Modern Zoning Would Have Killed Off America’s Dense Cities

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

For people who like dense, walkable, transit-oriented, cosmopolitan cities, there are only a few genuine options in America. They have New York City, Chicago, DC, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and maybe portions of a few other cities. These “legacy cities” are unique because they grew before the automobile, necessitating dense settlement patterns, while most other U.S. cities grew afterwards. But another, far less discussed, factor is that they grew before the evolution of strict zoning regulations. From the Industrial Era until World War II, these cities received floods of immigrants, and allowed developers to build housing for them, since there was very little legal framework to stop this.… Read more

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Subsidizing Light Rail Is Like Subsidizing The Landline Telephone

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

What would happen if your city, in the name of progress, started giving poorer residents vouchers for landline telephones rather than smartphones? Or if, rather than stocking public libraries with computers, so that people could write emails, your city installed fax machines? You would consider these unnecessary expenditures on outdated technologies. Yet when it comes to public transit, many cities splurge on modes designed for a different time and place—namely light rail…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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hemisfair

San Antonio Looks To Boost Core With Hemisfair Park

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

San Antonio, TX–A half-century ago, the city of San Antonio made a huge mistake. To prepare for the 1968 World’s Fair, it used eminent domain to destroy an entire neighborhood. The Fair came and went, and some longstanding uses were built, but much of the area has festered ever since. Now, in an atonement of past sins, the city is making the space usable again–and rebuilding a core piece of downtown–by opening Hemisfair Park…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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The Republican Party’s Urban Problem

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

We’ve been hearing for years that the Republican Party is suffering a demographic crisis. There aren’t enough old people, or white people, or Christian fundamentalists to support its existing ideological message, and the problem will only worsen as America diversifies. This may be true, but there is one demographic factor that underlies it all–the GOP doesn’t win cities, and hasn’t for decades. This is a problem, because major metros have become the strongest areas for population growth. If the GOP wants to survive, it must address this urban problem…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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How No Zoning Laws Works For Houston

[Originally published by The Federalist]

 

Houston, TX — When traveling through America’s foremost boomtown, the atmosphere of change quickly becomes evident, from new buildings to added traffic. But one can’t truly appreciate this growth until on a balcony. So there I was one December evening in 2015 atop a high-rise, watching the sun set over Houston. My view was of an urban core that, contrary to its reputation, has become dense, global, and cosmopolitan. The panorama conveyed, moreover, growth that has been driven not by government centralization, but a laissez-faire mentality….[read the rest at The Federalist]… Read more

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puertorico

Puerto Rico’s Business Climate Problem

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

San Juan, PR–Puerto Rico has defaulted, again. After failing to pay a $58 million bill in August of 2015, it defaulted on May 2 on $422 million in bond payments. This has reignited calls for Congress to bail out the U.S. territory, helping fix a financial situation harmed by unfunded pension obligations, rampant welfare reliance, and a near decade-long recession. But a bailout wouldn’t address the underlying conditions that have discouraged growth. For this, the island needs a better business climate…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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cumbia

When It Comes To Millennial Appeal, San Antonio Is Creeping On Austin

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

San Antonio, TX–Within the broader narrative about gentrification in America’s hottest cities, there has been a sub-plot. That sub-plot is the following: when high housing prices push Millennials out of trendy cities, or prevent them from moving there in the first place, said Millennials don’t just dissipate into the wilderness. Instead, they find nearby cities that provide a similar, if slightly more subdued, lifestyle at lower cost. Hence, some young people are moving from Washington, DC, to Baltimore, or from San Francisco to Portland, or from Manhattan to Brooklyn (although many Brooklynites now go to Queens and New Jersey).… Read more

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The Perils and Promises of a Popular Yet Controversial Financing Method

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

Tax increment financing (TIF) is one of the most popular financing techniques in a locality’s toolbox. It’s also one of the most unpopular methods among some policy wonks. Intended to eliminate blight in the poorest neighborhoods, TIF projects are often criticized for funneling money away from core services and to neighborhoods that are neither blighted nor poor. But the problem with TIF isn’t the policy itself. When applied properly, TIF can bring the notions of value capture and financial accountability to public works…[read the rest at Governing]… Read more

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Will San Francisco’s Solar Panel Mandate Increase Housing Costs?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

San Francisco has some of the nation’s highest housing prices, whether one is looking at median home values or median rents. One reason for this, among many, is the city’s rigorous approval process for new housing projects, which increases costs for developers. On April 19, the city added another layer, mandating that new buildings add solar photovoltaic panels. This will likely further increase said compliance and construction costs, which will then be passed onto consumers…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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A Private Proposal To Solve Chicago’s Freight Rail Bottleneck

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

As the Midwest’s most important economic hub, Chicago is naturally the focal point for much rail traffic. Both Amtrak and Metra, a regional rail transit authority, run through the city, as do six of the nation’s seven largest freight railroads. These trains carry goods between America’s East and West coasts, and between Canada and the U.S. South, with Chicago handling roughly 25% of nationwide rail traffic. This has created massive bottlenecks, with trains sometimes taking days to get through the city. Every level of government—federal, state, regional and local—has tried addressing the problem.… Read more

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