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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At 8:22 PM, August 26, 2013, Anonymous Rich said...

Judging from some of the interesting reactions to that DART-related article, it seems like DART's problems up in Dallas are largely attributable to zoning, right? That's a problem that Houston doesn't have.

Rail deployment needs to be economical though. The same goes for buses & freeways. I was previously unaware of how transporting by rail offers advantages beyond speed, handicapped accessibility and environmental friendliness. It's also cheaper for transit authorities as this documents:


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