Strawberries and economic prosperity

Perishable, special, and local: The economics of unique and fleeting experiences

I pity you, dear reader.  You likely have no idea what a real strawberry tastes like. Unless you spend the three weeks around  the Summer Solstice in the shadow of this mountain, chances are you have never tasted a Hood strawberry.

Mt. Hood & Hood strawberries: The peak of Oregon & the peak of flavor (in peak season).

The Hood is a variety grown exclusively in the Northern Willamette Valley of Oregon, on family-owned farms scattered around the edges of Portland’s urban growth boundary.

The Hood is as different from an industrial strawberry as an heirloom tomato or a piccolo San Marzano is from their rubber factory-farm cousins.

You may not know, for example, that strawberries have juice.  They were meant to be a juicy fruit.  The industrial strawberry has been bred to be a fibrous, indestructible and indefinitely shelf-stable.

You may also not know that a real strawberry is monochromatic:  It is red, without a trace of white.  When you cut a Hood  strawberry open, and it is red through and through (and bleeding, in consequence of its wound).

How a Hood Strawberry differs from all others

The Hood is a fragile vessel for carrying strawberry juice.  It’s both delicate and perishable, taking about three days from being picked to dissolving. It can’t be shipped. You either get it at a farmer’s market, go to the farm and “U-pick” the berries yourself, or find one of a relative handful of markets who’ll stock the tender things. It’s one of the things–along with the ending of the rainy season, that marks the beginning of summer in Oregon.  And it’s just here for a few weeks: gone before the end of June. We’re not alone in our obsession: actual scientists say the same thing about the Hood.

The point here is not to brag on the Hood Strawberry (well, not entirely). The point is that in an increasingly globalized world, where often seems everything is the same everywhere, thanks to a combination of the World Wide Web, Starbucks, and Fedex, there are still some things that a distinct and different about every single place. These local goods (and services) things that you can’t get unless you’re there, and that you are simply unlikely to know anything about, absent local knowledge, are what make that place special. Ubiquity is over-rated. What matters isn’t the ubiquitous, the interchangeable, the digital. What makes things interesting and desirable is that they are special, and different and even transitory. If you’re not in the right place and the right time, you’ll not discover or enjoy them.

The growth of global scale commerce has diminished and obliterated many of the differences that characterized different regions and and cities.  As Economist Tibor Scitovsky observed in his book “The Joyless Economy,” mass production systematically reduced the variety of craft offerings available to consumers.  But some local distinctions still persist.  At City Observatory, we’ve documented how consumers prefer local restaurants to national chains, and shown that some cities have much higher concentrations of local businesses than others.

The local, the seasonal, the special, all give us value and produce joy.  A couple of years ago, on Twitter, Paul Krugman waxed poetic about fruit and economic theory.  Krugman is back from Europe, and thirsting for summer fruits coming into season. That led him to reflect on a fundamental flaw in economic logic, the notion that more choice is always better. The short, uncertain season for his mangoes and figs, makes them all the more valuable, not less so. He observes:

 . . . seasonal fruits — things that aren’t available all year round, at least in version you’d want to eat – have arrived. Mangoes! Fresh figs!  What makes them so great now is precisely the fact that you can’t get them most of the year. . . .The textbooks (mine included) tell you that more choice is always better. But a lot of things gain value precisely because they aren’t an option most of the time. I’d probably get tired of fresh figs and mangoes if I could get them all year round. But still, if you imagine that being rich enough to have anything you want, any time you want it, would make you happy, you’re almost surely wrong.

Krugman’s observation rings true.

Every city and every place has some special, idiosyncratic feature, it could be food, or music or plants or the smell of the forest after a rain. As Jane Jacobs observed:

“The greatest asset that a city can have is something that’s different from every other place.”

Maybe the thing we need to pay attention to in thinking about the global economy is not “the death of distance” but instead “the dearth of difference.” The more things and places and experiences become standardized, homogenized and universal, the less joy and stimulation we’re likely to get from them. I’m going to grab a handful of Hoods; I hope you’ll enjoy something fresh and local, too.

We are however somewhat less obsessed about strawberries than Humphrey Bogart.

Here’s Krugman’s full ode to seasonal fruit, from Twitter:

Look, the planet and the Republic are both in grave danger, possibly doomed. But it’s Friday night, I’ve just had a couple of glasses of wine, so I’m going to talk briefly about … fruit and economic theory.

OK, two pieces of background. I recently got back from almost a month in Europe, cycling and vacationing, and while it’s nice to not be living out of a suitcase, the adjustment back to reality is proving a bit harder than in the past, for a variety of reasons

The other piece of background is that I’m really into breakfast. I start almost every day with fairly brutal exercise – I’m 66 and fighting it; today that meant an hour-long run in the park. Breakfast, usually starting with yoghurt and fruit, is the reward.

So one of the best things about coming home is that some seasonal fruits — things that aren’t available all year round, at least in version you’d want to eat – have arrived. Mangoes! Fresh figs!

Are these fruits better than other fruits? Objectively, no. What makes them so great now is precisely the fact that you can’t get them most of the year. And that, of course, tells you that standard consumer choice theory is all wrong

The textbooks (mine included) tell you that more choice is always better. But a lot of things gain value precisely because they aren’t an option most of the time. I’d probably get tired of fresh figs and mangoes if I could get them all year round.

Does this have any policy implications? Probably not. What really really matters is being able to afford health care, decent housing, and good education; the things I’m talking about are trivial.

But still, if you imagine that being rich enough to have anything you want, any time you want it, would make you happy, you’re almost surely wrong. Limits are part of what makes life worth living. And the big question is, will those peaches be ripe by morning?

An 18 month delay for the IBR due to flawed traffic projections

The $7.5 billion Interstate Bridge Replacement Project (IBR) is likely delayed up to 18 months because of flawed traffic modeling.  The Oregon and Washington DOTs are in denial about the problem, but previously secret records obtained by City Observatory show ODOT and WSDOT have long known that traffic modeling needed to be fixed, and put off doing so, in an attempt to publish its long delayed Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement before Metro adopted a new Regional Transportation Plan (which would require new modeling).

  • The Issue: IBR’s traffic modeling is outdated and needs to be redone to satisfy the US Department of Transportation and also to comply with Metro’s recently adopted Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).
  • IBR Knew About the Risk: Internal documents show IBR was aware of this potential delay for years but hoped to avoid it by rushing the environmental review process.
  • Delays Confirmed: IBR now acknowledges the need to redo the modeling, causing delays of 6 to 18 months according to their own previously secret risk reports.
  • Downplaying the Problem: Despite the delays, ODOT officials downplay the issue, vaguely claiming that they are “On track to . . a good path to get this project underway.”
  • Transparency Concerns: IBR hasn’t released an updated project schedule reflecting the delays. The current schedule, from January 2024, is already outdated.
  • Potential Project Reassessment: The new modeling is likely to show lower traffic needs, potentially impacting the project’s justification, size, and environmental assessments.

For years, City Observatory and others have pointed out fundamental flaws in the IBR traffic modeling.  Models used by IBR systematically over-estimate both current and future levels of traffic on the I-5 bridge, painting a distorted picture of both the need for the project and its environmental effects.  In short, traffic modeling is not a mere technical detail, its the foundation of the entire project, from its “purpose and need” statement that assumes unrealistic rates of traffic growth, to its financial analysis that assumes that tolls will cover a significant portion of project costs, to its claims that the project won’t increase pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, or cause massive traffic diversion to I-205.  If IBR’s traffic modeling is wrong, the entire project rests on a flawed foundation.

IBR officials mis-state and conceal project delay in legislative testimony

At a June 10 hearing of the Joint Oregon and and Washington legislative committee charged with overseeing the project, Project Director Greg Johnson conceded that IBR was having to re-do the project’s traffic modeling because it over-estimated traffic and transit ridership:

The Federal Transit and Federal Highway Administration believes that some models across the country have been over predicting ridership, and we have to resolve that issue. And so that was the reason for the delay:

Johnson, prompted by the project’s Legislative cheerleader, Oregon Rep. Susan McLain, tried to downplay the significance of the delay

REP. MCLEAN: Okay, so this is normal stuff. We’re still on on . . .  basically we’re one or two months slowed down, but we’re still on line to get construction started in 2025 with all of the things that you’ve presented today, as far as getting our work done on our permits, etc, correct?

GREG JOHNSON: Yes, we are still on track to uhhh . . . we’re moving some things around, and you’ll see a presentation later about our proposed delivery process that we put forward to the industry to get input on. We are, we are on a good path to get this project underway.

Johnson’s reply is notable principally for its vagueness.  “On track to . . a good path to get this project underway.”

Secret documents show new projections will produce up to 18 months of delay

The project’s own detailed project schedule and  risk analysis reports–conspicuously not provided to the Legislative Committees by IBR–tell a very different story.  The risk analysis has been warning that the traffic modeling would likely need to be re-done for the past couple of years.  And now that risk has materialized

The IBR’s own quarterly risk update, which City Observatory obtained under public records law, shows that the project will be delayed by up to a year and a half in order to fix the problem with the traffic projections.  Risk #185, a need to change travel demand modeling, is featured prominently in the latest (April 2024) quarterly risk update.

Quarterly Risk Update, April 12, 2024, page 11

Let’s translate:  “the risk is currently being realized” means “this bad thing, which we hoped wouldn’t happen, is actually now happening.”  The “schedule impact range was increased” means, “we thought the need to redo modeling would add only 1-3 months to the time needed to complete the SDEIS, but now it will add at least 6 months and as much as 18 months.

The quarterly risk summary is a little obscure.  IBR’s “Risk Register” provides a bit more detail:

Risk #185: Changes to Travel Demand Modeling Parameters
Changes to current travel demand modeling parameters (2045 time period) or changes to model standard practices lead to a new model runs required; pre-ROD leads to delays. Land use changes in the program year may trigger additional analysis (i.e., Hayden Island).
Ensure that incorporation of travel analysis numbers is not required at the DSEIS.
Continue to track policy changes that may impact travel demand modeling requirements.
Plan for updated Metro RTP model in 2023.
Confirm with RTC on cross river land use and forecast.
If changes could result in delays, do not use them.

The language of the risk register is terse and bureaucratic, but the key facts are these.

  • IBR traffic modeling is based on the Metro Regional Travel Demand Model.
  • Metro adopted changes to its Regional Transportation Plan in November, 2023, and these changes involve significant changes to the model’s parameters (assumptions about future traffic growth).
  • IBR is having to re-do its traffic modeling to be consistent with the new Metro modeling structure.
  • IBR has known about this risk for a long time, and was hoping to avoid this by releasing the Draft SEIS before Metro adopted its new RTP.
  • IBR’s risk report now says this will add 6 to 18 months delay to the IBR project.

We currently don’t know how delayed the project is because IBR hasn’t completed a new project schedule since January.  That schedule claimed the Draft Supplemental EIS would be released in April.  No new schedule has been prepared since then to incorporate these changes.  As a result of these delays, the IBR is now at least two years behind the schedule it announced in December 2020, meaning that the environmental review process will have taken at least twice as long–four years, rather than the two years it claimed then.

IBR:  Already two years behind schedule, more delays coming

Anyone who looks closely at the meeting materials can see that IBR is already laying the groundwork for the bad news that the project is falling even further behind schedule.  Look at the schedule timeline:  Unlike previous schedules provided to the committee in earlier hearings, this one doesn’t show actual milestones, and years aren’t broken into quarters.  Its much more ambiguous about when anything will be actually done.  It shows the enviironmental work (a green line) extending through all of calendar 2024, and contrary to Rep. McLain’s statement, construction not starting until sometime in 2026.  And the entire chart comes with a “don’t believe any of this” disclaimer:  “Schedule will be updated as needed to reflect program changes a timeline.”  Translation:  We know this is wrong and its going to take longer than we’ve shown here.

For comparison, here is the schedule that IBR presented to the same committee three and a half years ago, in December 2020.  As you can see, although less colorful, the earlier schedule was more detailed (quarterly), more precise (with descriptions and milestones) and called for the draft SEIS to have been released by the end of 2022.

The delay is substantial–IBR’s own estimate is as much as 18 months.  It was anticipated and avoidable:  IBR knew that Metro’s RTP adoption would lead to important model changes that would affect the SDEIS.  Greg Johnson’s slippery statements “On track to uhhhh . . a good path to get this project underway” and IBR’s sweeping caveat “Schedule will be updated” show that they’re just trying to downplay the delays.

New traffic modeling could require major project changes

Finally, we have yet to see the new modeling work.  We can be virtually certain that it will be significantly different than what IBR has published so far:  if the differences were likely to be minor, the Federal Highway Administration would not have made an issue of the projections.  The new projections will show far lower levels of traffic using an I-5 bridge, meaning that the project’s purpose and need is wrong, its justification for a massive widening is wrong, and is assessments of environmental effects are wrong as well.  Lower traffic numbers will also reduce estimates of future toll revenue.  All this confirms points that City Observatory and other observers have been making for years:  this project is founded on exaggerated traffic projections.  The substance of the changes dictated by different–and lower–traffic projections, will likely lead to further delays.

Previously Secret Documents, IBR withheld from Legislative Oversight Committee

Because they were not made  public record by the IBR team at the June 10, 2024, Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Oversight Committee meeting, City Observatory provided these documents for the official record, and is also posting them here for the public to see.

Quarterly Risk Update


Project Schedule

2023-04 REQUEST FULL schedule

Grading the City Clean Energy Scorecard

A new scorecard tries to measure how cities are promoting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gases—a laudable goal. But the scorecard has some serious limitations.

This scorecard emphasizes policies and process over measurable progress—only 6 of a possible 250 points are tied directly to lowering greenhouse gas emissions

Scores and rankings can help motivate action, but are only useful if they matter for reducing greenhouse gases and energy use

Relying on self-reported emissions data fails to hold cities accountable and undermines the validity of the scorecard

This scorecard didn’t obtain independent data on city level energy use or emissions

Available independent data shows most cities are doing far worse in reducing transportation emissions than claimed in their scorecard reporting.

The scorecard under-emphasizes transportation, the largest and fastest growing source of GHGs, and the one most amenable to local action 

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)has just released its seventh scorecard ranking the nation’s largest cities on their clean energy efforts.  In many was this is a prodigious and comprehensive report, cataloging dozens of different local policies in evaluating what cities have done to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases.

The authors of the 2024 City Clean Energy Scorecard describe it as:

. . the go-to resource for tracking clean energy plans, policies, and progress in large cities across the United States. It compiles information on local policies and actions to advance energy efficiency, and decarbonization more broadly, comparing 75 large cities across all energy sectors. It also assesses cities’ focus on equity, policy performance, and smart growth across these sectors. The scores we report identify high-achieving cities and those with significant room to strengthen their policy efforts. Our focus on policies and programs also makes the Scorecard a road map for local governments aiming to scale up their clean energy initiatives in pursuit of their climate change mitigation goals.

Comparing different cities and their policies, promoting learning and friendly competition, and providing accountability can all be furthered by this kind of a scorecard.  Despite the breadth of data, the Clean Energy Scorecard has crucial flaws that limits its usefulness.

While it serves as a useful directory of policies, the report falls short as a true “scorecard” of which cities are making measurable progress on using less energy and generating fewer greenhouse gases.  The report’s scoring methodology weights box-ticking policies and processes above actually measurably reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Of the 250 points the scorecard’s rubric allocates towards a city’s rating, just nine points are driven by measured progress in reducing greenhouse gases and energy use.



Too little emphasis on ultimate outcomes

Ultimately, the objective of clean energy policies is to reduce pollution, particularly greenhouse gases.  But this scorecard presents precious little information on how much progress cities are actually achieving in reducing pollution.  Only two indicators representing 9 of the 250 points reflect actual direct progress in reducing either greenhouse gases or vehicle miles traveled.

  • Community-wide climate goal progress. – 6 pts
  • Progress achieved toward VMT/GHG goal – 3 pts

Here’s ACEEE’s diagram showing the scope of its metrics.  We’ve added two black squares to show the relative weight for climate goal progress and VMT/GHG progress.

In contrast, the index is replete with points for equity.  According to its own tabulation, there are 35 different equity measures, collectively worth up to 84.5 points.  There’s nothing wrong with an index that measures equity, but it’s not really a climate or energy efficiency index.  And the fact that this index is so weighted toward vague and procedural measures with at best a loose and indirect connection to reducing energy use or greenhouse gases, and gives almost no weight at all to actual progress on ultimate outcomes, speaks volumes.  This is like trying to score a soccer game by giving a combined 241 points for saves, passes, shots, corner-kicks, throw-ins, off-sides, tackles, fouls, team age and demographics, average height, distance run, years of experience, sustainabililty of team jerseys and coach’s multilingualism, and 9 points for the number of goals a team scored.

This is comprehensive and data rich, and but ultimately tells us nothing about whether anyone is actually making any progress.  It’s a kind of box-ticking and merit-badge approach to policy that fails to ask the fundamental question as to whether any of this is working.  The inclusion of all of these multiplicity of policy measures amounts to, as the lawyers would say, “assuming facts not in evidence”—specifically the assumption that the listed policies are individually or collectively necessary and sufficient to achieve these desired ends.

In addition, the failure to emphasize outcomes (lower greenhouse gases) and to not systematically link this wealth of policy and process information to variations in performance is a huge missed opportunity.  What are the policies and processes that the most successful cities employed in reducing their emissions?  In theory, the information marshaled in this scoreboard should provide a compelling narrative about how one goes about making serious progress on outcomes.  Instead, it is merely a catalog of policies.

In addition to putting very little weight on actual performance, cities can get credit even if they adopt relatively feeble goals and even if they make only partial progress toward achieving them.  The scoring rubric for greenhouse gas emissions gives cities  more points for setting a  goal, than for actual progress.  A city get full points for progress even if your projections show you will fall as much as 25 percent below achieving your stated goal, and you get maximum progress points regardless of how stringent or aggressive your goal actually is.


A close look at the transportation metrics

In our view, any such scorecard  ought to place more emphasis on transportation emissions.  Only 70 of 250 points in the scoreboard are awarded based on transportation policies. Nationally, and in most cities,  transportation is now the largest source of greenhouse gases.  Transportation emissions are growing faster than other sectors (like electricity generation and building efficiency) where we are actually making substantial progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Transportation is also the policy arena most in the control of cities, which through land use policies and transportation investments can either reduce driving and associated pollution, or perpetuate and expand energy-inefficient car-dependent development patterns.

Given that transportation is the major contributor to energy inefficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, it is shocking how few plans set goals or track energy use and emissions from driving.  The report makes this clear:  Fewer than half of the 75 cities covered in the report have a separate goal of reducing VMT or transportation GHGs; of those only eight provided measurable data on progress in their plans.

GHG emissions from transportation sources occupy a large and growing share of overall city emissions. To address this, cities are adopting transportation-specific emissions or VMT reduction goals. These goals are good indicators that cities are prioritizing emissions reductions and energy savings in their transportation activities. Seventy-one cities have adopted sustainable transportation plans, but only 31 have a VMT or GHG goal associated with those plans. City transportation GHG emissions data are still lacking, and there is an even greater dearth of VMT data. Nine [sic] cities in the Scorecard have the necessary data to calculate progress toward their transportation goals. However, only San Diego is on track to meet its goal. Figure 15 illustrates how these cities are performing, on a per capita basis, in their efforts to meet their transportation-specific GHG emissions or VMT reduction goals. (Page 49)

At best, this is mixed progress:  City reports suggest only one city (San Diego) claims it is exceeding its (modest) reduction target, three cities claim to be reducing GHG or VMT (though more slowly than targeted), and the remaining four are going in the wrong direction.  But it’s important to keep in mind that these data on progress appear to be self-reported information provided by the participating cities.  The report doesn’t make clear that the “actual annual reduction” shown for the handful of cities with such data is reliable, consistent or independently verified.

The self-reported IEEE performance scores exaggerate city progress

The limited sources of data we do have on GHG that are estimated consistently on a national basis suggest that all but one of these regions has likely made much less progress than shown here.  Using data from the nationwide DARTE database of transportation greenhouse gas emissions, we’ve calculated the average annual rate of change of transportation GHGs for the latest 5 years for which data are available for the county corresponding most closely to each listed city; the red rectangles on this chart (added by City Observatory) show the DARTE estimates for each city.


With the exception of Boston (where DARTE reports a decline in annual per capita emissions averaging 1.3 percent per year between 2012 and 2017), every one of these cities recorded an increase in transportation greenhouse gases.  That’s seven of the eight cities, not merely failing to make adequate progress to achieve their goals (which call for a 1-2 percent per year decline in transportation GHGs), but shows that they are actually going in the wrong direction at a rapid clip (with transportation GHGs increasing by 2-3 percent per year for most cities).  To be sure, there are important caveats in trying to validate the IEEE figures against those from DARTE:  the IEEE report doesn’t specify the time period of different city reports, or their scope of their data, or even whether the city measures VMT or GHG.

City reports don’t square with state data

The information reported for the one self-reported standout (San Diego), doesn’t square with data compiled by the California’s Air Resources Board.  CEEE claims that San Diego had a goal of reducing transportation GHG/VMT by about 0.2 percent per year and actually achieved reductions of more than 2 percent per year.  The Air Resources Board, which tracks both VMT and GHG for all California counties reports that San Diego achieved a total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per capita of about 3 percent between 2005 and 2019, compared to a legislatively adopted goal for San Diego of a 15 percent reduction by 2020. On an annual basis, San Diego reduced emissions about .21 percent per year, compared with a goal of reducing emissions about 1 percent per year.

Our own experience with city governments self-reported progress on emissions gives us pause.  Portland’s city and regional governments both have climate plans, and ostensibly monitor progress.  But a careful review of their annual reports shows that that they overstate actual progress in emission reductions, and ignore or omit data sources that show the city and region are manifestly failing to reduce emissions.  There are strong institutional and political pressures for cities to emphasize the positive, and not admit that what they’re doing isn’t working.  That’s exactly the kind of problem that a scorecard should be designed to solve, but unfortunately, the IEEE Scoreboard repeats and amplifies the biases of self-reporting, rather than holding cities accountable.

The inconsistency between the progress reported by IEEE (from city self-reporting) and the arguably independent data from DARTE and ARB, underscores the importance of having any objective, consistent source of data for measuring outcomes.  It’s far from clear that the 75 cities in the IEEE sample measure energy use or greenhouse gases in the same way, and simply echoing their self-reported metrics fails to establish meaningful accountability.

The challenge of determining whether policies are actually working or even really exist

The biggest concern with the heavy weighting toward policy and process indicators is that they divert attention from the more important questions of whether the policies are actually working.  But ascertaining whether a given jurisdiction actually has an effective, impactful policy is also an opaque and judgmental process.  Even if a city has a particular policy on the books or purports to have an equitable planning process, how to researchers at ACEEE assess, validate and compare the efficacy of these policies?  The success of a policy hinges on implementation and follow through, and many promising policies go nowhere or are abandoned. For example, the .report credits Portland with a number of policies adopted as part of its 2015 Climate Action Plan, including a pledge to reduce per capita VMT by 30 percent:

The city’s Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2015, contains a goal to reduce VMT 30% from 2008 levels by 2030″. (Appendix page 167)

The trouble is that Portland’s Climate Action Plan was effectively superseded in 2020, and the 30 percent VMT reduction goal quietly abandoned. That’s a nuance that’s hard to discern from a distance, but is typical of the kind of problem one has in assessing policies.

What scorecards can’t do—and what they should do

There’s a kind of think tank/policy shop logic behind scorecards and rankings.  The thinking is that reports like this bolster the confidence of San Francisco and a few other leading cities, and to shame low performing ones. You hope some newly elected Mayor tells their staff to starting doing things on this list to raise their city’s ranking. But, high performing cities may simply use their high performance to burnish their image and rest on their laurels, while the bottom ranking cities really don’t care and won’t be shamed by this. Attorneys General from nearly two dozen red states have filed suit to block a USDOT requirement that state transportation agencies simply report on their greenhouse gas footprint.
Given that this is the seventh iteration of the IEEE Scorecard, it seems like the authors have missed an opportunity to use the data they’ve compiled to assess what works.  If we know what cities were doing a decade ago, and whether (and how much) they’ve improved their performance on outcome measures (especially reducing greenhouse gas emissions), the IEEE would be in a good position to identify the policies and processes that seem to make the greatest impact. Similarly, the IEEE could identify the cities that have achieved the biggest improvements in actual performance, and looked to see what common ingredients propelled their success.  Instead, there appears to be little attempt to use outcome data to validate the efficacy of individual measures, and the lengthy list of policies doesn’t provide any sense of priorities or strategic focus to cities that want to learn from others.
To be credible and useful, scorecards like this one need to put measurable progress on objective, important outcomes—specifically reducing greenhouse gases—over a litany of policy checklists and process metrics.  And rather than rely on self-reported, scattershot measures of progress that vary from city to city, measure progress against a common benchmark from independent validated data.  Groups like CEEE ought to be front and center in pushing for metrics like the DARTE database, which provides detailed, nationally consistent measures of transportation greenhouse gas emissions. Tragically, the federal government hasn’t produced a new version of the DARTE database which of transportation GHGs since 2017—the real data shortage is tracking how we’re doing on transportation. Ultimately, scorecards should allow cities to claim progress based on good intentions rather than actual results.  We wouldn’t allow localities to claim air quality conformity or progress if they weren’t monitoring ambient air quality—but we aren’t even tracking geographically detailed transportation GHGs anymore.
Samarripas Stefen, Alex Jarrah, Emma Runge, Carolin Tolentino, Christi Nakajima, Diana Morales, Ian Becker, Shruti Vaidyanathan, Jennifer Amann, Carmen Wagner, Ana Boyd, and William Sachson. 2024. The 2024 City Clean Energy Scorecard. Washington, DC: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Inventing a “commitment” to freeway cost overruns

How ODOT is trying to re-write history to create a commitment to freeway cost overruns.

The 2017 Legislature authorized zero funding for the I-205 Bridge project

In 2024, ODOT now falsely claims that the I-205 project was a “commitment” of the 2017 Legislature

The original HB 2017 only directed ODOT to produce a “cost to complete” study by 2018,

ODOT”s “Cost to Complete study said the Abernethy Bridge would cost $250 million—its price has now tripled to $750 million

ODOT falsely claims it can’t spend money on preservation and maintenance because of these imaginary “commitments” to freeway expansion.

As George Orwell wrote in 1984, those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.

“The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”

In true Orwellian fashion, ODOT is shamelessly re-writing legislative history, manufacturing a supposed funding “commitment” to a massive highway expansion project that was specifically left out of that 2017 legislation.

The Oregon Legislature’s joint transportation committee is holding a “roadshow” a series of statewide hearings to drum up support for a 2025 transportation spending package.  It’s given most of the time on the agenda over to the Oregon Department of Transportation to frame the issue.  And ODOT has done so in the most misleading and inaccurate way.

ODOT, of course, presents this almost entirely as a revenue problem—ODOT simply hasn’t been given enough money—notwithstanding the massive transportation funding bill passed by the Legislature less than seven years ago.  The agency says that it is merely following through on the “commitments” made in HB 2017, passed in 2017.  Here’s the slide from its June 4, 2024 presentation

ODOT falsely describes I-205 as a “HB 2017 Commitment”

Seven years ago, in 2017, the Oregon Legislature passed a major transportation bill, HB 2017, which included modest funding for one interstate highway expansion project ($450 million for the I-5 Rose Quarter widening), and no funding at all for a second project, reconstructing part of I-205 (widening the existing I-205 Abernethy Bridge, in one phase, and then widening a five mile stretch of highway in a second phase).

The law adopted by the 2017 Legislature (Chapter 750 Oregon Laws, 2017) contained no funding for the I-205 project. The Legislation mentions the I-205 project, but only instructing the Oregon Department of Transportation to come up with a cost-estimate for the project.

The Legislature didn’t appropriate any money for the actual construction of the project.   Instead, the Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee added a “budget note”—a kind of non-binding advice—directing the Oregon Department of Transportation to explore using congestion pricing funds to pay for I-205 in the future.  In essence, the Legislature said, if and when we toll I-205 we might use toll revenues to pay for the project.

A budget note doesn’t have the force of law, and only applies in the two-year biennium for which the budget was adopted; this budget note expired on June 30, 2019.  This fact is acknowledged by ODOT:

Upon passage of HB 2017, the legislature included a “budget note” directing ODOT to dedicate value pricing revenue for funding congestion relief efforts along I-205, particularly the I-205 Stafford Road to Abernethy Bridge projects. The note attached to ODOT’s 2017-2019 budget was in effect through the
duration of the budgetary biennium, which ended June 30, 2019. Beyond the period of time covered by the budget note, the Oregon Transportation Commission will set policy for where revenue from value pricing should be directed, subject to further direction from the Legislature.
(Emphasis added)

ODOT excels at playing three-card monte with its budget, “finding” money for projects it wants to build, and while slashing spending on basic operations and preservation.  In 2018, after the Legislature provided no funding for the I-205 Abernethy Bridge project, ODOT suddenly “found” more than $50 million in “savings”, “unanticipated revenues” and “unexpended funds” with which to launch the unfunded bridge project.  And it also assumed that someday, somehow, it would have funds from the future (and as yet unimplemented Regional Mobility Pricing Program to pay for the bridge.

As we’ve already chronicled at City Observatory, ODOT’s cost to complete report claimed that widening the I-205 Abernethy Bridge would cost about $250 million.  That price tag has ballooned, first to $495 million in 2021, and then to $622 million, with current estimates now conceding the project would cost $750 million.

As we warned when the Legislature was originally considering HB 2017 seven years ago, the Oregon Department of Transportation was pursuing a “driving stakes and selling bonds” strategy, copied from Robert Moses:  doing anything to get a project started, including low-balling cost estimates, and then coming back to the Legislature in later years, regardless of cost increases and revenue shortfalls, and insisting on being given more money.

Now the agency is busily re-writing history.  It’s saying the 2017 Legislature “committed” to the Abernethy Bridge project and widening I-205, when it only authorized ODOT to prepare a cost estimate—a cost estimate that ODOT understated by a factor of three.  And congestion pricing–the source of funding ODOT used to rationalize issuing bonds, go into debt and divert funding from other projects—evaporated when Governor Tina Kotek pulled the plug on the Regional Mobility Pricing Program.  So in reality, there never was any kind of financial commitment to the I-205 Abernethy Bridge project.

In short, the I-205 Abernethy Bridge project, never authorized in the HB 2017 Legislation, has effectively consumed $750 million (and with interest, even more) of the resources available to ODOT.  That’s money that isn’t available for preservation and maintenance of roads.  ODOT is, once again, playing a kind of financial shell game with funding, claiming that projects it chose to advance without funding represent “commitments.”


The Week Observed, June 28, 2024

What City Observatory Did This Week

Unique Local Experiences: The Hidden Value in Urban Economies. An often-overlooked aspect of urban economics: the value of unique, local, and seasonal experiences. We take as an example the case of Hood strawberries in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, we explore how scarcity and locality can enhance economic and cultural value in cities.

  • Localized products: Hood strawberries, available for only three weeks annually near Portland, exemplify how geography and seasonality create distinct local offerings.
  • Quality over standardization: Unlike mass-produced varieties, Hood strawberries prioritize flavor and quality over shelf-stability, highlighting a consumer preference for authenticity.
  • Economic differentiation: These unique products contribute to a city’s distinct identity, potentially boosting local economies through tourism and specialized markets.
  • Consumer behavior: Economist Paul Krugman notes that scarcity can increase perceived value, challenging traditional economic models of consumer choice.
  • Urban diversity: Jane Jacobs’ assertion that a city’s greatest asset is its uniqueness is supported by the enduring appeal of local specialties.

Other data shows consumers increasingly prefer local restaurants to national chains, suggesting a growing market for unique, place-based experiences. This trend could inform urban planning and economic development strategies, emphasizing the cultivation of distinct local offerings to enhance city competitiveness and resident satisfaction.

Must Read

Where do people drive most?  Replica, a firm that uses mobile phone location data to plot travel patterns, has produced estimates of the number of vehicle miles traveled by the average person each of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas.  The results show which places are most car-dependent (and who consequently spend the most of transportation, and produce the most pollution.

According to Replica, New York is far and away the least car dependent Metro area, with average daily VMT of fewer than 15 miles per day.  At the other end of the spectrum, sprawling Raleigh, Birmingham, Jacksonville and Nashville drive more than twice as much, on average (over 35 miles daily).

A key factor in explaining which places drive the most is urban density.  The least dense places have the greatest amount of driving; the most dense places have the least driving.

Kudos to Replica for providing this detailed data with which to compare metro areas on this key metric, and to better understand the factors, like urban density, which determine patterns of driving.

Crime is declining.  Noah Smith has a review of a wide range of data that all point in the same direction:  Despite political rhetoric to the contrary, crime in the US is declining.  The numbers from FBI all point tin the same direction fro almost every kind of crime (motor vehicle theft being the sole exception.

As Smith points out, the FBI data is confirmed independently by several other sources. 

So we have six data sources, using six different methodologies, all telling us the same story about crime: the FBI, AH Datalytics, the Council on Criminal Justice, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Gun Violence Association, and the Center for Disease Control. All of them agree that murder peaked in 2021, and those that report other types of violent crimes agree that they also peaked in 2021.

The are many theories behind the increase (and now decrease) in crime rates in the past few years.  But the data clearly show that crime is now far lower than it was twenty or thirty years ago, and that despite an uptick in 2021, is clearly coing down.

Humans are poorly equipped to make good decisions about climate related issues.  Research published in Nature Climate Change shows that most of us lack a good understanding of how different actions influence climate change.  Climate change is complex, and we as humans tend to lack the detailed information to discern what is sustainable from what isn’t, and in addition we lack the cognitive skills to make sense of the problem.  These information and thinking problems cause us to mis-estimate which actions will be effective, whether we’re taling about personal consumption, investments or public policy.

To economists, this is a key reason  why carbon pricing is essential: consumers lack the time and inclination to deal with the cognitive burden of assessing which choice is greenest. They are very capable, adept and motivated to compare and react to prices.  Even when they are well motivated, and well-intended most of us will never have the information or skill to optimize our carbon footprint.  A set of prices that automatically and universally reflected back to everyone the consequences of their actions would lighted the load, and prompt much greater and more effective adaptation.



The Week Observed, June 21, 2024

What City Observatory Did This Week

Inventing a “commitment” to megaproject cost-overruns.  Oregon’s Department of Transportation is is trying to re-write history to create a commitment to unapproved freeway s and massive cost overruns. They’re using this fiction to argue that the state is somehow obligated to pay for expensive freeway expansions and can’t first fix the growing preservation and maintenance backlog on existing roads. The major transportation package passed by the 2017 Legislature authorized zero funding for the I-205 Abernethy Bridge project. In 2024, ODOT now falsely claims that the I-205 project was a “commitment” of the 2017 Legislature.  Actually, the original HB 2017 only directed ODOT to produce a “cost to complete” study by 2018.

A 2024 ODOT slide re-writing history to claim that the Legislature committed funding to I-205 in 2017.

Then, ODOT”s “Cost to Complete study said the Abernethy Bridge would cost $250 million—its price has now tripled to $750 million.  ODOT borrowed the money to get the Abernethy Bridge started, and now  falsely claims it can’t spend money on preservation and maintenance because of these imaginary “commitments” to freeway expansion.

Must Read

Congestion pricing:  Myriad benefits, but an affront to asphalt socialism.  Blogger Cap’n Transit has a good take on the imminent demise of congestion pricing in New York City that makes two key points.  The first is that most people would actually benefit from congestion pricing:  those who don’t drive would have fewer cars to cope with, faster buses, and a more pleasant urban environment.  Those who pay the congestion fee would get what the Brits call “value for money” a faster, less congested trip than they do today.  Cap’n Transit’s second point is that the virulent opposition to pricing is driven primarily by symbolism, and implicit rejection of a car-dependent lifestyle, which is anathema to many who are effectively addicted to car travel.  Anything that challenges subsidies to auto use and storage is an affront to this world of asphalt socialism:

For these drivers, the government raises them up through free parking, or at least cheap parking. Powerful government figures give them free parking on holidays, free parking on residential streets, in the suburbs, at their country houses. These patrons do what they can to keep the tolls cheap, gas prices cheap, and parking cheap when it isn’t free. They provide parking placards to hardworking civil servants and to people who do favors for them. And they look the other way when drivers double park, park on the sidewalk, go faster than the speed limit, and maybe even kill somebody once in a while.

Congestion pricing, like transit, accommodations for bikes and pedestrians and speed limits are all measures that symbolically challenge auto-dominance, and many who have bought into that world, can’t conceive of anything different, and reflexively oppose it.  The implied challenge to auto dependence is really fundamental to the congestion pricing debate.

California collision:  Climate Action or Wider Freeways?  The decision to move ahead with widening the I-80 freeway between Sacramento and Davis promises to become a major test case of California’s public policy:  Is the state serious about fighting climate change, or is it just going to be road-building and pollution as usual?  The Los Angeles Times has a story summarizing the battle over this freeway widening.

This is the project that has already prompted the firing of CalTrans Deputy Director Jeanie Ward-Waller, who called out the project’s illegal funding and evasion of environmental laws.  Despite approval from the California Transportation Commission, the project is facing a legal challenge for its flawed environmental analysis.  CalTrans persists in repeating the discredited theory that by relieving congestion and making cars go faster, wider roads will reduce pollution.  The science is to the contrary:  wider roads induce more travel, increasing pollution.  A court will likely have to rule on this case.  As UC Davis professor Susan Handy says:

“These projects are being oversold to the public as a way to reduce congestion; they are not;  a court decision is going to be very important.”

This case—Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resoruces Defense Council and Planning and Conservation League v. CalTrans—could be a landmark.  We’ll be watching.

Speed cameras work.  Speeding is one of the leading causes of traffic crashes and also worsens the severity of those crashes that do occur.  Human enforcement is costly, inadequate and often biased.  That’s led many cities to adopt speed cameras to automatically ticket drivers exceeding posted speed limits (usually by a generous margin, 10 mph or more over the limit).  The cameras are reviled by drivers who speed, but the evidence from Washington, DC is that speed cameras work.

As the Washington Post reports, the city, which has 477 cameras, finds that there’s been a sharp decline in the number of tickets issued–because fewer drivers are exceeding posted speed limits.  The city’s data shows that 70 percent of those who’ve gotten camera-issued speeding tickets haven’t gotten a second ticket, indicating that driver’s learn and respond to incentives.  As long as speed limits aren’t enforced, they won’t be obeyed.

New Knowledge

Climate change is driving up homeowners insurance costs.  There’s been a sharp rise in homeowners insurance costs in the past decade, principally driven by an increase in losses due to climate related events, like wildfires and hurricanes.  A new National Bureau of Economic Research study looks at the growth in insurance costs and their distribution across the nation.

Since 2014, average homeowner property insurance costs have increased by almost 40 percent from a about $1,750 per year to roughly $2,500 per year.

While national average premiums have risen, the highest homeowner property insurance premiums are in those parts of the country with high vulnerability to climate-related losses.

 The map shows a clear gradient in insurance costs, with higher insurance burdens in the riskiest coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast, as well as high premiums (over $3,000 or more) through tornado- and flood-exposed regions of the Great Plains, eastern Colorado, Oklahoma, and North Texas.

While the study shows that climate change is a major factor behind rising property insurance costs, particularly in the hurricane and wildfire prone areas, the likely scale of and incidence of the increases casts doubt on popular theories of how these rising costs will propel migration.  The expected increase in property insurance costs over the next three decades in the very most climate change sensitive areas is predicted to be only about $60 per month.

. . . we estimate that the top 5% of climate risk exposed homeowners would see increased premiums by 2053 of $700 per policyholder under a conservative climate change estimate. This estimate should be considered a lower bound, as it assumes that reinsurance frictions do not get worse, that insurers continue to offer policies in risky areas, that regulations continue to cross-subsidize risks within and across states, and does not account for climate impacts on disaster risks besides hurricanes and wildfires.

An annual increase in costs of $700 per year in the most vulnerable locations, while painful, seems unlikely to trigger mass migration.

Benjamin J. Keys & Philip Mulder, PROPERTY INSURANCE AND DISASTER RISK: NEW EVIDENCE FROM MORTGAGE ESCROW DATA, National Bureau of Economic Research,



The Week Observed, June 14, 2024

What City Observatory Did This Week

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) project is facing significant delays of up to 18 months. The culprit? Flawed traffic modeling that overestimates future traffic use.

City Observatory and others have long  pointed up flaws in IBR’s traffic modeling, arguing it overestimates traffic growth and paints an inaccurate picture of project needs and environmental impacts.  This week, IBR officials admitted that the federal government is demanding that they re-do the traffic projections–but what they haven’t acknowledged publicly is that this will delay the project for a year or more:

  • The Issue: IBR’s traffic modeling is outdated and needs to be redone to satisfy the US Department of Transportation and also to comply with Metro’s recently adopted Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).
  • IBR Knew About the Risk: Internal documents show IBR was aware of this potential delay for years but hoped to avoid it by rushing the environmental review process.
  • Delays Confirmed: IBR now acknowledges the need to redo the modeling, causing delays of 6 to 18 months according to their own previously secret risk reports.
  • Downplaying the Problem: Despite the delays, ODOT officials downplay the issue, vaguely claiming that they are “On track to . . a good path to get this project underway.”
  • Transparency Concerns: IBR hasn’t released an updated project schedule reflecting the delays. The current schedule, from January 2024, is already outdated.
  • Potential Project Reassessment: The new modeling is likely to show lower traffic needs, potentially impacting the project’s justification, size, and environmental assessments.

The “schedule” that IBR provided the the Legislature on June 10 is a paragon of obfuscation:  it has deleted the previously quarterly timetable presented in earlier presentations, struck out any specific milestones (like issuing the draft environmental statement or starting construction), and put in a caveat that nullifies all of the supposed information in the chart (in essence saying the schedule will be changed as the schedule changes)

This massive project is over budget and behind schedule, and will certainly become moreso in the next few months, even as its staff and consultants flail to conceal these facts.

Must Read

Can Governor Hochul legally “pause” New York’s congestion pricing program?  There’s been a firestorm of reaction to Governor Kathy Hochul’s unilateral declaration that the congestion pricing program scheduled to take effect in Manhattan on June 30 would be suspended.  This is a vastly consequential decision, not just for New York, but for urbanism nationally.  Congestion pricing in the Big Apple would be a watershed demonstration of the efficacy of this powerful tool to dramatically change urban transportation for the better. Law professor Rick Hills concludes that the New York Governor actually doesn’t have the authority to abort the program.  His detailed legal analysis concludes that “the state congestion pricing statute deliberately carved the governor out of any role in implementing the congestion pricing system.”  That has led the Governor to lean on an implied opportunity to veto the program under federal rules.  Hills argues that this is a legally flawed and dangerous argument:

Hochul’s use of this alleged power — a power to withhold a signature from a document that has already been approved by every statutorily specified stakeholder and that no written law says is even legally necessary—is just more democracy-killing vetocracy at its intergovernmental worst.

Much is riding on the fate of congestion pricing.  Advocates are planning to challenge Hochul in court.  We should know the outcome in the next few weeks.  Stay tuned.

The title Wes Marshall’s new book, “Killed by a traffic engineer” leaves no doubt about the author’s message.  Marshall documents the profound biases and superficial education and scholarship of the engineers we’ve empowered to make crucial decisions about road safety.  The book is a must read, as is Todd Litman’s Planetizen book review.  Litman amasses an array of statistics that relentlessly buttress Marshall’s case.  Highway engineers have concocted “per mile traveled” safety measures that inherently downplay the biggest single risk factor of the transportation system:  how much we drive.  As Litman summarizes:

This is a key point in Marshall’s book: conventional transportation engineering often evaluates traffic risk using distance-based metrics such as collisions, casualties, or deaths per 100 million vehicle-miles or million vehicle-trips. Such indicators ignore exposure as a risk factor and so fail to recognize the additional crashes that result from planning decisions that increase per capita vehicle travel or the safety benefits of vehicle travel reductions.

Litman’s review lays out some great statistics making this essential point:  More driving produces more crashes, more injuries, more deaths.

If you’ve already read Marshall’s Killed by a traffic engineer, Litman’s review is a great dessert; if you haven’t read Marshall yet, it’s a great appetizer.  Either way, you’ll want to read both.

Rapping on traffic safety:  Our friend, engineer Buff Brown shows hidden depths in his rap on the common fallacies that underly much of engineering practice for traffic safety.  This can be a dry, technical subject, but Brown covers a lot of ground in an entertaining way.  Titled “The Barrier of the City Engineer, Brown recounts and refutes the excuses engineers routinely use for not making streets safer.

His video is a great corrective for those of us who have had to sit through one too many powerpoint presentations.  We’ll file this next to Paul Rippey’s folk song ‘The Ballad of Induced Demand.”  Give it a watch.

In the News

The Daily Journal of Commerce noted Joe Cortright’s testimony to the Joint Oregon-Washington legislative committee on the I-5 bridge, pointing out that the project is over budget, behind schedule and based on demonstrably flawed traffic projections.

The Portland Oregonian quoted Joe Cortright in its article on declining traffic levels across the Columbia River on I-5 and I-205. Traffic is down by 15,000 vehicles from pre-pandemic levels, and shows no signs of growing as fast as it did in th past–contradicting highway department projections that growth will accelerate.




The Week Observed, June 7, 2024

What City Observatory Did This Week

We grade the city clean energy scorecard.  A new scorecard tires to measure how cities are promoting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gases—a laudable goal. But the scorecard has some serious limitations.This scorecard emphasizes policies and process over measurable progress—only 6 of a possible 250 points are tied directly to lowering greenhouse gas emissions

Scores and rankings can help motivate action, but are only useful if they matter for reducing greenhouse gases and energy use. Relying on self-reported emissions data fails to hold cities accountable and undermines the validity of the scorecard.

This scorecard didn’t obtain independent data on city level energy use or emissionsAvailable independent data shows most cities are doing far worse in reducing transportation emissions than claimed in their scorecard reporting.City Observatory’s analysis of independent data on transportation emission trends shows that most cities dramatically overstated their progress–and rather than reducing emissions, transportation emission are increasing.


The scorecard under-emphasizes transportation, the largest and fastest growing source of GHGs, and the one most amenable to local action.  To be useful, scorecard need to do more than encourage box-ticking and process improvements; they need to hold cities accountable for verifiable reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Must Read

Is Colorado Ending Freeway Expansion.  Megan Kimble, author of City Limits, has a feature story in the New York Times highlighting Colorado’s policy of avoiding

After sustained lobbying from climate and environmental justice activists, the Transportation Commission of Colorado adopted a formal rule that makes the state transportation agency, along with Colorado’s five metropolitan planning organizations, demonstrate how new projects, including highways, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If they don’t, they could lose funding.  Within a year of the rule’s adoption in 2021, Colorado’s Department of Transportation had canceled two major highway expansions, including I-25, and shifted $100 million to transit projects.

In reality the policy is still more aspirational rather than controlling.  Colorado is still expanding many of its freeways.  As Kimble concedes:  “The emissions rule does not prevent highway expansions, and several are still being planned. ”

Cracking down on phony carbon credits.  One popular strategy for achieving “net zero” carbon emissions is for polluting firms to buy credits to offset their emissions, rather than actually reducing their emissions. The Guardian reports that an analysis by the Climate Accountability Institute shows that

. . . for 33 of the top 50 corporate buyers, more than a third of their entire offsets portfolio is “likely junk” – suggesting at least some claims about carbon neutrality and emission reductions have been exaggerated . . .

Reflecting these concerns, US Treasury Chair Janet Yellen notes that unlike conventional financial markets, the abstract and largely unverifiable nature of such credits is open to manipulation.

Unlike commodities like nickel or soybeans that may be physically delivered to the buyer for inspection and use, the emissions savings associated with a carbon credit are generally “delivered” to the atmosphere. This makes it more difficult to assess the quality of carbon credits—that is, whether they really are associated with emissions savings. In recent years, researchers and journalists have found that a number of projects have not delivered the quality or quantity of emissions savings they claimed.

Market mechanisms can be powerful tools for achieving social and environmental objectives, but so far, in the case of carbon credits, there’s been too much hucksterism and and too little transparency–we hope this will change.

New Knowledge

LGBT population by state.  The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has used data from the federal Governments Behaviorial Risk Factor Survey to estimate the share of the adult poupaltion that identifies as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender.  Overall the report estimates that about 5.5 percent of the nation’s adult population identifies as LBGT.

The report compiles data by state, illustrating the geographic variation in gender identity.

Andrew R. Flores and Kerith J. Conron, Adult LGBT Population in the United States, Williams Institute, School of Law, UCLA, December, 2023.