Monday, June 22, 2009

Rankings, livability, density, economy, clean energy, and more

Clearing out some more small items:
  • New Geography takes issue with the Economist's "most livable" city rankings, which are so unaffordable they are really only "most livable" for wealthy elite executives. Houston even gets a mention. Hat tip to Hugh and Wendell.
  • In case you missed it in the Chronicle, Texas cities scored 5 of the top 6 metros least affected by the recession according to a Brookings study, with Houston pulling in at #4.
  • Texas is also expected to be one of the first states to recover from the recession, as is Houston specifically. Hat tip to Jessie.
  • Joel Kotkin profiles the secrets of Austin's success. A big part of it: a livable, affordable, educated blue city in a red state with pro-business regulations and low taxes.
  • Texas takes top rankings in Pew clean energy study. Hat tip to Jessie.
  • I throw a lot of data around about Houston's economy, but if you want to viscerally feel how well we're doing relative to other parts of the country, watch this scary video about 'Lost Vegas' and read this NYT story on Oregon, which is rivaling Michigan for unemployment but still attracting waves of crazy Californians.
  • Speaking of Oregon, new data shows that Houston has significantly densified since 2000, even more than uber-planned Portland. Score one for Houston's relatively unregulated free market in land use.
  • The hidden mathematical patterns behind cities. Hat tip to Jack.
That's probably enough for this round.

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At 8:02 AM, June 23, 2009, Anonymous kjb434 said...

I made a statement in the previous blog posting about the red states in general will be the first to pull out of the recession.

A quick comment from someone else mentioned why was Oregon and Washington showing likely recovery soon even though they were blue states on the MSNBC maps. Well, when you have the economic hell hole that is California, Oregon and Washington look pretty damn red. And if you like the central and northern California climate, Oregon and Washington are closer to that than say Arizona.

At 1:13 PM, June 23, 2009, Anonymous Appetitus Rationi Pareat said...

That quick comment was from me and was meant to simply point out the fact that your supposition that low-tax “conservative” states would recover faster than high-tax “liberal” states was not entirely valid. And you seem to be further invalidating your argument with the statement above by suggesting that population growth (here from California) is what is driving the economic recovery, not low-tax policies.

Anyway, to Tory’s first point about livable cities: It is true that some of those cities are more expensive but I am a little suspect on the numbers that are citied in this study. San Antonio is considered “moderately unaffordable” which seemed a little strange to me. New York is certainly expensive but nowhere near as expensive as London (and the report shows the exact opposite). And that was when I noticed Wendell Cox’s name attached to the report! Eureka!

Okay, enough fun, let’s just assume that these numbers are correct (a big assumption). Looking at the most affordable housing markets shows me a series of dead or dying communities, many found in the Midwest; Youngtown, OH anyone? They may be affordable but they are hardly livable. I realize it is shocking to the average suburban Houstonian but many, many, many people in the world consider more than how much one can buy per square foot when judging livability. Having the biggest garage to hold the three SUV’s and all the other junk does not generally make one’s lifestyle more livable. All of the top ten cities are found in either Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Do you think this is a coincidence? These countries consistently ranked as having the highest quality of life in the world. This is based on climate, social and economic policy, infrastructure, design, culture and health.


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