Houston's next hot neighborhoods, identify your dialect, Ashby disaster, rail shopping, and more
Just a few smaller misc this holiday week. Probably will skip posting next week and see you again in the new year, where I'll be hitting the big milestone of my 1,000th blog post in January! (this one is 997)
- I agree with the Chronicle: the Ashby ruling is a disaster. If every neighborhood that is slightly nuisanced by a development has grounding to sue, then development predictability goes out the window and we end up with chaos, gridlock, and rising unaffordability as supply gets further constrained. This has to be overturned on appeal. Development is regulated by the City - once permits are in place, a developer has to know they have the right to proceed. People need to clearly understand: if safe predictable conformity is important to you, then make sure you buy in a deed restricted community. If you choose not to, then you take your risk. You have no right to buy next to unrestricted land and then complain when the owner does what he has every right to do with that land.
- Joel Kotkin shows how 20-somethings do prefer urban living (and Houston is doing ok there), but after 35 they prefer affordable, family suburban living, where Houston really shines and big youth magnet cities start to lose out: NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA, SV. Where Working Age Americans Are Moving
- The Wall Street Journal on how to identify the next hot neighborhood. I'm very interested in reader opinions in the comments on where they think this is happening in Houston. 10-15 years ago you might have said Montrose, Midtown, and Rice Military/Washington Ave. Now, obviously around the Heights and Garden Oaks, but maybe even further east near the new North rail line? EaDo and the East End? Downtown itself? Thoughts?
- OK, this Chronicle article on the new METRO North rail line had an excerpt that made me do a double take:
"Procell points out that while there are many small strip shops along the Red Line, Northline Commons will be the only major retail center on any of the rail lines (current or coming). He said he foresees a day when a downtown worker will use the rail line to pick up supplies at Office Depot or do some lunchtime shopping at Walmart. The ride from the UH-Downtown stop to Northline Commons takes about 19 minutes."
Wait, he thinks downtown office workers will spend a half-hour each way (once you include walking, waiting, and using stops south of UHD) to go shopping during their lunch *hour*? Sorry, the math doesn't quite work. Sounds cool in theory, but I think few will find it practical in reality because the line is simply too slow.
"Urbanists put way too little thought into business climate, which can sound like such a shady way of saying cut services and taxes. But taxes are often the least part of it. It’s the regulatory apparatus that makes doing business in many places too painful to contemplate. This even affects city-suburb investment patterns. I’ve observed that in many places, the urban core is a flat out terrible place to do business, unless you’re very politically wired up.
This doesn’t usually bother urbanists all that much until a trendy business they like gets affected. For example, an urban farming supply shop in Providence called Cluck got sued when they tried to open. The beautiful and the bearded were outraged and the shop was ultimately approved. But there’s no similar visibility or outrage when a Latino immigrant runs into the red-tape buzzsaw when he tries to open a muffler shop.
If we want to promote investments in our cities and states, we need to be focused on basics like an objective, predictable regulatory framework that operates in the timely fashion and in which arbitrary denials, rule changes, and such are minimized. This is way more important to attracting capital investment than sexier items like streetcar lines."
Finally, one of the complaints about Houston is that we don't have distinctive seasons like up north. Is it just me, or is anybody else noticing some impressive fall foliage this season in Houston with some really vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows? I'm guessing it's the early sharp cold front, but there seem to be a lot of really beautiful trees right now around Houston - something I don't remember noticing as vividly in previous years. My mom says it's the most beautiful fall she can remember. They won't last long. Hope you're enjoying them while you can and have a very happy holidays.
Labels: affordability, development, economic strategy, governance, home affordability, identity, land-use regulation, Metro, rail, rankings, zoning