A lot of smaller items this week:
- Unfortunate news from New Zealand on their difficulties implementing Texas MUDs, but I do get quoted in it!
“Some organisations even sent staff to Houston to watch the system at work, and a pilot of it effectively took place in Auckland with Fulton Hogan and its Milldale project.
What came out of all this broad political consensus was a new piece of legislation: the Infrastructure Funding and Financing (IFF) Act, which allows councils to set up Texas-style Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs). It passed in 2020 with the support of every political party in Parliament, showing just how broad the surrounding consensus had grown.
Megan Woods says she is expecting three special project vehicle initiatives to come across her desk this year.
In the Houston Business Journal, Urban Reform Institute fellow Tory Gattis said: “if all goes well, there should be a tremendous increase in New Zealand housing supply in coming years which will help to ease prices.”
“Texans and Houstonians should be proud to serve as a model to the world for market-based approaches to affordable homeownership.”
- Banner week for getting quoted: yours truly gets quoted at the very end of this Reason Surface Transportation Innovations newsletter on the silliness of the induced demand anti-freeway-expansion argument. As taxpayers we *want* government to invest in infrastructure where there is demand! (as opposed to so many new rail lines these days)
“We want government to invest in infrastructure that gets a high utilization (as opposed to roads to nowhere). If they built a new airport runway and it filled up with flights, people would sing the praises of such a great investment. Yet if we invest in additional freeway capacity and it fills up, it was wasted money? How does that make sense? It means the government built mobility infrastructure exactly where people needed it—where there was unmet demand—and isn’t that exactly what we want them to do as taxpayers?”
—Tory Gattis, Urban Reform Institute
- Speaking of induced demand, Reason has an excellent new report on induced demand’s effect on freeway expansion.
- Unherd: Texas is the Future: “Texan metros, notably Houston and Austin, also are among the nation’s leading destinations for minorities and immigrants, the drivers of America’s demographic future.”
- Surprise, surprise: Austin light rail costs nearly double after getting voter approval. Now over $10 billion bucks(!!). Would it have passed with the real costs? Nope. Texas and the Feds should automatically invalidate approvals when this happens.
- Houston ranked sixth in Best (and Worst) Housing Markets for Growth and Stability. Hat tip to George.
- Governing: Houston Is the Nation’s Most Diverse City: Report
- Chronicle: Texas drivers license data reveals where new Houston residents are coming from. Short answer: California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, and New York.
- Colorado Public Radio has a new four-part podcast that examines how Denver’s Rail system has overpromised and under-delivered. The system is deeply in debt and is realizing that they could have a similar level of service with BRT bus lanes rather than expensive trains, a lesson Houston also learned the hard way.
“RTD took on a lot of debt during its rail-building push. Now, the fiscally-struggling agency is paring back planned rail expansion, while looking toward less costly projects that benefit core riders: bus-only lanes and bus system reorganization.”
This piece first appeared at Houston Strategies Blogspot.
Tory Gattis is a Founding Senior Fellow with the Urban Reform Institute (formerly 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: Shannon Ramos via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.