Staying the Same: Urbanization in America


The recent release of the 2010 US census data on urban areas (Note 1) shows that Americans continue to prefer their lower density lifestyles, with both suburbs and exurbs (Note 2) growing more rapidly than the historic core municipalities.  This may appear to be at odds with the recent Census Bureau 2011 metropolitan area population estimates, which were widely mischaracterized as indicating exurban (and suburban) losses and historical core municipality gains.  read more »

Homebuilding: Recovery & Red Tape

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The Recovery Blueprint is a multipart series of articles that offers suggestions on how to recover from the homebuilding recession.

Since the recession began, there haven't been any significant changes in how regulations could be improved to energize the housing market and foster innovation. Three areas where big regulation changes are needed? Environmental subsidies, density requirements, and zoning laws.  read more »

Census Estimates: Slowing Metropolitan Growth and the Future of the Exurbs


Recently the Census Bureau released 2011 county and metro area population estimates that showed overall slowing population growth and particularly showing slow to halting growth in exurban counties.

Someone once said to me about Chicago’s Mayor Daley that if he did something you liked, he was a visionary genius leader, but if he did something you hated, he was a corrupt machine dictator.

That seems to be how too many urbanists view the Census Bureau.  read more »

California Declares War on Suburbia II: The Cost of Radical Densification


My April 9 Cross Country column commentary in The Wall Street Journal (California Declares War on Suburbia) outlined California's determination to virtually outlaw new detached housing. The goal is clear:    force most new residents into multi-family buildings at 20 and 30 or more to the acre.  read more »

Smart Growth: The Maryland Example


This is Part Two of a two-part series.

Evidence that people just don’t like Smart Growth is revealed in findings from organizations set up to promote Smart Growth. In 2009, the Washington Post reported, “Scholars at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education found that over a decade, smart growth has not made a dent in Maryland's war on sprawl.”  read more »

Smart Growth and The New Newspeak

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It’s a given in our representative system that policies adopted into law should have popular support. However, there is a distinction to be made between adopting a policy consistent with what a majority of people want, and pushing a policy while making dubious claims that it harnesses “the will of the people.”  read more »

Honolulu’s Money Train


Honolulu is set to construct an ambitious urban rail project. It’s a $5.125 billion behemoth that this metropolitan area with less than a million residents may not be able to afford.

Honolulu's Beleaguered Residents

Critically, there is plenty of competition for the scarce dollars that Honolulu residents have to spare. The city’s basic infrastructure is in bad shape.  read more »

The Ultimate Houston Strategy


Last week was the 7th anniversary of my blog, Houston Strategies. After 947 posts (cream of the crop here), almost half a million visitors, and thousands of comments in an epic dialogue about Houston, I thought this would be a good time stand back, look at the big picture, and ask "What should be next for Houston?" while linking back to some of the gems from that archive.  read more »

Time for Real Solutions to Vancouver's Housing Affordability Crisis


Vancouver is in desperate need of new solutions to ease its worsening housing affordability crisis. The 8th annual Demographia housing affordability survey released by the Frontier Centre found that Vancouver has the second least affordable housing market next to Hong Kong. On average, and assuming zero interest, a house in Vancouver would cost the median family more than ten years income.  read more »

Housing Affordability: St. Louis’ Competitive Advantage


Things are looking better in St. Louis. For decades, St. Louis has been one of the slowest-growing metropolitan areas of the United States. Its historical core city has lost more than 60 percent of its population since 1950, a greater loss than any other major core municipality in the modern era.  Nonetheless, the metropolitan area, including the city, added nearly 50 percent to its population from 1950. The fate of St. Louis has been similar to that of Rust Belt metropolitan areas in the Midwest and East, as the nation has moved steadily West and South since World War II (Note).  read more »