austin

I Spent A Year Traveling Through America’s Fast-Growing Sunbelt

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

There’s a severe shift occurring right now in the United States. The Northeast and Midwest are ceding people to the South and West, with migrants moving particularly to America’s Sunbelt. Like with other global migration shifts, there is an underlying political context to all this. Regulations on housing construction and other economic activities are making certain northern cities hostile to all but elite income groups. Meanwhile, the more open southern economies are receiving the exodus, becoming more economically and culturally dynamic. For the last year, I’ve traveled through this southern slice of the country, witnessing all these changes at street level–and it’s been something to behold…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More

What Is The Best City In Texas?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Throughout my recent stay in Texas, residents would often ask which of its major cities I liked the most–Austin, Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. Residents were curious to hear this, given that I was an outsider living for a month each in all four. They also wanted to know because this is a hot topic in Texas; the four cities have become some of America’s most economically dynamic places, and have ongoing rivalries for food, sports, and cultural cache.

To this point, the question was always less about which city had the best economy, and more about quality of life and street cred–where would I actually want to live?…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More

austin-rail

Austin’s Rail Transit Boondoggle, Further Explained

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

[For the author’s original piece on this subject, click here].

Several months ago, while living in Austin, I wrote a critique of the city’s commuter rail line. In a lengthy op-ed, I described the train as “a monument to government waste” and “perhaps America’s leading rail transit failure.” The reaction was swift and visceral. The article’s comments section filled up with locals both for and against the train. The local press ate it up too, with the article reviewed by the Austin American-Statesman, the Austin Business Journal, and several area blogs.… Read more

Read More

Home, Away From Home

[Originally printed in City Journal]

 

[Ed’s note: my latest piece appeared as a sidebar in a larger print essay by Aaron Renn about the urbanization of Texas. The whole essay is worth reading, since it captures the monumental growth taking place in Texas’ four largest metros.]

Dominated by working-class families who’ve lived in the city for generations, San Antonio has long maintained stable demographics. Many Anglos descend from Texas’s early European settlers, while, contrary to public perception of the city as an immigrant hub, many Hispanics are Tejanos—native Texans of Mexican descent—who were born in the city or in the Rio Grande Valley.… Read more

Read More

Why Is Austin’s Housing More Expensive Than Other Texas Cities?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Austin, TX–There is a similar narrative driving all four of Texas’ big metros, and it is a positive one. Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio have, since 2000, been among the nation’s leading major metros for economic and population growth. But, surprisingly, this growth has severely influenced housing prices in only one of them. Median home values in metro Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio, while increasing, remain, according to Zillow, below or just above the national median of $187,300. The Austin metro, however, has median home values of $254,500, and the city proper is Texas’ 2nd most expensive home-buying market, trailing only the beach town of Galveston.… Read more

Read More

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:

Read more

Read More

sixth street

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

Read More

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Read More

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

Read More

How To Quantify A Successful City

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

[Adapted from a speech I gave at the American Dream Coalition’s 2015 conference]

 

Austin, TX

As a traveling journalist, I visit many cities, and whenever arriving, the first thing I do is step right into their downtowns and try to figure out at street level whether they are “working.” And after several days in town, I’ve seen numerous clues that imply this about Austin. There are construction cranes, new roads, an energetic young population–this feels like a boomtown. At the same time, I’ve visited other cities and instantly determined that something is off.… Read more

Read More