INTA represented on the US Pacific Coast
"INTA Goes West"

An urban and territorial revolution continues on the USA Pacific Coast and for sharing experience and expertise of our international network of cities’s practitioners, we have installed a representative office in Los Angeles, California. Christian Grusq, President of « Diplomacy and Sustainable Development » and as Director on INTA’s Board is the CEO.

To fix part of this revolution Christian Grusq recalls in the following text the mains highlights of West Coast urbanization.


Pacific Coast of the United States – an urban laboratory !

Beyond the Appalachians, it always seemed, from the first pioneers, that utopia, as the perfect happyness, was in the West. As elsewhere, we are in the century of cities, economy’s engine : urban life, not without difficulties, remains rich in economic and social opportunities. What about urban population’s happiness on US Pacific Coast ?

Areas of influence

USA could be understood through 3 main zones of influences: Eastern, Central and West, and with particularities on Southern states in the Gulf of Mexico, and on the border states with Canada.
The US West and Pacific Coast (almost 811.00 Mi2), concentrated in the four coastal states, California - Oregon - Washington and Alaska, 52 millions inhabitants ,in which, like all other regions, maximum are living in urban areas.
These four coastal states maintain relations of influence and economics interdependence with other states that makes American West, as Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and even Guam and Hawaii islands.
It's across this large area of ​​more than 72 million people we have to understand these areas and the problems related to their increasing urbanization

The promise of new sea routes to the West Coast

Still, and always on the West Coast, another revolution, born from climate change effects, with fairly similar players, is running in Alaska. Global warming is promising new sea routes and access to huge reserves of energy, hitherto inaccessibles, with necessary urbanization promises and creation of new business premises.

The increase in the urban population

The expected increase of 80 millions people across inside the entire US territory by 2050, 60 millions will be living in urban areas. From 2000 to 2010, US urban population had increase by over 12%, exceeding the overall national growth rate, that is only of 9.5% over the same period. After New York and before Chicago, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim region is the second most populous region, with over 12 millions inhabitants.
The newly urbanized land area increased by over 25% since 1996. This increase is particularly due to Los Angeles - San Diego megalopolis. And the latest driving region stretch from Portland to Seattle. Under the pressure of rapid urbanization, the rural-urban linkages find their importance, and it is mainly the states in the Northwest, Oregon and Washington, who experience the most advanced political mastery and accompanying urban sprawl and sustainable urban development.

The crisis of urban model

During the first third of the 20th century, the rise of the automobile pushes the middle class to leave urban areas, a phenomenon accentuated during the 1950s, with the appearance of motorway networks. This ever increasing urban sprawl will gradually ruin downtowns weakening local fiscal resources and leading municipalities in the 1970s to engage in neighborhood renewal to attract new residents.
Thus US cities will restructure around the centers vested in the trade and service sector, as a very recognizable vertical urbanism, « downtowns » or « Central Business Districts (CBD) ». Then the town will grow in successive layers around this center, with intermediate deprived areas, shared more or less successful industries, ghettos and habitats for middle class and the « suburbs ».
The « suburbs », spread mainly suburban cities, have become the main landscape of American cities, where small shopping centers, service facilities, small industrial areas, developed on acres in absence of any recognizable center. Rural areas, already hard hit by the suburbs phenomenon, have also been progressively urbanized as and when planning highways. Thus were formed the « edges cities », on urban cores outskirts of cities.

The awareness of the difficulties of the model

The crisis of this urban model is inside the difficulty to arrange a vast and sparse territory, with less tax revenue in the centers and the impoverishment of the central districts. The urbanized parts began to suffer from a lack of equipment and substantial pollution due to the necessary use of the automobile. The saturation of access roads to the major road network has joined the environmental issues, especially those related to water and air quality. This phenomenon has worsened with the development of city networks forming a megapolitain together, as between San Diego to San Francisco via Los Angeles.

The new priority Environmental Planning

The United States give priority to the development of more sustainable and inclusive communities aware that they directly contribute to strengthening the economy to sustainable prosperity, while using more efficient energy and protecting natural environment and health.
The coordination of policies aimed to improve transportation choices, quality of air and water, clean energy supply, public health and increase climate resilience. Sustainable development is a key principle that must articulate discussion on environmental planning in urban areas and must succeed in reconciling :
That a city has its own metabolism, by wich it absorbs the necessary ingredients to its existence and purge itself of which is harmful to it,
Therefore, that natural areas conservation is important, especially in sensitive areas and with high ecological value.

The birth of new governance linked to the digital economy

Today, all major players in the digital economy (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) are the ones that are currently developing new urban concepts to streamline costs, protect the environment, etc.
Economically, those companies have financial resources that seem limitless as they are experiencing much higher growth than many countries themselves over the world.
More effective also because they have knowledge at every moment of our precise location, what we are doing, how we consume, and those transnational companies seem to be the only ones that can provide concrete answers to our questions on improving our life  framework.
Moreover, they are the only economics actors seeking to urbanize areas for innovation, with total freedom of action, whether airports or floating platforms in international waters.
They are already, in fact, the city of the future key players, attracting talents of the new « creative class » new gold and new blood that future cities will compete.

Political developments in connection with the "uberisation" of society

In the spirit of these global companies, this must be understood as « political projects » to reorganize the governance of cities and, by extension, to rethink the political and economic powers. The question now arises here is whether « uberisation » the city built as a new form of citizen « crowdfunding » enable everyone to participate in the development where they live. Topics as challenges are multiples.
And it is on this area of ​​the United States, the West Coast, which focuses this revolution.

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