Urban Issues

Falling In Love With Where You Are


Where I live is where most Californians live: in a tract house on a block of more tract houses in a neighborhood hardly distinguishable from the next, and all of these houses extending as far as the street grid allows.

My exact place on the grid is at the southeast corner of Los Angeles County, between the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers. But my place could be almost anywhere in the suburbs of Los Angeles and Orange counties.  read more »

Suburbs and Sacred Space


Suburbs are often unfairly maligned as lacking the qualities that make cities great. But one place that criticism can be fair is in the area of sacred space. There most certainly is sacred space in the suburbs, but usually less of it than in the city both quantitatively and qualitatively.  In fact, the comparative lack of sacred space is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the suburb that makes it “sub” urban, that is, in a sense lesser than the city.

Lewis Mumford put it this way:  read more »

Retrofitting the Dream: Housing in the 21st Century, A New Report


This is the introduction to "Retrofitting the Dream: Housing in the 21st Century," a new report by Joel Kotkin. To read the entire report, download the .pdf attachment below.

In recent years a powerful current of academic, business, and political opinion has suggested the demise of the classic American dream of home ownership. The basis for this conclusion rests upon a series of demographic, economic and environmental assumptions that, it is widely suggested, make the single-family house and homeownership increasingly irrelevant for most Americans.  read more »

Market Surge Confirms Preference for Homeowning


Ever since the housing bubble burst in 2007, retro-urbanists, such as Richard Florida, have taken aim at homeownership itself, and its "long-privileged place" at the center of the U.S. economy. If anything, he suggested, the government would be better off encouraging "renting, not buying."  read more »

The Cities That Are Stealing Finance Jobs From Wall Street


Over the past 60 years, financial services’ share of the economy has exploded from 2.5% to 8.5% of GDP. Even if you believe, as we do, that financialization is not a healthy trend, the sector boasts a high number of relatively well-paid jobs that most cities would welcome.

Yet our list of the fastest-growing finance economies is a surprising one that includes many “second-tier” cities that most would not associate with banking.  read more »

Addressing Housing Affordability Using Cooperatives


Our country is six years into the Great Recession, the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. It’s been replete with reports of home foreclosures, collapsing commuter towns, and young people struggling to become home owners. The term “generation rent” is often used in the media to describe the struggles of aspiring young people.    read more »

Driving Trends in Context


There are grains of reality, misreporting and exaggeration in the press treatment of a report on driving trends by USPIRG. The report generated the usual press reports suggesting that the millennial generation (ages 16 to 35) is driving less, moving to urban cores, and that with a decline in driving per capita, people are switching to transit.  read more »

Southern California Economy Not Keeping Up


One of Orange County's top executives asked me over lunch recently why Southern California has not seen anything like the kind of tech boom now sweeping large parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. In many ways, it is just one indication of how this region – once seen as the cutting edge of American urbanism – has lost ground not only to its historic northern rival, but also to some venerable East Coast cities, as well as the boom towns of Texas and the recovering metropolitan areas of the Southeast.  read more »

Texas Suburbs Lead Population Growth


The US Census Bureau has reported that eight of the fifteen 2011-2012 fastest-growing municipalities with at least 50,000 population were in Texas. Three of them were in the Austin metropolitan area. San Marcos, south of Austin, grew the fastest in the nation at 4.9 percent. Cedar Park, located in Austin's northern suburbs, ranked fourth in growth at 4.7 percent while Georgetown, also north of Austin grew 4.2 percent and ranked seventh.  read more »

The Cities Winning The Battle For Information Jobs


The information industry has long been a darling of the media — no surprise since the media constitutes a major part of this economic sector, which includes publishing, software, entertainment and data processing. Yet until the last few years, it has been a sector in overall decline, with almost 850,000 jobs lost since 2001. The biggest losses have been in telecommunications (half a million jobs gone since 2001) and print publishing (books, newspapers, magazines), which lost 290,000 jobs — 40% of its 2001 job base.  read more »