Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Houston's new mobility vision, how no-zoning works for us, NYT on TX, we need a police overhaul, and more

Before getting to this week's smaller items, I'd like to feature a great piece by Market Urbanist Scott Beyer in The Federalist: How No Zoning Laws Works For Houston. It makes a great case for how Houston has been able to stay affordable while booming through enabling easy growth of housing supply (i.e. not strangling it with regulation).  I'm extensively quoted in it, and although usually I would pull out excerpts here, this one has way too many great points - you'll just have to read the whole thing (honestly, it's not that long).  Enjoy.
“Houston has a wonderful opportunity because it doesn’t have an ossified, traditional Euclidean zoning structure that separates everything out by use,” says Festa. “If you want to develop mixed-use, smart growth, walkable urbanism, there are still some barriers, but you already have a head start over more traditionally zoned cities.”
But my favorite reaction is this tweet from the Urbanophile Aaron Renn:
"Better question: what if other cities fell out of love with it?"
  • Kinder and the Chronicle react to the NextCity piece, to which I ask why would we want to empower NIMBYs to stop development? That's what happens in every city, and it cuts off housing supply rapidly leading to unaffordability. Is that what we want too?  The Wall Street Journal just recognized us for growth without unaffordability - why do we want to eliminate one of our great strengths?  If you're afraid of development in your neighborhood, make sure you move to one with deed restrictions, otherwise buy your house with your eyes open to how the neighborhood may change over time.  
  • GHP May issue of Economy at a Glance looks at apartments, industrial space, sales taxes, employment and foreign trade.
  • Hat tip to Jay for this crime ranking of cities, which unfortunately we don't do so well on: "It's 'sortable' by investment in police, crime rank and community risk factors. What struck me is that Houston has among the highest investment in police, is only middle-high on risk factors, but is still second highest on crime. Clearly money spent is not money spent well."
Finally, I was able to attend the Mayor's State of Mobility address today.  It was a long, detailed, balanced, well thought-out speech on a strategy for addressing Houston's mobility needs.  I agreed with almost all of it, with one notable exception being the claim that the Katy Freeway expansion was a mistake because it's just as congested as it used to be.  That may be, but it moves twice as many people as it used to, and if we hadn't done it, congestion would be far worse out there, and I'm sure many employers in that corridor would have abandoned Houston for Katy, The Woodlands, and Sugar Land.  One interesting item of note from the Mayor: he will *not* force rail on neighborhoods that don't want it, which means the University Line is essentially dead west of Shepherd as long as he's in office (not that I think METRO has the funds available in any case).

At the same event, TAG had this graphic with the consensus $69B Regional Mobility Vision.  Two things really jumped out at me.  The first is that METRO is showing $24 *billion* of new rail lines as a "minimum need"!! Not sure where that funding is supposed to come from, or if it did magically appear, whether all these lines would be the best use of it.  The other thing that jumped out at me? Well, if you look closely, evidently the downtown CBD is moving to the East End... lol.

TAG Houston Regional Mobility Vision

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At 6:55 AM, May 18, 2016, Blogger George Rogers said...

Austin won that list because of smaller base.


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