Standard of living city rankings, best city in TX?, our development future, and more
- My think tank, The Center for Opportunity Urbanism, released our first annual Standard of Living rankings for 106 cities, where we ranked cities based on cost-of-living-adjusted median pay per job. At $62,305, Houston came in a very strong #2 behind San Jose/Silicon Valley (but well ahead of #28 SF at $51.7k), and probably would be #1 if California taxes were taken into account. We also were well ahead of Dallas ($55.5k) and Austin ($53k). (originally published at Forbes)
"For second-ranked Houston, the challenge is much different. Houston’s average pay per job is 30 percent above the metropolitan average, which converts to a near duplicate 29 percent higher COU Standard of Living Index, when adjusted for the cost of living. Houston’s future success will require retention its favorable housing affordability and high pay per job. The upheavals in the energy industry could result in lower pay per job in the future."
- In big Chronicle section on Houston's future last weekend, I was quoted in the article on development:
"Tory Gattis, founding senior fellow at Houston-based think tank Center for Opportunity Urbanism, envisions the Houston region developing into nine suburban "villages" that would grow to have populations as large as 1 million each. Those "villages" - The Woodlands, Kingwood/Humble, Baytown, Clear Lake/League City, Pearland, Sugar Land, Katy, Cypress and Tomball - would be in addition to the 2 million to 3 million people living in Houston.
In order for that to work, Gattis said, the outer regions would have to work with the Metropolitan Transit Authority to provide express park-and-ride services to downtown, the Texas Medical Center, Greenway Plaza and other urban job centers.
Gattis predicts more mixed-use buildings and high-rises in the urban core, a small number of which will be met with resistance from lower-density neighborhoods around them. The biggest tensions will arise from mobility challenges should more employers move away from the inner city.
In an age of the self-driving car, Gattis says people will be more apt to move farther from the city center, no matter how it affects their commutes.
"They can do email and be productive in the car," he said, "even if it's an hour and a half."
- Increasing density doesn't really reduce commuting by automobile.
- Seattle Millennials Should Move to Houston
- How Texas Is Reshaping Urbanism by Joel Kotkin Wendell Cox at the Manhattan Institute website.
What Is The Best City In Texas?
"Houston is easily my favorite Texas city, because it combines the best aspects of the other three. The metro area is similar in size to Dallas, and has the same rapid growth, ethnic diversity, and global feel. In fact, Dallas and Houston sit alone together as America’s foremost boomtowns, each growing by more than 144,000 last year throughout the metro area (the third place MSA, Atlanta, grew by a mere 95,000). But, like San Antonio and Austin, Houston has remained more tasteful than Dallas, with numerous interior neighborhoods that are urban, walkable, and separated from the innards of the city.
Not only is Houston Texas’ best city; it is among a handful of emerging ones in the U.S.—including Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, Denver, Atlanta and Seattle—that will become the dense infill cities of tomorrow, joining the coastal legacy cities. The thing that differentiates Houston from the others, though, is that it doesn’t have the regulatory hurdles to stop this fundamentally market-oriented process. The city has no zoning code, which means a range of densities, uses and architectural styles can go anywhere in the city.
The folk wisdom is that this turned Houston into a sprawling mess like Dallas. But densification is already happening in Clutch City. This year it will lead the nation in multi-family housing construction, with 25,935 units entering the market (Dallas is #2 at 23,159). Much of this is going up rapidly via mid-rises in interior neighborhoods like Midtown, Montrose and Rice Military. Houston has the highest Walk Score of Texas’ big cities. Dallas, meanwhile, may feel more fragmented because of the low-density zoning in its central areas."