"Anti-Paris" Houston #1 and #4, commutes and transit, toll policy, school choice, poverty, and moreSorry for the late post this week. Busy, busy. Some smaller items to pass along:
- The Austin Contrarian is skeptical that higher gas prices will dramatically reshape cities, and he uses Houston as part of his case.
- MSNBC combines the results from 5 other "best places" lists and determines that Houston is the #4 best place to live in the U.S., and it's the highest rated large metro on the list (behind Raleigh, Boise, and Colorado Springs). San Antonio and Austin are #7 and 8, respectively.
Portland isn’t on the list...
Three of the cities are in Texas, two are in the Midwest, two in North Carolina, two in Colorado, and one in Idaho. None (except possibly Boise and Ft. Collins) have done much to attract the “creative class.” None (except possibly Ft. Collins) have done much “smart growth.”
Okay, these lists are pretty meaningless. But at least some reporters seem to have figured out that housing affordability, freedom, and mobility count for more than having streetcars and coffee shops in high-density apartment buildings.
- Texas is the #1 destination for people leaving CA. I've certainly noticed more of their license plates around lately.
- Loved this quote from a recent Chronicle front page story saying more people would move here if they could sell their current homes elsewhere in the country:
Some companies are facing the opposite problem: They can't get homeowners to leave Houston. Jamie Belinne, assistant dean of career services at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, said one high-tech recruiter recently complained that he's having trouble talking the newly minted graduates into moving to California.
They get sticker shock, said Belinne. In Houston, "you can still get a lot of house in a decent neighborhood for not very much money."
- Lisa Gray's column on Houston as the "anti-Paris." Maybe the Houston style will become known as the "Even Newer Urbanism"?... ;-)
- A local blogger points out some inconsistencies in the way Metro's blogger portrays rail transit spending vs. long commute times:
Atlanta has spent more than Dallas and Houston combined on rail transit. Both Dallas and Houston are larger cities. Yet the traffic in Atlanta is worse?Hat tip to Josh.
Maybe the reason the commuting situation in Houston is better (and about to get a LOT better) than places like Atlanta and Dallas is because we spent more on roads and freeways and good bus service to get commuters from home to work and less on cute trains to get a handful of people from Destination A to Destination B along a very narrow corridor. Just a guess.
And for those who think $4 gas will mean the end of suburbia and a renaissance of urban living for families, I have eight words for you: Commuters will just get more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Great Adjustment is already happening.
- Good toll policy decisions by the Texas Transportation Commission and TXDoT, with my personal favorite in bold:
The commission unanimously agreed that all Texas highways will be owned by the state, not private developers; that the state may buy back the interest of a private road developer; that only expansions to existing highways will be tolled and existing free lanes won't be reduced; and that "non-compete clauses" will be banned, meaning no state contract will limit improvements to nearby existing roads.
The order also calls for an attempt to minimize disturbing private property and to consider using existing rights of way for roads.
- Great quote from Brian, one of my favorite local libertarian bloggers:
So if school choice lowers the drop out rate, which I believe it does, then income inequality will decline. Interesting how a free market system accomplishes the goals of socialism better than socialism.
- And another one:
"If you are noticing any correlation to politics, so did I. Eight of the ten states that experienced the most rapid declines in poverty over the last 20 years voted for George Bush. Eight of the ten states with the worst increases or least declines over the last twenty years voted for John Kerry. How interesting that states tending to the right are better at reducing poverty than states tending to the left."More next week. Have a great weekend.
Given the popular stereotypes that Democrats are more focused on alleviating poverty than Republicans, this result is completely counter-intuitive. Would love to hear your thoughts on why in the comments.