How Commuters Get Railroaded by Cities


With more than $10 billion already invested, and much more on the way, some now believe that Los Angeles and Southern California are on the way to becoming, in progressive blogger Matt Yglesias’ term, “the next great transit city.” But there’s also reality, something that rarely impinges on debates about public policy in these ideologically driven times.

Let’s start with the numbers. If L.A. is supposedly becoming a more transit-oriented city, as boosters already suggest, a higher portion of people should be taking buses and trains. Yet, Los Angeles County – with its dense urbanization and ideal weather for walking and taking transit – has seen its share of transit commuting decline, as has the region overall.  read more »

Auckland Tackles Housing Affordability Crisis


City of Auckland Chief Economist Chris Parker has called for establishment of a house price to income ratio objective of 5.0, to be achieved by 2030. The recommendation was included in a report commissioned by Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse.

Housing Affordability and Urban Containment Policy

The recommendation has been brought about in response to Auckland's severely unaffordable housing. Recent reports indicate a price to income ratio over 9.0, at least triple that of New Zealand to the early 1990s.  read more »

NFL Fantasy Meets EU Brexit

NFL on Regent St.jpg

Will Britain vote before the end of 2017 to stay in the European Union? Or will it leave, launching the much-debated Brexit? As the Lions face the Chiefs this Sunday in London, a perhaps related question is whether London should be awarded a franchise in the National Football League. Many Londoners would love nothing more than for the city to be granted a team, even if that team turns out to be the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are considering whether to become the first NFL exiles. If Britain were to leave the EU but join the NFL, maybe the last act of the American revolution will be a reverse takeover of England.  read more »


End Of One-Child Policy Is Unlikely To Solve China's Looming Aging Crisis


By finally backing away from its one-child policy, China would seem to be opening the gates again to demographic expansion. But it may prove an opening that few Chinese embrace, for a host of reasons.

Initially, the one-child policy made great sense. The expansion of China’s power under Mao Zedong was predicated in part on an ever-growing population. Between 1950 and 1990, the country’s Maoist era, the population, roughly doubled to 1.2 billion, according to U.N. figures. Deng Xiaoping’s move to limit population growth turned out to be a wise policy, at least initially, allowing China to focus more on industrialization and less on feeding an ever-growing number of mouths.  read more »


Is California’s Bubble Bursting?


California has a long history of boom and bust cycles, but over the past 25 years or so, California’s cycles appear to be becoming more volatile, with increasing frequency, higher highs, and lower lows.  The fast-moving business cycle may not provide the time necessary for many people to recover from previous busts, and may be too limited in its impact. Even now, 22 of California’s 58 counties have unemployment rates of 7.5 percent or higher. Eleven California counties have unemployment rates of at least nine percent.  And these, we are told, are the best of times.  read more »

The Looming Political Battle of the Ages


The old issues of class, race and geography may still dominate coverage of our changing political landscape, but perhaps a more compelling divide relates to generations. American politics are being shaped by two gigantic generations – the baby boomers and their offspring, the millennials – as well as smaller cohorts of Generation X, who preceded the millennials, and what has been known as the Silent Generation, who preceded the boomers.  read more »

The Houses Americans Choose to Buy


The US preference for detached housing remains strong, according to the newest data just released in the 2014 American Community Survey, by the United States Census Bureau. In 2014, detached house and represented 82.4 percent of owned housing in the United States. This is   up 1.8 percentage points from the 80.6 percent registered in the 2000 census. The increase may be surprising, given the efforts of planners to steer people into higher density housing, especially apartments.  read more »

How Big Government and Big Business Stick It to Small U.S. Businesses


From the inception of the Soviet Union, transformation was built, quite consciously, on eliminating those forces that could impede radical change. In many ways, the true enemy was not the large foreign capitalists (some of whom were welcomed from abroad to aid modernization) but the small firm, the independent property owner.  read more »

How Urban Planning Made Motown Records Possible


I’m reading Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story by David Maraniss, a book I plan to review for City Journal. But I want to highlight something briefly that really caught my eye about Motown Records. It’s no secret Detroit punches above its weight in musical influence, and the Motown sound was clearly a big part of that. Maraniss asks “Why Detroit? What gave this city its unmatched creative melody?” He lays out his theory of the case with regards to Motown Records.  read more »

Conferences and Progress


Californians attend innumerable conferences on housing and economic growth.  Year after year, in counties across California, the same people show up to say and hear the same things.  Mostly what they say and hear is naive, and nothing ever changes.

I was reminded of this when I saw a report on what appears to have been a typical conference at the Harris Ranch on Growing the Central Valley Economy.  read more »