Houston Or Portland: Which City Is Doing Urban Density Better?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Among those who appreciate cities and urban density, there are often very different associations about Houston and Portland. To many, Houston is a pro-growth metro where “the market” has led to a sprawling, incohesive hellscape. Portland, meanwhile, is considered a metro where enlightened government planning has produced walkable, European-style urbanism. Because both started from roughly the same place—as post-WWII, automobile-oriented metros—and because one has presumably become cool and cultured, while the other is disperse and smoggy, urbanists seem to believe that this validates the pro-planning model….[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More

Airbnb’s Sublet Service Would Be A Welcome Addition To The Housing Market

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Airbnb—an online platform better known for connecting travelers with vacated homes over short stays—is considering an expansion into the temporary sublet market. Although the company has provided subletting services since 2011, it recently hired McKinsey & Co. to research the market more, hoping to grow and compete with Craigslist’s “sublets/temporary” section. The company thus seems to recognize its evolving role, from a vacation service into an option for long-term apartment seekers, and the millions of freelancers and employees who temporarily locate in U.S.… Read more

Read More

What Is The Market Demand For Micro Housing In San Francisco?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

San Francisco, CA–There’s no doubt that the demand for living in San Francisco would, under an open market, create far more housing; this, in essence, is what the high prices and Nimby battles are all about. But one remaining mystery would be—void of the regulatory barriers, what type of housing would all this demand create? Existing data and anecdotal observation suggests that a lot of it would be micro housing…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Los Angeles: Skid Row In Hollywood

[Originally published by HousingOnline.com]

 

[editor’s note: I’ve been hired by HousingOnline.com–a building trade magazine–to be their roving urban correspondent, providing bimonthly articles on the financial and regulatory climates within different U.S. cities. Because they have a paywall, I’ll be republishing, with their permission, all articles in full on this blog.] 

 

Los Angeles, CA—Los Angeles is, by some metrics, America’s homeless capital. It has a county-wide nightly unsheltered population of roughly 82,000, including 13,000 who are chronically homeless. There is a broad understanding that building more supportive housing units, such as the kind financed by Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), is needed to address this problem.… Read more

Read More

Measure S Would Grip Los Angeles In A Housing Shortage

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Los Angeles, CA–The City of Angels is suffering from a housing shortage, to the point that median prices have risen into the rarefied air of $610,000. This trend has grown starker recently, with L.A.’s prices increasing by an astonishing $240,000 in just 5 years, leading to sudden spikes in homelessness and evictions. It might seem counter-intuitive, then, to pass a broad sweeping measure that would effectively ban new housing construction. But that is what residents could do if they vote “yes” on the upcoming Measure S…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More

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

When Local Control Backfires

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

Many political analysts believe that local government is the best government. The act of delegating responsibilities to states and localities is thought to increase accountability by putting governments closer to the people. But local governance can backfire, especially when parochial interests trump larger regional concerns. Nowhere is this more evident than in housing, where prices are skyrocketing in many U.S. cities…[read the rest at Governing Magazine]… Read more

Read More

Could The Fair Housing Act Be Used To Abolish Restrictive Zoning?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

In the debate on how to solve the urban housing affordability issue, there is a theoretical side and a political side. On the theoretical side, a growing bipartisan cluster of journalists, academics, business people, and even the president himself has concluded that zoning and other land use regulations increase housing costs, and must be reformed or abolished. But politically speaking, such deregulation is unlikely, since these regulations are enforced at local level, where they are preserved by homeowners who benefit from restricting the housing supply.… Read more

Read More

San Antonio: Growth And Success In The Mexican-American Capital

[Originally printed in the San Antonio Business Journal (paywall) and republished by the Center for Opportunity Urbanism]

 

[Ed’s note: this was part of a larger project by Joel Kotkin’s think tank, the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, to explain the growth of Texas’ cities. Scott’s essay is on pg. 40 of the pdf.]

 

San Antonio, TX — For decades, as many U.S. cities declined, and others became overly exclusive, cities in Texas evolved into places of opportunity. Due in large part to liberalized economic policies, the state’s “Big Four” metro areas — Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio — consistently rank among the nation’s leaders in population growth and job growth, experiencing the rapid urbanization once common among America’s legacy cities.… Read more

Read More

Here’s Why Your Home Is 24% Overpriced

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

There is overwhelming academic literature saying that government regulations cause higher housing costs. I wrote an article weeks ago listing about two dozen studies that identified multiple types of regulation, and the effects they had on increasing prices, exacerbating inequality, and forcing unwanted lifestyle shifts. Some additional data published recently is more granular, analyzing not only the effects, say, of zoning, but of impact fees, building codes, design reviews, bureaucratic delays and more. The paper’s alarming conclusion is that government regulation adds 24.3% to the average price of new homes in America…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More