What is Market Urbanism? - with Michael Lewyn and Ryan Avent

In Episode 1 of The Market Urbanism Podcast, we discuss what Market Urbanism is, and how it can be applied in pragmatic, politically-realistic ways in cities. Then we interview two policy experts who’ve written on this idea of liberalizing cities.

In segment 1 we interview Michael Lewyn, a professor at the Touro Law Center. Lewyn wrote the book “Government Intervention and Suburban Sprawl: The Case for Market Urbanism”, which describes different government policies that, throughout the decades, caused our sprawling settlement patterns. Lewyn has also published an academic paper, and several blog posts, about the rise of the Market Urbanism movement.

In segment 2 we interview Ryan Avent, a writer for The Economist and author of The Gated City, a book that documents how housing regulations have effectively turned some cities into exclusive country clubs. Avent writes regularly on the need to loosen these regulations, so housing can become more affordable.

Show Notes:

1:02 Scott Beyer begins his editorial describing Market Urbanism

5:42 Antonio Grana: of all the potential Market Urbanism reforms, ending parking requirements is the low-hanging fruit

6:37 Beyer describes how radically bipartisan the Market Urbanism audience is

8:45 Martha Ekdahl rags on the San Francisco Sierra Club

11:14 start of interview with Michael Lewyn

13:00 Lewyn describes the general premise of his book about Market Urbanism

16:13 Sergio Rodrigues asks Lewyn if he thinks we should throw out all zoning

19:18 Grana asks Lewyn whether or not cities would get denser in an open market

26:32 Beyer asks Lewyn about the future direction of the Market Urbanism movement

28:46 start of interview with Ryan Avent

31:46 Avent describes the need for higher-level governments to supplant local ones on the housing issue

34:44 Rodrigues asks Avent about the prospect of a land value tax

38:53 Grana asks Avent whether cities can really build their way out of the housing crisis.

40:16 Beyer uses the example of Tokyo to assert that they can.

41:02 Matt Robare calls in from Boston to ask Avent how technology can disrupt the housing market.

43:15 Beyer asks Avent where he thinks the housing regulatory climate will be in 10 years. Here was his answer (best quote of the podcast):

I would be surprised if, 10 years from now, conditions weren’t easier [in San Francisco] for development, based on the increased awareness and political mobilization around these issues. Now if we were to look at Sunbelt cities like Houston, which have been building much more in the last decade, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if they went in the other direction. You might call it regression toward the mean – it’ll be easier to build in places where it’s been hard, and harder to build in places where it’s been easy.

44:54 hosts react to the two interviews