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 …

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 …

The Washingtonians Who Fought to Keep Their City as the Nation’s Capital

Rivalries Over Its Political Symbolism, and Damage From the War of 1812, Nearly Destroyed the City

As the national capital, Washington, D.C. always has carried special meaning—representing both the federal government and the United States as a whole. No matter how Americans might feel about the …

Excavating the Future City

Through His Camera, Naoya Hatakeyama Reimagines and Rebuilds Our Human Environment

Japanese photographer Naoya Hatakeyama, who was born in Japan in 1958, has spent decades exploring and documenting the human-made environment, with a particular emphasis on cities. He has explored everywhere …

Take the ACE Train

A Small but Successful Commuter Line Between Stockton and San Jose Points a Way Forward for California Transportation

As the ACE Train pulls into the Santa Clara station, the conductor pops out—and begins apologizing for his train.

“I’m sorry, but this is not the Amtrak!” he bellows, loud enough …

How Long Can the Military Defend Camp Pendleton?

The Marine Base Sits at a Crossroads of an Urbanizing Southern California Starving for Open Land

The American military may be the finest fighting force in the history of the world. But how long can it defend Camp Pendleton?

Marine Base Camp Pendleton is best known as …