The Dark Political Genius Behind Protecting a Community’s “Character”

A Favorite Phrase of Neighborhood Activists Has Become a Powerful Tool for Obstruction

Are you a Californian looking for a New Year’s resolution?

You might be thinking about giving up sweets or fried foods, or going to the gym more, or volunteering, or cutting your carbon footprint, or otherwise doing right by your body, your community, or your planet. But, from the standpoint of your fellow Californians, the most effective thing you could do is swear off this phrase: “We want to protect the character of the community.”

The expressed desire to defend community character is a staple of California conversations about development or …

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From Bethlehem to Palm Springs, Christmas Belongs in the Desert

During the Holiday Season, Southern California’s Coachella Valley Becomes a Place of Rebirth

If you’re looking for the quintessential Christmas experience, there’s only one place you should go: the Southern California desert.

The Coachella Valley is the Golden State’s very own Yuletide capital—which …

California Needs Frank Capra to Rewrite Its Story

The Legendary Film Director Knew That the Golden State Isn’t About Rich Moguls, but About the Struggles and Triumphs of Ordinary People

The California story needs a remake.

Get me Capra!

Frank—legendary director of films including It Happened One Night to It’s a Wonderful Life—has been dead since 1991, you say? No matter! Just …

Can a Troubled Bridge Show California How to Avoid Big Errors?

The Bay Bridge’s New East Span Proves Why Megaprojects Must Be Both Transformational and Functional

How do you learn from a really big mistake?

Walk across it.

Which is why I recently found myself putting on a windbreaker and beginning a long, slow walk across the east …

Is Orange County Too Rich For its Own Good?

The Political Fighting Over the Southern California Region Misses All the Ways that Wealth Hollows Out the County's Dynamism

California has a peculiar peril: Our state is becoming too rich for its own good.

For evidence, just look at Orange County.

The dangers of too much wealth have not …

Why Amnesty Remains America’s Best Immigration Policy

As Ronald Reagan Knew, a Country That Doesn't Forgive Will Turn Against Itself

One afternoon in July 1985, President Ronald Reagan met with his domestic policy council in the White House cabinet room. The question: should he keep pushing legislation to offer amnesty …