Urban Issues

DIY Urbanism


Over the years I’ve belonged to a variety of different organizations that had the ostensible goal of accomplishing X or Y. At a certain point I would realize that all anyone was doing was exercising their fears and frustrations. Most of all they were trying to stop other people from doing things they didn’t like.  read more »


America's Subway: America's Embarrassment?


Washington's Metro (subway), often called "America's subway," may well be America's embarrassment. As a feature article by Robert McCartney and Paul Duggan in the Washington Post put it: “'America’s subway,' which opened in 1976 to great acclaim — promoted as a marvel of modern transit technology and design — has been reduced to an embarrassment, scorned and ridiculed from station platforms to the halls of Congress. Balky and unreliable on its best days, and hazardous, even deadly, on its worst, Metrorail is in crisis, losing riders and revenue and exhausting public confidence." (emphasis by author.)  read more »

There Are No Writers Here


I’ve long noted that the civic identity or culture of many places seems to be a cipher. What is our identity as a city? is a question frequently asked. And one that needs to be. Cities will succeed best when they undertake policies that are true to the place. To most successfully build or rebuild a place, it’s important to articulate that civic identity and work with it, not against it.  read more »


Where Millionaires Are Moving


In this oligarchic era, dominated as never before in modern history by the ultra-rich, their movements are far more than grist for gossip columns. They are critical to the health of city economies around the world.  read more »

Millennial Home Ownership: Disappointment Ahead in Some Places?


Millennial renters overwhelmingly plan on buying their own homes, though affording them could be far more challenging than they think. This is an important conclusion from a renters’ survey by apartmentlist.com, an apartment search website (See: The Affordability Crisis: Are Millennials Destined to be Renters?).  read more »

Largest Cities in the World: 2016


Tokyo-Yokohama continues to be the largest city in the world, with nearly 38 million residents, according to the just released Demographia World Urban Areas (12th Annual Edition). Demographia World Urban Areas (Built-Up Urban Areas or Urban Agglomerations) provides annual estimates of the population, urban land area and urban population density of all identified built-up urban areas in the world. This year's edition includes 1,022 large urban areas (with 500,000 or more residents), with a total population of 2.12 billion, representing 53 percent of the world urban population.  read more »

America's Software And Tech Hotspots


Where is America’s tech and software industry thriving? In a new study conducted for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., researchers took an interesting stab at that question, assessing which metro areas have the strongest concentrations of software developers, spread across a broad array of industries, as well as the best compensation and job growth, and access to venture capital funding.  read more »

Liberals — Except When it Comes Home


My old boss, Bruce Brugmann, who ran the Bay Guardian, told me early on in my career that you could tell the real politics of a big-city newspaper by the person they endorse for mayor.

Nice liberal outfits like the New York Times support Democrats for president and (typically) governor and US Senate. The SF Chronicle doesn’t endorse many Republicans any more. But when it comes to the local stuff, the decisions on who should run the city where they live and operate and connect with the power structure, the truth comes out.  read more »

A Commentary on the Notion of Extreme Commutes


A recent piece by Joe Cortright in the City Observatory touched on the often discussed issue of extreme commutes, a favored topic among reporters complaining about sprawl and traffic congestion. The notion of extreme commutes is obviously a fun topic. But it is one that is ripe for analysis based on  travel time data that has been available through the Census since 1980 .  read more »

California Leaders Double Down on Dry


“What do we do with this worthless area, the region of savages and wild beasts, of shifting sands and whirlwinds of dust, of cactus and prairie dogs? To what use could we ever hope to put these great deserts and these endless mountain ranges?”

– U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster, on the American West, 1852  read more »