Sunday, September 10, 2023

METRO $ needs to support higher City priorities, dropping fertility rates, updated home affordability, better bike safety, and tragic land-regulation consequences in Maui

 Summer blog break is over and I'm back! Quite a few backlogged items:

Research shows that higher population densities mean lower fertility rates. High housing prices also lead to lower fertility rates. Further research shows that “living in spacious housing and in a family-friendly environment for a relatively long time leads to higher fertility.” 

In short, if you think that preventing demographic collapse is a good thing, then this becomes one more reason to oppose planners who want to densify American cities. Planners’ efforts to force more people to live in apartments or smaller homes by making housing artificially expensive could be the downfall of the American economy.

  • 2023 Demographia US Housing Housing Affordability Study released. Houston is worsening but still better than most of the country, and I think our home price-to-income ratio may be temporarily skewed upward. With high mortgage rates, I think more of the middle and working class are out of the market, so recent sales skew wealthier (not to mention they make up more of the remote/hybrid work employees willing to upgrade moving farther out) – people who might be selling an existing home and paying cash for a new one (or at least a very substantial down payment). This would skew the home price-to-income ratio to make Houston look more unaffordable than it really is. 
  • Tragic unintended consequences: Hawaii restrictive land-use law -> reduced housing supply -> skyrocketing prices -> drives away farm labor -> farms bankrupted with flammable grasses left behind instead of fire-resistant native or agricultural plants -> deadly fires in Maui.
  • New Orleans Dismantles Bike Lanes:

Rather than create an illusion of safety with bike lanes that increase congestion, bicycle advocates should focus on programs, such as improved intersection designs, that actually do make bicycling safer without necessarily hampering auto driving. Unfortunately, too many city planners and bicycle groups are stuck in the “automobiles are evil” mentality and anything that hurts autos is regarded as a win for bicycles even if it results in more bicycle riders being injured or killed.

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