Urban Issues

Lessons Learned from Long-Term Privatizations


Is long term privatization of government assets in the form of leases or concessions a good idea?

The answer is not Yes or No but rather What and How.

Done right, long-term privatization can be a great thing to the public. But given the multi-decade nature of some of these deals, the risk of getting it wrong is high.  read more »

Surprising Ordos: The Evolving Urban Form


Ordos, in China's Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia (equivalent to a province) has received international notoriety as a "ghost city." I had already visited one other ghost city and found the reports considerably exaggerated (The Zhengzhou New Area in Henan, a commercial and residential district). But Ordos has received by far the most publicity.  read more »

The U.S. Cities Creating The Most White-Collar Jobs, 2016


The information sector may have glamour and manufacturing, nostalgia appeal, but the real action in high-wage job growth in the United States is in the vast realm of professional and business services. This is not only the largest high-wage part of the economy, employing just under 20 million people at an average salary of $30 an hour, it’s also one the few high-wage sectors in which employment has expanded steadily since 2010, at more than 3% a year, adding nearly 3 million white-collar jobs.  read more »

A Different Approach to Redevelopment


As part of a thought experiment I examined one specific neighborhood in a typical small city in Georgia. I’m using this town not because it’s unique, but because it’s absolutely normative. I could do the same analysis on the town where my mom, sisters, and brother live in southern New Jersey and it would be nearly identical. This is Everytown, USA.  read more »

The Shorter Commutes in American Suburbs and Exurbs


An examination of American Community Survey (ACS) data in the major metropolitan areas of the United States shows that suburbs and exurbs have the shortest one-way work trip travel times for the largest number of people. The analysis covers metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 population in 2012, from the 2010-2014 ACS (2012 average data) using the City Sector Model.

The City Sector Model  read more »

Population Change, 2015: Not Very Good News for Those Angry White Men


Data on population growth from 2010 to 2015 show a continuing concentration of people in metropolitan areas, especially in the large areas with over a million people, where presumably traditional values are most challenged.  I show an amazing table, in which I have disaggregated population change by type of settlement, from the million-metro areas to the purely rural counties, comparing growth amounts and rates, plus noting how these areas actually voted in 2012.  read more »

Learning from Medellín with Alejandro Echeverri


“I think, if you want to write a new narrative at some specific moment in the story of a city, it is important that you have to feel the transformation and see the transformation. So the physical transformation is important but always there is more a spiritual thing, as happens with emotional connections and inspirational things.” ______Architect Alejandro Echeverri.  read more »


Chicago's Advantages


When I wrote that Chicago is the duck-billed platypus of American cities, I noted that there were a lot things about Chicago that were unique – both good and bad – putting it in a class of its own and making it hard to compare Chicago with other cities.  read more »

Fastest Metropolitan Area Growth Continues in Prairie Provinces


The latest Statistics Canada population estimates indicate that much of the nation's growth continues to be in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, centered on Toronto, and in the Prairie Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In addition to Toronto, the Greater Golden Horseshoe includes Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Oshawa, Brantford, Barrie, Peterborough St. Catherine's-Niagara and Guelph census metropolitan areas. The Prairie Provinces metropolitan areas are Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina.  read more »

Homesteading Detroit


I was in Detroit recently for the Congress for New Urbanism, the Strong Towns gathering, and a Small Developers Workshop. I used Airbnb instead of the corporate hotel option while in town.  read more »