Houston *is* different from zoned cities, zoning drags GDP, defending Houston, impressing outsiders, and moreIt's been a busy few weeks with the Opportunity Urbanism TV interview, TXDoT meeting on the 45N plan, and the Zillow Housing Roadmap to 2016 panel, so the backlog of smaller miscellaneous items has grown to bursting. Apologies for the lack of timeliness on a few of these...
First, I have to call BS on this. Yes, we have reasonable land-use regulations, but they are far from zoning and Houston is qualitatively different from other cities like Dallas.
- Massive exhibit #1: the townhouses covering the inner loop where single-family homes once stood. No zoned city would allow that. Without that flexibility, inner Houston would be much lower density and covered in McMansions that look like Bellaire and West U with similar pricing.
- Exhibit #2: residential towers all over the place, instead of clustered downtown or in other skyscraper zones.
- Exhibit #3: apartment complexes going up anywhere they can get the land, pretty much no matter what was sitting there before, like industrial or commercial uses - typical zoning doesn't allow that.
- On the other hand, I heartily support this new initiative from Kinder to harness big data to help improve the city of Houston. Great idea, and I'm looking forward to hearing what comes out of it.
- Dallas real estate broker anticipates 'Texaplex' boom
- I got a nice mention for my piece on driverless cars here. Hat tip to Charles for the catch.
- From Techcruch: "Another study last year from UC Berkeley economics professor Enrico Moretti and University of Chicago’s Chang-Tai Hsieh argued zoning regulations are incredibly costly to the American economy. They found that if highly-productive cities like New York City, Boston and San Francisco had a more elastic housing supply, it could add 9.5 percent to the U.S. GDP." That's massive! If you've ever wondered why Houston punches above its weight class in GDP, that's a big part of the answer.
- It’s not your imagination: Traffic is getting worse in every imaginable way
- Guy writes about his defense of Houston to west coast snobs. Bravo dude. Hat tip to Mike for the catch.
“No, please don’t be sorry. I love living in Houston. It’s a great place to live and I have a great life there. It’s actually not that place that you might imagine it to be. In fact, it’s one of the country’s most ethnically diverse and progressive cities. My children go to school with kids from all over the world. And the wine and food scene there is great, too.”
- Houston one of four big metros where the poverty rate has decreased and incomes have risen.
- Houston's growing so much, we've got suburbs bigger than Pittsburgh! (Katy) No word on whether they'll get their own iconic NFL team or not...
Houston, we Have a (PR) Problem
If you were asked to name America’s most diverse city by population groups, you might say New York. The fastest-growing? Maybe San Francisco. Most affordable? Probably Detroit, or another ailing rust-belt market.
But in reality, Houston is at or near the top of all those superlative lists, and more. That that isn’t immediately obvious to most Americans – let alone foreign visitors to America – speaks volumes about Houston’s PR problem. Houston’s reality – it is a vibrant, growing, well-educated, affordable and diverse city full of opportunity – doesn’t square with its popular image.
During our visit, we were constantly surprised by Houston, by the passion and thoughtfulness of its advocates and the creativity of its solutions to its mounting challenges.They also published a nice short video below on their Houston visit. Note: despite what the guy in the video says, Houston is *not* increasing population by 50% in the next 5-10 years, whether you look at the city or the metro. Most likely that will take a couple of decades or so...