The End of the Right to the City: A Radical-Cooperative View

By Caleb Althorpe (Western University) and Martin Horak (Western University) | Social and material conditions in cities around the world are deeply unjust. Increasing material inequalities, social exclusion, hierarchy and domination face urban inhabitants in many settings. In response to these realities, the ‘right to the city’ (RTTC) has become a concept that is widely used by those who seek to build more just and inclusive cities. The RTTC frames the goals of urban advocacy groups around the world, the policy objectives of international organizations, and even makes an appearance in a piece of national legislation in Brazil. Read More

December 22, 2021 // 0 Comments

Staying Afloat: Planning and Managing Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Risk in Florida’s Coastal Counties

By Robert Hines (University of Georgia), Andrew J. Grandage (Western Carolina University), and Katherine G. Willoughby (University of Georgia) | For many coastal communities, there is no escaping the realities of sea level rise (SLR) because they already experience visible disruptions from it, ranging from nuisance flooding to enhanced storm surge. However, bigger problems lie down the road. Critical Infrastructure that provides water supply, wastewater treatment, control of stormwater runoff, and transportation are recognized as vulnerable to SLR and intensification of existing flooding hazards (Allen et al. 2019). Moreover, without adaptive measures in place, SLR could lead to population shifts of a similar magnitude to the Great Migration, as residents gradually move from inundated areas to those not exposed (Hauer, Evans, & Mishra 2016). Read More

December 17, 2021 // 0 Comments

You Won’t be My Neighbor: Opposition to High Density Development

By Jessica Trounstine (University of California, Merced) | The 1926 Supreme Court decision Euclid v. Ambler upheld the right of cities to use their police powers to regulate how and where development would occur within their borders. In his opinion, Justice Sutherland famously described the apartment house as, “often a mere parasite, constructed in order to take advantage of the open spaces and attractive surroundings created by the residential character of the district.” Today, many communities throughout the United States appear to agree with Justice Sutherland’s assessment. Virtually every city in the United States bans multifamily homes in at least some neighborhoods, and in many cities most residential land is restricted to single family homes (Badger and Bui 2019). This is the case even though many metropolitan areas are facing skyrocketing housing costs and increased environmental degradation that could be alleviated by denser housing supply. Some scholars have argued that an unrepresentative set of vocal development opponents are the culprits behind this collective action failure. Yet, recent work suggests that opposition to density may be widespread. In this research note, I provide evidence that preferences for single-family development are ubiquitous. I provide evidence that communities seek to block apartment buildings as a way to prevent a host of perceived negative outcomes from befalling their community.   Read More

December 10, 2021 // 0 Comments

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Philadelphia and their Potential as Regional Actors

By Richardson Dilworth (Drexel University) | Business improvement districts (BIDs) are special service and assessment districts that typically cover territories as large as the downtown of a central city or as small as the commercial corridor of an outlying neighborhood. These organizations typically collect mandatory fees – assessments – from property owners within their areas to fund projects and provide services such as cleaning streets, providing security, installing streetscape improvements, and marketing the area. BIDs operate at a highly localized scale but, like many regional entities, they are a form of collective action that can cross jurisdictional boundaries. So, while they are rarely considered as a form of regionalism, they may have an overlooked role in cross-boundary governance. Furthermore, these cross-boundary BIDs are among the constellation of actors involved in governing American regions. In the context of this colloquium on American regionalism it is worth exploring the experience of BIDs, and their cross-boundary variants, and reflect on their place in urban and regional development. Read More

November 23, 2021 // 1 Comment

Elevating the Scale of Cross-Boundary Cooperation: Mechanisms for Cross-Regional Policy Coordination

By Soyoung Kim (Seoul National University of Science and Technology) | Around the globe, metropolitan regions provide increasingly important policy venues.  Metropolitan-level action has been deemed necessary to govern the fragmented landscape of cities, special districts, townships, counties, and other authorities.  An array of mechanisms are  available to address cross-boundary institutional collective action (ICA) problems that arise from the fragmentation of governmental authority in metropolitan regions (Feiock 2013).  The scale of these mechanisms is generally at the metro level or smaller, yet the geographic footprint of the urban problems these mechanisms are intended to address often extend far beyond the metropolitan region and impact multiple metropolitan areas.   Read More

November 23, 2021 // 1 Comment

Race, Activism, and Localism in the Metropolis: Metropolitan Planning Organizations in Atlanta and Chicago

By Margaret Weir (Brown University) | Generations of research by political scientists and historians paint a consistent – and deeply disturbing -- picture of the American metropolis.  From different directions, their work depicts a political patchwork designed to facilitate resource hoarding and enforce segregation by race and income. Long entrenched local government powers over land use have made racial and spatial inequality the defining feature of the American metropolis. Special districts, the most numerous boundary-spanning organizations, help the patchwork metropolis function but they are not known for challenging the economic and racial inequalities it protects (Savitch and Adhikari 2017). Are Metropolitan Planning Organizations, responsible for transportation planning and a variety of other regional responsibilities, any different? Have MPOs pushed against metropolitan inequalities and do they have the potential to do more? Read More

November 23, 2021 // 1 Comment

The Future of Collaborative Leadership in Contemporary Regional Entities

By George Dougherty (University of Pittsburgh) and Suzanne Leland (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) | Preserving leadership, institutional knowledge, and intergovernmental relationships are key to solving the wicked problems that do not stop at jurisdictional boundaries. Talent is a valued commodity and high turnover is a problem. Regional Intergovernmental Organizations (RIGOs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are no exception. To continue leading collaboration in our regions, it is important to invest in future leadership and talent for future generations. As the population ages, contemporary organizations need to recruit and mentor new talent. However, we know little about the succession planning process in these organizations. So how do we know where to invest or if we are investing enough in public employees if there are no benchmarks? And to what extent is this a problem for the future of these organizations?  Read More

November 23, 2021 // 1 Comment

STATE OF THE FIELD – American Regionalism and the Constellation of Mechanisms for Cross-Boundary Cooperation

By Jen Nelles and Jay Rickabaugh | In this colloquium, we explore the variety of actors involved in the cross-boundary cooperation that we associate with American regional governance and the evolving connections and relationships between them. We aim to produce a cutting-edge review of the state of the field of American regionalism that is accessible, thought provoking, and forward looking. In bringing together scholarship on different mechanisms for cross-boundary cooperation, and highlighting common themes, we hope to transcend some of the barriers in our field and begin to develop a comprehensive, grounded, and modern understanding of the dimensions of regional governance. The contributing scholars approach this broad question of regional activity with original quantitative data, case studies, interviews, and new arguments for theory development or research. We further hope to spark some lively debate that can generate sustained interest in the important work happening in American regions.  Read More

November 23, 2021 // 4 Comments

Demanding Development: The Politics of Public Goods Provision in India’s Urban Slums 

Squatter settlements dot the cities of the Global South, but they exhibit uneven access to public goods. Auerbach tackles this puzzle in Demanding Development, painting a revealing portrait of local claims making and problem-solving networks in India’s urban slums. In doing so, the author speaks to a central problem of development as public resources for infrastructure are limited and accessed through a complex web of political relationships. Read More

November 11, 2021 // 0 Comments

Understanding Urban Retail Vacancy

By Jein Park (Urban Institute) | In many cities across the United States, the retail sector has been in long decline and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated permanent store and mall closures, bankruptcies, and job losses. Although commercial corridors have been recovering at non-generalizable rates, the disruption to small business activity caused many more storefront vacancies than cities know what to do with. The issue of focus in our paper, storefront retail, is highly valuable as it contributes to the quality of street life, pedestrian-oriented urban design, and active frontage that promotes social exchange. Commercial corridors with high presence of retail vacancies often report declining quality of sidewalks, increase in crime, and a viscous cycle of economic disinvestment. In our UAR paper, we provide some insight about storefront vacancies in urban neighborhoods from the perspective of business organizations. We interviewed business organizational leaders about the causes, impact, and mitigation of retail vacancies and summarize our findings in our paper. Read More

October 27, 2021 // 0 Comments