Sunday, May 01, 2016

11 signs Houston will succeed, cheap traffic reduction, winning at affordable housing, TIFs, MUDs, and more

Just a few small items this week:
  • Market Urbanist Scott Beyer on the pros and cons of tax increment financing. (TIFs) 
  • The WSJ on how to make city housing more affordable, which basically comes down to allowing more supply and variety rather than affordable housing programs, which are inherently very limited.  Houston might be the best at the country at this, including the lack of zoning easily enabling townhomes, duplexes, apartment mid- and high-rises. Also has the novel - although exceedingly difficult - suggestion of improving schools so homes in those districts become more competitive.  Love this chart - Houston wins, as you'd expect (and I expect that rent number to come down as thousands of new apartments finish construction during our slowdown).
"IN A TRUE fairy tale of a transportation project, Texas spent a measly $4.25 million widening a highway and, in defiance of conventional wisdom among transportation planners, doubled the speed of rush hour traffic on a notoriously congested highway in Dallas."
Finally, The Atlantic on Eleven Signs A City Will Succeed.  I think Houston scores pretty well - would love to hear your thoughts in the comments:
  1. Divisive national politics seem a distant concern. I think we're a pretty pragmatic and balanced "purple" city and metro.
  2. You can pick out the local patriots.  Too many to name.
  3. “Public-private partnerships” are real.  Houston First comes to mind - other suggestions?
  4. People know the civic story.  I think Klineberg's annual Houston Area Survey helps a lot here. I would also argue for Houspitality here - whether people use the term or not, it definitely exists.
  5. They have a downtown.  Has come a long way.
  6. They are near a research university. UH, Rice, TMC, and TAMU not far away.
  7. They have, and care about, a community college. HCC, plus Lone Star is growing rapidly with many innovative programs.
  8. They have unusual schools. KIPP, YES Prep, Harmony, Talent Unbound, and many others.
  9. They make themselves open.  Huge strength of ours, especially with both domestic and foreign immigrants.
  10. They have big plans. See the bayou greenways, bikeways, and arboretum projects, among many others.
  11. They have craft breweries.  St. Arnold's, 8th Wonder Brewery, and many others.

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At 11:07 AM, May 17, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if you've seen this: someone researched San Francisco rental prices from 1910 on by manually entering archived classified ads. He noted that most analyses of average rents only go back to 1979, the year rent controls were started.

A major conclusion: Building enough housing to roll back prices to the "good old days" is probably not realistic, because the necessary construction rates were never achieved even when planning and zoning were considerably less restrictive than they are now.

I think the trends also seem to show that prices were relatively stable before rent controls Overall, the argument seems to be for increasing housing supply, but how you get that is debatable.


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