Monday, May 15, 2006

Announcement + WiFi & Kotkin

Life has been getting very, very busy lately - especially my software startup - so as of today Houston Strategies is downscaling a bit from 5 posts/week to 3 posts/week, generally Sun, Tues, and Thurs nights (or MWF mornings). Tomorrow, I'll have more on an interesting blogger/media conference call with Mayor White about wireless Internet access for Houston. He will be having an open-access online chat on the same topic Wednesday at 6:30pm for anybody who's interested. See for more details.

And one more item. I'm sure I'm breaking some limit of too many Kotkin links in one week (and it's only Monday), but here's one more from the Wall Street Journal on the reality of the urban renaissance.


At 6:07 PM, May 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kotkin's article would be interesting -- if he presented facts beyond the oft-cited Census data. He asks the right question -- the reason(s) behind the out-migration numbers presented by the Census -- and answers it with nothing more than conjecture. He doesn't really cite any numbers (beyond "large numbers of condo units, in some cases upward of a third") in backing up his claim that speculators are filling up condos in new construction in "revitalized" cities.

His second argument about the economy of the central city is equally muddy. The connection between the business health of the central city and the outmigration of individuals to suburban towns seems tenuous at best, and his argument doesn't elucidate any new connections between the two.

I mean, I've got a conjecture about why outmigration occurs. I'm not going to present it in the Journal without facts, numbers, and a variety of arguments presented by (real) demographers.

Also, as much as Gavin Newsom and San Francisco act as a great straw man to Kotkin's Las Vegas/Phoenix/Houston, there's a bit of a factual disconnect there. Newsom did not campaign (or really focus any of his political energy) on any sort of 'hip and cool' strategy for revitalizing San Francisco. Beyond the eye-catching gay marriage thing, he's largely looked at the homeless problem and public safety in the southwestern part of the city.

Part of Kotkin's appeal to us Houstonians is that he argues against the straw man of the two coasts. It's as if he's campaigning for us, for Houston as a city -- that we're doing the right thing compared to other cities. The problem with that construction is that we may be doing the right thing, but it's fallacious to compare policy positions of different cities because each city has a unique set of problems and issues. San Francisco really can't do what Houston does in pursuing growth -- San Francisco isn't going to annex more land to build out more office parks, or build out more single family homes.

That's why Kotkin annoys me sometimes. It is nice, however, that Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and other cities are valorized for once by a member of the press.


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