Monday, February 23, 2015

TX doomed to repeat CA mistakes? plus tops for affluence and food, first class buses, densification, and more

First this week, an event announcement: on Thursday March 12th, our new Center for Opportunity Urbanism will have it's inaugural event - "TEXAS…DOOMED TO REPEAT CALIFORNIA’S MISTAKES?", a luncheon event featuring speaker David Friedman, a California land use attorney, with yours truly serving on a panel after the keynote. Here's the description:
California’s tough environmental rules and planning represent the wave of the future to many planners and pundits, as well as to large parts of the federal government. The goal is to rein in “sprawl,” based largely on questionable environmental and urban design considerations California consciously seeks to impose a high-density, transit-focused future on the residents of the state. 
But California’s policies do not just affect Californians. Many federal agencies, including the EPA and US Fish and Wildlife Service, have embraced the Golden State’s regulations on climate change, wetland and endangered species protection, as role models to be adopted nationally. As California-style regulations diffuse through the federal government, Texas business could soon be subject to many of the same programs and policies. 
In this unique program, the Center for Opportunity Urbanism has invited David Friedman, a leading California land use attorney, to discuss the evolution of California land use and environmental regulation. California’s current regulatory programs were largely invented in the 1970s, when the state’s impressive job creation and economic opportunities made it the Texas of that era. By 1990, however, the California economy increasingly came to resemble the slower growing northeastern and upper Midwestern states, albeit with still-significant population growth. 
Dr. Friedman, who holds a PhD in political economy from MIT, will explain the social and economic impacts these regulations have had on the people of the state. He will also discuss how EPA and other federal agencies, as well as changing demographics and political pressure, could bring similar policies to Texas and the greater Houston area.
Dr. Friedman’s talk will be followed by an insightful panel discussion, moderated by the Center’s executive director Joel Kotkin, that includes Architect Tim Cisneros, Houston Developer Walter Mischer, Senior Fellow and urban demographer Wendell Cox and Senior Fellow and Houston Strategies blogger Tory Gattis.
Details here - hope to see you there!

Moving on to this week's smaller miscellaneous items:
"HOUSTON — If you set out to visit the nation's most diverse city — one with world-class dining, a flourishing arts scene, top-tier academic institutions and an influx of job-hungry college graduates — you'd be forgiven for setting your sights on New York City. 
You'd also be mistaken. 
But Houston, the city in question, would forgive you. That's just the kind of place she is. 
Over the past decade, the USA's fourth-largest city has quietly become not just a powerhouse of intellect and culture in Texas, but a major player on the world stage. The Bayou City's economic boom and urban renaissance have made Houston not just a magnet for travelers, but a permanent residence for many casual visitors."
  • Little news item I caught in a recent issue of Surface Transportation Innovations:
"In addition to services to more cities by Megabus, Red Coach, and other express carriers in 2014, at least two new luxury operators began service. Vonlane began first-class nonstop service between Austin and Dallas and Houston. Their buses have only 16 seats, an onboard attendant serving drinks and snacks, and a private six-seat boardroom. Vonlane partners with hotels in each of its cities. " 
I've never seen them or tried them - if you have, I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Their web site has nice pics, but only seems to be showing Dallas-Austin right now.

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