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.

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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.
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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.
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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

What Jane Jacobs Got Wrong About Cities

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

Few people have had more influence on thinking about cities than the late Jane Jacobs.

The onetime New Yorker turned Torontonian, Jacobs, who died in 2006, has become something of a patron saint for American urbanists, and the moral and economic case she made for urban revival has been cited by everyone frompundits and think tanks to developers.
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The Cities Creating The Most White-Collar Jobs

Appearing in:

Forbes

In our modern economy, the biggest wellspring of new jobs isn’t the information sector, as hype might lead some to think, but the somewhat nebulous category of business services. Over the past decade, business services has emerged as easily the largest high-wage sector in the United States, employing 19.1 million people. These are the white-collar jobs that most people believe offer a ladder into the middle class. Dominated by administrative services and management jobs, the sector also includes critical skilled workers in legal services, design services, scientific research , and even a piece of the tech sector with computer systems and design. Since 2004, while the number of manufacturing and information jobs in the U.S. has fallen, the business services sector has grown 21%, adding 3.4 million positions. Read more