Monday, July 18, 2016

Elements of an Opportunity City

As part of a project for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, I tried to take some elements of Houston and generalize them to describe an Opportunity City model that other cities could emulate. I came up with three major items supported by many descriptive sub-points. I'd love to get feedback from readers in the comments.  Did I miss anything?

Elements of an Opportunity City

  1. Energized community with an open culture
    1. Big small town - combine the best of both worlds
    2. Belonging + Diversity
    3. Strong philanthropic/charity culture
    4. Strong civic/contributing culture
    5. Arts & culture scene
    6. Friendly, welcoming
    7. Openness to outsiders, immigrants, minorities
    8. Live and let live tolerance
    9. Future orientation, optimism
  2. Entrepreneur friendly (both for-profit and nonprofit)
    1. Emphasis on “the little guy” here, small business including immigrants; tech entrepreneurs too, but that’s secondary
    2. Pro-growth, pro-business
    3. Vibrant economy
    4. Diverse and high-quality restaurants
    5. Lots of small and mid-sized developers (urban and suburban)
    6. Small businesses
    7. Competition increases affordability, lowers cost of living, improves quality of life
    8. No zoning (lowers barriers to development)
    9. Predictable checklist permitting
    10. Low regulation
    11. Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) easily enabling new subdivisions of housing
    12. Cultural tolerance of risk-taking and failure
    13. Supporting nonprofit entrepreneurs too
  3. Affordable proximity: can affordably live within range of where the jobs and urban action are, especially family-friendly neighborhoods with good schools
    1. Good mobility infrastructure opens up more housing within a reasonable commute range
    2. Allowing housing supply to meet demand - both urban and suburban - ensuring affordability
    3. Low cost of living -> high discretionary incomes -> vibrancy
    4. #1 standard of living (graph)

Houston has the nation's highest standard of living

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At 2:58 PM, July 19, 2016, Blogger George Rogers said...

Messy Vibrancy over Planned Chaos.

At 3:03 PM, July 19, 2016, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I like it! Although I think I'd say "Messy vibrancy over planned stagnation"

At 5:44 PM, July 19, 2016, Blogger Dale Napier said...

There's a lot missing. Here in Las Vegas, for instance, lack of decent public education or medical care has turned into a nightmarish problem when trying to recruit national or international firms. Water availability is an increasing problem in many places as well. MUDs simply do not exist in many places. This is a sample, not a complete list, of the problems with your list. Choosing Houston as your basis is based on your personal biases and has limited applicability. The part about no zoning is a real tell, given that almost every city in the country bases their governance around it. You make it sound like no-zoning is the norm, a given. It's not, not even close.

You have a lot more work to do. You're a smart guy, though, and I look forward to your making some much-needed improvements to this rough draft.

At 7:07 PM, July 19, 2016, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Thanks. It is from Houston, but it's meant to be something any city can aspire towards. If they can't get rid of zoning completely, they can at least make it less restrictive (like many Texas cities). Public education and medical care is a problem in Houston as well and many other cities - you're right, probably something I should include.

At 5:08 PM, August 04, 2016, Blogger George Rogers said...

Houston 5th most economicaly powerful city in the world.

At 9:24 PM, August 04, 2016, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Love it! Thanks for the heads up!


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