I occasionally read that seniors are likely to be a strong constituency for walkable, public-transit oriented neighborhoods. This argument runs as follows: seniors gradually lose the ability to drive as they get older. Thus, they are eventually going to need more transit and more walkable neighborhoods, and designers of walkable neighborhoods should be especially focused on the needs of seniors.
A recent post on Citymetric.com suggests that after losing population for decades, London will soon reach its pre-World War II peak of 8.6 million people. London last achieved this population level in 1939, and lost nearly two million people after World War II, bottoming out at 6.7 million in 1988. Can we learn anything from this? Why, yes we can. To name a few things:
One common argument often used to frustrate infill development is that in high-cost markets, the law of supply and demand simply does not apply, and that new housing will somehow fail to increase rents.
Numerous commentators have questioned the view that increased highway spending reduces congestion, pointing out that highways may increase demand for driving, thus leading to more traffic. In a recent newsletter, Robert Poole responds to the “induced demand” concept by writing:
According to Joel Kotkin, this month's elections were really about the "progressives' war on suburbia." According to Kotkin, the Democrats lost because they are "aggressively anti-suburban." Since I didn't vote for President Obama, I leave it to his supporters to defend him.
Commentators who seek to minimize the importance of recent growth in public transit ridership argue that this increase is predominantly a result of New York's rising ridership. There is a grain of truth to this argument: New York is so big that rising ridership in that city alone can affect national ridership trends. On the other hand, New York is hardly the only city experiencing rising ridership.
A recent article in New Geography points out that some of his friends who feel priced out of San Francisco have moved to Rust Belt cities like Cincinnati. Given all the wonderful historic neighborhoods of Cincinnati or Kansas City or similar cities, why would anyone live in New York or San Francisco instead?
The room-sharing service Airbnb has become controversial in high-cost cities like San Francisco and New York, in part because of concerns about affordable housing. In fact, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has recently written an op-ed attacking Airbnb. (In the interests of full disclosure, I note that both I and the Senator have financial axes to grind: I am an Airbnb customer, and Sen.
I recently coauthored a paper on government regulations designed to promote smart growth and green building (published by the Mercatus Institute). The paper examines the prevalence of minimum density requirements, maximum parking requirements, and green building-related regulations.
We conclude that:
*Minimum density requirements are quite rare. Only two of twenty-four cities surveyed only two have such regulations.
Because most Americans drive to work on any given day, one might think that they don't use any other mode of transportation, ever. But a recent review of federal transportation surveys shows otherwise. In fact, 65 percent of American commuters take at least one non-car trip per week, and 48 percent take three or more.