Monday, June 08, 2009

Rankings, plaudits, Metro costs, Mayor's race, TOD regs, and more

When I finally started to catch up after my vacation, the backlog of smaller items for the blog grew way too fast (approaching 20+), so it's time to start whittling that list down:
  • Details of how each of the four mayoral candidates view land-use regulation, light rail, TOD, economic development incentives, housing, sustainability, and infrastructure over at NeoHouston. Sorry, this one is a little old (from March). I was waiting to read it in-depth and add my comments, but when I finally got around to it, I didn't find anything major or notable. The candidates seem to be playing it safe. Thanks to NeoHouston for typing up notes from the event.
  • Speaking of TOD, in case you missed it, the official urban corridor development regulations are coming up to city council for pubic input and a vote. It looks like they decided to keep it mostly voluntary with incentives rather than mandatory. A good start. Christof's detailed critique here. Update: HRG's letter of support.
  • Sam Staley at Reason has written a report on Houston housing's affordability, dynamism, and resilience, and what other cities' planners can learn from us, here. Planetizen version here. Hat tip to Josh. "In my travels, I don’t see the kind of eclectic, diverse and broad-based housing development that is part of the normal way of doing business in Houston in other US cities."
  • Continuing that theme: LAT article on the decline of the Sun Belt, with a notable exception:
    And yet, to say all areas across the Sun Belt are in for long-term decline is simplistic, he says. Scanning the most recent employment maps put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals "a 'belt' in the middle of the country — Texas is part of it — that is doing quite well." (The AP Stress Map backs up that finding, revealing a swath of comparatively unscathed counties starting in North Dakota, stretching through South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas and ending in Oklahoma and Texas.)

    Out of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties, the majority were in Texas (19), Georgia (14), North Carolina (11) or Utah (nine), according to U.S. Census figures last year. Raleigh-Cary, N.C., and Austin-Round Rock, Texas, were the nation's fastest-growing metro areas, registering growth rates of 4.3 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively. Both high-tech centers, the two metros are also sites of major college campuses that helped cushion them.

    Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston registered the biggest numerical gains, the census figures show. Phoenix and Atlanta ranked third and fourth in growth, respectively, followed by Los Angeles, despite the housing slump.
    Hat tip to Jessie.
"...reports industrial employment in Houston ranks above that of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

According to the Register’s newest data, Houston is home to 3,957 manufacturers employing 221,697 workers, with employment unchanged over the past twelve months. Texas as a whole is home to 23,589 manufacturers employing 1,218,586 workers.

“Houston’s combination of low cost living, favorable business climate, educated work force and proximity to the oil industry have made it the choice of many manufacturers and other Fortune 500 companies,”

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At 4:52 AM, June 09, 2009, Anonymous Elisa said...

That's a really interesting post!

At 10:23 AM, June 09, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been shown that economically foundering areas draw poor families because of low housing costs.
That Phoenix continues to grow now may very well be a growth in poverty population as vacant housing prices attract cratered Californians.

At 2:38 PM, June 09, 2009, Anonymous kjb434 said...

The METRO statistic is astounding but by no means shocking.

METRO has shown with pride how to waste money everything that it does.

Bus boardings and METROrail boardings continue to drop also.

On top of that (I need to find it), there is an article of research in to rail and bus transit showing that in most cases, it much better environmentally speaking to just drive (even an SUV).

I'll look for it and post a tinyurl for it.

At 8:44 AM, June 10, 2009, Anonymous kjb434 said...

Here's the link about train based transit and it's affects on the environment.

Essentially, as long as people ride in low numbers, it's no environmentally friendly.


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