Trump's Industrial Belt Appeal


In his still improbable path to the White House, Donald Trump has an opening, right through the middle of the country. From the Appalachians to the Rockies, much of the American heartland is experiencing a steady decline in its fortunes, with growing fears about its prospects in a Democratic-dominated future. This could prove the road to victory for Trump.  read more »

Extending the Reach of Smart Cities

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What distinguishes a ‘smart city’ from one that merely possesses smart technology? At the basic level, ‘smart’ implies a threshold level of technology uptake. Cities with fast internet, straddling buses, and driverless police cars could be considered smart. However, if technology is the only prerequisite, smart is neither revolutionary nor interesting. It is time to move towards a more enlightened understanding of what makes a city smart.  read more »


A 'Diet' to Give California Drivers Indigestion


In the past, it was other people’s governments that would seek to make your life more difficult. But increasingly in California, the most effective war being waged is one the state has aimed at ourselves.  read more »

Chicago Is the Duck-Billed Platypus of American Cities


Census results last week show Chicago as the only one of the twenty largest cities in America to lose population. The freaking out over a tiny loss isn’t really warranted. The comparison to Houston is bogus. Etc, etc. Yet Chicago’s leaders have refused to grapple with the real and severe structural and cultural challenges that face the city. That’s something they need to do if they want it to succeed over the longer term.  read more »

SF Vs LA: Different Strokes In Urban Development

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Book Review: "The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles." Michael Storper, Thomas Kemeny, Naji P. Makarem and Taner Osman; Stanford University Press, 2015.

How and why do places differ in their pace of economic development? Why do some flourish while others lag? These are among the most profound questions in economics and related fields. Are explanations found in geography, culture, institutions, or fortune?  read more »

Can Southland be a 'New York by the Pacific'?


Throughout the recession and the decidedly uneven recovery, Southern California has tended to lag behind, particularly in comparison to the Bay Area and other booming regions outside the state. Once the creator of a dispersed, multipolar urban model – “the original in the Xerox machine” as one observer suggested – this region seems to have lost confidence in itself, and its sense of direction.  read more »

The Cost of NOT Housing: A New Report


This is the introduction to an new report "The Cost of NOT Housing" authored by Joel Kotkin for the National CORE Symposium on Affordability of Housing. Download the entire report (pdf) here.

It is a commonplace view that housing does not contribute to the overall fiscal and economic condition of cities. Recent trends—both nationally and here in California—suggest that this is not the case. New housing, including affordable units, provide some direct stimulation through construction jobs, but also allow people, particularly young families, to stay, work and shop locally. Lack of affordable housing ultimately drives people, particularly the entry level and young educated, out of regions where their labor would be coveted by local companies.  read more »

Suburbs (Continue to) Dominate Jobs and Job Growth


Data released by the federal government last week provided additional evidence that the suburbs continue to dominate metropolitan area population growth and that the biggest cities are capturing less of the growth than they did at the beginning of the decade.  read more »

So Much for Peak Driving (VMT)


So much for peak VMT. The planners and analysts who watched vehicle miles traveled (VMT) trends seemingly peak are no doubt anxious as the preliminary 2015 VMT numbers produced by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed new record total VMT well ahead of the 2007 number that many had hoped signaled peak U.S. VMT. Perhaps even more disconcerting was the sharp increase in per capita VMT, up approximately 2.6 percent for 2015.  read more »

Are Compact Cities More Affordable?

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Housing affordability has been a tenacious and intractable urban problem for as long as stats have been kept. Several cities recently declared it a crisis. But what kind of problem is it? Opinions vary widely. An economic problem, or a social one? A land resource issue? Or, as traded wisdom would have it, the result of reliance on the wrong urban form? Proposed solutions vary accordingly. Now, new evidence rules out one potential source of unaffordable housing: clearly, it is not an urban form problem. The widely-believed theory that a city's lack of affordable housing can be fixed with increased compactness — when combined with public transit — is apparently wrong.  read more »