Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Post-Pandemic Future of Cities

Our Urban Reform Institute - A Center for Opportunity Urbanism recently held a great webinar panel on the post-pandemic future of cities. A highly recommended watch when you have some time. Description and panelists below:

"The Covid-19 pandemic has cut a scar through our society, and particularly our cities. What does the future look like? How will we work and where will we live?  This panel is designed to give insights into the future trends that will shape real estate, work-life, and society in the next decade."


Joel Kotkin - Joel Kotkin is a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University in Orange, California, and Executive Director of Urban Reform Institute.


Tiffany Thomas - Tiffany Thomas is a Houston City Council Member representing District F. As Chair of Housing and Community Affairs for the city, she oversees priorities related to Housing, Veteran Affairs, Homelessness, and Solid Waste. Thomas also currently serves as Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Community Development at Prairie View A&M.

Luis Bernardo Torres -  Formerly with Mexico’s central bank, Banco de Mexico, Luis brings critical international expertise to the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M. Having served four internships with the El Paso office of the Dallas Federal Reserve, Luis understands the workings of central banking, a key driver of U.S. and world economies.

Wendell Cox - Wendell Cox is an American urban policy analyst and academic. He is the principal and sole owner of Wendell Cox Consultancy/Demographia, based in the St. Louis metropolitan region and editor of three websites, Demographia, The Public Purpose, and Urban Tours by Rental Car. Cox is a fellow of numerous think tanks, including Urban Reform Institute.

Andrew Segal -Andrew Segal formed Boxer Property in September 1992. Under his oversight, the company has successfully reached into segments as diverse as resort hotels, retail centers, office, and other real estate businesses, accounting for approximately 20 million square feet of space across the United States.

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Clean energy entrepreneurship in Houston, densification, welcoming refugees, Dallas TOD failure, ADUs, population gains, rankings, and more

Continuing to clear out some backlogged smaller items. A lot of these I tweeted while I was out of town for much of the summer, but just now getting a chance to bring them to the blog:

"If folks looking in still don't see Houston and Texas as the next technology mecca, they soon will."

“Every day I meet another oil and gas guy who is now a climate entrepreneur. I think there is going to be an explosion of clean energy activity out of the O&G sector, and we’ll be stunned in the next 5-7 years by how many of these problems they handle.”

"The disruptive innovation investor said individuals and companies flocking to more affordable areas of the country should keep inflation at bay."

"Austin isn’t the densest metropolitan area in Texas. That honor belongs to the nine-county Houston region, which increased from 1,560 residents per square mile in 2010 to 1,858 in 2020, an increase of about 19%."

"H-Town exudes Southern hospitality: The pace of life is more relaxed than many major cities, and they're welcoming, polite, and eager to share the delights of their city with visitors...make Houstonians less cliquey and more hospitable towards newcomers."

"In short, TOD is simply a scam. Like Portland’s light-rail mafia, which guided subsidies to favored developers who would build TODs, Dallas light rail and TODs are merely a way of transferring money from taxpayers to developers."

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Glaeser touts Houston, HTX vs. Austin compared, Houston art kudos, new best cities rankings

 Continuing to clear out the backlog this week...

"Seven decades later, I'm amazed to hear that some still think of Houston as part of "flyover country" when it has become one of the world's great art cities. What would it take to wake people up to all that diverse, sophisticated Houston has to offer?"

“Messrs. Glaeser and Cutler see nothing less than “the rapid-fire deurbanization of our world.” 
“Uncontrolled pandemic,” the authors write, poses “an existential threat” to the urban world. Nor is the coronavirus the only problem that cities face. “A Pandora’s Box of urban woes has emerged,” they continue, “including overly expensive housing, violent conflict over gentrification, persistently low levels of upward mobility, and outrage over brutal and racially targeted policing and long prison sentences for minor drug crimes.” These are not disparate problems. Rather, they “all stem from a common root: our cities protect insiders and leave outsiders to suffer.” 
In Messrs. Glaeser and Cutler’s view, something has gone deeply wrong with how policy is set in many American cities. Insiders have captured control of how cities operate—and used that control to enrich themselves while providing limited opportunities for newer, younger residents."
I think Houston is better than most cities on these problems, but I'd be curious to hear what you think in the comments...

"Silicon Valley is a perfect example of the long-term problem. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, four counties in northern California—Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara—have per capita incomes over $100,000. Given that extraordinary prosperity, you might think that people would be flooding into the region, as they did after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. Yet they are not. Taken together, those counties’ population grew by only 6.5% between 2010 and 2020, below the average growth rate for large counties. For comparison, Harris County, Texas, where Houston is located, has 35% less land than the four California counties, but in the 2010s its population grew 175% faster.

The reason for this is not hard to find. House prices in Silicon Valley make living there prohibitive for all but the very wealthy. Data from the National Association of Realtors show that in the second quarter of 2021, the median sales price for a new home was $1.7 million in San Jose and $1.4 million in San Francisco. In Houston, the median sales price was $307,000. Given the ease of building in greater Houston, house prices there may actually decline once we get through the pandemic. There is little chance that prices will fall in Silicon Valley.

Harris County is growing so rapidly because it is a place where housing and entrepreneurship are still largely unfettered. In contrast, coastal California is the capital of insider privilege. In 1982, the economist Mancur Olson published “The Rise and Decline of Nations,” in which he argued that in every society, cliques and special interest groups pass laws that limit competition and prevent change."
Hear hear!!

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Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Political guide for moving to Texas (America's Future), Houston no-zoning video, TX HSR re-route? population growth and building permits, airport wins

 Continuing from last week on catch-up items...

  • From Twitter: My oversimplified political guide for moving to Texas: progressives to Austin, conservatives to DFW, and pragmatic centrists and independents to Houston.
  • NYT: The Future of America is Texas 

"But if you’re really looking for a bellwether state that offers a glimpse into the country’s economic future and engines of growth as well as its political fault lines in the long run, it’s not California. It’s Texas." 

"For every new white resident that Texas welcomed over the past decade, there have been three Black residents, three Asians, three people with multiracial backgrounds and 11 Hispanics. Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and Houston also have large L.G.B.T.Q. populations."

"Data from the 2020 Census released August 12 shows Houston at No. 5 (20.3 percent) among the country's 50 largest metro areas in the biggest jump in population from 2010 to 2020.

Houston maintains its position at No. 5 (7,122,240 residents), the Census data notes. For some perspective, Houston was No. 8 (4,944,332) in the 2010 Census.

The Bayou City is also one of the three U.S. metro areas to gain at least 1.2 million residents over the decade. (Dallas-Fort Worth and New York are the others.)"

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