Monday, August 26, 2013

Houston vs. Portland planning rules, lessons from DART, and more

Some more smaller misc items this week:
Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute, a free-market think-tank, says Oregonians are shooting themselves in the feet. By his calculation, housing costs nearly twice as much relative to local incomes in the states with the strictest planning regimes compared with those with the most permissive. Thus a city like Houston, which has very little land-use regulation, is expanding by 120,000 people a year as migrants rush to live in its big, cheap houses. Portland, by contrast, is deterring migrants and thus subduing economic growth. 
NIMBYs make the world less equal
An increasing amount of academic evidence backs up that claim. In a paper published in 2007, Raven Saks, an economist at the Federal Reserve, found that much demand for labour went unmet in cities with strict planning rules. Last year two academics at Harvard University, Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag, found not only that land-use restrictions were impeding migration to wealthier parts of the country, but that those impediments accounted for roughly a tenth of the increase in inequality in wages since 1980.
Finally, "Tory, you blog about urban issues in Houston, but what would you know about living in a walkable urban neighborhood?"  That's a good question - I'm glad you asked.  How's this for a credential? The City's new Urban Houston Framework case study (executive summary) was recently released with a cover picture of one of the most urban and walkable corners in the city - Bagby at Gray.  The window to my loft is actually visible in the picture of this corner!  Random but kinda cool.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Next Great American City, H-town vs. Portland, cistern update, and more

Back from the cool mountains and blogging again.  Just a few small items this week:

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Sunday, August 04, 2013

Support Uber, more on Engineering City USA

Just a couple quick items this week:
"More surprising, perhaps, is the second city on our list: Houston. The world energy capital is home to 59,000 engineers — second most in the U.S. after the much larger Los Angeles metro area — and has a concentration of 22.4 engineers per 1,000 employees. Although it does not match the Bay Area in elite engineering schools, Houston is home to Rice University and the University of Houston, both highly regarded, and, perhaps equally important, a strong sub-structure of trade and technical schools that feed into the engineering pool. 
Key here is the energy industry, which is far more technology-dependent than many might believe. Houston is arguably now the country’s most important emerging city, with the largest job growth of any major metro area. Not only can engineers make money there, unlike in Silicon Valley, they can also afford to buy a house."
"No big economic region outperforms Houston, a metropolitan area of more than 5 million people that boasts arguably the strongest big-city economy in the nation. Not only the global hub of the energy industry, it also boasts the nation’s largest medical center and has dethroned New York City as the nation’s leading export center."
Anybody who's a regular reader of this blog should know that it goes without saying that I support Uber in its quest to loosen up Houston's restrictive taxi regulations, increase competition, and lower prices, just as the Chronicle wisely does.  And just as I would have been embarrassed for Houston if we had allowed United to stop Southwest from international competition at Hobby, the same will be true here if by some strange twist of politics we end up allowing the taxi companies to protect their monopoly here.  Houston is a free market city - let's be sure to act like it.

Taking a short vacation to cooler climes next weekend, so probably no post next week.

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