Sunday, November 17, 2019

World Series Houspitality, HTX #1 for entrepreneurship higher ed, cities Americans are leaving, Austin's fantasy, and more

A few items this week:
"Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, and the city of Austin and Austin’s transit agency, Capital Metro, have a plan for dealing with all of the traffic that will be generated by that growth: assume that a third of the people who now drive alone to work will switch to transit, bicycling, walking, or telecommuting by 2039. That’s right up there with planning for dinner by assuming that food will magically appear on the table the same way it does in Hogwarts.
Planners have developed two main approaches to transportation. One is to estimate how people will travel and then provide and maintain the infrastructure to allow them to do so as efficiently and safely as possible. The other is to imagine how you wish people would travel and then provide the infrastructure assuming that to happen. The latter method is likely to lead to misallocation of capital resources, increased congestion, and increased costs to travelers. 
Austin’s plan is firmly based on this second approach. The city’s targets of reducing driving alone by a third, maintaining carpooling at an already too-high number, and increasing transit by 394 percent are completely unrealistic. No American city has achieved similar results in the past two decades and none are likely to come close in the next two decades."
  • Animated graph of Where Americans are Leaving: Net Domestic Migration Out Of Metro Areas 2010-2018. Mostly the big 3 of NYC, LA, and Chicago, but Houston does appear at the bottom near the end. Harvey losses I assume. Excerpt:
"People vote with their feet.  Sunbelt states overall offer stronger economies, more job opportunities, better weather, and lower taxes.  These trends may have political implications, as “blue state” residents move to “red” states, perhaps making them more “purple.”"
Finally, while we're all disappointed in how the World Series turned out (how the heck did the home team lose *every* game?!), there is a small silver lining in the ad Nationals fans put in the Chronicle, which I think is an excellent example of Houspitality!

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Promoting the Houston model in South Africa, Morocco, and California

I'm back! Apologies for the sporadic posts in October - it was quite the travel month for me: two smart cities workshops (Johannesburg, South Africa and Marrakesh, Morocco), another workshop on the California affordable housing crisis with this guy (Irvine, CA), work in Connecticut, and fill-in mini-vacations in Cape Town and Barcelona (and I highly recommend both!). Whew. Way too much time on airplanes. But now I'm back in H-town and ready to be settled at home for a while.

Some items of interest from the trips:
  • In Johannesburg, I presented the MetroNext 2040 plan and how it had evolved politically, especially from light rail to BRT.  It got a ton of interest in the small group breakouts/Q&A.  A lot of curiosity about BRT and MaX Lanes.  Glad to see the plan passed strongly.  Congrats, Metro. Now can we execute quickly on the plan while staying under budget? ;-)
  • In Marrakesh, I presented the Houston model of opportunity urbanism and no-zoning, which definitely sparked a spicy debate from the smart-growthers in the room! The workshop focus was Middle Eastern/North African cities, and I got the impression their representatives were much more receptive to a model that focuses on affordability and opportunity.
  • In California... well, to be frank, California is pretty screwed.  Their housing is completely unaffordable and getting worse, as demand far outpaces new supply. Their CEQA environmental law makes it easy for any anonymous party to sue to stop any development anywhere, which has basically killed development.  Both the environmental and labor movements - which essentially control the California government - acknowledge the flaws, but aren't willing to give up the leverage it gives them.  My solution pitch was MaX Lanes to connect remote suburban housing markets to vibrant coastal job centers with high-speed autonomous buses.
Before I end with some pics below, a reminder that this blog is sponsored by My Best Plan for absolutely optimizing the lowest-cost electricity plan for you.  I've known David over there for years (fellow Rice MBA), and his optimization algorithm is the best, bar none. And completely unbiased too, which can't be said for some of the other optimizers out there that have been uncovered as fronts for electricity marketing companies.  Send him (or me) your latest electricity bill to get an estimate of your potential savings - it's free, and you have nothing to lose while potentially saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars (as he's saved me over the years).

Now finishing this post with a couple of pictures from the trip:

Meeting the Mayor in the Johannesburg city council chambers, which are quite impressive, but I can't imagine trying to run a city government with that many different representatives (at least a 100+).  Glad Houston keeps it a more manageable number, even if our council chambers aren't as impressive.

The "Houston, we have a problem" meme has even made it to Barcelona bus shelters, lol 🙄  Well, at least we're known globally, right?

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