We are immersed in a wide ranging conversation about cities at CityLab 2014 in Los Angeles, hearing from thought leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors on the challenges of more sustainable and equitable metropolitan regions. Richard Florida led a panel with Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto, who participated in a workshop on Legacy Cities at the Lincoln Institute in the spring, on the tough issues of gentrification and skyrocketing housing costs. America's top cities have inequality similar to many struggling third world cities, according to CityLab. In another workshop, former New York planner Amanda Burden posed the question, "Is gentrification inevitable?"
Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke of deploying "urban accupuncture," and using technology to bring about a new sense of civic togetherness for a famously disparate metropolis. Henk Ovink, the Dutch water expert who is guiding Rebuild by Design, expressed hope that the all vulnerable regions will be better prepared to rebuild for greater resilience. In the 1953 equivalent of Superstorm Sandy in The Netherlands, he said, it took decades to put new systems in place. Even so, "no place is really ready" for the volatile events the future has in store.
A session on the peer-to-peer sharing economy, including Brian Chesky, co‐founder of Airbnb, with James Bennet, editor‐in‐chief of The Atlantic, underscored the way that the Internet facilitates building trust and gaining credibility, allowing everyone to be an entepreneur, though concerns remain about regulations and fairness to incumbent regimes. UCLA's Donald Shoup joined Janette Sadik-Khan, principal at Bloomberg Partners, in surveying innovations in transport and parking, including variable pricing. Other topics included new forms of local manufacturing, promoting physical activity, farm-to-table and local food trends, innovation teams for city governments, big data, and aging in place.
The next stop is Detroit and the Meeting of the Minds, an annual convening of practitioners, civic leaders, and technology innovators with which the Lincoln Institute has been longstanding partners. The first day will include a conversation about incremental change and big plans in Legacy Cities, post-industrial areas struggling with population and jobs loss.