How Surf City USA Became the “Anti-California”

Riding a Wave of Litigation and Conspiracy-Mongering, Huntington Beach Defies the Golden State's Laws—and Its Diverse Reality

Who says you can’t build anything in California? Huntington Beach is busy constructing a wall of denial around whatever is left of its soul.

The Orange County city has long been associated with the open and outlaw side of California. Named for a railroad robber baron (Henry Huntington), the city grew through oil speculation, aerospace, rapid post-war housing development, and a free-spirited surfing culture inspired by its beautiful beaches.

But in this century, Huntington Beach has achieved a different sort of prominence: As the anti-California, its independent vibe having curdled into …

Do Californians Love Their Houses Too Much?

A Fourth-Generation Homeowner Reconsiders the California Dream

No house on earth means more to me than my paternal grandparents’ small blue home near the bottom of a windswept hill in the Bay Area city of San Mateo.

I’ve …

The 1992 Horror Film That Made a Monster Out of a Chicago Housing Project

In Candyman, the Notorious Cabrini-Green Complex Is Haunted by Urban Myths and Racial Paranoia

In the 1992 horror film Candyman, Helen, a white graduate student researching urban legends, is looking into the myth of a hook-handed apparition who is said to appear when his …

California’s Housing Crisis Is a Nasty Intersection of the State’s Worst Problems

Behind High Rents and Ballooning Mortgages Are Challenges Ranging from Homelessness and Transportation to Taxation and the Environment

California’s sky-high housing prices haven’t just made it hard to find and afford a place to live. They’ve put pressures on the economy, the environment, transportation, and health that threaten …

Could the “Edge City” of Santa Rosa Become a Center of California?

A Budding Cannabis Industry, New Housing, and Better Transportation Are Expanding Its Clout

Adjust your California maps: The little dot marking Santa Rosa needs to be a lot bigger.

Dramatic changes in housing, aging, transportation, and criminal justice are altering the Golden State’s …