One of the National Party’s principal objectives since coming to power in New Zealand has been to address that nation’s terribly deteriorated housing affordability problem. Deputy Prime Minister Bill English explained the problem in his Introduction to the 9th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: read more »
The proponents of currently fashionable planning doctrines favouring density promulgate a variety of baseless assertions to support their beliefs. These doctrines, which they group under the label of “Smart Growth”, claim, among other things, that from a health and sustainability perspective, the need to increase population densities is imperative.
With regard to health these high-density advocates have seized upon the obesity epidemic as a reason to advocate squeezing the population into high-density. This is based on a supposition that living in higher densities promotes greater physical activity and thus lower levels of obesity. They quote studies that show associations between suburban living and higher weight with its adverse health implications. But the weight differences found are minor – in the region of 1 to 3 pounds. Nor do the studies show it is suburban living that has caused this. read more »
People care deeply about where they live. If you ever doubt that, remember this: they staged massive protests over a park in Istanbul. Gezi Park near Taksim Square is one of that ancient city’s most beloved spots. read more »
Recently published research by Brian N. Jansen and Edwin S. Mills represents notable addition to the already rich academic literature that associates more stringent land use regulation with higher house prices. The analysis is unusually comprehensive and its conclusions indicate greater consequences than is usually cited. Mills is Professor Emeritus of Real Estate and Finance at Northwestern University and is renowned for his contributions to urban economics over more than five decades. read more »
Suburbia has been a favorite whipping boy of urbane intellectuals, who have foretold its decline for decades. Leigh Gallagher's "The End of the Suburbs" is the latest addition to this tired but tireless genre. The book lacks the sparkling prose and original insights one could find in the works of, say, Jane Jacobs or Lewis Mumford. Indeed, Ms. Gallagher's book is little more than a distillation of the conventional wisdom that prevails at Sunday brunch in Manhattan.
The author restages many of the old anti-suburban claims, and her introduction's section headings easily give away the gist of the argument: "Millennials hate the burbs"; "Our households are shrinking"; "We are eco-obsessed"; "The suburbs are poorly designed to begin with"; and so on. read more »
Sure, suburbs have big problems. Their designs force their inhabitants to drive in cars, instead of walking and bicycling. This diminishes face-to-face interactions, physical health, and the quality of the environment. Aesthetically, many of them, particularly those dreaded “planned communities,” are quite boring. People who live there tend not to have much contact with people who aren’t like them, so suburbs reinforce racial, religious, and class segregation. read more »
Urban form or urban consumers? If we want to reduce the environmental impacts of modern society let’s prioritize consumption, not city form. The evidence suggests that large cities (and especially city centres) are associated with a bigger environmental footprint than modest cities or suburbs.
This post looks at incomes and consumption, especially the consumption of housing and transport services, asking how far can local regulation really influence environmental impacts? read more »
The San Francisco area’s recently adopted Plan Bay Area may set a new standard for urban planning excess. Plan Bay Area, which covers nearly all of the San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Vallejo and Napa metropolitan areas, was recently adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). read more »
Central cities are not likely to regain their former population. However, some of them may have reached an important inflection point—population growth has returned to at least some of the largest (and longest-declining) cities. For example, New York City’s population has increased by more than one million since 1990, after declining by about one million between 1950 and 1980. Over the past decade, nine of the ten largest (and 17 of the 20 largest) cities in the United States have gained population. read more »
Public transit systems intend to enhance local economies by linking people to their occupations. This presents problems for many low-income families dependent on transit for commuting. With rising prices at the gas pump, much hope has been placed on an influx of investment into public transit to help low-income households. But does public transit really help the poor? read more »