Best and Worst: 2015 International Housing Affordability


Housing affordability and its impact on   middle income households around the world is emerging as a major concern throughout the developed world. The largest element in household budgets is housing, and house prices have skyrocketed relative to incomes in many metropolitan areas, especially those that have adopted strict land use regulation (particularly urban containment, as described below).  read more »

Land Regulation Making Us Poorer: Emerging Left-Right Consensus


There is an emerging consensus about the destructiveness of excessive land use regulation, both with respect to its impact on housing affordability but also its overall impacts on economies. This is most evident in a recent New Zealand commentary.

New Zealand

Both the center-Left and center-Right have come together in agreement on the depth of New Zealand's housing affordability and its principal cause, overly restrictive urban planning regulations.  read more »

New Report: Building Cities for People


This is the introduction to a new report: “Building Cities for People” published by the Center for Demographics and Policy. The report was authored by Joel Kotkin with help from Wendell Cox, Mark Schill, and Ali Modarres. Download the full report (pdf) here.

Cities succeed by making life better for the vast majority of their citizens. This requires less of a focus on grand theories, architecture or being fashionable, and more on what occurs on the ground level. “Everyday life,” observed the French historian Fernand Braudel, “consists of the little things one hardly notices in time and space.”  read more »

San Francisco With 200,000 More People — Would we be Better Off?


You want something truly scary? Take a look at these mockups of what San Francisco might look like if we build all the housing that the developers say we need.

According to writer Greg Ferenstein,  read more »

People Rather than Places, Ends Rather than Means: LSE Economists on Urban Containment


“People rather than places” should be the focus of urban policy, according to Urban Economics and Urban Policy: Challenging Conventional Policy Wisdom. (paperback, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015 $39.95). The book is among the most effective critiques of contemporary urban planning thought,  characterized by such approaches as urban containment, compact city, and densification. The authors are Paul C. Cheshire, Max and Nathan and Henry G. Overman, all economists at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Cheshire has a long list of publications analyzing urban planning policy. The authors characterize the central thesis of urban planning’s misdirected priorities stating that:

"… that the ultimate objective of urban policy is to improve outcomes for people rather than places; for individuals and families rather than buildings."

 read more »

How Portland Is a Lot Like Texas


One theme I always hammer is that you have to look at proposed policy solutions in the context of the area where you want to apply them.

A great example of this is Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). The UGB, a policy that limits suburban development outside of a line drawn around the Portland region, is widely admired and perhaps even seen a type of holy grail policy in terms of preventing sprawl.  read more »

The Detached iHome of the Future


Will new American housing growth continue to reflect old methods, or will the land development, home building, and consulting industry retool, re-educate, and collaborate to create a new era of more attractive, livable, efficient, and environmentally responsible growth at attainable prices?  read more »

Cherry Hill: The Winners


This is Cherry Hill. It is by far the most desirable suburb in this part of southern New Jersey as measured by all the usual metrics. Property values are high. Public schools are great. The municipal government is lean and responsive. This is as good as the American Dream gets.  read more »

Berlin: The Imperial Impulse in City Planning

Humboldt Forum.jpg

"He who controls Berlin, controls Germany, and who controls Germany, controls Europe." V.I. Lenin (but also attributed to Karl Marx, and sometimes to Otto von Bismarck)

About the time that Syrian refugees were on the march to Germany’s safe havens, I spent a few days in Berlin, which is not only the capital of reunified Germany, but the unofficial capital of the European Union, as well as being hipster ground zero.  read more »


How Land Use Regulations Hurt the Poor


Sandy Ikeda and I have published a new Mercatus paper on the regressive effects of land use regulation. We review the empirical literature on how the effects of rules such as maximum density, parking requirements, urban growth boundaries, and historic preservation affect housing prices. Nearly all of the studies on the price effects of land use regulations find that — as supply and demand analysis would predict — these rules increase the price of housing.  read more »