Around The World, The Tide Is Turning Against Megacities

Appearing in:

Forbes

The massive construction waste collapse last month in Shenzhen reflects a wider phenomenon: the waning of the megacity era. Shenzhen became a megacity (population over 10 million) faster than any other in history, epitomizing the massive movement of Chinese to cities over the past four decades. Now it appears more like a testament to extravagant delusion. Read more

America’s Next Boom Towns: Regions to Watch in 2016

Appearing in:

Forbes

Which cities have the best chance to prosper in the coming decade? The question is a complex one, and as the economy changes, so, too, will the best-positioned cities.

To identify the cities most likely to boom over the next 10 years, we took the 53 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country (those with populations exceeding 1 million) and ranked them based on eight metrics indicative of past, present and future vitality. We factored in, equally, the percentage of children in the population, the birth rate, net domestic migration, the percentage of the population aged 25-44 with a bachelor’s degree, income growth, the unemployment rate, and population growth. Read more

Is Los Angeles a City of Losers?

In: KABC Radio Los Angeles

Joel recently appeared on KABC radio to talk about the current situation in Los Angeles and its prospects for the future.
Click the Play button below to listen. (mp3 audio file)

The End of Localism

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

This could be how our experiment with grassroots democracy finally ends. World leaders—the super-rich, their pet nonprofits, their media boosters, and their allies in the global apparat—gather in Paris to hammer out a deal to transform the planet, and our lives. No one asks much about what the states and the communities, the electorate, or even Congress, thinks of the arrangement. The executive now presumes to rule on these issues.

For many of the world’s leading countries—China, Russia, Saudi Arabia—such top-down edicts are fine and dandy, particularly since their supreme leaders won’t have to adhere to them if inconvenienced. But the desire for centralized control is also spreading among  the shrinking remnant of actual democracies, where political give and take is baked into the system.

Read more

The Cities Doing The Most To Address The U.S. Housing Shortage

Appearing in:

Forbes

America is suffering from the severest undersupply of housing since the end of the Second World War. Although population growth has slowed significantly since the 1950s and 1960s, production has slowed down even more so. It’s not surprising that homebuilding declined after the housing bubble burst in 2008, but from 2011 to 2015 it continued to fall, dropping almost a quarter.

Meanwhile, housing price inflation has re-emerged. Housing now accounts for roughly 35% of household expenditures, up from about 30% in 1985, while expenditures on food, apparel and transportation have dropped or stayed about the same.
Read more

Our Anemic Suburbs: Every Urban Area Needs its Outskirts — and New York City’s Are in Trouble

Appearing in:

New York Daily News

New York City has prospered since the great recession of 2008, buoyed by an endless supply of free money from Washington that’s elevated the stock and real estate markets. But the broader metro region has struggled, in an ominous sign of tougher times to come.

Little acknowledged in the discussion of New York’s “tale of two cities” is something beyond the control of Mayor de Blasio: the fading of the city’s once-thriving suburbs, even as the city grows more populous and more expensive. Read more

Light Rail in the Sun Belt is a Poor Fit

Appearing in:

Houston Chronicle

There is an effective lobby for building light rail, including in cities such as Houston. But why build light rail? To reduce car use? To improve mobility for low-income citizens? This certainly seems a worthwhile objective, with the thousands of core-city, low-income residents whose transit service cannot get them to most jobs in a reasonable period of time.

ut rather than accept the flackery that accompanies these projects, maybe we should focus on effectiveness, judged by ridership, and the impact of such expensive projects on the transportation of the transit-dependent.

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The Cities Americans Are Thronging To And Fleeing

Appearing in:

Forbes

Cities get ranked in numerous ways — by income, hipness, tech-savviness and livability — but there may be nothing more revealing about the shifting fortunes of our largest metropolitan areas than patterns of domestic migration. Read more

China’s Planned City Bubble Is About to Pop—and Even You’ll Feel It

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

Seven years after the last housing debacle devastated the world economy, we may be on the verge of another, albeit different, bubble. If the last real estate collapse was created due to insanely easy lending policies aimed at the middle and working classes, the current one has its roots largely in a regime of cheap money married to policies of planners who believe that they can shape the urban future from above.

This time, the potential property blowout has roots in large part outside the United States. Many of China’s current problems, in fact, can be traced in part to its unhealthy inflation of real estate values spurred by a drive to increase urbanization and density. Last year, The Economist estimated median home price to median income of nearly 20 in Shenzhen, 17 in Hong Kong, and more than 15 in Beijing, between 50 percent and 100 percent higher than ultra-expensive places (PDF) like San Francisco, Vancouver, or Sydney.
Read more

An Improbable And Fragile Comeback: New Orleans 10 Years After Katrina

Appearing in:

Forbes

In the fall of 2005, many saw in postdiluvial New Orleans another example of failed urbanization, a formerly great city that was broken beyond repair.Yet 10 years after a catastrophe that drove hundreds of thousands of its citizens away, the metro area has made an impressive comeback.

New Orleans’ resurgence since Katrina has come courtesy of $71 billion in federal funds and the determination and verve of New Orleanians themselves, as documented by Tulane geographer Rich Campanella, who provided research and direction for this article. It also benefited from the generosity of thevolunteers who worked in the recovery efforts as well as that of neighboring cities, notably Houston, which housed thousands of evacuees. Read more