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Assessments

No longer isolated by a freeway, San Francisco’s Ferry Building doesn’t have the worldwide fame of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben. But a new book argues that it has shaped both its own city and the built environment in many others.
Just not many that pay much.
It’s been a topic for decades. Some blame cars. Some blame uninviting public spaces. Maybe there are some small things communities could do that would help.
Pollution-control laws were never intended to block residential and transportation development. But that’s how they’re being misused all over the country.
North Carolina, where cities large and small are creating open-container “social districts,” is about to find out.
A lot, says one prominent political scientist. But most of all, they aren’t accountable to anyone.
An issue that seemed settled has returned, with states considering whether to loosen child labor laws. There might be some argument for revisiting them, but there’s evidence of growing abuse of existing laws.
They’re an important part of community social life, but too many cities and suburbs neglect them.
The governor’s ambitious plan bets heavily on competition, through vouchers and school choice, but there’s no reliable evidence that competition can make a real difference.
The state’s governor is trying to make policy for many generations from now. It’s hard enough to get it right for even a decade or two. How’s your flying car working out?
Sometimes they work, producing public revenue and neighborhood development. But some of them turn out to be civic disasters. Is there a formula for mixed-use magic?
Allowing greater building height hasn’t proved consistently successful for cities, and it's a fantasy that Washington's city center could ever resemble Paris’ stately boulevards. But perhaps it’s time to try some experimentation.
It took a long time for the state’s unique system of governance to fall into the hyperpartisanship that so many states have experienced. Can Nebraska find a way back?
A state can try to compel its cities to build more, but the results are at best modest. As Gov. Jared Polis learned, even getting zoning reforms enacted can be an insurmountable challenge.
It’s not easy to get a smaller city that’s been losing population growing again. Every town can’t be a high-tech hub. But an urban scholar has some ideas that might help some of them.
In attempting to regulate use of social media by young people, the state has pushed the idea the furthest, and other states may follow its lead. Will it work? And will it survive the inevitable legal challenges?
There are lots of ideas out there for bringing the numbers down. But so far nothing seems to work better than simply getting a roof over their heads, even if it’s only a dilapidated motel room.
Pledging greater efficiency, lots of governors (and candidates for the job) want to reorganize their states’ administrative structures. Sometimes they pull it off, but usually the reforms don’t last.
Some center cities are coming back from the pandemic, with residential populations increasing even as many continue to work from home. While restaurants and retail are still suffering, it seems fair to speculate that something meaningful is happening.
With its residents upset by crime, homelessness and high taxes, it’s become a depressed and discouraging place. Can it once again be a shining exemplar of modern urbanist success?
It’s doubtful that taxing art collections, yachts or big inheritances will attract a significant political constituency. It’s all about the “endowment effect,” the value we place on the things we possess.
It’s easy to run against the downtown establishment, but neighborhood revival is a difficult process. Only a few mayors have been able to achieve success as both downtown promoters and neighborhood advocates.
Over the past couple of decades, coffeehouses became centers of sociability and community life. In the wake of the virus, many of them are switching to a grab-and-go model. Can anything replace these vital “third places”?
People love to be close to a lake, a river or an ocean, and waterfronts can be a major urban achievement. Why have so many cities done a poor job of cultivating this amenity?
You can make the case that it is, and not just in size. Every city is distinctive in some way, but nothing comes close to New York in the breadth and depth of its demographics, neighborhoods and culture.
We’ve tried several approaches, and all have their strengths and weaknesses. But one relic of the Progressive Era is on the way out.
The way we deal with it says a lot about our national and local cultures. Reforming it may not be so much about formal government action as about humans’ willingness to change their habits.
They’re happening in gentrifying neighborhoods, creating a flashpoint of ethnic and racial conflict. Some cities are trying to deal with the problem, but there are no easy solutions.
A term that once referred only to housing now encompasses everything from politics to economic life to the disappearance of community. But the center is still out there somewhere.
Bill Leighty served Virginia in a variety of ways, including as chief of staff to two governors. He knew the rules of management — and he knew when to stretch or break them.
As Prince of Wales, Charles had a lot to say about architecture and planning. But there are things that princes can do that monarchs might not be able to.