Some smaller items this week:
- Who Zones? Mapping Land-Use Authority across the US. TX, OK, and AL are the only states that don’t let unincorporated counties zone, which is very good for housing supply and affordability. Hat tip to George.
- Vox: The future of cities, according to the experts – Cities aren’t going anywhere, but they do need to change. This is all over the place. “Cities are fine without families but should work to attract families.” 🙄 I do buy the argument young singles want vibrant cities, but I don’t buy the old empty nesters argument – they prefer to stay in place and have plenty of room for the grand-kids to visit, not cram themselves in a 1 bedroom apartment downtown.
- HBJ on growing distressed office properties in Houston (archive link, no paywall).
“Among the 68 Houston-area office properties included in the Business Journals analysis, 57 were flagged for performance issues or concerns over a borrower’s ability to stay current on their mortgage.”
“Reducing minimum lot sizes has worked elsewhere in Texas to boost housing construction. Houston has significantly increased its housing supply since cutting its minimum home lot size from 5,000 to 1,400 square feet in 1998. The policy change has allowed almost 80,000 new homes to be built on these smaller lots.”…
“The Austin resolution draws important lessons from the Houston case that small lot single-family is something that’s proven to work well for homebuyers and home builders,”
- Strong Towns: Houston Tackles Missing-Middle Housing With Major Land Use Reform.
- Affordable Sprawl vs. Costly Walkability. A better survey question would be, “Would you rather live in a large, affordable home with space between you and your neighbors but with multiple stores and other shops competing for your business with a wide selection of low-priced goods within easy driving distance, or would you prefer a smaller but much more expensive home with little space between you and your neighbors but with a limited selection, high-priced grocery store and a few restaurants and cafes within walking distance?” That would definitely be a more accurate description of reality.
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.
Chart: Livable Places Houston