Urban Issues

Queensland’s Future: Diverse and Dispersed


I was recently asked to outline my thoughts on how the Queensland urban landscape might look 40 to 50 years from now.  Go on, you can laugh.  I did too.  It’s hard enough to forecast the next 12 months, let alone two generations away, but I’ve given it a go, of sorts, so here it is:  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Los Angeles


Los Angeles has grown more than any major metropolitan region in the high income world except for Tokyo since the beginning of the twentieth century, and also since 1950.  In 1900, the city (municipality, see Note) of Los Angeles had little over 100,000 people and ranked 36th in population in the nation behind Allegheny, Pennsylvania (which has since merged with Pittsburgh) and St. Joseph Missouri (which has since lost more than one quarter of its population).  read more »

The Shifting Geography of Black America


Black population changes in various cities have been one of the few pieces of the latest Census to receive significant media coverage.  The New York Times, for example, noted that many blacks have returned to the South nationally and particularly from New York City.  The overall narrative has been one of a “reverse Great Migration.”  But while many northern cities did see anemic growth or even losses in black population, and many southern cities saw their black population surge, the real story actually extends well beyond the notion of a monolithic return to the South.  read more »



The price of bananas is again making headlines as it pushes up inflation and threatens rising interest rates. But what’s the price of the humble ‘nana got to do with property markets? Plenty.

Banana prices have risen almost 500% since Cyclone Yasi wiped out much of north Queensland’s banana crop earlier this year. The immutable laws of supply and demand dictate that when supply falls relative to demand, prices will rise.  read more »

Sustaining the Suburbs


The proposition is simple, if not overwhelming.  If we want sustainable cities – however you define “sustainable” – we had better put some effort into the quality of suburban life.  We need to get over denigrating suburbs and sprawl.  That simply ducks the issue of where and how most people spend most of their time.  We need to moderate a preoccupation with promoting CBD and big centre lifestyles.  Those are places that people want visit, but not necessarily where they want to live.  read more »

How Los Angeles Lost Its Mojo


Los Angeles today is a city in secular decline. Its current political leadership seems determined to turn the sprawling capitalist dynamo into a faux New York. But they are more likely to leave behind a dense, government-dominated, bankrupt, dysfunctional, Athens by the Pacific.

The greatness of Los Angeles stemmed from its willingness to be different. Unlike Chicago or Denver or New York, the Los Angeles metro area was designed not around a central core but on a series of centers, connected first by railcars and later by the freeways. The result was a dispersed metropolis where most people occupied single-family houses in middle-class neighborhoods.  read more »

Moving from the Coast


For years both government and media have been advancing the notion that   America's coastal counties are obtaining most of the population growth at the expense of interior counties. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in the 1990s: Coastal areas are crowded and becoming more so every day. More than 139 million people–about 53% of the national total–reside along the narrow coastal fringes.  read more »

Zipcars: The Car Sharing Market Gets Zapped

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A growing sector of the urban populace is turning to “car sharing” — sharing vehicles through membership in nonprofit or for-profit organizations — for cost and convenience. Since 2006, membership in car sharing organizations has grown from about 100,000 to more than 500,000 people.  read more »

California Wages War On Single-Family Homes


In recent years, homeowners have been made to feel a bit like villains rather than the victims of hard times, Wall Street shenanigans and inept regulators. Instead of being praised for braving the elements, suburban homeowners have been made to feel responsible for everything from the Great Recession to obesity to global warming.  read more »

Permeable Pavement: Looking Below The Surface

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How can we prevent situations where environmental 'solutions’ end up in failure? The tale of problems encountered with the misuse of pervious pavers (also known as porous or permeable pavers), used as an eco- friendly option, provides some answers.  read more »