Transit Ridership Down 2.3% in 2016

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With little fanfare, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released its fourth quarter 2016 ridership report last week. When ridership goes up, the lobby group usually issues a big press release ballyhooing the importance of transit (and transit subsidies). But 2016 ridership fell, so there was no press release.  read more »

The other California: A flyover state within a state

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California may never secede, or divide into different states, but it has effectively split into entities that could not be more different. On one side is the much-celebrated, post-industrial, coastal California, beneficiary of both the Tech Boom 2.0 and a relentlessly inflating property market. The other California, located in the state’s interior, is still tied to basic industries like homebuilding, manufacturing, energy and agriculture. It is populated largely by working- and middle-class people who, overall, earn roughly half that of those on the coast.  read more »

The Ghost of Mamie Eisenhower

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There’s a certain amount of nostalgia these days for 1950’s suburbs when men were men and ladies mopped linoleum floors in white pumps and pearls. I’m not entirely sure that world ever really existed precisely the way it was portrayed on black and white television, but we seem to want it to be true.  read more »

The Sad State of the University Degree for Planners & Designers

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For the past four decades, technology has improved nearly all aspects of our life - except for the physical land development patterns of our cities. The 1960's suburban pattern, still in use today, is unsustainable. However, the 'architectural' answer to the 'planning' problem of sprawling subdivisions has been to simply go backwards to the gridded past.  read more »

Subjects:

Seven Ways Life Has Gotten Better in Rural America

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Rural America is taking a beating in the news. Part of it is deserved. I grew up in rural Indiana and am shocked at some of what is going on there: severe hard drug problems, HIV outbreaks, serious crime, etc.

Things are a long way from when I was a kid there in the 70s and 80s and people not only left their doors unlocked, they left their keys in the car.

While I don’t want to minimize the challenges facing rural America, there’s a lot that has flat out gotten better since I first moved to Harrison County in first grade around 1976.  read more »

Subjects:

The End of the Asian Era

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For the past 40 years, the Pacific Rim has been, if you will, California’s trump card. But now, in the age of President Donald Trump and decelerating globalization, the Asian ascendency may be changing in ways that could be beneficial to our state.  read more »

What Do We Do With Shrinking Cities?

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Shrinking Cities: Understanding Urban Decline in the United States
By Russell Weaver, Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen, Jason Knight, and Amy E. Frazier
Routledge (2017)

Cities like Detroit, St. Louis, and Cleveland have lost stunning percentages of their peak population since 1950. Yet these are all in metro areas whose regional populations are much higher than in 1950, even if not at their all time peak high in all of them.  read more »

California: The Republic of Climate

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To some progressives, California’s huge endorsement for the losing side for president reflects our state’s moral superiority. Some even embrace the notion that California should secede so that we don’t have to associate with the “deplorables” who tilted less enlightened places to President-elect Donald Trump. One can imagine our political leaders even inviting President Barack Obama, who reportedly now plans to move to our state, to serve as the California Republic’s first chief executive.  read more »

The Shape of Things to Come

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After several years of traveling around the country in the presence of city planners, economic development officials, elected representatives, engineers, production home builders, professional consultants, and groups of concerned citizens I’ve come to my own personal unified theory of America’s land use future. The short version is that we’ve got the built environment that we have and the overwhelming majority of it isn’t ever going to change much. If you want to know what things will look like in thirty or forty years… look around. That’s pretty much it.  read more »

A Victory for Localism in Australia: Court Blocks Forced Amalgamation

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In a rare victory for grassroots activists, The New South Wales Supreme Court has blocked the forced local government amalgamation of northern suburban councils Ku-ring-gai and the Shire of Hornsby in Greater Sydney.  read more »