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