Urban Issues

The Future of Mobility

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I was walking home from downtown San Francisco and passed through the South of Market neighborhood. The area is full of tech company offices like Twitter, Uber, and Airbnb. I saw this minivan advertising, “Low Cost Commuting” and “Ride Share” with the Enterprise Rent-A-Car logo and thought hmmmmm.  read more »

Jerry Brown’s Housing Hypocrisy

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Jerry Brown worrying about the California housing crisis is akin to the French policeman played by Claude Rains in “Casablanca” being “shocked, shocked” about gambling at the bar where he himself collects his winnings.

Brown has long been at the forefront on drafting and enforcing regulations that make building housing both difficult and very expensive. And now he has pushed new legislation, which seems certain to be passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, that makes it worse by imposing even more stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, mandating a 40 percent cut from 1990 levels by 2030.  read more »

The Perils of Public Capital

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Most discussions of our slow economic growth includes a seemingly compulsory demand for increased public capital spending, so-called infrastructure spending or simply “roads and bridges.”  Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton promise increased public capital spending on their websites.   Larry Summers made perhaps the best case for public spending when he claimed that our failure to invest in public capital creates the “worst and most toxic debts.”  read more »

Trump’s Pitch to Blacks

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After Trump made a recent speech in Milwaukee in which he directly asked for black votes, I was asked to write a about it. My piece is now online in City Journal and is called “Trump’s Pitch to Blacks.”  read more »

Geographies of Inequality

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Joel Kotkin’s new report, “Geographies of Inequality,” is the latest in a series of ahead-of-the-curve, groundbreaking pieces published through Third Way’s NEXT initiative. NEXT is made up of in-depth, commissioned academic research papers that look at trends that will shape policy over the coming decades. In particular, we are aiming to unpack some of the prevailing assumptions that routinely define, and often constrain, Democratic and progressive economic and social policy debates.

Dowload the .pdf report or read it on the web here.  read more »

Why Most Cities Will Never Be All They Used to Be

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Recently I published a piece on my Forbes site that discusses the disparate impact that demographic and social shifts had on larger, older U.S. cities over the second half of the 20th century.  Basically, the smaller American household size, generated by later marriages, rising divorce rates, lower fertility rates and rising life expectancy, among other things, has meant that unless cities were adding housing, they simply weren't growing.  read more »

Welcome To Y'all Street: The Cities Challenging New York For Financial Supremacy

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From the earliest days of the Republic, banking and finance has largely been the purview of what one historian calls the “Yankee Empire.” Based largely in New York and Boston, later on financial centers grew along the main route of Yankee migration to Chicago and San Francisco.

Yet, if you look at where financial jobs are now headed, perhaps it’s time, as the Dallas Morning News cheekily suggested recently, to substitute Y’all Street for Wall Street. Finance, increasingly conducted electronically, is no longer tethered to its traditional centers. Large global financial companies like UBSDeutsche Bank Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are all committed to relocating operations to less expensive locations.  read more »

Life Is Beautiful in America When You’re Paul Krugman

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I live on the Upper West Side in New York and love it. But when Paul Krugman wrote a blog post using the UWS an example of what’s right in America – “If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park” –  I had to respond.  Not only is the UWS obviously unrepresentative of America, but many people see its prosperity as purchased at least in part at their expense.  read more »

Notes From An Upzoning Heretic

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I recently got into a discussion on Twitter about the soundness of upzoning, or the increase in the allowance of residential units in cities, as a rational and reasonable response to the lack of affordable housing in our nation's large cities.  Anyone who's been reading my writing knows that I've disagreed with this for quite some time, and tried many ways to articulate my views and reach some understanding.  read more »

California: The Economics of Delusion

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In Sacramento, and much of the media, California is enjoying a “comeback” that puts a lie to the argument that regulations and high taxes actually matter. The hero of this recovery, Gov. Jerry Brown, in Bill Maher’s assessment, “took a broken state and fixed it.”  read more »