those of us who think that government has a responsibility to wisely use taxpayer money sometimes forget that Massachusetts enacted Proposition 2 1/2 not long after California's fabled Proposition 13.  read more »

What Jane Jacobs Got Wrong About Cities


Few people have had more influence on thinking about cities than the late Jane Jacobs.

The onetime New Yorker turned Torontonian, Jacobs, who died in 2006, has become something of a patron saint for American urbanists, and the moral and economic case she made for urban revival has been cited by everyone frompundits and think tanks to developers.  read more »

Special Report: Maximizing Opportunity Urbanism with Robin Hood Planning


This is the first section of a new report authored by Tory Gattis for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism titled Maximizing Opportunity Urbanism with Robin Hood Planning. Download the full report (pdf) here.

Across America and the developed world, we face a well-reported crisis of income stagnation, rising inequality, a declining middle class, and a general lack of broad prosperity. Yet contemporary urban planning seems disconnected from this crisis, focusing instead on pedestrian aesthetics, environmentalism, and appealing to the supposed preferences of the wealthy and the “creative class.”  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Jing-Jin-Ji (Dispersing Beijing)


China's cities continue to add population at a rapid rate, despite a significant slowdown in population growth. Although overall population is expected to peak around 2030, the urban population will continue growing until after 2050. China’s cities will be adding more than 250 million new residents in the next quarter century, according to United Nations projections. China's cities will add nearly as many people as live in Indonesia, the world's fourth largest country, more than live in Brazil and 10 times as many as live in Australia.  read more »

The Geography of Ideology Ultra R, Ultra D and 50 to 50


Recently I grouped all US counties into several categories, from True Believers R and D, R and D leaning groups, and also those areas that are more equally divided. In anticipating the 2016 election, I take here a brief look at a small number of counties (2012 data) that are extreme cases of R voting (over 90%, 28 counties), of D voting (over 80%, 26 counties), and of 50:50 voting (39 counties from 49.7 to 50.3 D vote). These are also shown on the maps.  read more »

In Comparing Metro Areas, the Devil is in the Details


Frequently I see examples of metro areas comparing themselves to other, more successful metro areas.  Metro area movers and shakers take a deep dive into the intricacies of what makes a "good" place tick, and try to implement the takeaways in their metro.  This is a reasonable action, but I believe it misses the point.  There is more to examine by taking a deep dive within your own metro than looking at another.  read more »

The Cities Leading A U.S. Manufacturing Revival

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Manufacturing may no longer drive the U.S. economy, but industrial growth remains a powerful force in many regions of the country. Industrial employment has surged over the past five years, with the sector adding some 855,000 new jobs, a 7.5% expansion.

Several factors are driving this trend, including rising wages in China, the energy boom and a growing need to respond more quickly to local customer demand and the changing marketplace.  read more »

Blaming Foreigners for Unaffordable Housing


In a number of Western world cities, there is rising concern about foreign housing purchases which may be driving up prices for local residents. Much of the attention is aimed at mainland Chinese buyers in metropolitan areas where housing is already pricier than elsewhere. The concern about housing affordability is legitimate. However, blaming foreigners misses the point, which is that the rising prices are to a large degree the result of urban containment policies implemented by governments.  read more »

Special Report: The Laissez Faire New Orleans Rebuilding Strategy Was Exactly That


Urban risk may be understood as a function of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability.1 In metro New Orleans, Katrina-like storm surges constitute the premier hazard (threat); the exposure variable entails human occupancy of hazard-prone spaces; and vulnerability implies the ability to respond resiliently and adaptively—which itself is a function of education, income, age, social capital, and other factors—after having been exposed to the hazard.  read more »

LA’s Tale of Two Cities

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It’s the best of times and the worst of times in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is now attracting notice as a so-called “global city,” one of the world’s elite metropolises. It is ranked #6 in the world by AT Kearney and tied for 10th in a report by the Singapore Civil Service College that I contributed to.  Yet it also has among the highest big city poverty rates in the nation, and was found to be one of the worst places in America for upward mobility among the poor. Newspaper columns are starting to refer to LA as a “third world city.”  read more »