MLewyn's blog

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.  

More on Which Age Groups are Moving to Cities

I've already blogged on which age groups are returning to cites- but I recently read something that made me think about the issue a liittle differently.  In past posts, I have noted that city population seems to be increasing among both millenials and 55-64 year olds. Although this is true, it is an after-affect of the nationwide increase in the number of aging baby boomers.

The "Decline of Chinatown" Nonstory

The headline in "Wired" seems to say it all: "Mapping the Alarming Decline of America's Chinatowns." The Wired story breathlessly proclaims that "gentrification" and "development" are causing Chinatowns to "go extinct"- with the apparent agenda of trying to prevent new urban housing because of concerns about gentrification.

Is NYC Building Enough Housing?

New York city planning director Amanda Burden recently argued that there's not much more that the city can do to make housing more affordable, claiming that the city has given out 30,000 building permits per year, yet prices have failed to go down.  But in fact, New York has built housing at a much lower rate than some other cities.

Explaining the Koontz Decision

A few months ago, the federal Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District.

Does smart growth regulation create price instability?

One argument I've seen in anti-smart growth literature is that regulation generally and/or smart growth-oriented regulation creates housing bubbles that lead to price instability.   

Reality Check on Urban Poverty

I've read some stories suggesting that poverty is decreasing in cities and increasing in suburbs.  Urbanists see this alleged trend as evidence that cities are becoming more popular; egalitarians see it as evidence that gentrification is driving the poor into suburbia.

How The Sprawl Lobby Is Totalitarian

I recently read the following comment justifying sprawl-oriented policies: "people still want the freedom of choice, privacy and flexibility a car affords." 

I have often seen this sort of argument; it seems to me to endorse the following chain of logic: (1) an unspecified number of "people" (presumably a majority) want cars and therefore (2) we should enact policies that make car ownership effectively mandatory (e.g. using highways to shift development to places without public transit, building streets too wide to be crossable by pedestrians).

High-Speed Streets Cause Tragedy in Jacksonville

Last Friday night, a woman and her daughter were struck by a car while crossing the street to attend Yom Kippur services in Jacksonville, Florida. The mother died instantly, the daughter was hospitalized.