California’s Inland Empire: Is There Hope in the Heart of Darkness?

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Few areas in America have experienced a more dramatic change in fortunes as extreme as Southern California’s Inland Empire. From 1990-2008, the Inland Empire (Riverside & San Bernardino counties) has been California’s strongest job generator creating 20.1% of its employment growth. The area also consistently ranked among the nation’s fastest growing large metropolitan areas. However in 2008, the mortgage debacle has sent this area, which had not seen year-over-year job losses in over four decades, into a steep downturn.  read more »

Urban Infill With Less Hype and More Serendipity

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By Richard Reep

Urban infill in cities of the Southeast follows typical patterns: assemblage of several blocks of older building stock at a low price; careful navigation through the zoning and public process to mix uses and increase density; and finally design and construction of parking, office, residential, and retail uses. The next phase is often marked by alienation and departure of the existing surrounding residents, concerns of safety and security within the development, and a socioeconomic wall between new and old.  read more »

In Ethnic Enclaves, The U.S. Economy Thrives

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Dr. Alethea Hsu has a strange-seeming prescription for terrible times: She is opening a new shopping center on Saturday. In addition, more amazingly, the 114,000 square foot Irvine, Calif., retail complex, the third for the Taiwan native's Diamond Development Group, is just about fully leased.

How can this be in the midst of a consumer crack-up, with credit card defaults and big players like General Growth struggling for their existence? The answer is simple: Hsu's mostly Asian customers – Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese – still have cash.  read more »

Island of Broken Dreams

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A The New York Times editorial wonders why foreclosure rates are so high in the two Long Island counties it rightly calls the “birthplace of the suburban American Dream.” After all, the area has “a relative lack of room to sprawl.” which in Times-speak should be a good thing, since “sprawl” is by definition both bad and doomed.

Yet it is precisely the constraints on new housing that has served as a principal cause for Long Island problems.  read more »

Influence of 'Creative Class' Ideas in Sweden

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By Nima Sanandaji, Johnny Munkhammar, and Peter Egardt

The American academic Richard Florida has gained international attention for his theories about the “creative class”. According to Florida, the key to urban success lies in attracting certain groups of people, such as artists, scientists and twenty-something singles. Florida insists that this can be accomplished through nursing a specific type of culture within a city: hip cafes, art galleries and other manifestations of indigenous street-level culture.  read more »

Up Next: The War of the Regions?

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By Joel Kotkin and Mark Schill

It’s time to throw away red, blue and purple, left and right, and get to the real and traditional crux of American politics: the battle for resources between the country’s many diverse regions. How President-elect Barack Obama balances these divergent geographic interests may have more to do with his long-term success than his ideological stance or media image. Personal charm is transitory; the struggle for money and jobs has a more permanent character.  read more »

The Case for Optimism on the Economy

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With the prospect of a long, deep recession staring us in the face, are there any reasons for optimism?

You betcha!

The central characteristic of the American economy – resiliency – is now being severely tested. But there are ample reasons to believe it will pass that test. Simply put, even after this crisis the US will still have the world's largest, most dynamic, most productive, most innovative, most technologically advanced, most competitive and most venturesome economy.  read more »

The Purpose of Finger-Pointing on Financial Crisis

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The presidential campaign is over and the global financial crisis remains. President-elect Barack Obama offers hope for a fresh start even as he prepares to face a backlog of enormous problems. I believe that our nation is up to any and all challenges, able to achieve a new unity and purpose in these trying times.

Yes We Can, indeed.

You’ll hear some others say that these challenging times leave no room for finger-pointing over the origins of the financial mess we face.  read more »

Financial Bailout Shortchanges Taxpayers and Does Little to Fix the Economy

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Last month, Congress gave the treasury secretary $700 billion, which he said he urgently needed to buy toxic securities from the balance sheets of some of our largest financial institutions that were in financial trouble.

The secretary said that the economy was in danger, and the bailout funds were necessary to prevent a collapse.

I agree the economy is in trouble. And I am anxious to support emergency measures that will give our economy a lift.  read more »

Orlando: The Limits of Form

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By Richard Reep

To date, luminaries of the New Urbanist movement such as Andres Duany and Peter Calthorpe have done little to change Orlando. The central Florida city remains balkanized, market-driven, and vaguely cosmopolitan in nature. Orlando’s vitality does not depend on the physical form of the city, but rather the spiritual involvement of its citizens, the safety and security that they gain from their urban choice as well as the unique mix of jobs created by the employment of Orlando. These three intangible factors drive the form, and a healthy city planning process will not ignore this in favor of a rigid dress code.  read more »