Washington, DC’s Zoning Regulations Target ‘Fast Casual’ Restaurants

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

It’d be hard to find any one news story that fully captures the ironies and biases driving America’s zoning regulations. These laws were justified a century ago by property owners who wanted to expel undesirable people and uses. They have since evolved into Kafkaesque legal webs that often keep out any use, including well-liked ones. But this evolution was captured pretty well in a recent story out of Washington, DC, where laws designed to prevent fast food chains are now blocking trendy ‘fast casual’ restaurants–and could be selectively changed to help the latter, but not the former…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Tokyo’s Affordable Housing Strategy: Build, Build, Build

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

For urbanites living in America’s most expensive cities, it must seem like there’s no solution to the affordable housing crisis. They look around and see numerous construction cranes, only to discover that these new units are, like much of the existing stock, beyond their price range. This, however, amounts to an anecdotal observation on their part. It may seem like there is a lot of construction in destination cities such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. But these cities still aren’t building to the pace of their population growth.… Read more

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Watch Scott’s Two TV Appearances On Austin’s Local News

Last week, I published articles about two hot-button Austin issues, Austin’s Commuter Rail Is A Monument To Government Waste and Austin Needs to Unleash Sixth Street. The articles got a lot of views and comments, leading to back-to-back nightly TV appearances on KVUE, Austin’s local ABC affiliate.

The articles also got much local print commentary, both negative and positive:

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Houston Builder Combines Two Key Housing Types: Micro-Units And Condo Hotels

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

In the fall of 2015, developer Novel Creative Development LLC announced that it would build Ivy Lofts, the nation’s largest micro-unit condo project, in Houston. It appears, however, that the company overestimated demand in the city for these tiny apartments, which have been touted as a key to making U.S. cities affordable. The company has responded by converting some of the building’s unsold units into condo hotels. Rather than a failure, then, Novel’s building could be quite innovative, combining two building types that are crucial to producing smaller, more flexible and more centrally-located housing in urban America…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Austin Needs To Unleash 6th Street

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Austin, TX–People familiar with Austin might be perplexed by this headline, having noted that the city’s main nightlife strip is already plenty unleashed. I’m talking, of course, about a certain portion of 6th Street stretching through downtown, known here by locals as “Dirty Sixth.” It is one of America’s leading strips for music and debauchery, and one of Austin’s leading tourism drivers. But the area’s potential is constrained by the same anti-nightlife regulations that are common nationwide. In Austin, these regulations have been recently strengthened, thanks to a perverse and seldom-discussed brand of NIMBYism…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Austin’s Commuter Rail Is A Monument To Government Waste

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Austin, TX–Last Saturday morning, while stumbling upon an Austin rail station, I was able to imagine at micro level what it must be like to visit one of China’s ghost cities. I was in Leander, an Austin suburb that has the northernmost stop on the metro area’s commuter rail system, when I spotted a multi-acre station plopped across what was essentially a rural area. After parking in the empty lot, I got out and walked around, to find a clean, well-landscaped facility that had not one human in sight.… Read more

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Dallas and Houston: Centers For Economic Development

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Dallas, TX–There is ongoing speculation about how cities can attract economic development, particularly the large-scale kind spurred by corporate relocations. The question is particularly important to public officials, who view such growth as a way to get instant jobs and tax revenue. The answer may lie in the examples of Houston and Dallas, two metro areas that have been among the nation’s economic growth leaders. Their causes for success are multi-faceted, and refute some of the received wisdom, but mostly boil down to their open economies…[read the rest at Forbes]

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Does President Obama Have A ‘Regionalism’ Agenda?

[Originally published by Market Urbanism]

 

[Editor’s note: Scott wrote this article in 2012 after President Obama’s reelection, and provides a modified version here. It reviews a book claiming that the president would use his second term to usher in a “regionalism” agenda bent on controlling local land use. The book was an interesting precursor to Obama’s recent urban policies, which some have found extreme and others mild. Scott will use the president’s final 6 months in office to analyze these policies, both for Market Urbanism and Forbes. This article provides context for what was being said prior to the changes.]

Generally speaking, presidents are judged based on how they address a few key issues.… Read more

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Miami’s Parking Deregulation Will Reduce Housing Costs

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

One of the great thought experiments in modern urban planning is to consider just how much cheaper life would be if the government didn’t enforce minimum parking requirements. Academics like UCLA professor Donald Shoup, for example, have noted that these mandates raise construction costs for housing, retail and office space, especially in dense cities, where building parking is both more expensive and less necessary. For this reason, several cities have deregulated at least certain aspects of their parking codes. Miami has done this for much of its new housing stock, and appears to be reaping the benefits through cheaper and more abundant units…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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The Explosive Northern Growth Of Metro Dallas

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Plano, TX–The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is the second fastest-growing metro in the nation. According to Census figures, from July of 2014 to July of 2015, it added 144,704 people, trailing only Houston. This is nothing new, as Dallas has, along with the other Big 4 in Texas, consistently been among the nation’s 10 fastest-growing major metros for years. But these figures are still just numbers on a page. What does the growth look like in real life? Recently, I spent a day driving through the metroplex’s northern portion, finding it to be endless and explosive…[read the rest at Forbes]

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