Home affordability in real-life context, top rankings, tunnel costs, a Portlander disagrees, renewable energy in HoustonThe small items are piling up faster than ever this year:
- The 4th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey 2008 - Ratings for Major Urban Markets has been released, and Houston again scores extremely well, with a median house price to income multiple of 2.9, vs. 7 to 11 in much of CA and NYC (thanks to Hugh for the heads up). How's this excerpt for putting that in context?
"A household moving from San Jose to Austin would save more than $1,000,000 in purchase and mortgage costs for the median priced house. This is the equivalent of 17 years median household income in San Jose or 26 years in Austin. Moving to Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston or Indianapolis from San Jose would save more than $1,500,000, which is the equivalent of from 25 to 30 years of median household income in the less costly markets."
Wow. I don't know about you, but saving 25-30 years of income has an absolutely amazing impact on my quality of life... ;-)
In the footnotes, I also discovered that we're the second-fastest growing metro market over 5 million people in the high-income world, ahead of Atlanta and just behind DFW.
- Speaking of rankings, came across some new ones:
Houston ranks # 1, Job Growth, by: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Houston ranks # 1, Lowest Cost of Living and Least-Expensive Housing Among 24 Metropolitan Areas with Populations of More Than 2 Million, by: ACCRA Cost of Living Index
Houston ranks # 2, Texas -- Best Business Climate in the Nation, by: Site Selection
Not bad. Not bad at all.
- And even more rankings:
"Houston's exports jumped 28 percent to $53.3 billion in 2006, according to a new analysis of exporting data the U.S. Department of Commerce released Thursday.
The Bayou City maintained its ranking as the nation's second-biggest exporter, trailing the New York City region, which exported $66.2 billion in merchandise. Houston beat out Los Angeles, which exported $48.7 billion in 2006. ...
Free trade agreements with Mexico, Canada and Central America helped the city boost its exports, experts said."
- JetBlue recently launched a page on Houston, including a crew blog and best things to do. We're one of only five cities they've chosen to profile so far. A nice start, but the Downtown Aquarium is "Houston's Best Eat"??? As they note, it's beta, and they've clearly got some bugs to work out...
- Brian and Drudge gave me a heads up on a proposed 16-mile tunnel from Long Island to the mainland in NYC. $10 billion for 16 miles. I mention it because it's quite a bit higher (triple) than the cost estimate for an I-45 tunnel here. Is it because it's underwater? A little worrisome in relation to my previous support.
- Continuing the land-use regulation debate, hope you caught this recent op-ed letter in the Chronicle:
This Portlander disagrees
I was astonished to see a letter in Wednesday's Chronicle from an Oregonian who says he likes what has been done to Portland. (Please see "Concept of city planning / Portlander's opinion.") As a recovering Portlander who worked for the city in the early days of its "transformation," I watched heavy-handed zoning tactics and the urban growth boundary make that beautiful town unaffordable to all but the affluent and childless. Traffic congestion rivals New Delhi or Rome.
While living there, I watched "new urban" planners change Portland from a rock-solid blue- and white-collar city with strong family neighborhoods to a kind of urban Disneyworld for aging boomers who want a place to play while they sip their lattes. No cars in the city center, no industry along the river and lots of expensive condos.
My husband, a native Portlander descended from settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail and put down deep roots, sadly watches our Oregon grandchildren grow up outside his hometown. High housing prices and mediocre schools have driven families out of the city. Unemployment is always higher than the national average, and Portland taxes are astronomical. The money goes to light rail and the creation of neighborhoods with a "sense of place" where nobody wants to live. (nice quip!)
Except for the world-class roses, Portland, Ore., has little that Houston should want to replicate.
- Finally want to end on this random email I received. Good to see renewable energy initiatives congregating in Houston to diversify our energy base. More on extremely promising algae as renewable energy in this Chronicle article from late last year.
That's it for this week. Have a great Super Bowl weekend.National Algae Association
4747 Research Forest Dr., Suite 180
The Woodlands, Texas 77381
inquiries(at)nationalalgaeassociation.com (I converted to no-spam format to avoid the spam spiders)National Algae Association, The Woodlands, Texas
(February 1, 2008)Announces the opening of its new headquarters serving all areas of the Algae industry.Algae researchers and producers can come together to exchange ideas concerning the latest developments in Algae production and the products made from Algae. The Association provides an open exchange forum for the publishing of technical papers and the announcement of the results of research into the latest Algae related technologies. The Association also supports discussion and development of new markets that take advantage of the tremendous potential of Algae, not only as a source of renewable energy, but also in the exploration and development of other markets for algae products, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers.For more information contact: inquiries(at)nationalalgaeassociation.com or 936.321.1125