MLewyn's blog

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.

Exciting New Database

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy just came out with a fun new database of fiscal information about cities.   A few of the things I learned after playing around in the database for an hour:

Reviewing A Review of "The End of the Suburbs"

In the Wall Street Journal, Joel Kotkin pans Leigh Gallagher's "The End of the Suburbs."  Generally, I don't consider a fight about whether cities or suburbs are winning the future to be of much interest; in reality, there are growing cities and growing suburbs, just as there are declining cities and declining suburbs.  However, Kotkin does raise a number of points which I think are worthy of discussion.

Is Sprawl An Example of Libertarian Paternalism?

One widely-publicized attempt to find a middle ground between laissez-fair and overregulation is  "libertarian paternalism": the idea that (in the words of New York Times columnist David Brooks), "Government doesn’t tell you what to do, but it gently biases the context so that you find it easier to do things" favored by government.  For example, a state governnment could design forms making organ donation the "default option" for driver's license applicants, so one would have

The Cross-Bronx Expressway really hurt (but not in the way you might think)

A few months ago, I finished reading Robert Caro's The Power Broker, a biography of highway/park-builder Robert Moses.  Caro asserts that Moses's Cross-Bronx Expressway ruined Bronx neighborhoods near East Tremont Avenue; many houses and apartments were destroyed to build the expressway, and the negative effects of all that deserted land blighted nearby blocks.  

Cities Can't Do Much Alone

I am about halfway through the Metropolitan Revolution (by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley) and I can't help wondering: how much good can a city do?  Of course, quite a bit- but only with a friendly (or at least non-hostile) state government.  There are many, many things a state government can do to sabotage a city.  For example, a state can: