Los Angeles’ Pension Crisis Is Sinking The City

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Los Angeles, CA–There are certain respects in which Los Angeles, for all its innate advantages, feels like an unsustainable city. It has the nation’s largest homeless population, the worst traffic, and numerous other service failures. Lack of money isn’t the problem, since the city has both high taxes and a wealthy population. It is instead because large sums go to employee pension benefits, sucking money from core services, and serving as a case study in how misappropriated resources can sink a city…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Could The Fair Housing Act Be Used To Abolish Restrictive Zoning?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

In the debate on how to solve the urban housing affordability issue, there is a theoretical side and a political side. On the theoretical side, a growing bipartisan cluster of journalists, academics, business people, and even the president himself has concluded that zoning and other land use regulations increase housing costs, and must be reformed or abolished. But politically speaking, such deregulation is unlikely, since these regulations are enforced at local level, where they are preserved by homeowners who benefit from restricting the housing supply.… Read more

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Nativism: The Thread That Connects Progressive NIMBYs With Donald Trump

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Who does this sound like? A group dealing with economic disruption decides that, rather than addressing its problems internally, it will blame outsiders. So the group adopts a nativist stance, looking to build walls, enforce regulations and impose taxes that discourage outside people and goods. The group also adopts a reactionary cultural conservatism, legitimizing stagnancy as a means to preserve “heritage” and “character.” Is this the mentality driving much of Donald Trump’s support base, and America’s turn towards “Trumpism”? Surely it’s a factor. But at the urban level, it describes a group that generally hates Trump, yet mirrors his thinking; that is, progressives who preach openness, yet keep new people out of their neighborhood through NIMBYism…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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friendsgicing

‘Friendsgivings’ Are A Growing Urban American Tradition

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

West Hollywood, CA–What happens during Thanksgiving in a big American city filled with Millennials, transplants, events seekers, social butterflies, or some combo? There will be fertile ground for many “Friendsgivings.” The idea of a family inviting outside friends who don’t have anywhere else to eat on Thanksgiving is common nationwide; but recently it’s taken a twist, as unrelated young people throw Thanksgiving dinner parties among themselves. This past Thursday, I got to tour several of these parties in Los Angeles, experiencing a West Coast slice of the budding urban American tradition…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Globalism — Not Nativism — Is What Made America’s Cities Great

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Glendale, CA–I could tell when first arriving in Glendale that this wasn’t a stereotypical American suburb. I’d reserved a place here for the Los Angeles portion of my cross-country trip, after hearing that it was a cheap and amenity-rich city close to central L.A. But what has immediately jumped out is the diversity of this 30-square-mile, 200,000-person city, with Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Oriental, European and Caucasus communities functioning side by side. All the same, it’s a thriving city that performs above-average economically and culturally.… Read more

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San Antonio: Growth And Success In The Mexican-American Capital

[Originally printed in the San Antonio Business Journal (paywall) and republished by the Center for Opportunity Urbanism]

 

[Ed’s note: this was part of a larger project by Joel Kotkin’s think tank, the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, to explain the growth of Texas’ cities. Scott’s essay is on pg. 40 of the pdf.]

 

San Antonio, TX — For decades, as many U.S. cities declined, and others became overly exclusive, cities in Texas evolved into places of opportunity. Due in large part to liberalized economic policies, the state’s “Big Four” metro areas — Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio — consistently rank among the nation’s leaders in population growth and job growth, experiencing the rapid urbanization once common among America’s legacy cities.… Read more

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America’s Progressive Developers–The Uptown Gateway Council

[Originally published by Market Urbanism]

 

[part of an MU series by Scott Beyer on America’s Progressive Developers]

San Diego, CA–There is a scourge afflicting U.S. cities, and it is a little thing called “downzoning.” Over the past few decades, cities that were already suffering the side-effects of underdevelopment worsened their problems through stronger regulations, further reducing build-out on their infill lots. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, a large portion of Los Angeles was downzoned, even as population steadily grew. New York City has established a regulatory framework that would outlaw 40% of buildings today.… Read more

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Here’s Why Your Home Is 24% Overpriced

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

There is overwhelming academic literature saying that government regulations cause higher housing costs. I wrote an article weeks ago listing about two dozen studies that identified multiple types of regulation, and the effects they had on increasing prices, exacerbating inequality, and forcing unwanted lifestyle shifts. Some additional data published recently is more granular, analyzing not only the effects, say, of zoning, but of impact fees, building codes, design reviews, bureaucratic delays and more. The paper’s alarming conclusion is that government regulation adds 24.3% to the average price of new homes in America…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Philadelphia’s SEPTA Transit Workers Go On Strike…Again

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

It has become a familiar story: Philadelphia’s public transit workers are on strike. At 12:01 am on November 1st, 4,738 unionized employees ceased working after failed negotiations with SEPTA. This is their first strike since 2014–when President Obama himself had to intervene via executive order–and their 10th since 1977, making SEPTA America’s most strike-prone transit agency, with a new strike every 4 years on average. And while the length and magnitude of this strike remains unknown, it is different from past ones in the following way: Philadelphians finally have viable private options to fall back on.… Read more

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When Texas Stopped Looking and Feeling Like Mexico

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

The cities along the Texas and Mexico border differ dramatically. Those in Texas are sprawling, while those in Mexico are buzzing with urban vibrancy. This is odd considering that many of these border cities have shared histories and cultures. U.S. cities like Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo and El Paso are demographically similar to their counterparts in Mexico, yet look like classic American Sun Belt cities. Their downtowns are quiet, with automobiles outnumbering pedestrians; interior neighborhoods have single-family homes; and strip malls sprawl into the peripheries.… Read more

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