Urban Issues

Being Dense About Dwellings: Check the Numbers!

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Recently I suggested that in New Zealand we are heading into the perfect housing storm. Now we have news that house prices and rentals are on the climb again, although stocks remain tight, as an annual inflation rate of 5.3% hits a 21 year high.  The economists are suggesting this is good news, although it means interest rates may have to be pushed up sooner than expected.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Milan

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Italy's population growth has been stagnating in recent decades, but has turned around during the last decade, with the annual growth rate increasing 16 times (from 0.04 percent to 0.69 percent). According to United Nations data, Italy added more international migrants in the 2000s (3.8.5 million) than it added people in any ten year period since 1960. Some of the strongest growth has been in the Milan metropolitan region, which has begun to grow again after years of stagnation.  read more »

The Ambiguous Triumph of the “Urban Age”

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In its State of the Population report in 2007, the United Nations Population Fund made this ringing declaration:  “In 2008, the world reaches an invisible but momentous milestone: For the first time in history, more than half its human population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas.”  read more »

Waging a Green Jihad on Suburban Homes

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It seems rarely a month passes without some new assault on the lifestyle and housing choice preferred by the overwhelming majority of Australians: the detached suburban home. Denigrated by a careless media as ”McMansions” or attacked as some archaic form of reckless housing choice which is suddenly “no longer appropriate” (according to some planning or environmental fatwa), the detached home is under a constant assault of falsely laid allegation and intellectual derision.  read more »

Beyond Words: A 9/11 Remembrance

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On September 7, 2001, a Friday, the communications staff of New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gathered to plan for the week ahead. I had joined the Giuliani administration the previous April as a speechwriter, one of three on the mayor’s staff.

The biggest event on the schedule was the primary election on Tuesday, September 11, when New Yorkers would choose each party’s nominee to succeed Giuliani. The mayor would be casting his own ballot at Public School 66 on East 88th Street at 7 a.m., followed by a fairly routine round of staff meetings.  read more »

Ground Zero Tolerance: With No Politician Willing to Take Charge, the 9/11 Recovery has Dragged on Far Too Long

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This piece originally appeared in the Village Voice.

A decade into its unhappy and unexpectedly long life, Ground Zero has undergone its annual if short-lived transformation from New York politicos' red-headed stepchild to belle of the ball, at least until September 12.  read more »

A Fly in the Econometrics? Exaggerating Urbanization

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I was surprised to read in Science Digest that the increase in the urban land from 2000 to 2030 could be as much as 590,000 square miles (1.53 million square kilometers), which Science Digest went on to say would house an increase in the urban population of 1.47 billion people.  read more »

Applying Lessons from the UK Riots to Australia

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Many commentators correctly attribute the UK rioting to decades of misgoverning and miseducating youth. Contributing to this has been the breakdown of family discipline, the replacement of working fathers as role models and the creation of a culture of entitlement. Tony Blair has talked about a breakdown in public morality. Less convincingly, many on the left have attributed the cause to the social expenditure cuts of the Cameron Government, cuts that have actually made barely a dent in the proceeding Blair/Brown years of tumescent expenditure growth.  read more »

High-density Housing Reflects Dense Government Thinking

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Citizens in Australia’s major cities are becoming increasingly unhappy about what they perceive as the escalating deterioration in their quality of life - traffic congestion, overloaded public transport, unaffordable housing for young people, increases in the costs of basic services and overcrowding. There is little doubt that recent election results and unfavourable opinion polls are partly an expression of this dissatisfaction.  read more »

How to Save Chicago

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The title raises the obvious question: Does Chicago need saving?

I guess the answer is clear. Aaron Renn published a reviewofthe 2010 census, and for Chicago it was not pretty. Since 2000 the city lost over 200,000 people: nearly 7.5% of its Black residents, and almost 6% on non-Hispanic Whites. Only the Hispanic population grew, but at an anemic 3.4%. Even the metro area writ large isn’t doing all that well, growing by only 3.9% (against the nation’s 10%).  read more »