[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]
Jersey Village, TX
Barry Klein could have chosen a lazier activity for a mid-December Saturday morning in this small suburb just west of Houston. But instead he was banging on doors in an upscale neighborhood—fighting through sporadic rain and face-to-face political disagreements—to collect signatures for a petition. In the process, he was demonstrating for me what he believes is the future of government reform in America…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
Because of its global nature, Houston is a city where local conditions are influenced by worldwide trends. Oil prices–ever the result of Middle East turmoil–can be the difference between a citywide boom or mass layoffs. Strife throughout Latin America or Asia can spur waves of immigration. And tight land use regulations along America’s East and West Coasts have caused young professionals to flood Houston’s cheaper housing market. The latest example of this global imprint will be the Panama Canal expansion…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
When I first entered Houston and got an Airbnb apartment, I thought I would be living in just another place. The room that I found was inside an aging and nondescript house in a trendy single-family neighborhood called the Heights. Little did I know that the building will one day be part of a magnificent experiment, by a company with global ambitions.
There has been much conversation, particularly in the developing world, about how this is the century of the city, with rural migrants flooding into major metro areas seeking opportunity. But existing governments have shown limited ability in providing these newcomers with predictable rules and services. As a result, there have been calls for new administrative systems that function autonomously from older ones. The latest concept to join the fray are Micro Cities…[read the rest at Forbes]
If random Americans were surveyed about what they thought was the nation’s–and world’s–largest medical center, they might have predictable answers. Among the guesses would be the Cleveland Clinic or the Mayo Clinic, or something out of America’s most culturally-notable cities, like New York-Presbyterian Hospital. But they would be wrong. The answer lies in a lesser-known center that sits within a city of underrated economic importance: the Texas Medical Center…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
The growth of Houston has far surpassed the perception about it from outsiders. Thanks to a warm climate, pro-business policies, and a lack of zoning, it is now America’s 4th-largest city, and is creeping up on perpetually-mismanaged Chicago. In the process, it has nurtured a host of amenities that signify its newly-global status, from the world’s largest medical center to one of America’s best restaurant scenes. Add to these several new parks, with more to come, that could tweak the city’s sprawling and auto-centric reputation…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
If urban American governance has long been a cesspool for machine politics, then Houston, with its light regulation and pro-growth mentality, has been perceived as the exception. But it turns out that for at least one issue, Clutch City mirrors the rest. A recent report by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, a local research-oriented philanthropy, found that Houston suffers from a growing public employee pension crisis that could soon make it just another debt-saddled U.S. city.
As the U.S. grows more urban and diverse, the debate rages over which city-building model will best create future prosperity. A new Houston think tank is providing views on this subject seldom heard in urban planning circles. In late 2014, Joel Kotkin, a Chapman University geographer and fellow Forbes writer, started the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. The think tank focuses on how U.S. cities—many of which declined in the last half-century—can regrow their economies…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
It was only a matter of time. For decades, Houston, TX, avoided government centralization even amid rapid growth, functioning without zoning, a master plan, or even a broad vision for how it was supposed to look. But as the centralized model has become popular elsewhere, local officials felt that they were falling behind, and have launched the city’s first General Plan. [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more