With the economy humming along, innovative ideas sprouting up around the state, and, of course, the occasional dispute, 2015 was as lively a year for land use as any other in recent memory. To mark the new year, CP&DR presents its most-read stories of 2015.
Four of these ten articles, including the top two, center on housing. It is the slow-motion crisis that encompasses literally every element of urban planning, from economics to demographics to policy and does so at every level of government from the largest metro areas to the smallest hamlets across California.
Innovation also caught CP&DR readers' attention, with coverage of the tech economy, progressive legislation, and one of the great urban innovators of our state and our time: Prof. Don Shoup. CEQA gets in a few words edgewise. Tellingly, an article on Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts from 2014 made 2015's most-read list, revealing a continuing thirst for, an uncertainty about, the next generation of redevelopment policy.
Here are the top ten, in order of popularity:
Los Angeles' Slow-Growthers Have Gotten What They Wanted
6 April 2015
"Constrained supply and ever increasing demand equals insane housing prices. In a typical industry, supply would never become this constrained. Firms would produce more, or consumers would seek substitutes. Equilibrium would be restored. But this is real estate, and those rules don't apply."
Does Supply Create Its Own Demand?
27 July 2015
"Under some market conditions, more supply doesn't lead to market equilibrium because it actually creates its own demand. You can see this wherever the world's uber-rich decide to buy houses – New York, London, or, most relevant to this discussion, Santa Barbara."
19 April 2015
"Don Shoup has accomplished something every academic hopes to achieve and almost no one ever does: He has completely reframed an important public policy issue so that everybody thinks about it differently."
Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts Legislation Passes in SB 628
31 August 2014
"The mechanism would be simpler, more focused on infrastructure, and more dependent on electoral approval, without the flexibility or protections for the existing urban public that were built and bashed into Redevelopment over the years."
CEQA: The Cause of All Problems in California
23 March 2015
"Somehow, among all the laws, regulations, micro-, macro-, and global economic trends that impact on and emanate from our state, the overriding cause of California's malaise is — wait for it — CEQA."
Is This The Right Meeting? Really?
2 December 2015
"Any greenhorn planner in the most podunk jurisdiction knows that he needs to keep a few audience-management tricks up his sleeve."
Bill to Delay Implementation of SB 743 Gains Traction
25 May 2015
"A developers' group is promoting a new piece of legislation that would postpone implementation of SB 743 – the bill that would change traffic analysis to vehicle miles traveled in environmental review – for a year. The bill has apparently revealed a split among developers who say they focus on infill projects."
Fair Housing: Talking Past Each Other About Cities and Segregation
30 August 2015
"On July 8 the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued its final rule on "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing." Under the rule, state and local agencies receiving HUD funds must now do more than passively study barriers to fair housing: they must also make and follow genuine plans to reduce the barriers they describe."
The Tech Housing Crunch's Fracking Dilemma
27 November 2015
"The dilemma of the tech housing crunch: If you build more housing for tech workers, won't those same tech workers just create new apps to disrupt the balance once again – to the benefit of well-off folks, at the expense of everybody else, including most of the tech workers? It's a little like the Gold Rush, when hydraulic mining was all the rage."
California Cities and the Innovation Economy: Q&A With Enrico Moretti
6 April 2015
"Enrico Moretti, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, explains how cities promote innovation (defined not just as technology, but also as medicine, media, manufacturing and other sections that rely on constant improvement of products and services) and, importantly, how innovation affects cities' economies."