What Auckland can learn from Houston, rail fails, left-right overregulation consensus, why you can't afford to live in a liberal city, and moreMy hot air has finally made it to the other side of the planet. A New Zealand journalist interviewed me during a visit to Houston a couple months ago on what Auckland could learn from Houston’s laissez faire approach to land-use regulation and housing development, and she extensively quoted me in this piece that came out of it. The quotes are mine, but I cannot take responsibility for the very outdated/young picture of myself she used!
Moving on to the smaller items to catch up on this week:
- Wendell Cox also has a piece with a focus on New Zealand: Land Regulation Making Us Poorer: The Emerging Left-Right Consensus
- Aaron Renn (The Urbanophile) on why you should think twice before building a rail transit system. Excerpt on LA:
"Given the ridership levels we’ve seen so far, will the value added from rail vs. the old bus approach be there? It’s not looking good. And if the case in LA is looking weak, certainly smaller and less dense places are even more speculative."
- Joel Kotkin also has a piece: Mass Transit Expansion Goes Off The Rails In Many U.S. Cities. I even get a shout-out in the piece for my argument that MaX lanes and express buses better serve decentralized, multi-polar cities like Houston.
"Journalists in older cities like New York, Boston or San Francisco may see the role of rail transit as critical to a functioning modern city. In reality, rail transit has been a financial and policy failure outside of a handful of cities.
In 23 metropolitan areas that have built new rail systems since 1970, transit’s share of commuting — including all forms, such as buses and ferries — has actually slipped a bit, from an average of 5.0 percent before the rail systems opened to 4.6 percent in 2013....
Virtually all the actual increase in rail commuting has occurred in the “legacy cities”: New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, Chicago and Philadelphia. These are older cities built around well-defined cores that were developed mostly before the automobile."
- Great interview with METRO board member Christof Speiler in How Houston (?!) became a model for city planning. He also has a good quote on the nature of Houston:
"It’s a city that is open to change and open to new people. I really love that. And it’s a forward-looking city. People in Houston aren’t desperately trying to hold on to what the city was. They want it to change and change for the better."
- Why Middle-Class Americans Can't Afford to Live in Liberal Cities: Blue America has a problem: Even after adjusting for income, left-leaning metros tend to have worse income inequality and less affordable housing. Excerpts:
"There is a deep literature tying liberal residents to illiberal housing policies that create affordability crunches for the middle class.Finally, another piece by Wendell Cox: People rather than Places, Ends rather than Means: LSE Economists on Urban Containment. His overview:
I asked Kahn if he had a pet theory for why liberals, who tend to be vocal about income inequality, would be more averse to new housing development, which would help lower-income families. He suggested that it could be the result of good intentions gone bad."
"I am providing a link to my just published review of Urban Economics and Urban Policy: Challenging Conventional Policy Wisdom by Paul Cheshire, Henry C. Overman and Max Nathan of the London School of Economic and Political Science. Many of you are doubtless aware of the long list of publications on urban containment policy by Paul Cheshire. This book is certainly among the most important contributions to the literature. Their theme that planning should be focused on people rather than places could not be more timely. Harvard’s Edward Glaeser also provides a masterful Foreword."And excerpts:
"… that the ultimate objective of urban policy is to improve outcomes for people rather than places; for individuals and families rather than buildings."
"This is not to say that we should stop caring about what is happening in different cities and neighbourhoods but serves to remind us that improving places is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself."
"All policies need to be judged by the impact on people, not places."
“…argue that the costs imposed by the planning system are prices worth paying to ‘protect the countryside’ or achieve other policy objectives. However, it is not helpful for public debate to pretend that the costs we have documented do not exist; or even that they are negligible. Existing research shows that this is simply not the case; indeed research shows the costs are very substantial even if some are difficult to measure exactly."