Transit: About Downtown and the Core

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Transit best serves commuting destinations that have high concentrations of employment. For the most part, this means downtowns, or central business districts (CBDs). This is where transit lives up to its “mass transit" name, carrying many people concurrently and efficiently to concentrated destinations.  read more »

Is Peter Thiel Right About Chicago?

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Peter Thiel recently made one of his trademark provocative statements by saying, “If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley.”

The problem for Thiel was that he said this while speaking at an event in Chicago. No surprise, it didn’t go over well. An enquiring questioner wanted to know, “Who comes to Chicago if first-rate people go to New York or Silicon Valley?”  read more »

Is there a future for the GOP?

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Whether he loses or, more unlikely, wins, Donald Trump creates an existential crisis for the Republican Party. The New York poseur has effectively undermined the party orthodoxy on defense, trade and economics, policies which have been dominant for the last half century within the party but now are falling rapidly out of fashion among the rank and file.  read more »

New York, Two States of Mind

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Is New York City helping or holding back Upstate New York?

Towards the end of times, when all of mankind congregates in a final purgatory to draw the main lessons of this grand adventure called Life, there will be special attention paid to the centuries’ long efforts at harmonizing individual happiness with the needs of the collective. There will be seminars on leadership and war. There will be a thick chapter on the blessings and dangers of science. There will be a long section, co-written by poets and undertakers, on the success of freedom and the failure of tyranny. There will be wonder and consternation about religion and the nature of the universe. And there will be, inevitably, extensive reporting on economic ideology.  read more »

Urbanism, Texas-Style

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Cities, noted René Descartes, should provide “an inventory of the possible,” a transformative experience—and a better life—for those who migrate to them. This was certainly true of seventeenth-century Amsterdam, about which the French philosopher was speaking. And it’s increasingly true of Texas’s fast-growing metropolises—Houston, Dallas–Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio. In the last decade, these booming cities have created jobs and attracted new residents—especially young families and immigrants—at rates unmatched by coastal metropolitan areas.  read more »

How to Reform the California Legislature and Restore Power to the People

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The Western states, and California in particular, have had a long history of spearheading progressive reforms, especially in their electoral and governmental systems. A former Governor of California, Hiram Johnson, actually ran with Theodore Roosevelt on the Progressive Party presidential ticket of 1912. If you are looking for reform ideas, look no further than the Golden State.  read more »

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 »