Monday, July 6, 2015

Creative class growth: NY Times vs. Fast Company



As I was reading an article in Fast Company on the US cities where creative job growth was happening, the results seemed in direct opposition (NY has both the largest AND one of the fastest-growing creative class populations) to a recently controversial NY Times article that implied creatives were leaving NYC for Los Angeles. It's easy because of the income inequality gap and the extraordinarily high cost of living in New York City to buy into the Zeitgeist of creative class decline, but maybe the numbers tell a different story.

As both a marketer and in the tech industry, and having lived in Montreal, NYC and San Francisco, I of course have an insider view to much of this debate. I think part of what makes a city livable is how creative is it's population. And more studies seem to verify this. When the creative class is healthy, a city is more livable and interesting. When it declines (like my much beloved Montreal), I think the city loses out.

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Sadly, San Diego saw a significant drop over the same time period. If we're going to attract more Millenials and creatives, we need to do a lot more to evolve the San Diego city scape to be competitive to LA, Austin, Portland, Seattle, and yes, New York: more density, more alternative transportation, more startups.

I'm certainly not arguing we lose San Diego's essential charms (outdoor lifestyle, laid-back atmosphere, etc.) but our long-term prospects aren't good when we're arguing about how many billions in taxpayer dollars to give to NFL fat cats that in all probability will not generate a whole heck of a lot of benefit for the local economy, versus. the types of neighborhood, educational, and job creation projects that money could buy us.

***07/13 update: looks like John Oliver is also getting on the anti-stadium bandwagon with his usual, outrageously funny take.***

Saturday, July 4, 2015

If Dublin can do it, why not San Diego?



I've been a follower of the sdurban blog since coming to San Diego 4 years ago. One reason: growing up in and spending most of my life in dense urban settings like Montreal, New York City and San Francisco, I have a deep appreciation for the benefits of mass and alternative transit vs. the world-choking car. The "freedom" of individual car ownership has always been a very heavy cost to bear: environmental, personal, cultural.

So it was with great interest I read in Fast Company how Dublin is joining a longer list of cities looking to replace cars in their city centers.  Who knew their traffic was as bad as LA or Rio??? From Manhattan finally getting bike lane serious, to Montreal's success with bike-friendliness (in one of the coldest major cities in the world, to boot!), to Copenhagen's Smart Traffic project, cities all over the world are experimenting with ways to cut back on their toxic dependence on cars.

I'm lucky, I admit. I work for  a great company that, among other things, lets me telecommute 100% of my time. So I get how many people in Southern California are critically dependent upon their cars. But unless you challenge conventional thinking, you can't move past it. If Dublin and Montreal and New York and even LA can do it, isn't it time San Diego (and the retrograde, suburban car junkies in SANDAG) do the same? From taking 1 lane away from selected avenues for dedicated bike lanes, to improved express bus service, to expanded trolleys, especially as Millenials continue to prefer denser urban-style living and we see expansion of housing stock in denser areas like Mission Valley, there are plenty of options to encourage smarter alternatives to 100% car 100% of the time.