Saturday, 25 of October of 2014

Category » Land Use

Miserable Cities

Forbes identifies the Most Miserable Cities in the U.S.

What do they have in common?  Mostly high density places that are run by “progressive” visionaries.

The list was compiled using crime rates, foreclosures, taxes, home prices, commute times and decreasing populations.


What’s New in Urban & Suburban News?

The latest edition of the ADC Communicator is available here.


Brilliant

Simply brilliant.


Turnaround Housing Markets

More data is coming out about the conditions of the housing markets in the United States.  Business Insider is the latest, offering its list of the Top 10 Turnaround Housing Markets based on the increase in price between late 2011 and the end of 2012 for a median priced home.  The percentage beside the city represents that change.

  1. Las Vegas   27.5%
  2. Seattle   24.0%
  3. Phoenix   21.8%
  4. Oakland   21.0%
  5. San Jose   20.8%
  6. Salt Lake City   20.5%
  7. Atlanta   18.9%
  8. Sacramento   17.9%
  9. Fresno   17.7%
  10. Tacoma   17.7%

What’s not determined is what is behind the price escalation.  Is it a function of demand outpacing supply?  Is it the impact of excessive regulation?  More to come.


Congestion Costs in the UK

The Daily Mail reports that gridlock on Britain’s roads is costing families £500 a year in wasted time and fuel.  $800 U.S. dollars.  This represents a more comprehensive way to assessing costs than from previous studies, for it includes indirect costs from businesses passing along the costs to end-users.  From the INRIX summary: “These costs are a result of the direct impact of traffic on drivers in terms of wasted time and fuel as well as indirect costs to U.K. households resulting from businesses passing these same costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices.”

Sounds like the Brits need to abandon their sprawling car-centric ways and adopt Smart Growth, right?  Well, as ADC friend Phil Hayward says: “The UK under its Town and Country Planning system, after 60 years, has attained several targets that urban planning fads aim for. It has the highest urban densities of any western nations. It has the most compact urban form. It has very high petrol taxes and massive subsidies of commuter rail and subway systems.”

In other words, it exemplifies Smart Growth.  Consequently, Great Britain also has the West’s “least affordable housing, in spite of the lowest land consumption per person; the west’s greatest social exclusion, particularly from home ownership, the west’s worst traffic congestion delays, the west’s longest trip-to-work times, and the west’s worst local air pollution.”  (By contrast, the U.S. with much lower densities has the most affordable housing and much shorter trip-to-work times.


Vibrant Urbanism – Christmas Edition

Just the other day, I was telling someone that it is noticeable that you see far more lawn ornaments in the lower density, suburban ring around cities than you do in the central city.  This is due, in part, to the migration of families to the suburbs.  Not many moms and dads want to raise kids in a tiny apartment above a Starbucks.

It’s also due to urban crime.  The person I spoke to responded that she had once lived near Gainesville’s downtown and remembers having her Christmas decorations stolen.  She has since moved to the rural outskirts of town.  In St. Louis, police are warning homeowners that the presence of Christmas lawn ornaments makes them a target for crime.

In Chicago, thugs are choosing a different way to get into the holiday spirit.  On Chicago’s rail transit Blue Line, a woman was assaulted by a man who had a stocking filled with … goodies … er, no, … coal … er, no, … how about poop?  Yes, feces.  A man attacked a woman with a sock full of feces.

“It was like the biggest degradation I’ve ever [experienced]. I wish he had just hit me,” the victim said.


New New Urbanist Trend

Turning churches into condos.  When you combine the general decline of organized religious participation with the New Urbanist doctrine that implicitly appeals to young urban singles who tend to be more secular in orientation, this is to be expected … for better or worse.


The Federal Push for Smart Growth

With Obama re-elected, we can expect an even stronger push for Smart Growth from the feds.  The U.S. Department of Transportation says there will be no slowing on sustainable communities.  This will come primarily through the Livable Communities Act, which I previewed here.  In short, this is a preference for mandates over markets and central planning over property rights.  Spend lots of money on transit and, oh yeah, push much higher densities … all represented in clever soundbites and catchphrases … but also bringing the very things we don’t want.


Going Backward, Not Forward

We already commented on this here, but the Washington Post has picked up on the new phenomenon of the 200 square foot house.  Instapundit calls this (sarcastically) our bright national future.


The Homeowners No One Thinks Of

Good article over at Democracy Journal: Manufactured Housing: The Homeowners No One Thinks Of

“Most of us don’t think much about the people who live in manufactured homes, and when the culture notices them, it usually does so with derision. But there is an interesting and important asset-building story playing out here. The United States is home to some 50,000 manufactured housing communities with an estimated 2.7 million families who own their homes but rent the land underneath them. This housing stock—both in parks and on owned single lots—represents the largest segment of unsubsidized affordable housing in the nation. Two-thirds of these homeowners are low income.”