ULI finally respects Houston, better federal transit funding, growth, rankings, New Zealand, and more
Lots of big news
this week about TXDoT's proposed expansion and revamping of I45N, including eliminating the Pierce Elevated downtown, but I'm going to hold off posting about it until I get a chance to go to the Tuesday public meeting information session
. Instead let's clear out some smaller misc items this week:
- ULI writes a positive article about Houston! (who would have predicted?) I think planner attitudes are starting to turn our way as they see how vibrant and diverse our open approach is. Goes into detail about Houston’s approach to land-use regulation. Whenever you hear criticisms of the "Houston way" of development, send them this article. Hat tip to Josh.
“Proponents of “the Houston way” argue that its combination of patchwork regulation and local control provides valuable flexibility to respond quickly to market shifts and reduces costs for developers, while still protecting neighborhoods’ character and ensuring quality in the built environment.”
- The Texas Renaissance Festival outside of Houston has been ranked the nation's #1 cultural festival by USA Today, even beating out Mardi Gras in New Orleans!
- GHP released their new April Economy at a Glance report with a deep analysis of Houston's population growth over history and where we've ranked over time as well as job and airport growth updates.
- Speaking of airport growth, the Wall Street Journal did a good article on the expansion of international flying from Houston. The newest example is that Air New Zealand is coming to Houston! A big international feather in the cap for Houston. It will allow easy routings between ANZ and the eastern and southern U.S. as well as parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. So with this Air New Zealand flight Houston is one of five cities in the world connected to all continents except Antarctica (treating ANZ as one continental region), and the only one in the U.S.! (if you're wondering how that's possible, it's because the other U.S. cities with flights to Australia or New Zealand - LA, SF, DFW - don't have flights to Africa, and we do)
- St. Louis is putting us to shame with how they treasure and invest in their Arch vs. our treatment of the Astrodome.
- Fascinating article at TechCrunch considering the second and third order effects of self-driving autonomous vehicles. It's going to be a brave new world out there...
- Not exactly news, but this analysis re-confirms Texas has a low tax burden compared to other states.
- Houston ranked #4 on the 2015 Metropolitan Tech-STEM Growth Index behind Austin, Raleigh, and San Jose (Silicon Valley).
"Some of the others in our top 10 are not as renowned as tech centers, but have experienced rapid growth over the past decade. The biggest surprise may be No. 4 Houston, which enjoyed a 42.3% expansion of jobs in tech industries and a big 37.8% boost in STEM jobs from 2004-14. Much of the growth was in the now sputtering energy industry, but also medical-related technology, which continues to grow rapidly. Houston is the home to the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest concentration of medical facilities. It also ranks second to San Jose in engineers per capita."
Finally, Randal O' Toole at Cato has a great idea for a better way to allocate federal transit funding
- more equitable with fewer rail boondoggles. It might actually get traction in the Republican Congress. Full report here
Labels: Astrodome, autonomous vehicles, aviation, deed restrictions, economy, growth, land-use regulation, planning, rankings, taxes, transit