Articles by urbanaffairseditor

Thank You: A Note From the Editors

As we near the end of our tenure as editors of Urban Affairs Review, we want to thank and publicly acknowledge the people who have supported UAR through service on our editorial board between January 2014 and December 2022. We are grateful for your encouragement, advice, and willingness to spend your time helping us produce this journal. Read More

December 22, 2022 // 0 Comments

How Local Contexts Matter for Local Immigrant Policies

By Heather Khan Welsh (Eastern Michigan University), Laura Reese (Michigan State University), and Teagan Reese (Federal Emergency Management Agency) | Local policies related to immigrant attraction and settlement include efforts to attract and support immigrants for economic development purposes (entrepreneurialism and business start-up support, credentialing), smooth transitions (multi-lingual services, ESL, citizenship support), embracing diversity (multi-cultural community events), and providing assistance in accessing needed local services (housing, health care, employment support). Given the lack of consistent national policies, the variety of policy positions at the local level indeed represents a patchwork raising questions about what kinds of local governments are focusing on policies supportive of immigrants. By testing alternate explanations of local immigration policy, the research contributes to the development of theory related to policymaking in this area. Based on a national survey of municipalities across the US there is little evidence that racial threat theory limits local immigrant supportive policies, i.e., greater diversity appears to drive local immigrant attraction and support policies generally and for welcoming and entrepreneurial policies in particular. However, policy determinants differ by the type of immigrant attraction and support policy examined. Read More

November 10, 2022 // 0 Comments

Why Political Scientists Should Study Smaller Cities

By Tanu Kumar (Claremont Graduate University) and Matthew Stenberg (University of California, Berkeley) | The United Nations estimates more than half of the global population currently lives in cities, and 68% of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050 (United Nations 2018). A large portion of this growing urban population lives outside of major metropolitan areas. Yet much of our knowledge about urban politics comes from studying the largest cities, and smaller cities are systematically understudied relative to their share of the population. In our article, “Why Political Scientists Should Study Smaller Cities,” we examine what an insufficient focus on small cities might lead scholars to miss. We explore many policy areas where we might expect smaller cities to be different than larger ones and we offer strategies to study smaller cities. Read More

October 11, 2022 // 0 Comments

STATE OF THE FIELD – American Regionalism and the Constellation of Mechanisms for Cross-Boundary Cooperation [Part 2]

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

October 3, 2022 // 5 Comments

Projects Not Systems: Why New York Doesn’t Have a RIGO

By Cameron Gordon (Australian National University), Richard Flanagan (City University of New York), and Jonathan Peters (City University of New York) | The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area is an urban colossus. It is the largest and wealthiest metropolitan area in the nation with a population over 19 million residents and a GDP of $1.9 trillion in 2019, covering an expanse of four states, 31 counties, and 782 municipal governments (Regional Plan Association 2019; U.S. Census 2020; U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 2020). But even a region as wealthy and storied as New York has problems. It is a territory with some of the worst commuting times in the nation. Its lengthy coastlines are vulnerable to climate change hardships, and housing and other basics are increasingly unaffordable. These facts have not escaped notice from policy influencers in the region. The leading authority in this space, the Regional Plan Association (RPA), has itemized many of Greater New York’s policy woes. RPA argues for a transformation of governance with the creation of new, regional institutions such as an infrastructure bank, a coastal commission, regional school districts, and a regional census (Regional Planning Association 2019). Read More

October 3, 2022 // 2 Comments

Investing in Emerging Regional Institutions to Promote Equitable Climate-Ready Regions

By Catherine Ashcraft (University of New Hampshire) and Christina Rosan (Temple University) | In the U.S., governing our regions has always been complicated, but with climate, the need for regional solutions is amplified and more urgent. Given exciting new federal financial and technical assistance to support climate and justice actions that is becoming available through the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, we see exciting opportunities to amplify and expand existing regional governance efforts to make them more inclusive and increase regional resilience. We argue for investing in and building on emergent climate regionalism as a pragmatic pathway of least political resistance and immediacy. We see networks of regional actors who are embedded in relationships with existing, trusted, democratic institutions and have a track record of success as natural leaders of efforts to center equity and justice in climate planning toward more fundamental and structural change. In this post, to illustrate the possible pathways for emergent climate regionalism, we consider two different cases in New England, the New Hampshire Climate Adaptation Working Group (NHCAW) and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), that on paper may not seem to have what we traditionally think about as “power”. This post presents our shared findings based on research and experiences with these organizations (Rosan 2016), which includes Catherine Ashcraft being a member of NHCAW.  Read More

October 3, 2022 // 3 Comments

Envisioning a Role for RIGOs in Cross-Boundary Land Use Regulation

By Thomas Skuzinski (Northern Illinois University) and Carolina Velandia Hernandez (Northern Illinois University) | More than six decades ago, the eminent land use attorney and scholar Charles Haar observed that “the regional plan is again largely a didactic exercise. While the usefulness denoted by its very existence should not be minimized, it must be recognized that the effect of such regional plans in directing the application of human energies in land development is indeed small” (1957, 523).Anyone engaged in understanding and solving regional problems—the myriad problems that span beyond the scope of authority and likely functional capacity of a single local government—will recognize that these words continue to ring true today. Regional planning is widespread, pervasive, and frequent, especially in metropolitan settings. But land use regulation is “arguably the sole legal domain in which local governments are preeminent” (Camacho and Marantz 2019, 141) and has even been described as a cornerstone of American localism (Cashin 1999; Briffault 1990). The highest hanging fruit, therefore, for any regional policy agenda is a unified development ordinance that covers zoning, subdivision, and supportive capital projects and that is commensurate with the scale of regional problems. A healthy alternative would be any cross-boundary land use regulation—any attempt at shared land use regulatory power among two or more units of local government. Read More

October 3, 2022 // 2 Comments

Tightening Networks and Deepening Co-Regionalism: The Evolution of Cross-Boundary Cooperation to Combat the Opiate Epidemic in Washington State

By Lachezar G. Anguelov (The Evergreen State College) | As we seek a better understanding of how communities coordinate policies and projects across jurisdictional boundaries, we observe tremendous variation of solutions that coexist in any given region. Often our focus is on “visible” institutional arrangements, though many initiatives operate rather effectively in the shadows of formalization. Contributing to the conversation on regionalism approaches, this paper explores the prevalence and dynamics of complex network governance in the state of Washington. Read More

October 3, 2022 // 4 Comments

Water Utility Districts as Facilitators of Regional Climate Change Partnerships

By Jayce Farmer (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) | The increasing pressures of climate change can pose challenges for public water utilities through the economic and environmental impacts of droughts, excessive heat, flooding, and the deterioration of water quality (EPA 2021; Dombrowsky, Bauer and Scheumann 2016; Cromwell, Smith and Raucher 2007). Such challenges have placed utility districts at the forefront of finding strategies to sustain region-wide water supplies. Therefore, these entities can have great interests in taking sustainability actions that can result in direct benefits through energy and water conservation related cost-savings (Homsy 2016). Furthermore, the fiscal and technical capacity of utility districts can also produce external sustainability related benefits that transcend local boundaries and produce positive impacts for entire regions. Read More

October 3, 2022 // 2 Comments

Do Shallow Rental Subsidies Promote Housing Stability? Evidence on Costs and Effects from D.C.’s Flexible Rent Program

By Maria Alva (Georgetown University), Natnaell Mammo (The Lab @ DC), Ryan T. Moore (The Lab @ DC), and Sam Quinney (The Lab @ DC) | The District of Columbia piloted and evaluated a shallow rent subsidy to answer two questions: Do shallow flexible rental subsidies promote housing stability? And, can they be a vehicle to further stretch the existing housing resources to serve more people? These questions are important to growing metropolitan areas like D.C. that face severe challenges in making housing affordable and preventing homelessness. Similar to New York or San Francisco, most D.C. residents are renters, 70% of whom spend more than 30% of their gross income on rent. Approximately 1 out of every 125 residents in D.C. is in emergency shelters, in transitional housing, or is unsheltered. Housing vouchers, representing "deeper subsidies," have historically been in short supply and, necessarily, targeted at the most vulnerable households. In 2017, D.C.'s Department of Human Services (DHS) decided to test a model that could serve more residents by targeting a shallow subsidy to families experiencing housing instability but not homelessness. To this end, DHS began piloting the Flexible Rent Subsidy Program (D.C. Flex). Read More

September 20, 2022 // 0 Comments