Urban Issues

Looking Back: The Ideal Communist City

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Over time, suburbs have had many enemies, but perhaps none were more able to impose their version than the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In its bid to remake a Russia of backward villages and provincial towns, the Soviets favored big cities – the bigger the better – and policies that were at least vaguely reminiscent of the “pack and stack” policies so popular with developers and planners today.  read more »

International Housing Affordability in 2014

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The just released 11th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey shows the least affordable major housing markets to be internationally to be Hong Kong, Vancouver, Sydney, along with San Francisco and San Jose in the United States. Honolulu, which should reach 1,000,000 population this year (and thus become a major metropolitan market) was nearly as unaffordable as San Francisco and San Jose. An interactive map in The New Zealand Herald illustrates the results.  read more »

Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Sprawl (Sort of)

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I’m a longtime advocate of walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-served neighborhoods. But lately I’ve been having impure thoughts about suburbia. Let me explain.  read more »

The Cities Where African-Americans Are Doing The Best Economically

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The U.S. may have its first black president, but these have not been the best of times for African-Americans. Recent shootings of unarmed black teenagers and the murder of two New York City police officers have inflamed racial tensions. A Bloomberg poll in December found that 53% of respondents believed that race relations have declined since Obama was elected in 2008.  read more »

The Inevitability of Tradeoffs, or Understanding New England’s Sky High Energy Costs

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People advance two main sorts of arguments in favor of things for which they advocate: the moral argument (it’s the right thing to do) and the utilitarian one (it will make us better off). As it happens, in practice most people tend to implicitly suggest there’s a 100% overlap between the two categories. That is, if we do what’s right, it will always make us better off too with no down sides at all.

But is that true?  read more »

An Economic Win-Win For California – Lower the Cost of Living

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A frequent and entirely valid point made by representatives of public sector unions is that their membership, government workers, need to be able to afford to live in the cities and communities they serve. The problem with that argument, however, is that nobody can afford to live in these cities and communities, especially in California.  read more »

California's Rebound Mostly Slow, Unsteady

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California, after nearly five years in recession, has made something of a comeback in recent years. Job growth in the state – largely due to the Silicon Valley boom – has even begun to outpace the national average. The state, finally, appears to have finally recovered the jobs lost since 2007.

To some, this makes California what someone called “a beacon of hope for progressives.” Its “comeback” has been dutifully noted and applauded by economist Paul Krugman, high priest of what passes for the American Left.  read more »

The “Inner Cleveland” of Trendy Cities

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Check out these photos and try to guess where they were taken. If you thought Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo, Cincinnati, or a dozen other Rustbelt towns you’d be mistaken, although your confusion is completely understandable. It’s actually Portland, Oregon – that bastion of liberal, crunchy, hippie, yuppie, hipster, eco-friendliness. Go figure. I’m not putting down Portland. Portland is great. I love Portland. I’m making a point about the reputation of some cities and how we perceive places differently based on a lot of vague stereotypes.  read more »

The Geography of Lower, Middle and Higher Income Households in the United States

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Data on incomes of households for US counties allow us to see the geographic patterns of poorer, average and richer households. Covering the numbers of households and shares of households that are relatively poor to rich, we get a fascinating picture of American economic diversity.   read more »

Divergent Demographic and Economic Trends in Chicago

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The fortunes of the city of Chicago have become clouded in recent years as concerns over its weakening finances and heavy debt obligations have grown. The tally for the unfunded public employee debt obligations of Chicago’s overlapping units of local governments (including those for public schools, parks, and county services) is now approaching $30 billion. Moreover, the city government has been criticized for its practices of funding current public services with proceeds from the issuance of long-term debt and the long-term leases of public assets (such as its parking meter system).  read more »