MLewyn's blog

More Evidence That There Are Still Poor People In Cities (Or, I Told You So)

In numerous blog posts (most extensively here) I have pointed out that despite the enormous amount of writing about suburban poverty and urban gentrification, cities still have a disproportionate share of regional poverty.  

A Threat To Retrofitting Sprawl?

Because Houston has no formal zoning code, one might think that infill is easier there than in other cities.  But a few neighborhood activists may create a new obstacle to infll: nuisance law.

Even In Phoenix, You Can't Build Your Way Out of Congestion

A recent op-ed in Canada's Globe and Mail argued that yes, you can build your way out of congestion by building more roads, because after all, Phoenix built lots of roads and they don't have that much congestion.  The author invoked the Texas Transportation Institute's report on Phoenix  to show that government spending on highways reduces congestion.  However, he should have read the TTI report more carefully: between 1982 and 2011,

The Importance of The Margin of Error

Even the best poll or survey is slightly inaccurate, because a poll of a sample of people may not accurately reflect the entire population.  To account for this problem, pollsters have developed the concept of a "margin of error"- a number (usually 2 to 5 percentage points) which shows the range of likely results among the actual population, as opposed to the people who answered the survey.  (For a more technical explanation, go here).

Cities Don't Always Have Higher Taxes Than Suburbs

The Brookings Institution just came out with a national map listing property taxes by county.

Two Implausible Scenarios

The Rand Corporation recently issued a report sketching out two possible scenarios for America's transportation future.  In one scenario, entitled "No Free Lunch", energy prices keep rising, leading to less driving and more compact development.  Under this scenario, government regulates greenhouse gases heavily and taxes driving heavily to support transportation.  In the second scenario, entitled "Fueled and Freewheeling", energy prices are stable, and neither regulation nor taxes increase.

Chanukah Songs for Urbanists

One wonderful thing about Chanukah is how easily its songs lend themselves to adaptation.  For example, last week I adapted the Chanukah song "Mi Y'Malel" (Who Can Retell) here.   Then I created a New York version here.   Create some lyrics for your own city! 

Great Data on Migration

I just found an interesting new website full of migration data (link here).  The website contains migration data for almost every county in the US.

One thing I have learned: the migration into cities is still largely driven by twentysomethings.  For example, Manhattan and Washington continued to lose older residents to suburbia and to other regions, as they did in prior decades.  

Big Boxes Flock Together

Some planners seek to discourage big box stores, on the theory that such stores are incipient monopolists that crush all competition.  (In particular, Wal-Mart seems to strike fear in the hearts of many).

The Problem With The "Induced Demand" Theory of New Housing

I was arguing with an acquaintance about New York's sky-high rents, and he made an interesting argument: he suggested that new luxury housing actually makes prices higher, by making the city more desirable to the wealthy and thus encouraging them to bid up housing prices.  In other words, the law of supply and demand doesn't reduce housing prices: supply just increases demand rather than reducing prices.