How Los Angeles Lost Its Mojo

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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

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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

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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 »

India Conquers the World

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From the exclusive Club Lounge on the 19th floor of Singapore’s Mandarin Oriental, Anish Lalvani gazes out at the city’s skyline, a dazzling array of glass and steel and vertical ambition. The Lalvani family has come a long way since the days when Anish’s paternal grandfather, Tirath Singh Lalvani, got his start in business by retailing medicines to King George VI’s soldiers in Karachi. Back then the city was a part of British colonial India—until independence arrived in 1947, and its inhabitants suddenly found themselves amid the bloody turmoil of the newborn Pakistan.  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 »

Citizen Bloomberg - How Our New York Mayor has Given Us the Business

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This piece originally appeared in the Village Voice.

After a charmed first decade in politics, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is mired in his first sustained losing streak.

His third term has been shaky, marked by the Snowpocalypse, the snowballing CityTime scandal, the backlash to Cathie Black and "government by cocktail party," and the rejection by Governor Andrew Cuomo of his plan to change how public-school teachers are hired and fired. With just a couple more years left in office, Bloomberg is starting to look every one of his 70 years.

Soon, he'll be just another billionaire.  read more »

Why America’s Young And Restless Will Abandon Cities For Suburbs

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For well over a decade urban boosters have heralded the shift among young Americans from suburban living and toward dense cities. As one Wall Street Journal report suggests, young people will abandon their parents’ McMansions for urban settings, bringing about the high-density city revival so fervently prayed for by urban developers, architects and planners.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Chicago

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Looks can be deceiving. No downtown area in the western world outside Manhattan is more visually impressive than Chicago. Both the historic Loop and the newer development north of the Chicago River, especially along North Michigan Avenue have some of the most iconic structures outside of emerging Asia. Yet these vertical monuments mask a less celebrated reality: that of dispersing, low density urban area.  read more »

Are Millennials the Solution to the Nation’s Housing Crisis?

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During his Twitter-fed Town Hall, President Obama admitted that the housing market has proven one of the “most stubborn” pieces of the economic recovery puzzle to try and fix.  The President --- as well the Congress and the building industry --- should  consider a new path to a solution for housing by tapping the potential of the very generation whose votes brought Barack Obama into the White House in the first place.     read more »