I recently got an email from the group HumanScaleNYC, which apparently exists to oppose new buildings, or tall buildings, or something. It read: “City Planners think there is no upper limit to density.” Right away, my b.s. radar sounded, since current zoning codes substantially limit density, and planners greatly influence them.
The email continues by asking “when is there too much density? When is there too little? Is there a range of ‘just right’ or Goldilocks densities for a livable city that can still support public transport? We need this debate as a city, otherwise, we will end up as Dubai.”
But Dubai is in fact far less dense than NYC. Had they bothered to check Wikipedia, they’d note that its 2.8 million residents live within 497 square miles–or 5600/sq mile, less dense than Staten Island. So if they want density reductions, the Dubaization of NYC should be their goal.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when we don’t do our homework.
Michael Lewyn is an associate professor at Touro Law Center in Central Islip, NY. His scholarship can be found at http://works.bepress.com/lewyn , and he recently wrote the book "Government Intervention and Suburban Sprawl: The Case for Market Urbanism."
A podcast on Market Urbanism, or the cross between free-market policies and urban issues. We discuss how a liberalized urban approach would lead to more housing, faster transport, improved public services, and better quality of life. Tap to listen.
Market Urbanism Report is sponsored by Panoramic Interests, a progressive developer in San Francisco. Panoramic, which is owned by Patrick Kennedy, specializes in 160 sqft micro-units (called MicroPads) that are built using modular construction materials. Panoramic has long touted these units as a cost-effective way to house San Francisco’s growing homeless population. But Panoramic also builds larger units of between 440-690 sqft. To learn more about Panoramic’s micro-unit model, read MUR’s coverage on the firm in its America’s Progressive Developers series. Or visit Panoramic’s website.