Market urbanism in Houston
By Scott Sumner
Over at TheMoneyIllusion I did a recent post on the Texas economic miracle, which has survived the oil bust. Commenter ChargerCarl directed me to a very interesting slideshow (prepared by Barbara Tennant) on market urbanism in Houston, which is famous for having almost no zoning restrictions. As a result, developers are creating lots of interesting solutions to accommodate people who are moving back to the city. For instance, small single-family homes are being replaced by sets of townhouses:
When the neighborhoods are complete, they are often quite attractive:
And although most new units use traditional styles, the lack of zoning allows for more experimentation than in other cities:
Just imagine what would be built in cities with a larger cohort of creative types, such as San Francisco and NYC.
I’d encourage people to scroll through the entire document, if you are interested in urban design. I live near Boston, which used to produce beautiful urban neighborhoods full of townhouses. Today, zoning restrictions prevent us from doing sensible urban makeovers to turn neighborhoods of single-family homes into denser areas. And places like Los Angeles are now being hurt the most by zoning regulations.
LA developed similarly in the postwar period before we clamped down on zoning in the 80’s. Now Texas cities are eating our lunch.
People are voting with their feet—in favor of the Texas model.