Urban Issues

Honolulu: Mega Rail Project in a Micro City

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An exorbitantly costly rapid transit heavy rail project has been proposed for the small Hawaiian island of Oahu, where the leading metropolis, Honolulu, ranks 53rd in population among U.S. cities, with less than 500,000 people. If the project moves forward it will be the world's only elevated heavy rail in a metro area with a population of under four million.  read more »

Australians Are Getting A Carbon Tax They Don’t Want


Within weeks, the Australian government is expected to announce a package of measures including a carbon tax to stimulate renewable energy sources and abate carbon emissions. Officials, activists and journalists around the world will hail Australia as a courageous and forward-looking country, ready to take its responsibilities seriously. Some will rebuke their own governments for being less bold. Yet they will ignore an inconvenient detail. According to opinion surveys, at least 60 per cent of Australians strongly oppose the tax.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Area: Seattle


Lunching at Seattle's Space Needle, the casual observer might imagine that one of the nation's most dense urban areas is spread out below. To the immediate south of the Space Needle is one of the nation's premier downtown areas. In 2000 downtown Seattle had the seventh largest employment base in the country and was one of the most dense. Its impressive, closely packed buildings witness a storied past.  read more »

Will J.R. Recognize the New Dallas?


In the sixties and seventies, Dallas’s prime tourist attraction was an assassination site. The town seriously needed a new image. It got one in a soap opera that revealed a city besieged by blonds, big  hair and big homes. “Dallas,” which premiered in 1978, did for Big D what “Sex in the City” and “Seinfeld” did for New York: it painted a portrait of the city for the world.  read more »

Can Florida Escape the Horse Latitudes?


When it comes to the winds of change, Florida remains in the horse latitudes.  This zone of the Atlantic around 30 degrees latitude was so named by ship captains because their ships, becalmed in the water, seemed to move faster when they lightened their load by throwing off a few horses.  Florida’s governor Rick Scott, who campaigned on a promise to create 700,000 jobs in this state, appears to have adopted the same tactic by throwing overboard the Department of Community Affairs, the state agency that regulated real estate development.  Other bureaucracies may be next in line  read more »

The New State of Coastal California?


In 2009, former California legislator Bill Maze proposed dividing his state, hiving off thirteen counties as Coastal (or Western) California (see map). Maze, a conservative from the agricultural Central Valley, objects to the domination of state politics by the left-leaning Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas. The initial impetus for his proposal was the passage by state voters in 2008 of Proposition 2, requiring larger pens and cages for farm animals.  read more »

Growing a Productive Urban Economy


Suggestions that we can grow the Auckland, NZ economy by encouraging business into the central business district (CBD) in the interests of innovation do not reflect the weight of experience.  Sure, higher order professions have tended to concentrate there, and become relatively more important as manufacturing, retailing, and distribution have decamped.  And in Auckland, at least, tertiary education has become a major player in the CBD.  University employment has boosted the scientific as well as education sector.  read more »

The Rise Of The Third Coast: The Gulf Region’s Ascendancy In U.S.


For most of the nation’s history, the Atlantic region — primarily New York City — has dominated the nation’s trade. In the last few decades of the 20th Century, the Pacific, led by Los Angeles and Long Beach, gained prominence. Now we may be about to see the ascendancy of a third coast: the Gulf, led primarily by Houston but including New Orleans and a host of smaller ports across the regions.  read more »

Outlawing New Houses in California


UCLA's most recent Anderson Forecast indicates that there has been a significant shift in demand in California toward condominiums and apartments. The Anderson Forecast concludes that this will cause problems, such as slower growth in construction employment because building multi-unit dwellings creates less employment than building the detached houses that predominate throughout California and most of the nation.  read more »

Detroit: A Century On The Smart-Growth Grid

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The following excerpts are from a report that was intended to solve many of the planning issues facing one of America's largest cities: Detroit. Its conclusions are in many ways counter to the ‘Smart Growth’ principles being promoted by influential decision makers. It was compiled by the city's highest level planners and engineers:  read more »