The Economist has a feature story about Portland and “elite cities”. Portland is leading the way in the United States expanding public transit, encouraging local food, and building cycling infrastructure. For the most part, it’s a positive article that compares Portland to Vancouver in Canada and many European cities. But then the Economist squeezes in this paragraph near the end:
Joel Kotkin, a Los Angeles-based demographer and author, thinks that places like Portland, San Francisco and Boston have become “elite cities”, attractive to the young and single, especially those with trust funds, but beyond the reach of middle-class families who want a house with a lawn. Indeed Portland, for all its history of Western grit, is remarkably white, young and childless. Most Americans will therefore continue to migrate to the more affordable “cities of aspiration” such as Houston, Atlanta or Phoenix, thinks Mr Kotkin.
Cities like Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco, and New York are expensive because there is a huge demand for what they’re offering. I thought the Economist would understand the basics of supply and demand. More cities should be following Portland’s lead instead of trying to be “cities of aspiration” – whatever that means.
Errr … I think Montreal does a pretty good job of being a densely populated, booming, sorta new urbanist city without succumbing to off the chart inflation. Hell, according to this site Montrealers have more purchasing power than Winnipeggers like me. *Maybe* cultural polarization plays a role, but I doubt that’s the entire deal.
As for The Economist, the blogger Atrios said it best when claiming that if the can screw up relatively easy things (like American politics) it’s not best to take them at their word on more complex matters.
Personally, I think the cigar smoking, Hummer-driving types of country club conservatives who either own The Economist or buy copies of it like “liberal elite” bashing to help themselves forget how privileged they really are. Portland is pretty damn affordable by West Coast standards, from my understanding.