richard florida

Richard Florida’s Latest Book Hits, Then Misses, The ‘New Urban Crisis’

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

For all the mockery it’s drawn, the central idea on which celebrity urbanist Richard Florida built his career was not a bad one. In 2002, the current University of Toronto business professor wrote The Rise of the Creative Class, about America’s growing subset of workers who were generally educated, wealthy, and in creative professions. His book also advanced the creative class theory, which posits that cities do best not by luring companies, but by drawing these workers, and that economic development strategies should be tailored towards the latter.… Read more

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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

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Nativism: The Thread That Connects Progressive NIMBYs With Donald Trump

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Who does this sound like? A group dealing with economic disruption decides that, rather than addressing its problems internally, it will blame outsiders. So the group adopts a nativist stance, looking to build walls, enforce regulations and impose taxes that discourage outside people and goods. The group also adopts a reactionary cultural conservatism, legitimizing stagnancy as a means to preserve “heritage” and “character.” Is this the mentality driving much of Donald Trump’s support base, and America’s turn towards “Trumpism”? Surely it’s a factor. But at the urban level, it describes a group that generally hates Trump, yet mirrors his thinking; that is, progressives who preach openness, yet keep new people out of their neighborhood through NIMBYism…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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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

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The Verdict Is In: Land Use Regulations Increase Housing Costs

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

This past Monday, September 26, could prove to be a landmark day in the political discussion about urban America’s housing woes. On that day, the connection between land-use regulations and higher housing costs, long made by urbanist bloggers and think-tankers, was finally acknowledged by a sitting president, when the Obama administration published the report “Housing Development Toolkit.” Rather than echoing past presidential administrations, and thinking up all the ways that the federal government could subsidize homeownership, the report listed why homes are so expensive in the first place: restrictive zoning, bureaucratic delay and other regulations.… Read more

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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

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Zoning: America’s Local Version Of Crony Capitalism

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

When people hear “crony capitalism,” they usually envision corporatist policy at the higher levels of government. It might be the federal Export-Import bank subsidizing Boeing, or Nevada granting Tesla tax breaks. But perhaps the most common form is the kind occurring in your own backyard. In many U.S. municipalities, zoning codes have evolved from reasonable public protections into regulatory cobwebs that benefit the rich over the poor. If a crony system is, according to Investopedia, one where “instead of success being determined by a free market and the rule of law, the success of a business is dependent on the favoritism that is shown to it by the ruling government,” then zoning is cronyism’s localized version…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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America’s Ugly Strip Malls Were Caused By Government Regulation

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

There is a common architectural language that I’ve found while traveling America. The most interesting part of any city is generally its downtown, with historic buildings and narrow streets. But drive a couple miles—or in small towns, several blocks—in any direction, and the terrain quickly devolves. Major roadways turn into strip malls fronted with parking lots and endless stretches of chain retail. These strip-mall arterials exist nationwide, robbing cities of their appeal. The common wisdom is that they result from “the market,” as monuments to American capitalism and consumerism.… Read more

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Washington, DC’s Zoning Regulations Target ‘Fast Casual’ Restaurants

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

It’d be hard to find any one news story that fully captures the ironies and biases driving America’s zoning regulations. These laws were justified a century ago by property owners who wanted to expel undesirable people and uses. They have since evolved into Kafkaesque legal webs that often keep out any use, including well-liked ones. But this evolution was captured pretty well in a recent story out of Washington, DC, where laws designed to prevent fast food chains are now blocking trendy ‘fast casual’ restaurants–and could be selectively changed to help the latter, but not the former…[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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