Houston vs. NYC, Austin's rail fail, Tokyo's free market in land use, CA zoning impacts, and moreA few items this week:
"During my time there, I figured out a lot—about Houston. My hometown, I realized, is easy. The mail comes on time. You don’t have to wait for an hour, crammed in a small space with dozens of other people, just to get a prescription. You can use a full-size grocery cart at the grocery store. You don’t have to ask an employee to use his hook to pull down a package of toilet paper for you. You don’t have to lug your heavy groceries six blocks home. You don’t reach the end of May and find yourself trudging through sludgy gray ice, incredulous that it can still be so…darn…cold. You don’t find yourself freezing, needing a restroom, waiting for a train that never comes, before giving up and spending money you don’t have on a cab. Instead, you get to drive.
That’s what I learned about Houston during my time in New York. What did I learn about New York? It’s a great place to visit. In the very late springtime."
- Quantifying the effects of California zoning rules. Conclusion:
"This new evidence adds to the extensive body of work demonstrating that land-use regulations reduce the stock of housing relative to what we would see in a free market. It’s particularly important in California, home to some of the country’s most regulated cities and the cities where land-use liberalization could have huge potential benefits in terms of allowing more people to live in high-productivity places."
- Scott Beyer at Forbes on Tokyo's affordable housing strategy of enabling massive construction (crazy, right?). And it's working, with prices stabilizing and even dropping. Here's the part that stunned me:
"In the 1980s, Japanese cities were experiencing the same inflated housing bubbles that U.S. cities are today. Their planning methods, moreover, were rooted in Western notions about separating uses and limiting density. The federal government recognized that these regulations were the problem, so in 2002, it passed the Urban Renaissance Law. The law stripped municipalities of the ability to control private property. As a result, owners can build a variety of uses on their land, regardless of resistance from local bureaucrats or neighbors."
Who would have guessed that the Japanese could be more free market than America? Could you imagine if states or the federal government did something similar here?!
- More from Scott: Austin’s Commuter Rail Is A Monument To Government Waste. This one generated quite the buzz in Austin.
"The line accounts for 2.6% of Austin’s transit ridership, while using 8.5% of the annual operating expenses for transit.
Each trip taken on the rail costs taxpayers dearly, according to data provided by Capitol Metro. In 2014, the rail line had an operating deficit of $12.6 million. The upfront capital costs of $140 million, when amortized at 2% over 30 years, creates an additional $6.2 million annual cost to taxpayers. Add these two sums up, and then divide them by the line’s number of annual unlinked trips—763,551—and the per-trip subsidy works out to $24.62. Another commentator estimated that this figure is $18, compared to $3 for every bus boarding. Jim Skaggs, the retired CEO of Tracor and a local rail skeptic, wrote on his blog that “each average daily, week-day, round trip rider is subsidized an average of about $10,000 per year.”"
- And finally, one more from Scott (what can I say - I'm a bit backed up with content here): Dallas and Houston: Centers For Economic Development. A lot of good stuff here. Excerpts:
Labels: affordability, development, economic strategy, governance, growth, home affordability, identity, land-use regulation, mobility strategies, perspectives, quality of place, rail, rankings, zoning