Levittowns of the Future


This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

“...a social revolution was being made, not by storming barricades, but by leaping over them.”

Seven decades ago, the great post- war American suburbanization began. The seminal development was Levittown, built on potato fields in Nassau County, outside New York City. This archetypical development, with its small houses and modest lots, helped launch a suburbanizing trend that has accounted for virtually all of the population growth in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Today’s new houses are at least three times the size of the early Levittown houses, but they reflect the continued preference for suburban communities over the last half century.  read more »

Intercity Buses: 2015 Was A Smooth Ride

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As a former airline pricing analyst who once viewed the intercity bus as an inconsequential player in major markets, I am perhaps an unlikely champion of this mode’s potential. But since Megabus made its US debut just blocks from my Chicago office in 2006, I have become intrigued with this increasingly popular mode of intercity transportation.  read more »

The Digitally Connected City

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We are witnessing an explosion in digital technology that is reshaping cities… and resulting in a fundamental shift in the way people move and interact within the built environment.

New innovations have always had a profound impact on the evolution of cities, supporting commerce as well as addressing lifestyles. Making sense of the prevailing trajectory requires a new paradigm for city residents, visitors and those who govern.  read more »


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 »