Housing

Book Review: Designed For The Future by Jared Green

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By the fifth word of Designed for the Future, Jared Green had almost lost me. By the end, he hadn’t quite gained me. This slim, visually interesting handbook presents “80 practical ideas for a sustainable world” from the noted author of The Dirt, a weekly blog sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Green’s earnest mission is to find hope for the future, and with this book, he edits a collection of essays that points to some projects that do.  read more »

The Really Big Housing Picture

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Everywhere I go it seems there’s some kind of housing crisis. In some places home values are dropping precipitously, people are unable to sell and move on, and formerly middle class homes are being abandoned or converted to poorly maintained rental properties. In other places home values and rents are obscenely high and ordinary people and essential workers are being driven out of whole cities and counties. The national economy has bifurcated and the shrinking middle class is reflected in a two tiered housing market. I’d like to explore the root causes of the situation.  read more »

Historic Districts: The Past or The Future?

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Preservation seems like an easy idea to support. Who would be against it? History, character, and a sense of place are what great communities are all about. They generate tourism and makes us all culturally richer. Landowners in historic districts even enjoy higher land values than nearby landowners in newer, usually blander developments. What’s not to like?

Apparently, a lot. Cities unilaterally impose ordinances from time to time, regulating building size, shape and use, and rarely are there complaints, although the changes affect everyone in the city.  read more »

Blaming Foreigners for Unaffordable Housing

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In a number of Western world cities, there is rising concern about foreign housing purchases which may be driving up prices for local residents. Much of the attention is aimed at mainland Chinese buyers in metropolitan areas where housing is already pricier than elsewhere. The concern about housing affordability is legitimate. However, blaming foreigners misses the point, which is that the rising prices are to a large degree the result of urban containment policies implemented by governments.  read more »

Countering Progressives' Assault on Suburbia

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The next culture war will not be about issues like gay marriage or abortion, but about something more fundamental: how Americans choose to live. In the crosshairs now will not be just recalcitrant Christians or crazed billionaire racists, but the vast majority of Americans who either live in suburban-style housing or aspire to do so in the future. Roughly four in five home buyers prefer a single-family home, but much of the political class increasingly wants them to live differently.  read more »

Homebuyers Confront China Syndrome

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China has hacked our government, devastated or severely challenged our industries and enjoyed one of the greatest wealth transfers in history – from our households to its. China also benefits from by far the largest trade surplus with the United States and also owns 11 percent of our national debt.

Sometimes it seems to be increasingly China’s world, and we just happen to live in it. Some, such as columnist Thomas Friedman and Daniel A. Bell, author of the newly published “The China Model,” even suggest we adjust our political system to more closely resemble that of the Chinese.  read more »

Some Kindly Advice From an Old White Guy

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Last month I bought an old fixer-upper for $15,000 in Cincinnati. It was originally offered at $17,000, but I got the sellers down a bit. The place is a complete disaster. All the copper pipes and wires have been stripped out of the building. It hasn’t seen paint for decades. Every window and door needs to be replaced. The roof is shot. There’s no insulation of any kind. The yard is a mess. And there are plenty of similar houses in the neighborhood. So why exactly did I buy it? I’ll get to that in a minute.  read more »

Australia’s Recipe for Urban Decay

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Across federal, state, and local levels, Australian urban planning authorities have emphasized the need for policies that seek to limit urban fringe development and create densely-populated urban centers. This process is called ‘urban consolidation’ and has been a goal of Australian authorities for more than three decades. More specifically, urban consolidation is defined by efforts to concentrate housing, jobs, and amenities around “activity centers” such as a traditional downtown, satellite urban centers, and elongated strategic corridors.  read more »

Stack and Pack vs. Smear All Over

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I drove out to a distant suburb recently to attend to some business and I passed by a cluster of billboards on the side of the freeway that got me thinking. The general gist of the slogans asserted a conservative anti-government anti-urban rebellion. These are clearly people who don’t want density and public transit imposed on them by pointy headed liberal idiots. I have to admit I have some sympathy for this perspective, although probably not for the same reasons as the billboard people.  read more »

The California Dream has Moved Away

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Southern California faces a serious middle income housing affordability crisis. I refer to middle income housing, because this nation has become so successful in democratizing property ownership that the overwhelming majority of middle income households own their own homes in most of the country.  read more »