There goes the neighborhood

There Goes the Neighborhood is a podcast series from The Nation and WNYC.

It provides a look into the public perception of rezoning East New York. The reporters and producers get the emotional response on tape in a way you can only accomplish on radio, complete with all of the vocal inflections and intonation,

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Housing prices vs. land prices – Vancouver, BC

One chart to note in discussions of urban housing affordability, from Vancouver, BC.

The chart is from The Globe and Mail, looking at the changes in housing prices by the type of unit in Greater Vancouver. While condo prices have increased substantially, that increase is nothing compared to the boom in single-family detached house

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Parallels between Zoning and Airline Deregulation

Pacific Southwest Airlines post-deregulation ad (1985), showing their expansion beyond California. Image from Airbus777 on flickr.

Last week, Ilya Somin published a piece in the Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blog entitled “the emerging cross-ideological consensus on zoning.” The lede:

In recent years, and especially over the last few months, economists and other public policy

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Zoning restrictions on housing supply catch the White House’s eye

In case you were wondering, the White House grounds are technically unzoned – as is a lot of federal property in DC. Screenshot from the DC online zoning map.

Zoning has been on the national stage in the past few weeks, starting with this paper (just hovering on a link to whitehouse.gov is good

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Rising housing prices impact all incomes

In cities with strong real estate markets, affordable housing is a big problem. And it’s not just a problem for those with lower incomes, it’s a problem for everyone. The problems aren’t even limited to just their own metro areas.

Note: in this case, the term “affordable housing” refers to the plain meaning of the

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Flipping Houses, Zoning Codes, and Building Codes

DC row houses – the first CC image hit for “dc house flips” on Flickr. Photo from Elvert Barnes.

Earlier in May, local public radio station WAMU aired a lengthy three-part report on the collateral damage involved in house flipping in DC. Martin Austermuhle’s series offers a window into the nightmare for buyers of

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Tactical Urbanism – useful procedural hack, or something more?

Cover of Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia’s new book, Tactical Urbanism.

Tactical Urbanism is all the rage these days. There’s an undeniable appeal to the idea of getting the community together to do something rather than drafting another plan. But is the appeal just about the results of these projects, or does Tactical Urbanism

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Pop-ups – what counts as ‘reasonable?’

Beware the imperative that we have to do something.

Despite protestations from DC’s former planning director Harriet Tregoning, the preliminary vote count on the plan to limit rowhouse pop-ups in DC is poised to pass, 3-2 (note that two of the zoning commissioners tentatively in favor are the federal representatives to the commission; see this

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The cone of uncertainty

One of the elements that makes prediction difficult is uncertainty. In one of the chapters of Donald Shoup’s High Cost of Free Parking (adapted for Access here), Professor Shoup poses the question:

HOW FAR IS IT from San Diego to San Francisco? An estimate of 632.125 miles is precise—but not accurate. An estimate of somewhere

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Prediction is hard – so why do we make key decisions based on bad information?

Comparison of USDOT predictions for Vehicle Miles Traveled, compared to actual values. Chart from SSTI.

Back in December, David Levinson put up a wonderful post with graphical representations looking to match predictions to reality. The results aren’t good for the predictors. Lots of official forecasts call for increased vehicle travel, while many places have

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