Monday, July 28, 2014

Houston = urban personification of the Texas spirit, happy #1 boomtown, 18 best city in America reasons, and more

Continuing with clearing the small items backlog, and I'm traveling over the next week, so this post will cover two weeks:
"To them, Texas meant opportunity, possibility, openness, freedom... "frontier spirit"
...
The frontier itself may be a thing of the past, but most of the qualities that we think of as quintessentially Texan are derived from the frontier experience—individuality, frankness, boldness, optimism, self-reliance, aversion to pretense, a kind of rustic humor, small-town communitarianism writ large, and the egalitarian ethos of a place unburdened by a centuries-old pecking order."
"An article in the Financial Times points out that about $10 trillion worth of wealth in the United States is phony, created by restrictive land-use laws that have pushed up the price of housing.
...
First, these planning laws contribute to income inequality by making people who already own homes richer while making those who don’t poorer.
...
Thanks to planning restrictions, the average size of home in Britain today is not only less than half the size of an American home, it is far smaller than the average before passage of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947. This is the law that so many planners want to emulate in America.
 
Those who want to reduce income inequality by taxing the rich, concludes Harding, should take another tack. “If we want to make society fairer and more equal, just let people build.”
"The second article takes a very different tack, "How Cars, Not Subways, Will Make Us Richer." Written by Scott Beyer for the Daily Beast (June 4th), it begins with the 2011 study from Brookings finding that in America's hundred largest metro areas, only 22% of low- and middle-skill jobs are accessible via transit in less than 90 minutes (which is more than three times the duration of the average auto commute, BTW). It then summarizes a report from the Urban Institute led by Rolf Pendall, which found that transit access has little effect on people's economic success. By contrast, the study team found that low-income people with automobile access were twice as likely as transit users to find jobs and four times as likely to keep them. Beyer suggests that planners need to give greater attention to ways of increasing auto access for lower-income people who are not well-served by transit systems. The report is "Driving to Opportunity," released by the Urban Institute in March 2014, written by a team of people from Urban Institute, the National Center for Smart Growth (at University of Maryland), and the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA."
And wrapping up with a little fun: an absolutely crazy video of a massive intersection in Ethiopia with no controls of any kind.  Just chaos, but it does seem to flow!  Hat tip to Jay.

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