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Urban Policy

Vegas’ Next Act? Urban Reality

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
April 1, 2007 |

I realize now how fitting it is that the billionaire godfather of mainstream Las Vegas was an agoraphobe. Not unlike Howard Hughes barricading himself in his penthouse suite, on a midweek road trip to Vegas last week I only left my gigantic hotel complex once -- and that was to take a limousine ride to see a new monster project being built.

Going for Broke

  • By
  • Reid Cramer,
  • New America Foundation

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast with such ferocity in late August 2005, Americans were shocked by the broadcast images of desperately poor people left to fend for themselves. The depth and consequences of poverty in America, normally hidden from public view, had once again become the subject of debate and national soul-searching. And yet, a year and a half later, the subject of poverty has fallen so far off the public’s radar screen that President Bush did not give it a mention in his recent State of the Union Address.

Crime or Punishment

  • By
  • David Lesher,
  • New America Foundation
February 18, 2007 |

Sacramento lawmakers are in a trap. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton will decide in little more than three months whether to set a population cap on the state’s vastly overcrowded prison system, potentially forcing the early release of thousands of convicted criminals. To keep the court at bay, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked the Legislature to approve billions in new prison construction money, and to consider revising sentencing and parole laws to put fewer criminals behind bars.

The Myth of ‘Superstar Cities’

  • By
  • Joel Kotkin,
  • New America Foundation
February 13, 2007 |

"If New York City is a business, it isn’t Wal-Mart -- it isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market. It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product. New York offers tremendous value, but only for those companies able to capitalize on it."

-- Mayor Michael Bloomberg, January 2003

A Grand Vision for Affordable Housing

  • By
  • Rick Wartzman,
  • New America Foundation
February 9, 2007 |

Eli Broad has suggested that once its big makeover is complete, Grand Avenue will be comparable to the Champs-Elysees. That’s bunk. But it may look a little like Sesame Street, and that’s terrific.

The children’s public television program -- which, in the words of a recent study by a University of New Hampshire scholar, has "strived to exemplify and create an egalitarian and more tolerant community" -- has had a tough time being replicated in the real world. This is especially true in L.A., which is highly balkanized along racial and class lines.

A Real Estate Bust Would Boost L.A.

  • By
  • Joel Kotkin,
  • New America Foundation
January 29, 2007 |

For the last five years, speculators, big developers and homeowners have gorged on Los Angeles real estate. The huge run-up in prices -- more than 135% from 2001 to 2006 -- has greatly increased the spending power of property owners. Yet there has been a worrisome consequence: Working and middle-class families are moving out -- and failing to move in -- because they cannot afford a house here. Long term, that’s not good for the local economy. As perverse as it sounds, what L.A. needs now is a real estate bust.

Latinos and Gangs: the Hopeful Flip Side

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
January 28, 2007 |

In the opening sequence of Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-contender The Departed, Jack Nicholson’s gangster character recalls that when he was young, the priests used to tell the Irish American children of South Boston that they could either become cops or criminals.

The movie, which is essentially an urban morality tale played out between Irish American gangsters and cops, is only the latest in a long line of American films featuring the rivalry between good and bad in ethnic enclaves. (Think James Cagney and Pat O’Brien in the 1938 classic Angels with Dirty Faces.)

The New Economic Map of America

  • By
  • Joel Kotkin,
  • New America Foundation
November 30, 2006 |

Asked which American cities have been the biggest economic winners of the new millennium, almost anyone reading a daily newspaper or watching a nightly news show would name places like New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C., where condo and single-family home prices have surged and the wealthy enjoyed a bonanza by leveraging their real estate assets.

400,000,000

  • By
  • Joel Kotkin,
  • New America Foundation
October 17, 2006 |

The fact that the U.S. population will soon top 300 million has led some environmentalists to gnash their teeth over the nation’s ability to handle our expanded "ecological footprint." One can also imagine that few champagne bottles are being popped in Parisian salons.

And there’s even worse news ahead for those who hate the notion of numerous Americans: By 2050 there will be 400 million of us. This surge marks a major watershed in our history, recreating the American Republic and leaving us with unprecedented challenges and remarkable opportunities.

* * *

Urban Legend

  • By
  • Joel Kotkin,
  • New America Foundation
September 25, 2006 |

Cities have always served many functions: as centers of religion, political power, and commerce. But one of their most important tasks has been to serve as engines of upward mobility and aspiration. Nowhere has this been more true than in American cities. From the earliest period of American settlement, European observers were often struck by the remarkable social mobility found in America’s urban centers.

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