Urban Issues

The Buffalo Billion Reconsidered

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You may recall my City Journal feature on Buffalo from 2015. This was written about the time New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion program – a pledge to spend $1 billion in state funds to bring back the city economically – was in the earlier stages of development.  read more »

The Once and Future Lagos

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City Journal just ran a very interesting piece on Lagos by Armin Rosen. Lagos is by some estimates Africa’s largest city and is well known as a creative capital. I don’t know anything personally about the city, but found Rosen’s description balanced and fascinating. Here are some excerpts:  read more »

Backyard Rental House Zoning Threatens Trees, Breezes, Birds and Neighborhoods

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The Dallas city manager and housing director are proposing a devastating blanket zoning change: allowing ADUs (additional dwelling units), better known as backyard rental houses, in single-family zoned neighborhoods. This change would allow a 44-foot wide by 30-foot tall rental house to be built on the back of a standard 50‑foot wide by 150-foot deep lot. Backyard rental houses would deforest the older neighborhoods, undermine neighborhood stability, accelerate gentrification, reduce diversity of housing, and diminish attainably priced opportunities for homebuyers.  read more »

The New Demo-pessimism

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Normandy—cold, green, and charming—should be the scene of celebration for liberal democracy. The northern region of France produced seminal writings from its aristocratic native son, Alexis de Tocqueville, and was the setting for the landings on D-Day, which reestablished liberalism on a continent locked in the grip of fascism.  read more »

Can Detroit's Suburbs Survive The City's Rebirth?

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I've written quite a bit about Detroit's recent history, particularly the Motor City of the last ten years -- Kwame Kilpatrick and the aftermath of his corrupt administration, the subsequent bankruptcy and emergence from it, the binding of local government, business and nonprofit forces in creating a new template for leadership, and the very real rebound that Detroit is currently experiencing. Detroit is indeed booming, but it's not growth generated by external forces.  read more »

Cautionary Tales from the Cities of Seattle and Philadelphia

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For some time now urban core proponents have boasted about a "return to the cities" from the suburbs. And while the urban core cities (historical core municipalities) have done better in recent years than before, the claim has been significantly overblown. Suburbs have continued to capture the "lion's share" of metropolitan growth in the United States.  read more »

Subjects:

The Big Move

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I spent the afternoon yesterday helping my neighbors pack, clean, and complete a series of fix-it projects around their apartment. They’re moving from San Francisco to a semi-rural town of 28,000 in western Massachusetts.

My neighbor bought her one bedroom apartment a decade ago for what seemed like the outrageously high price of $400,000. Today the place is worth $900,000.  read more »

Hooked on a Feeling: Unique Experiences Help Fill Wisconsin’s Talent Pipeline

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By all measures economists use to assess the quality of life a place offers—job availability, cost of living, commute times, recreation, etc.—Wisconsin stacks up pretty well. Very well, in fact. Problem is, people don’t consult economists when choosing the best place to pursue their passions. As CEO of NEWaukee, I devote my professional life and much of my personal life to promoting Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a career and lifestyle destination.  read more »

Housing Affordability from Vancouver to Sydney to Toronto: Time to Do What Works

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The front page of The Wall Street Journal cited the difficulty of cities (Note 1) trying to stop the escalation of house prices “Western Cities Try, and Fail, To Slow Chinese Home Buying.” The more descriptive online headline said: Western Cities Want to Slow Flood of Chinese Home Buying. Nothing Works: Governments from Vancouver to Sydney to Toronto are using taxes and other restrictions to tackle real-estate bubbles.  read more »

Do Big Cities Make Us Dumber?

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You may remember Geoffrey West from his TED Talk about the scaling laws of cities that got a lot of press a while back. He has now turned his research findings into a book. Famed physicist Freeman Dyson just reviewed it for the New York Review of Books. His review includes this curious section about genetic drift I found interesting.  read more »