Urban Issues

The Two Worlds of Buenos Aires

Avenida9deJulio.jpg

Central Buenos Aires is undoubtedly one of the world's great tourist destinations. Days could be spent walking among its narrow streets admiring the plentiful art noveau, art-deco, beaux-arts and other architectural styles. The triumphal Avenida 9 de Julio is one of the world's widest boulevards with two interior roadways of up to seven lanes and two service roads of two lanes, with a Washington Monument type obelisk at Avenida Corrientes (Top photo). Avenida 9 de Julio is bordered by buildings that are both ordinary and impressive, such as the Colon Opera House.  read more »

Asia’s Go-to Cities: Moving Between Mumbai and Singapore

singapore.jpg

As someone who has lived in both Singapore and Mumbai, I can appreciate both in their uniqueness. Each city has its own unique place in the world, neither lesser than the other.

In 2006, I left behind a slightly laid back, well run Singapore, a city trying to come to terms with its boring and over-regulated image. The Singapore of 2010 that I returned to, as a newspaper put it recently, has “grown up‟. It is a speeding, futuristic looking city.  read more »

Greetings From Recoveryland: Ten Places to Watch Coming Out of the Recession

raleigh-nc.jpg

Like a massive tornado, the Great Recession up-ended the topography of America. But even as vast parts of the country were laid low, some cities withstood the storm and could emerge even stronger and shinier than before. So, where exactly are these Oz-like destinations along the road to recovery? If you said Kansas, you’re not far off. Try Oklahoma. Or Texas. Or Iowa. Not only did the economic twister of the last two years largely spare Tornado Alley, it actually may have helped improve the landscape.  read more »

The Smackdown Of The Creative Class

donkey.jpg

Two years ago I hailed Barack Obama’s election as “the triumph of the creative class.” Yesterday everything reversed, as middle-class Americans smacked down their putative new ruling class of highly educated urbanistas and college town denizens.  read more »

New Index Estimates New House Cost Impact of Land Regulation

chicago-fringe.jpg

In recent decades, an unprecedented variation has developed in the price of new tract housing on the fringe of US metropolitan markets. Nearly all of this difference is in costs other than site preparation and construction, which indicates rising land and regulation costs.  read more »

The Real OC: Diverse, Dynamic and — Dare I Say — Progressive

orange-county.jpg

I recently returned to Orange County after a decade’s absence, fully aware that a stereotype of all-white, card-carrying-John Birchers still exists among many who remain unfamiliar with facts on the ground here.

I never bought that old saw in the first place.

And now, on a second venture into OC, I’m amazed by how deeply those old stereotypes have been buried under the accumulated accomplishments of everyday folks.  read more »

The Privatization-Industrial Complex

parking-meter.jpg

“I think this is just the latest way for people to make money off state and local governments. This is the new way the investment banks, their lawyers, and consultants squeeze the taxpayers....They’re going around making these deals, and it’s very lucrative. It’s like a circus coming to town.” - Clint Krislov

Privatization has long been advocated by many conservatives as a good government measure. Traditionally, privatization was used a tool that subjects government monopolies to competition from the marketplace, driving down costs and improving quality of service. Privatization pioneer Steve Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis and now deputy mayor of New York City, used to apply what he called the “Yellow Pages test.” If he could open the Yellow Pages and find several companies providing a service, he wondered why government should be in that business.  read more »

Suburban Nation, but Urban Political Strategy

suburb-road.jpg

Ideologues may set the tone for the national debate, but geography and demography determine elections.

In America, the dominant geography continues to be suburbia – home to at least 60 percent of the population and probably more than that portion of the electorate. Roughly 220 congressional districts, or more than half the nation’s 435, are predominately suburban, according to a 2005 Congressional Quarterly study. This is likely to only increase in the next decade, as Millennials begin en masse to enter their 30s and move to the periphery.  read more »

Portland's Runaway Debt Train

mthood.JPG

Tri-Met, the operator of Portland's (Oregon) bus and light rail system has been in the news lately, and in less than auspicious ways. For decades, the Portland area’s media – as well as much of the national press – has been filled with stories about the national model that Tri-Met has created, especially with its five light rail lines.  read more »

A Price on Carbon: the New Greenmail

sydney.jpg

Hidden from view during the Australian election, a carbon price is back on the political agenda. This comes as no surprise. Anyone following the debate, however, will see that it has nothing to do with the environment. For some time we have been urged to “act now”, but the grounds keep shifting and changing. Early on it was the drought. Then the Great Barrier Reef. After that the Bali Conference. Then the election of Barack Obama. Next came the Copenhagen Conference. Then being “left behind” in clean technology. Now, apparently, “inaction will cost more in the end”.  read more »