California

The State of Jefferson

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Last year a neighbor began flying a State of Jefferson flag on the side of his house that faces mine. I had no idea what it represented, so I looked it up. Short version: the 23 rural northern counties of California want to break away from the rest of the state so they can do their own thing.  read more »

Do Californians Support the State Being a National Security Risk on Imported Oil?

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Ships under foreign flags arrive daily at ports of call up and down California’s coastline carrying a precious cargo that the State can produce itself, yet it imports it because the powers that be won’t let California’s historically successful oil industry tap into the resources already available.  read more »

This Train Won’t Leave the Station

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Governor Gavin Newsom has canceled the bulk of the state’s long-proposed high-speed line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, leaving only a tail of the once-grand project—a connection between the Central Valley’s Merced and Bakersfield, not exactly major metropolitan areas. “Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”  read more »

Pulling the Plug on HS2 (London-Birmingham High Speed Rail)?

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High speed rail may be proposed as a climate change panacea here and elsewhere, but the results on the ground are less than promising. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced this week that the California high speed rail project would be scaled back to the route between Bakersfield and Merced, in the San Joaquin Valley (which the state has enough money for). In his “state of the state” speech the Governor said “…let’s be real. The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”  read more »

Restoring The California Dream, Not Nailing Its Coffin

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Virtually everyone, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, is aware of the severity of California’s housing crisis. The bad news is that most proposals floating in Sacramento are likely to do very little to address our housing shortage.

Newsom has promised to have 3.5 million homes built over the next seven years to solve the problem. That is, conservatively stated, more than 2.6 million that would be built at the current rate of construction.  read more »

Beyond Beer, Bread and Bicycles: The Industrial Return To the City

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In San Francisco, the former site of the Hunters Point shipyard is now being developed with over 10,000 units of housing, 2.6 million square feet of office and R&D space, and about a half million square feet of retail. The project will also include about 75,000 square feet of maker space, or less than 1% of the total building area, most of which will probably go to artisanal firms making food, fashion and furnishing, things like beer, bread and bicycles, sold to the upscale consumers of the region.  read more »

The Bifurcated City

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After drifting toward decrepitude since the 1970s, many core cities have experienced real, often bracing, turnarounds. Yet concern is growing that the revitalization of parts of these cities has unevenly benefited some residents at the expense of others. The crucial, and often ignored, question remains whether the policies that have helped spark urban revivals have improved conditions for the greatest number of residents.  read more »

The High Residential Densities of California (and “Wild Wild” Texas)

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US major metropolitan areas show considerable differences in their median house sizes and median lot sizes among major US metropolitan areas. Reviewing the median square footage for owner occupied housing units (single-detached and manufactured/mobile homes) and median lot sizes for single unit houses varies significantly between metropolitan areas although, by contrast, median house sizes are remarkably similar.  read more »

Amazon, Google, Apple and the Late Capitalism Blues

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We think of the movements of high-tech firms as illustrative of totally new phenomena but it resonates as well with earlier industrial history. The “gilded age” of America, when industries expanded rapidly, produced a growing appetite for labor. Automation in production also expanded output and revenue, but also a growing need for workers.  read more »

Can High-Speed Rail Make Housing Affordable?

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UCLA management professor Jerry Nickerson thinks he has found a solution to California’s housing affordability problems: high-speed rail. Based on years of data, he has concluded that some Japanese who work in Tokyo and other expensive cities make long commutes on high-speed trains to more affordable cities elsewhere in the country.  read more »