Urban Issues

The Land Premium That's Punishing Property

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High land prices have all but killed the Australian housing industry.

Lower housing starts has led to lower GST revenues (house construction attracts full GST) and lower stamp duty receipts are crippling state budgets and cruelling the chances of low and middle income earners to get a start in the housing market.

What has caused this slump in housing starts? Land prices.  read more »

A Planet of People: Angel's Planet of Cities

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Professor Shlomo Angel's new book, Planet of Cities, seems likely to command a place on the authoritative bookshelf of urbanization between Tertius Chandler's Four Thousand Years of Urban Growthand Sir Peter Hall's Cities and Civilization and The Containment of Urban England. Chandler produced the definitive volume of gross population figures for urban areas (cities) over millennia. Angel, takes the subject much further, describing detail how urban areas have grown over the last two centuries, both in population and continuous urban land area. The book focuses principally on population growth,  urban spatial expanse, and density.  read more »

Thoughts on Chicago’s Tech Scene

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I’ve said before that I don’t think Chicago is well positioned to become some type of dominant tech hub, but should only seek to get its “fair share” of tech. However, as the third largest city in America, Chicago’s fair share on tech is still pretty darn big. If you look at what’s been happening in the city the last couple of years, I think you’d have to have to say it’s something real. Built in Chicago lists 1145 companies in its inventory, and that’s definitely something.  read more »

Even After the Housing Bust, Americans Still Love the Suburbs

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For decades, Americans have chosen to live in suburbs rather than in cities. Suburban growth has outpaced urban growth, and many big cities have even lost population. But in recent years, some experts have said it’s time for cities to make a comeback. Why?  read more »

How California Lost its Mojo

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The preferred story for California's economy runs like this:

In the beginning there was prosperity.  It started with gold.  Then, agriculture thrived in California's climate.  Movies and entertainment came along in the early 20th Century.  In the 1930s there was migration from the Dust Bowl.  California became an industrial powerhouse in World War II.  Defense, aerospace, the world's best higher education system, theme parks, entertainment, and tech combined to drive California's post-war expansion.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Barcelona

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Among those for whom Paris is not their favorite European city, Barcelona often fills the void. Barcelona is the capital of Spain's Catalonia region. Catalonia has been in the news in recent weeks because of the rising a settlement for independence from Spain, or at a minimum, considerably expanded autonomy. In part, the discontent is driven by a concern about the extent to which more affluent Catalonia subsidizes the rest of Spain. Another driving factor is the interest in separating Catalonian language and culture from that of Spain.  read more »

Top Cities for Engineers Based on Actual vs. Expected Wages

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EMSI recently developed a methodology for calculating expected wages for occupations by region. The analysis is aimed at helping us better understand what regional earnings should be given the performance of a set of standardized occupations that are ubiquitous, stable, and diverse across the US economy. It’s a bit like the consumer price index, just for occupations.

Read more about that here.  read more »

Where Do You Live?

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I recently moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where I live in the town of West Warwick. I’ve been learning the place more and soaking in New England culture (and seafood). This area has a Rust Belt type profile: declining population, post-industrial economic landscape, high unemployment, etc. So I’ve been trying to get a handle on conditions and think a bit about what the opportunities are.  read more »

Cooling Off: Why Creative California Could Look to Western New York

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Sometimes the stakes are bogus, sometimes the fast lane hits a fork.
Sometimes southern California wants to be western New York
–Lyrics from Dar Williams’ song “Sometimes California Wants to Be Western New York”.

For long, making cultures and making people have been deemed outmoded. It is largely a knowledge economy. And since knowledge has been diverging into “spiky locales” known to be hotbeds of innovation, consider it a double whammy, as most of the relevant geographies are on the coast. The middle of the country is thus irrelevant if you care to survive. It is a man with a pitchfork in a sea of MacBook’s and iLife’s.  read more »

Flocking Elsewhere: The Downtown Growth Story

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The United States Census Bureau has released a report (Patterns of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Population Change: 2000 to 2010.) on metropolitan area growth between 2000 and 2010. The Census Bureau's the news release highlighted population growth in downtown areas, which it defines as within two miles of the city hall of the largest municipality in each metropolitan area.  read more »