Sunday, January 12, 2020

Media coverage for eliminating Metro fares, HTX accolades, growth, and density revolution - and are we really gentrifying that fast?

The featured news this week is that I was interviewed on both local NPR/KUHF and KPRC about my proposal that Metro eliminate fares.  Hopefully, we'll hear some positive news on it from Metro during their upcoming board meeting.

Moving on to other items this week:
  • Chronicle: Houston gentrifying faster than other Texas cities, Fed analysis finds. What I think this analysis misses is that Houston's lack of zoning allows densification much more easily than other cities, and we have created tens of thousands of new apartments, condos, and townhomes near downtown in recent years allowing higher-salaried newcomers without necessarily displacing existing residents.  I'm not saying gentrification and displacement is not happening (I'm sure some is), but average incomes can certainly move up substantially by adding new residents to new density without displacing existing ones.
  • This Texas-Sized City (Houston) Lets You Earn Big and Live Cheap. Some great excerpts:
"When you choose a place to live, you have to strike a balance between what you want and what you need. Big cities have lots of amenities and job opportunities, but they're often extremely expensive. Smaller areas tend to be a lot more affordable, but you might not be able to come close to earning as much money as you want in order to achieve your financial goals. 
But if you want the best of both worlds, there's one city among the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. that strikes the right balance. As research from The Ascent into salaries and costs of living discovered, the Texas city of Houston should be high up on your list if you want a major population center that won't strain your wallet. 
One reason Houston has been able to keep itself as affordable as it has is that it lacks the extensive land use regulation that many similarly sized communities have. In many cities, zoning laws make it difficult for real estate developers to build new projects to provide more housing for residents, and that can keep housing prices artificially high. That hasn't been the case in Houston, where ample land has allowed the city and its suburbs to expand outward and support a growing population. 
For those seeking a big-city experience but wanting to stick to a budget and even put some money in the bank, Houston offers an attractive balance. With everything a major metropolitan area can offer at a fraction of the price tag you'll find in many similarly sized cities, Houston's worth a closer look for those who want it all."
"Perhaps more impressive is how much Texas expanded from April 2010 (when the last official U.S. headcount was conducted) to July 2019. During that period, Texas added 3,849,790 residents, according to the Census Bureau. To put that into perspective, nearly 4 million people live in the entire state of Oklahoma. Texas' population jumped 15.3 percent from 2010 to 2019, the third highest growth rate behind the District of Columbia and Utah. 
Experts cite economic and job growth — along with a low cost of living, a low cost of doing business, and low taxes compared with many other states — as drivers of Texas' population boom. Helping fuel the boom are substantial population spikes in the state's four largest metro areas: Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio."
Finally, I'd like to end this week's post with a video of one of our COU events. It's a bit long, but a good one to leave on in the background while working at your computer. SMU-Cox Folsom Institute for Real Estate, the SMU Economics Center, and the Center for Opportunity Urbanism presented a lively discussion on Cities, Suburbs, and the New America, and Minorities, Immigrants, and Millennials in America’s Favorite Geography.  The event featured presentations from former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, author Joel Kotkin, and MIT Professor Alan Berger.

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