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

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portland ugb

Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary: A Driver of Suburban Sprawl

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Portland, OR–Ever since Portland adopted an urban growth boundary (UGB), there have been numerous and very legitimate criticisms of the policy. The boundary has increased housing prices, devalued the properties of certain land owners, and robbed consumers of housing styles they might prefer. But there is one potential negative that has been overlooked–and is rather ironic–given the plan’s original intentions. The boundary may be driving suburban sprawl to points well beyond the Portland metro area…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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miami beach

How Far Can Miami’s Beach Development Spread?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

When people think of Miami’s beach culture, they likely focus on the three miles of shoreline along the heart of Miami Beach. What they may not realize is that this culture is spreading north, to previously suburban areas like Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale. This new growth results from the same secret sauce that has bolstered South Florida at large. These once-mild coastal townships are allowing new people, crafting model public spaces, funding forward-thinking infrastructure, and most importantly, letting builders build. The result is a fast-spreading, vertical brand of urbanism that has become the region’s trademark, and turned it into an ever-growing global destination…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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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

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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

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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

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juarez-plaza

Mexico’s Border Cities Have Brilliant Public Spaces

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico–When most people think of Mexico’s border cities, they envision violence and drug smuggling. But if you are willing to risk a visit—and, frankly, it doesn’t feel all that risky once there—you’ll find dynamic urban street settings that are largely unsurpassed in America. From almost the second you cross the bridges into these cities, you leave the suburban sterility of the U.S. and enter an oasis of density, mixed uses, and narrow, crowded streets. Central to this atmosphere are the many brilliant public spaces…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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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.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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