My leads this week are a couple of great quotes about Houston:
“Houston has actively deregulated, with the result that it’s the only major city in the U.S. today undergoing a transformational change from suburban to urban densities. Houston makes thinkable the unthinkable.”
-Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Land Use without Zoning book letter
“Once a planning pariah, Houston, with its peculiar lack of zoning, increasingly looks like the future.”
-Nolan Gray in the afterword of the newly updated Mercatus edition of “Land Use without Zoning” by Bernard Siegan.
Moving on to this week’s smaller items:
- WSJ: Does New York Still Want to Be the Capital of the World? excerpt:
“Other American cities—notably Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and Miami—are challenging NYC’s supremacy in communications, legal and financial services, the arts and business. Political and economic leaders in those cities encourage inclusive growth, development and change.”
“No state handles more of America’s cargo than Texas. In fact, no state comes close. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Lone Star State handles around $2 trillion worth of commodities per year. And Texas has the infrastructure to handle it. Port Houston, the nation’s second biggest, has surpassed Rotterdam as the world’s largest petrochemical complex, officials say.”
- NYT: Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Manhattan May Never Be the Same – New York City, long buoyed by the flow of commuters into its towering office buildings, faces a cataclysmic challenge, even when the pandemic ends. Good excerpts in this one. I wonder if the Distributed Age label will stick?…
“A year after the coronavirus sparked an extraordinary exodus of workers from office buildings, what had seemed like a short-term inconvenience is now clearly becoming a permanent and tectonic shift in how and where people work. Employers and employees have both embraced the advantages of remote work, including lower office costs and greater flexibility for employees, especially those with families.” …
Still, about 90 percent of Manhattan office workers are working remotely, a rate that has remained unchanged for months, according to a recent survey of major employers by the Partnership for New York City, an influential business group, which estimated that less than half of office workers would return by September.
“We believe that we’re on top of the next change, which is the Distributed Age, where people can be more valuable in how they work, which doesn’t really matter where you spend your time,” said Alexander Westerdahl, the vice president of human resources at Spotify, the Stockholm-based streaming music giant that has 6,500 employees worldwide.
- A Tale of Two (Pollution-Plagued) Cities – Electric Vehicles and Ozone Abatement in LA and Houston
- Garage apartments in Houston essay. Conclusion:
“As Houston prepares for unprecedented population growth in the coming decades, I predict that the versatile ADU concept will continue to help make our inner-city neighborhoods more affordable and sustainable.”
- Houston Is Almost All Right: Postmodernism on the Texas Gulf Coast. Hat tip to George. Opening:
“In 1976, New York Times architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable declared that Houston was “the American present and future. It is an exciting and disturbing place,” one that “scholars flock to for the purpose of seeing what modern civilization has wrought.” In her account the city’s distinctive character lay in its decenteredness, its seemingly limitless capacity for shape-shifting, and its utter lack of history. Like many observers then and since, Huxtable was struck by the experience of juxtaposition—of form, scale, type, and space—that was a consequence, in part, of the city’s infamous lack of zoning regulations and its unapologetic accommodation of private real estate interests”
This piece first appeared at Houston Strategies.
Tory Gattis is a Founding Senior Fellow with the Center for Opportunity Urbanism and co-authored the original study with noted urbanist Joel Kotkin and others, creating a city philosophy around upward social mobility for all citizens as an alternative to the popular smart growth, new urbanism, and creative class movements. He is also an editor of the Houston Strategies blog.
Photo credit: Terry Hammonds via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.