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 word:

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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 newly

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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 offer path

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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 Washington

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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 between 400

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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 seen

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Decreasing opportunities for incremental development in American neighborhoods

Several months ago, Charlie Gardner had an excellent, thought-provoking post asking why have American cities seen the demise of the duplex? In a time when growing cities are bursting at the seams and facing severe affordability challenges, an incremental kind of development might be welcome in many cities, offering new housing while allowing an evolutionary pace

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Affordable housing and the law of supply and demand

CC image from Thomas Hawk.

Some great articles on the challenges to affordable housing in high-demand cities over the past few days, worthy of some reflection:

San Francisco’s Housing Crisis Explained – an epic long-form article from Tech Crunch looking at just about every angle of San Francisco’s affordability issues.
The Spectre Haunting San Francisco – Ryan Avent’s

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The zoning straightjacket

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

DC is nearing the end of a lengthy process to re-write the city’s zoning code. The re-write is mostly a reorganization, combining overlays and base zones in an effort to rationalize a text that’s been edited constantly over the better part of half a century. While

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Updating the reading list

CC image from carnagenyc.

Reading and writing about Vishaan Chakrabarti’s A Country of Cities reminded me that I need to add a few titles to the reading list. I’ve read several of these in the past year but since I haven’t been the most diligent in updating the list, there are also several that I’ve

Continue reading Updating the reading list – January 2014

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