Josh Stephens is a contributing editor of the California Planning & Development Report, an independent newsletter covering land use and policy.
I am writing this missive from the living room of a Starbucks. Not that you'd care where I'm writing from. Except this time it's relevant.
Here on Montana Avenue, in Santa Monica, I'm joined by other folks who are also on their laptops, recovering from yoga, or just biding their time. The guy sitting at my table just sold a pilot to Fox. That's nice for him. A few weeks ago I sat next to Hillary Swank here. She's not hurting either.
But others aren't so lucky. To its credit, Starbucks seems to want to do something about it.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 1:00pm PDT
To its minimal
credit, Borders Books & Music always had a a few shelves where the works of
Jacobs, Mumford, Kunstler, Whyte, Florida, and others resided.
But, judging by the
financial and aesthetic bankruptcies of, respectively, Borders and many American cities,
it seems that copies of Life and Death (or anything else) weren't exactly flying out the door. If
the public's understanding of urban economies even began to rival its
fascination for gossip, self-help, and vampires, Borders never would have
arisen in the first place.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 9:39am PDT
California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer would be better off dead.
Hang on. Let me explain.
I wish no harm to the treasurer. I'm willing to assume that he's a decent fellow and a dedicated public servant. Yet, as he walks among the living, even he abides by the whims of human frailty. At least one legislator, and more than a few other civic leaders, in the Bay Area seems to think otherwise.
Friday, April 15, 2011 - 2:43pm PDT
Most trends are fleeting, some of them mercifully so. Some last no longer than a Lady Gaga wardrobe change. But urbanism is still, by and large, a leisurely exercise, so it's no wonder that planners still embrace fashions on a nearly generational basis. It often takes that long just to see if something works. Or not.
So, while Gaga would inspire us to attach telephones to our heads and light our bustiers on fire, planners who ascribe to the principles of smart growth are still rhetorically swaddling cities in the urban equivalent of flannel. For better or worse, this age may finally be coming to a close. Don't cry, Monster.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 8:47am PST
For some lucky candidates, tomorrow’s election will have a storybook ending. Unfortunately for anyone who understands architecture, planning, and land use, that storybook will, in many cases, turn out to be The Fountainhead.
The train wreck of ideologies that is emerging this election season is too much for anyone to categorize.
Monday, November 1, 2010 - 11:15am PDT
I write this blog from the concrete cradle of Nokia Plaza, an urban space so wondrous that the global arm of the Urban Land Institute has bestowed upon it one of five “2010 Global Awards for Excellence
." In winning such a distinguished award, you’d think that developer AEG would have invited the Laker Girls and be pouring Champagne for an ebullient crowd here in one of the world’s great public spaces. Except they’re not. In fact, I’m pretty much alone.
I don’t suppose the pigeons are carrying Cristal underwing?
Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 2:04pm PDT
I wasn't even in Los Angeles yesterday, and for once I'm glad. Everything from my Facebook feed to the morning headlines told me that traffic on the Westside yesterday afternoon was so awful that only a parade of obscenities accompanied by words like "cluster" and "show" would have sufficed to describe it. Hardened locals were driven nearly to tears behind the wheels of their unmoving cars.
The president was in town.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - 11:28am PDT
Even more so than usual, few people will be receiving buildings as gifts this season. They're too expensive, you can’t return them, and, notwithstanding Barbie’s Dream House, they probably won't fit under your tree. But still, this Yuletide affords ample opportunity to take stock of the works that have arisen in this most momentous of decades.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 10:09pm PST
BOSTON -- If you've ever studied the bar menu at Trader Vic's then you know about such wonders as Tropical Passion, Moku Nani, and the Potted Parrot. Each is made of a unique but secret blend of dark rum, light rum, spiced rum, tropical juices, and of course "subtle flavorings." But by the time you'd realize that the only real difference is the glass they come in, you're too probably drunk to notice--or care.
Minus the palm fronds, the RailVolution conference is much the same.
Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 3:39pm PDT
Remember the legislation that, in 1965, affirmed universal suffrage in all elections? Yes, you do. It was called the National Voting Rights Act.
Saturday, April 18, 2009 - 6:18am PDT