Urban Issues

Pondering Urban Authenticity: A look at the new book “Naked City"

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“If you seek authenticity for authenticity’s sake you are no longer authentic.”

– Jean-Paul Sartre

As the United States shifted from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy during the latter half of the 20th Century, former industrial cities suffered population losses to the suburbs and post-WWII boomtowns. Some of these cities were able to stay afloat while others went into permanent decline never to fully recover. Most experienced an increase in crime and a decrease in quality-of-life.  read more »

Reconnecting the In-between City

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The socio-spatial landscape of what we call the “in-between city,” includes that part of the urban region that is perceived as not quite traditional city and not quite traditional suburb (Sieverts, 2003). This landscape trepresents a the remarkable new urban form where a large part of metropolitan populations live, work and play. While much attention has been focused on the winning economic clusters of the world economy and the devastated industrial structures of the loser regions, little light has been shed on the urban zones in-between.  read more »

Transit in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles officials hope to convince Congress take the unprecedented step of having the US Treasury to front money for building the area’s planned 30 year transit expansions in 10 years instead. The money would be paid back from a one-half cent sales tax (Measure R), passed by the voters in 2008. That referendum required 35% of the new tax money to be spent on building 12 rail and exclusive busway transit lines.

Measure R was not the first instance of Los Angeles officials committing to spend 35% of a new one-half cent sales tax on new transit lines.  read more »

New Urbanism, Smart Growth, & Andres Duany: A Critique From Suburbia

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In 1998 Hollywood introduced us to a new star when it released The Truman Show, shot on location at Seaside in Florida. No I’m not talking about Jim Carrey, Laura Linney or Ed Harris. I'm talking about none other than Andres Duany.

A few months ago, I stayed at the magnificent WaterColor Inn, which is in the neighborhood adjacent to Seaside.  read more »

Queensland, We’ve Got a Problem

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Queensland Premier Anna Bligh MP has a problem. Reacting to sensationalized media reports of runaway population growth as well as an infrastructure lag revealing itself in everything from mounting congestion to a lack of hospital beds, Queensland residents are starting to say ‘enough.’ The prospects of continuing population growth at around 2.5% or 100,000 people per annum, despite the economic benefits this brings, are increasingly unpopular, something that gets the attention of most politicians.  read more »

EPA Joins the Green Building Party

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By Richard Reep

Well into the last decade, green design and smart growth operated as two separate and distinct reform movements. Both were widely celebrated in media, academic and planning circles, seeing themselves as noble causes albeit underdogs in the struggle against the mighty capitalistic enterprise of real estate development. Starting in 2009, the frozen credit market has kept private development moribund, and these two movements are somewhat moot as development takes a cease-fire.  read more »

Freeing Energy Policy From The Climate Change Debate

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The 20-year effort by environmentalists to establish climate science as the primary basis for far-reaching action to decarbonize the global energy economy today lies in ruins. Backlash in reaction to “Climategate” and recent controversies involving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 2007 assessment report are but the latest evidence that such efforts have evidently failed.

While the urge to blame fossil-fuel-funded skeptics for this recent bad turn of events has proven irresistible for most environmental leaders and pundits, forward-looking greens wishing to ascertain what might be salvaged from the wreckage would be well advised to look closer to home. Climate science, even at its most uncontroversial, could never motivate the remaking of the entire global energy economy.  read more »

Don't Mess With Texas

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One of the most ironic aspects of our putative "Age of Obama" is how little impact it has had on the nation's urban geography. Although the administration remains dominated by boosters from traditional blue state cities--particularly the president's political base of Chicago--the nation's metropolitan growth continues to shift mostly toward a handful of Sunbelt red state metropolitan areas.  read more »

SPECIAL REPORT: Metropolitan Area Migration Mirrors Housing Affordability

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On schedule, the annual ritual occurred last week in which the Census Bureau releases population and migration estimates and the press announces that people are no longer moving to the Sun Belt. The coverage by The Wall Street Journal was typical of the media bias, with a headline “Sun Belt Loses its Shine.” In fact, the story is more complicated – and more revealing about future trends.

Domestic Migration Tracks Housing Affordability: There have been changes in domestic migration (people moving from one part of the country to another) trends in the last few years, but the principal association is with housing affordability.  read more »

Mayor Daley’s Report Card

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In December of 2010 Mayor Daley will become Chicago’s longest serving Mayor. In office since 1989, he will surpass the record held by his father. In the March issue of The New Yorker magazine, journalist Evan Osnos has a long article on Mayor Daley. The front cover of the magazine calls Daley, “America’s most successful mayor”.  read more »