Another outsider loves Houston, top rankings, Super Bowl mobility, reducing rents with supply, insane rail costs, and moreApologies for the posting delays - quite the backlog of items to get through:
- Houston #1 in apartment construction in 2016. And all that new supply is reducing rents. And yet people still argue that relaxed restrictions and increased housing supply are not the answer to America's housing affordability crisis?
- Continuing that theme, next time someone says you can't make housing more affordable by increasing supply, point them to this article on Houston doing it. Hat tip to James.
- GHP's 2016 Economic Highlights report. Lots of great stats in here - worth a skim.
- Houstonia: "In Defense of Houston’s Strip Malls: Their aesthetic merits are dubious; their environmental impact, baleful. Yet we argue there’s no purer distillation of Houston itself."
- Houston ranked the #2 best city in the world for global expats. Hat tip to George. Excerpt from the HBJ version of the story:
"Another list recently heralded Houston as one of the best places in the U.S. to start a business — the Bayou City ranked No. 6 around the country. Houston ranked as fourth-best city in the U.S. for young entrepreneurs, and Texas was rated No. 2 on CNBC's "Top States for Businesses" list."
- This article does a great job explaining the absolutely *insane* infrastructure costs in NYC for new subway lines, stations, and a bus terminal. $2 billion per mile for new subway?! $4 billion for one new downtown station?! $10 *billion* for a new bus terminal?! The equivalent of *thirty* NRG stadiums! Are you kidding me?! Just pull out these numbers next time anyone complains about TXDoT spending a couple of billion completely rebuilding a spoke freeway in Houston... it's a relative bargain!
- Speaking of insane rail costs, just in from the LA Times: California's bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrun, a confidential federal report warns.
"California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.
The federal document outlines far-reaching management problems: significant delays in environmental planning, lags in processing invoices for federal grants and continuing failures to acquire needed property.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk analysis estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule."
- Light Rail Reduces Property Values. Excerpt:
"Denver is spending billions of dollars building more than 100 miles of rail lines. When all the lines are done, promoters project they will reach just 26 percent of the region’s jobs. Since most people won’t live near a rail line, only about 2 or 3 percent of commuters are likely to use it.
Even most of the people who live near it won’t ride light rail because it is so slow. According to the American Public Transportation Association’s Transit Fact Book, the average speed of light rail is 15.6 mph while streetcars average just 7.3 mph. Not much accessibility benefit there."
- Scott Beyer observations in Forbes on traveling through the Sunbelt, including Houston. Houston excerpt:
"Houston, perhaps America’s least-regulated metro housing market, is the simulacrum of this 21st-century urbanism in all its messy brilliance. The fast-densifying greater downtown area has good Walk Scores and could legitimately be called "urban"; a half-dozen similar job centers--from random edge cities to tasteful towncenters--dot the metro; makeshift settlement communities pop up to house incoming immigrants; and, of course, haphazard single-family and multi-family housing sprawls in every direction. This willingness to build is why Houston can accommodate large population influxes, remain cheap...and perform so well economically."
- Finally, in the practical-news-you-can-use department, James Llamas on mobility options to get around during the Super Bowl events. You can even catch a few seconds of me in the video starting at the 3:26 point. It's stock footage of media day when they opened the new rail lines. Man, did they catch me looking like a dork, lol ;-D
P.S. Memo to the Texans: get Romo. Whatever the cost (although he should be willing to take a pay cut to get on a team with a real shot at the Super Bowl). With him and a healthy JJ Watt, next year's Super Bowl is very, very possible...