Summer blog break is over and I’m back! Quite a few backlogged items:
- Bill King: Houston Metro Riders Pay 4% Of The Cost Of Their Rides. Subsidies have shot up as ridership has fallen post-pandemic. It’s clear at this point METRO has way too much money for too few riders, and the City could desperately use that money to be redeployed to much higher priorities like police and street repairs, not to mention just closing the chronic budget gap.
- U.S. Fertility Rates Lowest in History. And this is part of the strength of Houston’s growth:
Research shows that higher population densities mean lower fertility rates. High housing prices also lead to lower fertility rates. Further research shows that “living in spacious housing and in a family-friendly environment for a relatively long time leads to higher fertility.”
In short, if you think that preventing demographic collapse is a good thing, then this becomes one more reason to oppose planners who want to densify American cities. Planners’ efforts to force more people to live in apartments or smaller homes by making housing artificially expensive could be the downfall of the American economy.
- 2023 Demographia US Housing Housing Affordability Study released. Houston is worsening but still better than most of the country, and I think our home price-to-income ratio may be temporarily skewed upward. With high mortgage rates, I think more of the middle and working class are out of the market, so recent sales skew wealthier (not to mention they make up more of the remote/hybrid work employees willing to upgrade moving farther out) – people who might be selling an existing home and paying cash for a new one (or at least a very substantial down payment). This would skew the home price-to-income ratio to make Houston look more unaffordable than it really is.
- Tragic unintended consequences: Hawaii restrictive land-use law -> reduced housing supply -> skyrocketing prices -> drives away farm labor -> farms bankrupted with flammable grasses left behind instead of fire-resistant native or agricultural plants -> deadly fires in Maui.
- New Orleans Dismantles Bike Lanes:
Rather than create an illusion of safety with bike lanes that increase congestion, bicycle advocates should focus on programs, such as improved intersection designs, that actually do make bicycling safer without necessarily hampering auto driving. Unfortunately, too many city planners and bicycle groups are stuck in the “automobiles are evil” mentality and anything that hurts autos is regarded as a win for bicycles even if it results in more bicycle riders being injured or killed.
This piece first appeared at Houston Strategies.
Tory Gattis is a Founding Senior Fellow with the Urban Reform Institute 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.