Strong Towns Podcast
Episode 407

Richard Florida and the New Urban Crisis

Rachel Quednau published on

Richard Florida is a University Professor and Director of Cities at the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, he's a writer and journalist, and he serves as senior editor for The Atlantic, where he co-founded and serves as Editor-at-Large for CityLab. He's also the author of a new book, The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It.

In this interview with Chuck Marohn, Florida discusses the backlash to one of his most famous books, The Rise of the Creative Classand the growth in inequality and economic segregation in American cities, which he cites as a much bigger problem than gentrification. Florida also shares his reaction to the presidential election and his thoughts about the future of the suburbs.

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  • Susan Joy Worker

    Prof Florida has consumed way too much SJW-flavored Kool-Aide.
    His interview overuses a weasel-word, "advantaged" way too much.
    What does it mean? What creates the higher incomes associated with advantages?
    He does not use elucidating words like: drugs, single moms, cultural marxist ideology,
    AT ALL - these might help him get to the truth.
    Here's a basic fact: the winning principle, to become economically successful are pretty simple:
    stay in school, get educated (in something useful, not SJW papem), dont have children out of wedlock,
    and you will have an 80-90% chance of succeeding, whether you are black, white, or chinese

  • Richard Florida talks about "winner-take-all" urbanism (only a few people get the lion's share of benefits) versus "inclusive urbanism." Certainly it would be better if urban productivity and prosperity were more widely shared. But Richard Florida gives no clue as to WHY only a few people benefit from urban success or HOW urban prosperity could become more inclusive. Florida suggests that better rail infrastructure within and between cities could create inclusive urbanism. Yet today, rail transit creates inequality. Commercial and residential tenants must pay landlords high rents to locate near the transit that tenants already paid for with their taxes! Thus, infrastructure redistributes wealth to the wealthy -- "wealthfare."
    Cities create enormous value. Much of that value is reflected in land prices. Land prices are generally highest near the best public goods and services (good schools, parks, transit, etc.). Allowing private landowners to appropriate publicly-created land value is the fuel for land speculation. This leads to booms and busts. It causes some neighborhoods to over-heat (high rent, gentrification) while other neighborhoods languish. Simultaneously, most city property taxes have the economic impact of a 10% to 20% sales tax on construction labor and materials. No wonder that folks with modest means can't afford housing.
    If cities reduced taxes on privately-created building values, buildings would be cheaper to construct, improve and maintain. If cities increased taxes on publicly-created land values, infrastructure could become financially self-sustaining, land speculation would become less profitable (and therefore be discouraged), land prices would moderate and more infill development would occur. Without spending money or losing revenue, this tax shift could make housing more affordable and create more jobs. This policy is not all we need. But, if we don't do this, all the other policies and programs won't be effective.