These days, the discussion on pedestrian safety in cities can seem like a fight between fanatics. On one hand, the pro-pedestrian crowd largely consists of environmentalists who are motivated by their hatred of cars, and who use safety arguments as an excuse to discourage driving. On the other hand, the pro-automobile crowd believes that driving and parking in cities should be free, despite the costs of maintaining roads; and that streets where residents live should be designed for bypassing commuters. But for people who land between these extremes, pedestrian safety should be a legitimate quality-of-life concern. … Read more
Ever since Adam founded this blog, it has become a great forum for describing how free-market economics intersect with urban issues. But the term Market Urbanism itself has remained under the radar, especially compared to ones that encourage more government intervention for cities, like “Smart Growth.” I’ve always thought that Adam’s term deserved more mainstream cache. So I’m traveling cross-country to write a book about it.
My name is Scott Beyer, and I’m a 29-year-old urban affairs journalist from Charlottesville, VA. This week, I began a 3-year trip that will include month-long stays in 26 major cities, and visits to hundreds of smaller ones.… Read more
When historians revisit early 21st-century San Francisco, they will marvel at how Silicon Valley’s nerds and geniuses turned it into their personal test lab. Hopefully, historians will note the effect this had on mass transit. In the last decade, as Bay Area public transit systems floundered in mismanagement, several technology-based private start-ups have arisen… [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
It’s hard to blame Chicagoans for wanting a different mayor than Rahm Emanuel. In term one, the former White House Chief of Staff perpetuated the city’s cronyist political tradition, leading one reporter to call him “Richard Daley with a circumcision.” As a result, an unlikely candidate—Cook County commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia—garnered 34% of the vote in the February election, forcing an April 7 runoff. But Garcia’s recent comments—or lack thereof—show that he is not ready to fill the leadership void. [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
It’s been hard to find a silver lining in Ferguson, Missouri, where protests erupted last summer over the police killing of teenager Michael Brown. But if one exists, it was the uncovering of years of prior law enforcement malpractice that led to the civil unrest. In August of 2014, during the heart of the protests, Governing Magazine ran a story about Ferguson’s aggressive court fine policies; and last week, the Justice Department released a report about how these fines had become intentional revenue generators, while mainly targeting black residents.… Read more
Any city dweller is familiar with the atmosphere found around liquor stores. They often have disruptive loiterers that can harm property values and neighborhood aesthetics. This charge was made recently against one in my hometown of Charlottesville, VA, after a community leader petitioned to have it removed from the downtown area. Our city council, long known for its crusading attitude, responded with a resolution suggesting that Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control, which runs the store, find a new location for it. The brush-back came against a store that many believe is inhibiting revitalization efforts.… Read more
[note to readers: this week I became an urban affairs columnist for Forbes. Because of their reprint policy, I can’t post full articles here until after 5 days, but will happily link you over whenever they are published.]
When Detroit went bankrupt in July of 2013, it marked the climax of urban failure in the U.S. In a half-century, the Motor City had gone from the nation’s richest city per capita to its poorest, and was now $18.5 billion in debt. Yet Detroit was merely an extreme example of numerous other American cities that declined over this period.… Read more
Pretend that you are governing a declining American city. You’ve probably witnessed numerous public service failures, like slow-responding police, unclean streets and polluted waterways. Among these failures, your city may also not be fully regulating its businesses, meaning that some are breaking minor laws or even operating under the table. Should it be, then, your top priority to make them comply?
In Detroit, it certainly seems it is. In 2011, the city launched Operation Compliance, an initiative that was meant to address 1,500 illegal businesses by shuttering hazardous ones and modernizing others.… Read more
If you’re an urban pioneer who settled in downtown Cleveland sometime in the past decade, you’re probably happy with the neighborhood’s progress. Even as the city as a whole has continued to lose population, the central area has revived thanks to an influx of young and educated newcomers. Downtown Cleveland right now has its highest-ever population, with more than 13,000 residents and lots of new housing developments on the way. There are more than 4,000 hotel rooms, with another thousand expected by 2016. And residents today enjoy a more walkable neighborhood, as new restaurants and bars open around old cultural institutions like the theater district.… Read more