Palo Alto and the Tech Shop of Horrors

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This piece by Zelda Bronstein (original to 48hills.org) goes behind the story of the Peninsula planning commissioner who made national news by saying she had to leave town to buy a house for her family.

On August 10, Kate Vershov Downing, a 31-year-old intellectual-property lawyer, set the media aflutter when she posted on Medium a letter to the Palo Alto City Council stating that she was resigning from the city’s Planning Commission because she was moving to Santa Cruz. The reason for her move: She and her 33-year-old husband Steven, a software engineer, couldn’t find a house they could afford to buy in Palo Alto. Downing said that they currently rented a place with another couple for $6,200 a month, and that if they “wanted to buy the same house and share it with children and not roommates, it would cost $2M.”  read more »

Biggest Income Gains In U.S. Accrue To Suburban Cities

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After a long period of  stagnation, last week’s announcement of the first substantial annual income gains since 2007 was certainly welcome. Predictably, analysts inclined toward a more favorable view of President Obama’s policies reacted favorably. Progressive icon Paul Krugman crowed that last year the “economy partied like it was 1999,” which he said validated the president’s “trickle up economics.”  read more »

The Incompatibility of Forced Density and Housing Affordability

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New research supports the conclusion that anti-sprawl policy (urban containment policy) is incompatible with housing affordability. Build-zoom.com economist Issi Romem finds that: “Cities that have curbed their expansion have – with limited exception – failed to compensate with densification.  read more »

Lone Star Quartet

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Texas’s spectacular growth is largely a story of its cities—especially of Austin, Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. These Big Four metropolitan areas, arranged in a layout known as the “Texas Triangle,” contain two-thirds of the state’s population and an even higher share of its jobs. Nationally, the four metros, which combined make up less than 6 percent of the American population, posted job growth equivalent to 30 percent of the United States’ total since the financial crash in 2007.  read more »

Local Govt. Control: The Ignored Campaign Issue

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In an election cycle full of spittle and bile, arguably the greatest issue --- the nature of governance and the role of citizens --- has been all but ignored. Neither candidate for president has much feel for the old American notion of dispersed power. Instead each has his or her own plans for ever greater centralization: Trump by the force of his enormous narcissistic self-regard; Hillary Clintonthrough the expansion of the powers increasingly invested in the federal regulatory apparatus.  read more »

Are-You-Better-Off: 2016 Update

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The 2016 US Presidential campaign has gotten so crazy that the term “silly season” just doesn’t do it justice. In a September 2012 article on ng, I asked the question “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Eight years ago, the answer in the swing states was clearly “no” as I described it then:  read more »

Subjects:

California's Boom Is Poised To Go Bust -- And Liberals' Dream Of Scandinavia On The Pacific

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As its economy started to recover in 2010, progressives began to hail California as a kind of Scandinavia on the Pacific — a place where liberal programs also produce prosperity.  read more »

Cities Need Connectivity in the Global Economy

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My latest column is now online in the September issue of Governing magazine. It’s about the criticality of connectivity to success in the global economy.  read more »

Our Town: Restoring Localism

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This is an introduction to a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, "Our Town: Restoring Localism." Download the full report here.

America is facing a critical moment in its evolution, one that threatens both its future prosperity and the integrity of its institutions. Over the past several decades, government has become increasingly centralized, with power shifting from local communities to the federal level. This has been accompanied by a decline in non-governmental institutions, a matter of concern to thinkers on both the right and the left.  read more »

The Evolving American Central Business District

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After decades of serious economic decline, the inner cores in many of America’s largest metropolitan areas have experienced much improvement in recent years. This is indicated by the “City Sector Model,” (Image 9) which we developed to analyze the largest cities (metropolitan areas) using small functional areas, ZIP Code calculation areas (ZCTAs).  read more »