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ATTACKING THE CREEPING SCOURGE OF… JOBS? For decades, the chorus in California’s fast-growing Inland Empire was fairly consistent: We can’t just be bedroom communities — we need jobs. As the region evolved, its lower land costs and transportation infrastructure created a boom in warehousing and logistics.

Happy days, right? Wrong.

State and county officials, worried there are too many employment opportunities warehouses in the region, are trying end-runs around city governments, rolling out everything from countywide policies and pressure on developers to calls for greater environmental review in an effort to stem what they see as a warehouse invasion.

December 13, 2019 |
MAIN ST. VS. AMAZON, CHAP. MCMXXIV: A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturned the ban on governments taxing online sales. But more than a year later, the bump that some states are seeing through collecting these taxes aren’t likely to trickle down to cities.States saw a 7 percent bump in sales tax revenue between June and September of this year over the corresponding period in 2018, according to data compiled by the Urban Institute’s State and Local Finance Initiative. But CityLab reports that, locally, it’s a different story. In fact, some say that after taking retail downsizing and job losses into account, the arrival of online sales taxes will have a negative overall impact on city tax revenues.

November 26, 2019 |

UTILITY COST AND RACE: The lower a family’s income, the more that family will pay for lighting and heating the house, running appliances, and keeping the wi-fi on. Such outcomes would suggest that this is a class problem or a function of rational markets. But according to a new study, all low-income households are not equally yoked: Residents of poorer, predominately white neighborhoods are less energy-cost burdened than people in predominately minority neighborhoods of similar economic status. Residents of minority neighborhoods who make less than 50 percent of area median income (AMI) are 27 percent more energy-cost burdened than residents from the same wage bracket who live in white neighborhoods.

November 25, 2019 |

AMERICA’S LARGEST TIF DEAL FAILS TO MEET EXPECTATIONS: Electronic medical record giant Cerner Corp. extracted billions in economic development incentives from Kansas City and Missouri, but so far has failed to meet the expectations of locals who were promised big things.

November 3, 2019 |

TAKING A BLIGHT OUTTA CRIME: John MacDonald and Charles Branas demonstrate that neighborhood-led efforts to address blight in urban Philadelphia have reduced crime — without large investments from taxpayers. Similar studies show vacant-lot remediation has also been successful in Youngstown, Ohio and Flint, Michigan, without signs that crime just shifted to outlying areas.

October 30, 2019 |

KEEP {INSERT CITY} WEIRD: Twenty years ago, urbanists such as Toronto’s Richard Florida were telling cities they needed to develop in ways that attractive “creative class” millennials. The result? A rash of public spending on entertainment districts and hipster amenities, with cities spending a lot to look more and more alike. Along the way, many have lost some of their individual appeal and locked out local residents.

November 20, 2019 |

YOU SAY GOODBYE, BUT I SAY HELLO: Much ink has been spilled about the divide between red and blue states. But there is more to the matter than just politics, as this essay on red and blue metro areas demonstrates.

November 14, 2019 |

AN IDEA SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK: Manhattan Institute Fellow Sharpel Welch reports that character building efforts targeting middle- and high-school students in Allendale, one of Shreveport, Louisiana’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods, have helped reduce major crime in that area by 60 percent over a 10-year period.

June 25, 2019 |

A WORM IN THE BIG APPLE’S BUDGET? Mayor Bill Di Blasio’s new budget pins all its hopes on a rosy state and federal economy. From the New York Post:

“For the fiscal year that starts on July 1, Gotham is on track to spend close to $95.6 billion. Of that, $73 billion is local-taxpayer money; the rest is federal and state grants. That’s a big jump from the $69.7 billion in local money in the fiscal year that’s just ending — 4.8%, when inflation is running about 1.8%. ”

June 27, 2019 |

TOUGH COMPETITION FOR THIS HONOR: Aaron Renn of the Manhattan Institute asks: Are Louisville’s bridges the biggest boondoggle of the 21st century?

He writes: “Not only was the bridges project a colossal waste of $1.3 billion. Not only did it harm the urban fabric of downtown Louisville. But there’s also reason to believe it diverted economic activity away from Louisville.”

June 26, 2019 |
Book Review: “Arbitrary Lines” by Nolan Gray

Book Review: “Arbitrary Lines” by Nolan Gray

Gray’s background in city planning and subsequent policy research is evident in his command of the history and intricacies of zoning policy, the book does not require any familiarity with either on behalf of readers. Gray’s prose is clear and approachable—yet Gray himself does not pull any punches in his indictments of zoning.

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