The Market Urbanism Report advocating for market-oriented urban policy reform Wed, 17 Jan 2018 01:14:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Market Urbanism Report 32 32 Should American Cities Attract Companies Or Workers? Wed, 17 Jan 2018 01:14:50 +0000 A look at the chicken-and-egg question, as it pertains to Dallas.

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Dallas is one of America’s leading cities for attracting both corporations and talent. / credit to

Whether American cities should have concerted efforts to attract companies or workers has long been a chicken-and-egg question. The traditional thinking within economic development circles was that by luring companies, cities would have the jobs needed to lure workers. In recent years, the mentality has reversed somewhat, with a city’s ability to retain a young, educated workforce viewed as crucial to drawing corporate relocation.

The answer to this question goes a long way in determining the appropriate strategies. A pro-company agenda would mean advocating for lower taxes, or, as is often the case, corporate welfare. A pro-worker agenda could mean various things, including the notion that cities should invest in public amenities to boost their culture. Dallas, which has been one of America’s recent leaders in both corporate and workforce growth, is an interesting case study in this debate.

On one hand, the wider Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is a business growth dynamo. It has been among the national leaders in corporate relocation, with 72 major companies moving there since 2010. The metro has 14 Fortune 500 companies, trailing only New York City and Houston. And it is currently America’s top job market, with an unemployment rate at 3.7%.

The workforce advantages, meanwhile, are found in DFW’s raw population size. The region, at 6.4 million people, is routinely among the nation’s leaders in population growth, both in net and percentage terms. In a one-year period between 2015 and 2016, it added 143,000 people, tops in the nation. While education levels there aren’t high by percentage, Dallas’ sheer size means there are a lot of skilled workers to choose from. It has the 4th-highest net total of Millennials; and nearly 1.3 million of its workers over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The metro scores well at luring outside talent and retaining its college students after graduation.

So have Dallas’ companies drawn these people, or have the people drawn the companies?

This is something that Jessica Heer, who specializes in talent attraction for Dallas’ regional Chamber of Commerce, has thought about a lot recently. She has spearheaded a new Chamber program called “Say Yes to Dallas” that aims to bring yet more educated millennials into the area. This is a diversion from the Chamber’s traditional strategy of luring businesses, and highlights an increased focus within the economic development industry on workforce retention.

Heer said that rather than one preceding the other, the growth of companies and workers moves in tandem, and if anything, swings more towards the need for existing workers. Companies may be lured to Dallas–and Texas at large–because it has friendly tax and regulatory policies. But Dallas’ existing labor pool is also viewed as a huge plus. Then once companies locate there, additional outside workers will move to Dallas in response, creating a reinforcing loop.

“It’s like a NASCAR example, or maybe a horse race,” said Heer, about the way in which companies follow workers, or vice versa. “It’s nose-to-nose right there at the end.”

The question then, either for workers who moved to Dallas before or after finding jobs, and who decided to stay, is–what keeps them there? One idea–which is a spinoff of the “creative class theory” populaized by urbanist Richard Florida–is that investing in urban amenities will attract these educated workers. This seems a sensible enough theory for cities like New York and San Francisco, where the existing mix of urban density, public transit, fine arts and alt culture has created an atmosphere that people pay a premium for (although it’s unclear whether those cities really need further cultural investments).

But such a theory doesn’t quite explain the appeal of Dallas. The metro is nice enough, with countless stand-alone cultural entities, including 5 major pro sports teams, world-renowned arts institutions, trendy nightlife districts, and historic neighborhoods. Besides just Dallas and Fort Worth, the metro has 12 municipalities of over 100,000 people, many with their own charming downtowns.

But Dallas is not a place where these parts add up to make an awe-inspiring sum. It is instead a sprawling, fragmented metro with little activity in the core, and minimal civic life, at least not at street level. One is unlikely to live there just for the sake of living there.

Rather, people are seeking Dallas for more pragmatic reasons. One is its aforementioned job market. Another, says Heer, is its low housing costs. Median home prices in metro Dallas are about half of what they are for metro New York City, Seattle, Boston and Denver, and about 1/4th of San Francisco. This makes locating there better for multiple categories within the workforce, says Heer. Workers fresh out of college can afford to have their own place without roommates (a near impossibility in San Francisco). And older professionals who are “maybe considering marriage, home-ownership is important to them, and they’re living in a high-cost area where they can’t afford a home,” can actually buy one in Dallas. The reason that the metro’s housing is cheap is that, despite all the population growth, it routinely has some of the nation’s fastest housing growth as well, meaning prices have stabilized.

The takeaway, at least for Dallas, is that attracting both companies and workers is important, but not in any particular order. If a common denominator exists for attracting either, it is having an open economy–particularly open land-use laws. As I wrote in 2016, Dallas is good at drawing companies not only because of Texas’ friendly tax policies, but friendly economic development policies. Companies can pick large land plots and build their headquarters without facing much government delay. The same goes for its approach to workforce housing. As new employees flood in from around the nation and world, large master-planned developments get built–again, without the red tape–to house them. All this suggests an argument less for trying to intentionally lure in either companies or workers, then letting each flow in “nose-to-nose,” as their needs are met organically.

[This article was originally published by Forbes.]

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A Market Urbanism Briefer On Transit Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:57:19 +0000 Many people in the conservative/libertarian vortex dislike mass transit. Then there's the Market Urbanists.

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Let’s talk transit – and ideology.

Many conservatives/libertarians dislike transit, because they think it’s solely a subsidized public utility. But there’s a small subset of this bunch called Market Urbanists, who not only like transit, but think transit use would increase significantly if free-market policies were used in cities. Because that would mean the following 4 things:

1) Banning restrictive zoning, so that housing would get denser, creating the critical mass of people needed for transit.

2) Enforcing congestion charging, so that road use is priced based on driver demand. This would incentivize people to locate closer to their jobs, or commute in using different modes besides solo driving.

3) Liberalizing private transit from pointless bans and regulations. This would cause the industry to grow, namely through “micro transit” options like rideshare, bikeshare, carpool, ebikes, shuttles, dollar vans, etc. Some offerings might be bulkier, though, resembling the intercity startups like Megabus, Bolt Bus and the Brightline train.

4) Reforming public transit. Many Market Urbanists aren’t against public transit, per se, but think that transit agencies must improve their management and services as a condition to get more funding. And if they are unable or unwilling to do this, cities should seek privatization, by signing short-term, performance-based contracts with outside companies.

All 4 of these market-based policy ideas are politically unlikely. But if any or all of them were applied, there’s no doubt in my mind that many cities would have higher transit usage…because transit would be way better.

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2018 Will Be The Year Of The Ebike Mon, 15 Jan 2018 15:30:04 +0000 The Market Urbanism Report called it last year - electric bikeshare is already becoming a thing in U.S. cities.

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As I previously predicted for The Market Urbanism Report, 2018 is rapidly shaping up to be the year of electric bikeshare. As of today, there are now five companies angling to offer electric bikeshare in San Francisco and elsewhere: Scoot, Limebike, Jump, Motivate, Spin.

Background: Limebike is the leading dockless firm in America. Spin is another dockless bikeshare startup similar to Lime but with less funding and fewer bikes and markets. Motivate operates some of the largest legacy dock-based bikeshare, including NYC’s Citibike, and will be operating Ford’s GoBike in SF. Jump is part of the established bikeshare/bike-manufacturer Social Bicycle – which are actually dockless, but require users to lock the bike to a street fixture. Lastly there’s Scoot, which currently operates a shared electric moped service in SF.

Jump is the leader right now, as their bikes are already available in DC, and on a trial basis to invitees in SF. Their bike costs $2/half-hour, and has a 19mph max speed. They must be locked to something after the ride, but that’s helped minimize vandalism.

Ironically, Scoot is partly owned by Mahindra, which will be making e-bikes for both Scoot and its rival Ford GoBike. The Ford bikes will have a top speed of 18 mph, pricing is unknown. Scoot has said its e-bikes will be cheaper than its mopeds, which are currently $3-5 per 30 minute ride. Ford’s use of e-bikes is smart, because it will be the only player to have docks in the public right of way, which will make e-bike management easier.

Limebike’s e-bike offering is surprisingly weak. It will cost $1 + $1 per 10 minutes (i.e. $4 for a half hour, double Jump’s cost), with a maximum speed of 14.5 mph, which is in keeping with European e-bike speed limits. They’re also only planning 4-5k e-bikes, compared to 1m non-electric bikes for 2018. My guess: they wanted something that was available for quick deployment and ended up with a weaker product. Limebike also doesn’t require that the bike be locked to anything, which has meant higher rates of vandalism – that may explain their pricier but lower-speed bikes. I bet that Limebike will have a new e-bike iteration within a year, if not 6 months. On the plus side, Limebike may have the most geographic reach, by touching many markets with its e-bikes.

Spin’s bikes will also have a top speed of 15 mph, and a lower price of $1.50 per 15 minutes.

Both Jump and Limebike e-bikes have ~250 watt motors, which is on the low end of retail e-bikes.

The Chinese giants ofo and Mobike can’t be counted out, not least because their size and connections can give them priority in e-bike manufacture. They haven’t announced clear plans on e-bikeshare.

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Downtown Detroit Is Finally A Coherent Neighborhood Again Fri, 12 Jan 2018 23:31:11 +0000 The D's core area has become walkable - and is growing more so - thanks to Dan Gilbert's real estate ambitions.

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Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert / wikimedia

Detroit, MI — This struggling city has a land mass of 138 square miles. And about dead-on 7.2 miles of it is certifiably “back.” A section encompassing downtown, Midtown, and some adjacent residential areas now have the underpinnings of a legitimate, and in some cases stellar, urban neighborhood. The story of its emergence is a quintessentially Detroit one. The area has grown very quickly, driven by a few prominent businesspeople, and government engineering. The result so far is a city-building initiative that’s astonishing in scale, yet unproven in durability.

The remaking of downtown Detroit, namely by Dan Gilbert, is astonishing to me, at least. When first visiting downtown in 2007, I was shocked by its conditions (not to mention the bombed-out-looking neighborhoods just beyond). After leaving a matinee Tigers game, I spent the afternoon wandering streets that were desolate, even menacing. By nightfall, the only place still open to hang out in was a large, mostly empty hot dog shop.

But during my most recent trip to Detroit in December— and my first since 2013, when the city went bankrupt—I found the downtown had totally transformed. There are slick coffee shops, bars, even luxury retail, including a John Varvatos and Texas de Brazil. There are far more people on the street, including a stylish, racially-mixed professional class that was largely absent before. According to, Detroit is one of America’s leading downtown comeback stories, with a residential population that increased by 15 percent, and home prices by 150 percent, since 2012.

Some might credit Detroit’s targeted revitalization strategy, which has been to “downsize” the city by ending services in many neighborhoods, and subsidizing grand-scale projects within these 7.2 square miles. But downtown continued stagnating years after many of these projects were built. The true changes came from private investments by Gilbert, a Detroit-area native and billionaire who owns Quicken Loans. In 2011, Gilbert moved his company’s headquarters to downtown, settling his employees into a high-rise overlooking Campus Martius Park, the de facto heart of downtown. His business empire has since expanded to include over 100 companies, a majority of them in Detroit.

Rock Ventures is the real estate company that manages his Detroit building portfolio. In just these few years, it has snapped up 95 properties—almost all of them in the CBD—and has either redeveloped them, or plans to. Gilbert has already completed various office and residential projects, along with partially financing a streetcar that goes up and down Woodward Avenue. Future projects include restoring the Book Tower, a 38-story, historic neo-classical masterpiece that has long sat empty; building several luxury hotels; building a micro-apartment project; and an 800-foot residential tower that broke ground in mid-December, and will become Detroit’s tallest building.

Perhaps more impressive is Gilbert’s larger vision, which was described to me during a recent tour of the Quicken Loans headquarters given by Jeffrey Brown, a Rock Ventures staffer. Brown showed me a built simulation of downtown Detroit that included special markings on all the buildings Gilbert now owns. While they encompass a lion’s share of the overall properties in Detroit’s CBD, Brown also pointed to unmarked structures that Gilbert doesn’t yet own – but has plans for. This includes redeveloping a site that now holds the city jail; bringing an MLS team to Ford Field; and spearheading the effort to attract Amazon HQ2. Gilbert’s overall point is not to own all of downtown, but to attract a diversified ecosystem that, as he explained at the recent groundbreaking, “is going to build wealth in the process” for the entire city. This is why Rock Ventures also lauds the growth occurring just north in Midtown, on properties owned by the billionaire Ilitch family.

Gilbert’s undertaking is thus a spectacular modern example of urban renaissance. A billionaire who could’ve remained in his comfort zone has instead risked capital to develop in his impoverished hometown. And the local government, recognizing its need for growth, has, unlike many U.S. cities today, accommodated him. The hope from both is that this prosperity eventually spreads across Detroit, to still-declining areas.

But this could also prove to be one giant failed experiment, since it imitates the top-down, even oligarchical model of Detroit’s past. The city rose because of big auto companies that dictated growth and land-use. Even following their exit, the city has been suspicious about replacing its economic base with anything resembling bottom-up entrepreneurialism. Detroit is notorious for inflicting regulatory cobwebs and random stings onto small businesses, while subsidizing large factories, offices, stadiums and casinos. The Gilbert growth spurt, which began more organically, is starting to mirror this cronyism. In May, the Michigan state legislature passed bills that, according to a Detroit Metro Times report, could help Gilbert pocket up to $1 billion in taxpayer money for further redevelopment. Rumors have also surfaced about subsidizing Gilbert’s soccer venture – as happened with Detroit’s other sports arenas.

Of course, that would add an asterisk to a downtown revival that isn’t viewed positively by everyone here. Various people I’ve spoken with, including some downtown small business owners, view this rebuild-the-core strategy as a case of government-driven gentrification. Certain amenities get subsidized and others don’t, meaning there is a perceived bias as to which demographics the city wants to attract. Others question whether propping up just one area benefits the whole city, or is a corporate welfare scheme that strips from neighborhood services, while burdening the taxpayers who still live in those neighborhoods. It has angered homeowners such as Gary Schwartz, a local artist who lives in Woodbridge, on the outer edge of the 7.2-mile boundary, just a block from where urban prairie takes hold.

“The majority of people it does not help,” said Schwartz, of the downtown revival. “We pay very high taxes, and we get very little back.”

Then there’s the question of whether, given all the subsidies, downtown’s revival is even real, or is a Potemkin Village that will stagnate once the subsidies stop. Time will tell, regarding this mass foray into city building by the government, and by Gilbert. But for now, it’s made at least a small slice of The D livable again.

[This article was originally published by]

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Boston’s Snow Removal Policy: Shove It To The Side Fri, 12 Jan 2018 13:16:06 +0000 "America's Walking City" removes the snow for cars. For pedestrians, not so much.

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Boston – Winter has a strange way of taking cities like Boston and environs by surprise. Cities in the region react to barrages of snow and ice like stupefied Floridians who never imagined the outside could be colder than their refrigerators.

Cities here don’t have any plans for snow removal. If there is any accumulation it becomes evident that the actual “plan” is to push snow out of the way of drivers and hope it melts soon.

Residents are required to clear sidewalks, but they have to go to work, get into fights over parking spaces and make french toast, so they don’t bother, or do a half-assed job. Sidewalks are so bad days after a storm that people have to use the street. And this is “America’s Walking City”.

Walking, biking and transit can be reliable transportation options during winter. But only if a city is willing to clear the snow for such uses the same way it does for cars. 

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Jane Jacobs Would Have Loved Uber Tue, 09 Jan 2018 23:30:53 +0000 Jane Jacobs died before Uber really took off. But an old interview suggests she was a fan of such micro-transit.

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I took this photo of urban theorist and “Creative Class” author Richard Florida and sainted urbanologist Jane Jacobs in 2005 in Toronto, when they appeared together at a conference.

In 2001 — about 8 BU (Before Uber) — I interviewed urbanologist Jane Jacobs several times by phone. She was in Toronto and I was a newspaper journalist in Pittsburgh.

Saint Jane was no evil libertarian, no sworn enemy of government mass transit, no apologist for the car or the suburbs.

But she understood the importance and benefits of free markets — in housing, in transportation, in schools, in everything. She understood, obviously, the permanent damage done to cities and suburbs by top-down planning, zoning and other local laws that are designed to restrict growth, thwart change and make diverse and mixed land use illegal.

Based on her answers to my questions below about cars and freeing up urban transit markets, I think it’s safe to say Jane Jacobs would have been a big fan of Uber/Lyft and micro-transit in general.

Here is an excerpt from my interview, which lives forever at Reason magazine’s web site.

Reason: People complain that suburbanites are too dependent on cars. Yet the newest suburbs — the car suburbs, not the trolley suburbs — are so heavily zoned and so carefully laid out. The uses are segregated so much — you live here, you work there, you shop here, you play there, you go to school over here. If you didn’t have a car, you couldn’t possibly live in the suburbs — because of the way they’re laid out.


Jacobs: That’s right. Your children couldn’t get to school. And they couldn’t get to their dancing lessons or whatever else they do. You’re absolutely dependent on a car. It’s very expensive for people, especially if they need a couple of cars. It’s a terrific burden. It costs about — somebody figured it out fairly recently — it costs about $7,000 a year for one car. That’s a lot of money, you know.

Reason: I’m a five-minute drive from all the shopping I need, but I couldn’t walk it.

Jacobs: Sure, you want to defend the car in those cases. It’s a lifeline. It’s as important as your water tap.

Reason: You aren’t anti-car, are you?

Jacobs: No. I do think that we need to have a lot more public transit. But you can’t have public transit in the situation you’re talking about.

Reason: You don’t literally mean publicly owned transit?

Jacobs: No. All forms of transit. It can be taxis, privately run jitneys, whatever. Things that people don’t have to own themselves and can pay a fare for.

Reason: You’re not an enemy of free-market transportation.

Jacobs: No. I wish we had more of it. I wish we didn’t have the notion that you had to have monopoly franchise transit. I wish it were competitive — in the kinds of vehicles that it uses, in the fares that it charges, in the routes that it goes, in the times of day that it goes. I’ve seen this on poor little Caribbean islands. They have good jitney service, because it’s dictated by the users.

I wish we could do more of that. But we have so much history against it, and so many institutional things already in place against it. The idea that you have to use great big behemoths of vehicles, when the service actually would be better in station-wagon size. It shows how unnatural and foolish monopolies are. The only thing that saves the situation is when illegal things begin to break the monopoly.

[This article was originally published on Steigerwald’s Medium profile.]

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Toyota Adds To AV Mix With Launch Of e-Palette Tue, 09 Jan 2018 23:14:04 +0000 Another major carmaker views the future of AVs to include micro-transit and shared rides.

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Toyota today introduced its new autonomous concept vehicle, the e-Palette… and it looks a lot like other autonomous vehicles, specifically mini-autonomous buses by Easymile and Navya (pictured below).

Toyota’s is even bigger than the other ones, probably because it’s designed to accommodate other uses, such as carrying cargo and being a mobile showroom.

It’s too early to tell, but it is promising, daresay indicative that such giant carmakers like VW (see MOIA) and Toyota are not fixating on mass car ownership as the future, but rather shared rides, micro-transit and corporate car ownership. (Compare to Tesla, with its 1950s aesthetic of a car in every garage, powered by a solar panel on a detached suburban single-family house).

This sector is still in its infancy, but should start to pick up around 2020-2021. The case for autonomous transit is compelling for many reasons – it’s easier because it only needs to work on a given route, and eliminating the biggest cost of transit, labor, means you can run buses at a higher frequency with quieter, smaller vehicles. And of course you can divide vehicle costs over 10 people.

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The Need For Housing Following Natural Disaster Sun, 07 Jan 2018 16:34:30 +0000 Rapido, a program based in Texas, offers a fast and flexible solution.

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The flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey / wikimedia

Those who follow housing policy already understand that there is a nationwide housing crisis. Various demographics in the U.S., faced with low wages and government regulations that make the commodity more expensive, cannot buy or rent the units they need.

A wrinkle within this trend is the growing epidemic of substandard living conditions, or even flat-out homelessness, among natural disaster victims. Since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina turned disaster relief into a mainstream issue, America has witnessed one chaotic weather event after another: Hurricane Sandy in the northeast; Hurricane Harvey in Houston; the California wildfires; Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico; and the list goes on.

These events generally circulate in the news cycle for a week or so, as stunning video footage of destruction is collected and human casualty counts are tallied. But once cameras leave, the enduring collateral damage are the thousands of people, seemingly forgotten of, who lose their homes and don’t have any viable replacement. The epidemic is one that neither the public nor private sectors—both of which are heavily regulated—have yet addressed.

Substandard Options

According to a November report in The Hill, 70,000 Americans are now living in hotels because of weather-related displacement, and thousands more are living in shelters. Along with these disaster victims, says Sarah Mickelson, director of public policy at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, others are settling for additional substandard options – by crashing on couches, living in RVs or even moving back into their old flooded, mold-infested homes.

These unfortunate conditions result because home construction does not, for several reasons, occur fast enough to replace the housing demolished when nature strikes. One source of blame is slow-moving federal bureaucracy. Part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) role is to provide, following these disasters, temporary shelter in municipalities. After that, recipients are expected to find long-term housing, either on the open market or through HUD. But FEMA, despite its core mission of providing quick solutions to problems that are fundamentally overnight in character, can drag its feet for years.

The issue begins after a city gets hit, says Nick Mitchell-Bennett, executive director of the Community Development Corporation in Brownsville, TX, a poor city along the Mexican border that has suffered hurricane damage. To qualify for federal money, a city must do an environmental review study and present a plan to FEMA, following a complex set of rules that can take six months to fulfill. Once in FEMA’s database, the approval process can take over a year. If the money finally arrives, it must be funneled through state governments—aka the political process—before reaching municipalities.

The ordeal isn’t helped, added Mickelson, by the fact that FEMA’s organizational structure is chaotic, with ever-changing programs and guidelines.

“The problem is that today we’re not using the best-practice programs that we already know to work,” she said, such as the Disaster Assistance Housing Program, which provides temporary housing.

As a result, FEMA generates very few units. The Houston Chronicle noted in November—a full 3 months after Harvey —that “in Houston, where local officials estimate the hurricane damaged more than 311,000 housing units— roughly a third of the housing stock—no one has moved into a trailer, secured an apartment or seen repair work begin through the state’s interim housing programs.”

The housing that FEMA does build is overpriced, thereby reducing the political support for expanding the agency’s reach and budget. Following the 2016 floods in Baton Rouge, FEMA’s trailers were found to cost $130,000 on average, which is over double the market rate, and would be enough to purchase permanent brick-and-mortar housing throughout Baton Rouge and other cities. When trailers aren’t provided, disaster victims are handed vouchers for extended stays at hotels and motels – again, not a cost-effective solution.

The private sector also has shortcomings, failing to build enough housing fast. Disaster victims are often low-income to begin with, having bought units in flood-prone areas that couldn’t get insurance. When their homes are wrecked, they lose their biggest asset, and don’t have money to afford rents in markets that have suddenly become overheated due to the overnight housing shortage. Private developers don’t fill the void, because these prospective low-income clients can’t meet the price points that would impel them to break ground on new grand-scale projects.

“It just doesn’t pencil,” said Mitchell-Bennett.

Part of this boils down to the financial reality of new housing, which is generally more expensive than older housing. The private sector also faces the same regulatory mindset imposed onto FEMA. In a 2016 survey, the National Association of Homebuilders found that government regulations now account for 24 percent of new home costs. The homes left unbuilt under such a paradigm are the cheap starter units that would be the only option for lower income brackets.

One Solution: Rapido

These factors suggest the need for a solution; one that mixes public and private aspects – and throws out unnecessary regulations. A program cited by Mickelson was Rapido, a housing style offered by Mitchell-Bennett’s CDC in Brownsville. The Rapido program’s first priority, explained Mitchell-Bennett, is encouraging cities to prepare in advance for disasters. By collecting data on demographics, topography, existing housing needs and overall strategy, cities wouldn’t be so overwhelmed once they deal with FEMA.

Rapido’s other innovation is a modular housing form that fuses temporary and permanent concepts. In the immediate aftermath of disaster, a Rapido home is a small structure that provides a roof over a given household’s head. Once that household is in better financial health, Rapido homes can be expanded with additional rooms, transforming them into larger permanent homes. Typical average construction costs are, according to Mitchell-Bennett, around $80,000 for this fully built-out model, and because they’re modular, they can be moved anywhere.

Rapido, as part of a nonprofit, has yet to receive significant federal money or achieve mass scale; it’s done some small pilot projects following disasters along the Gulf of Texas. Other modular housing types—like the prefab homes that San Francisco developer Patrick Kennedy proposed for the city’s homeless—are presumed to be cheaper and faster than existing government-run models. Experimenting with these styles through outsourcing, while reducing some of the regulatory mandates, is one way FEMA might improve services. This would benefit the lives of displaced people who, thanks to the whims of nature, now sometimes spend years without a stable home.

[This article was originally published by]

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Texas Leads U.S. In Population Growth For 7th Straight Year Sun, 07 Jan 2018 03:36:58 +0000 Americans continue flowing from the North into the Sunbelt.

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Texas added the most new residents of any state over the past year according to the July 1, 2017 estimates of the United States Census Bureau. Texas grew by 400,000 residents (Figure 1). Florida added 328,000 residents, more than one third more than California. Four states grew between 100,000 to 125,000, led by Washington, North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona. Colorado and Tennessee round out the top 10. The ten states adding the most new residents include five from the South census region and five from the West census region.

Population Growth

Over this decade, the three largest states have dominated numeric population growth. Texas has led the nation in each of the seven years, though has experienced declines in growth over the last two due likely to the instability in petroleum markets. Since 2010, Texas has added 3.1 million residents, more than live in 18 states and the District of Columbia. California has added 2.2 million new residents since 2010, edging out Florida. California’s growth, however, has dropped significantly, to 240,000 between 2016 and 2017, the smallest number since the late 1990s. California’s growth in this decade had peaked in 2014 at more than 350,000, but has since dropped by nearly one quarter. Florida added 2.1 million new residents and has led California in each of the last three years.

The other three largest states did much more poorly. New York has dropped from a gain of over 120,000 in 2011 to only 13,000 in 2017. Illinois has done even more poorly, dropping from the 21,000 gain in 2011 to a loss of 33,000 in 2017. Illinois has experienced a reduction in its growth each year of this decade.

Illinois Drops a Notch: Further, Illinois in 2017 lost its long-standing hold on the fifth-largest position to Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s ascendancy reverses a development in the 1950s, when Illinois passed Pennsylvania to become the third largest state. Less than a decade earlier, Pennsylvania had been passed by California, relinquishing its second ranking, which it had held since the 1810 census. Later, Illinois had been passed in the 1970s by Texas and in the following decade by Florida. (Figure 2).

The South census region has dominated US population growth throughout the decade. Between 2010 and 2017, the South added 9.1 million new residents or 54% of the national growth. This compares to the West, which also grew strongly but added millions fewer (5.5 million new residents). The West accounted for 32% of the national growth. The Midwest and Northeast continue to lag, each taking 7% of the national growth (Figure 3).

Idaho experienced the largest proportional growth rate in 2007, at 2.2%. Idaho was followed closely by its neighbors, Nevada at 2.0% and Utah at 1.9%. The next four positions were taken by large or medium sized states, including Washington at 1.7%, Florida and Arizona at 1.6% and Texas at 1.4%. Colorado and Oregon grew at 1.4%, followed by South Carolina at 1.3% (Figure 4).

Where the Millions are Moving

Despite the fact that interstate migration stands at a lower rate than in recent decades, millions of people continue to cross state lines seeking new residences. From 2010 to 2017, the number was 4.3 million. Domestic migration has been dominated by the South and West census regions, consistent with their dominance of population growth.

The South census region had a net domestic migration gain of 2.7 million residents. The West census region had a gain of 600,000 net domestic migrants, far short of the number in the South. In contrast, a net 1.9 million residents left the Northeast for other census regions, while 1.3 million left the Midwest for elsewhere (Figure 5). Even so, as indicated above, the Northeast and Midwest continue to grow as a result of in migration from other countries and natural growth (births minus deaths).

The six largest states experienced significantly different net domestic migration results. Florida has led in net domestic migration, adding 1.025 million residents from other states since 2010. Florida has also led in three of the seven years. Texas led in the first four years of the decade and has added 945,000 net domestic migrants.

Among the other four largest states, the net domestic migration losses have been substantial. The smallest loss has been in Pennsylvania at approximately 215,000. California has lost approximately 545,000 net domestic migrants since 2010, a pattern that has accelerated in recent years. Just three years ago (2014), California had lost fewer than 50,000 net domestic migrants. By 2017, outward net migration had escalated to nearly 140,000. In the first five years of the decade, California had done less poorly in net domestic migration than Illinois. However, in each of the last two years, California has lost more net domestic migrants than Illinois.

Illinois has lost the second largest number of net domestic migrants, at more than 640,000. The losses have escalated from below 75,000 in each of the first three years of the decade to nearly 115,000 in 2017. New York hemorrhaged by far the largest number of net domestic migrants, more than 1,020,000. In each of the last two years, New York has lost approximately 190,000 net domestic migrants, well above its early 80,000 loss in 2011. (Figure 6).

Dominance of the South (and West)

The latest population estimates indicate that the long-term movement to the South and West is continuing. Of course, the biggest exception in the West remains its largest state, California, which has become one of the nation’s largest exporters of people since the 1990s. In contrast, Arizona, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada have attracted large numbers of people. In the South, most states have been gaining domestic migrants, though there are exceptions, especially Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Mississippi. But overall the South has been dominant. In each of the last seven years, the South has been the destination for more than 70 percent of US net domestic migration.

The data is summarized in the Table below.

State Population Estimates
2010 – 2017
State & DC April 1, 2010 July 1, 2017   Change     %    Net         Domestic   Migration
Alabama 4,785,579 4,874,747 89,168 1.9% 1,153
Alaska 714,015 739,795 25,780 3.6% -37,492
Arizona 6,407,002 7,016,270 609,268 9.5% 278,290
Arkansas 2,921,737 3,004,279 82,542 2.8% 7,222
California 37,327,690 39,536,653 2,208,963 5.9% -556,710
Colorado 5,048,029 5,607,154 559,125 11.1% 276,485
Connecticut 3,580,171 3,588,184 8,013 0.2% -153,276
Delaware 899,712 961,939 62,227 6.9% 25,824
District of Columbia 605,040 693,972 88,932 14.7% 30,787
Florida 18,846,461 20,984,400 2,137,939 11.3% 1,025,261
Georgia 9,712,696 10,429,379 716,683 7.4% 163,536
Hawaii 1,363,817 1,427,538 63,721 4.7% -42,456
Idaho 1,570,912 1,716,943 146,031 9.3% 61,332
Illinois 12,841,196 12,802,023 -39,173 -0.3% -642,821
Indiana 6,490,029 6,666,818 176,789 2.7% -57,864
Iowa 3,050,223 3,145,711 95,488 3.1% -17,695
Kansas 2,858,403 2,913,123 54,720 1.9% -83,158
Kentucky 4,347,948 4,454,189 106,241 2.4% -12,593
Louisiana 4,544,871 4,684,333 139,462 3.1% -47,701
Maine 1,327,568 1,335,907 8,339 0.6% 3,968
Maryland 5,788,099 6,052,177 264,078 4.6% -112,092
Massachusetts 6,564,943 6,859,819 294,876 4.5% -98,948
Michigan 9,876,731 9,962,311 85,580 0.9% -225,302
Minnesota 5,310,711 5,576,606 265,895 5.0% -32,518
Mississippi 2,970,437 2,984,100 13,663 0.5% -59,667
Missouri 5,995,681 6,113,532 117,851 2.0% -57,375
Montana 990,507 1,050,493 59,986 6.1% 37,304
Nebraska 1,829,956 1,920,076 90,120 4.9% -12,289
Nevada 2,702,797 2,998,039 295,242 10.9% 145,131
New Hampshire 1,316,700 1,342,795 26,095 2.0% 2,875
New Jersey 8,803,708 9,005,644 201,936 2.3% -395,160
New Mexico 2,064,607 2,088,070 23,463 1.1% -55,903
New York 19,405,185 19,849,399 444,214 2.3% -1,022,071
North Carolina 9,574,247 10,273,419 699,172 7.3% 327,631
North Dakota 674,518 755,393 80,875 12.0% 39,178
Ohio 11,539,282 11,658,609 119,327 1.0% -192,615
Oklahoma 3,759,529 3,930,864 171,335 4.6% 28,125
Oregon 3,837,073 4,142,776 305,703 8.0% 181,252
Pennsylvania 12,711,063 12,805,537 94,474 0.7% -214,426
Rhode Island 1,053,169 1,059,639 6,470 0.6% -33,615
South Carolina 4,635,834 5,024,369 388,535 8.4% 264,781
South Dakota 816,227 869,666 53,439 6.5% 11,890
Tennessee 6,355,882 6,715,984 360,102 5.7% 178,125
Texas 25,241,648 28,304,596 3,062,948 12.1% 944,018
Utah 2,775,260 3,101,833 326,573 11.8% 50,162
Vermont 625,842 623,657 -2,185 -0.3% -10,179
Virginia 8,025,206 8,470,020 444,814 5.5% -53,500
Washington 6,741,386 7,405,743 664,357 9.9% 249,052
West Virginia 1,854,315 1,815,857 -38,458 -2.1% -28,380
Wisconsin 5,690,403 5,795,483 105,080 1.8% -68,738
Wyoming 564,376 579,315 14,939 2.6% -8,838
Source: U.S. Census Bureau


[This article was originally published by New Geography.]

The post Texas Leads U.S. In Population Growth For 7th Straight Year appeared first on The Market Urbanism Report.

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When Tolling Leads To Slugging Sat, 06 Jan 2018 00:18:59 +0000 Virginia's exorbitant toll fees could facilitate the rise of "slugging" and other alternative options.

The post When Tolling Leads To Slugging appeared first on The Market Urbanism Report.

A week after Thanksgiving, Virginia’s Department of Transportation launched the boldest experiment in road tolling yet in the United States. Tolls on Interstate 66 were allowed to increase as high as $40 for use of the highway’s express lanes by single-occupancy vehicles. The reaction was about what you’d expect when any good increases from free to $40; commuters and politicians alike labeled the increase “outrageous.”

Let’s stipulate up front that this was very much above the estimate of $6-7 tolls given by DOT officials (although these were always presented as average figures); and officials should have been more proactive about possible alternatives. Congestion pricing is thoroughly unpopular until it is implemented and the benefits are tangible.

One critique is that the Virginia toll increases have happened without improvements to mass transit. This is true, although the highway is not far from an existing Metro line. It’s also true that the cities which have implemented congestion charging are on the aggregate denser than the Beltway suburbs. Even in such environments, though, organic solutions quickly develop.

Enter “slugging,” a “show-up-and-go” carpooling arrangement that has long been popular in the DC metro area and San Francisco’s eastern suburbs. Rather than driving all the way to their destination, commuters park at outlying parking lots, and find drivers who are driving towards their destination. Drivers benefit from free or reduced charges for using their car to transport multiple passengers. In response to the abrupt toll hikes, slugging options quickly materialized, facilitated by social media.

This is just in the context of individual vehicles. If it were easier to start a private bus service, entrepreneurs would likely jump at the chance to run commuter bus service from these staging points.

Ideally, upzoning would come before road pricing, but in the interim, people just need to have options, and more often than not those options will develop on their own.

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