Jake's blog

Let's talk about why American mass transit sucks so much compared to Europe.

Let's talk about why American mass transit sucks so much compared to Europe.

Bottom line, up front: Europe puts more stuff near their train stations, Europeans spend their transit money better, and Europeans didn't demolish their cities to build freeways. To illustrate, I'm going to go compare suburban Millbrae, 15 miles from downtown San Francisco, with suburban Alcala de Henares, 17 miles from the center of Madrid. Let's hop in my teleporter.Reason No. 1: Europe puts more housing and jobs near train stations.We're going to start with the familiar part, since I assume most of my readers are from North America. Stop 1 on the teleporter is Millbrae, California. On the west side...

Read more →


Political detour: Kathryn Garcia for New York City Mayor.

Political detour: Kathryn Garcia for New York City Mayor.

Bottom line, up front: I'm voting for Kathryn Garcia, second choice Andrew Yang, third choice Maya Wiley. (You get to list your choices - early voting starts Saturday.) Background: NYC's primary election for mayor is June 22 and the Democratic primary is going to determine who takes over Gracie Mansion. The city Republican Party has shriveled so much that they're a nonfactor - they would rather kvetch than win. In any case, the Republican candidates are worthless. One's a carpetbagger who actually lives in the Westchester County suburbs, i.e., not in New York City; the other is a crank who...

Read more →


Let's talk about how California is finally holding cities accountable for not building housing.

Let's talk about how California is finally holding cities accountable for not building housing.

BOTTOM LINE, UP FRONT: The State of California's new quota system gives the State leverage to force city governments allow more housing, and the State is starting to push. This is good, and it is long overdue. As you all know, we're in a housing crisis. The root of the problem is that the most desirable places in greater Los Angeles and the Bay Area haven't grown in decades. Places like Beverly Hills and Piedmont make it incredibly hard or flat-out illegal to build more homes. This process is pretty straightforward - educated professionals get priced out of places like...

Read more →


Let's talk about why public services suck even in rich suburbs.

Let's talk about why public services suck even in rich suburbs.

A lot of you live in objectively wealthy suburbs where public services still seem to suck. Burbank. Davis. Cupertino. Long Island. Sounds dumb if you think about it, right? Because the whole reason people move to the 'burbs and pay all those taxes is so they don't have to put up with budget cuts, school closures, poorly-paved roads, and stuff like that. We'll discuss why your local government always seems to be broke, even if you live in one of the wealthiest areas in the country. Bottom line, up front: Suburbs are so inefficient with land that it's much harder...

Read more →


I'm disappointed in my hometown.

I'm disappointed in my hometown.

I was partly raised in San Francisco, and partly in Davis, California, a college town which calls itself the Bicycle Capital of the World, about an hour and a half northeast of San Francisco.  This is going to be a shade more personal than most of my posts, since my hometown is determined to price out all the kids who graduated from Davis High School, or studied at UC Davis. Introduction The State has a bunch of new laws to end the housing crisis which require each region to plan for and build a ton of new housing between 2021...

Read more →