Urban Issues

Cars or Trains: Which Will Win the Commuting Future?


Infrastructure investment is a hot topic and the focus of that discussion tends to lean towards transport infrastructure over other categories (like energy or water for example). When it comes to transport, trains seem to feature prominently on the wish lists of big investment or ‘nation building’ projects. But how far could billions of dollars in new rail infrastructure actually go in improving congestion across our cities?  Will cars inevitably win? If so, why?  read more »

Luxury Urban Housing, Built on a Myth, Is About to Take a Big Hit


From steamy Miami to the thriving cores of cities from New York, San Francisco, Houston and Chicago, swank towers, some of them pencil thin and all richly appointed. This surge in the luxury apartment construction has often been seen as validation of the purported massive shift of population, notably of the retired wealthy, to the inner cities. Indeed with the exception of a brief period right after the Great Recession, there was slightly greater growth in core cities than the suburbs and exurbs. It was said that we were in the midst of a massive “return to the city.”  read more »

Finally! Great New Affordable Bay Area Housing!


These are highly educated well paid workers at a San Francisco tech company. They’re mostly young. Some are single. Some are newly coupled. Some are married with young children. There are exceptions, but they tend to want to live in a vibrant urban neighborhood with a short commute rather than a distant suburb.  read more »

Best World Cities for Traffic: Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Richmond


The 2015 Tom Tom Traffic Index shows that Dallas-Fort Worth has the least overall congestion among world (urban areas) with more than 5,000,000 population. The Tom Tom Traffic Index for Dallas-Fort Worth is 17, which means that, on average, it takes 17 percent longer to travel in the urban area because of traffic congestion.  read more »

A 'Diet' to Give California Drivers Indigestion


In the past, it was other people’s governments that would seek to make your life more difficult. But increasingly in California, the most effective war being waged is one the state has aimed at ourselves.  read more »

Chicago Is the Duck-Billed Platypus of American Cities


Census results last week show Chicago as the only one of the twenty largest cities in America to lose population. The freaking out over a tiny loss isn’t really warranted. The comparison to Houston is bogus. Etc, etc. Yet Chicago’s leaders have refused to grapple with the real and severe structural and cultural challenges that face the city. That’s something they need to do if they want it to succeed over the longer term.  read more »

Can Southland be a 'New York by the Pacific'?


Throughout the recession and the decidedly uneven recovery, Southern California has tended to lag behind, particularly in comparison to the Bay Area and other booming regions outside the state. Once the creator of a dispersed, multipolar urban model – “the original in the Xerox machine” as one observer suggested – this region seems to have lost confidence in itself, and its sense of direction.  read more »

The Cost of NOT Housing: A New Report


This is the introduction to an new report "The Cost of NOT Housing" authored by Joel Kotkin for the National CORE Symposium on Affordability of Housing. Download the entire report (pdf) here.

It is a commonplace view that housing does not contribute to the overall fiscal and economic condition of cities. Recent trends—both nationally and here in California—suggest that this is not the case. New housing, including affordable units, provide some direct stimulation through construction jobs, but also allow people, particularly young families, to stay, work and shop locally. Lack of affordable housing ultimately drives people, particularly the entry level and young educated, out of regions where their labor would be coveted by local companies.  read more »

Suburbs (Continue to) Dominate Jobs and Job Growth


Data released by the federal government last week provided additional evidence that the suburbs continue to dominate metropolitan area population growth and that the biggest cities are capturing less of the growth than they did at the beginning of the decade.  read more »

So Much for Peak Driving (VMT)


So much for peak VMT. The planners and analysts who watched vehicle miles traveled (VMT) trends seemingly peak are no doubt anxious as the preliminary 2015 VMT numbers produced by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed new record total VMT well ahead of the 2007 number that many had hoped signaled peak U.S. VMT. Perhaps even more disconcerting was the sharp increase in per capita VMT, up approximately 2.6 percent for 2015.  read more »