Mega Cities Require Mega Suburbs

Housing is unaffordable in California, and, increasingly, housing is becoming unaffordable in every other part of the United States where Democrats control state legislatures and city councils. And in the spirit of nonpartisanship, it is fair to say that when it comes to housing, far too many Republicans share the same agenda and goals as their supposed Democrat opponents.

The shame of these policies is not only the misery they impose on growing proportions of Americans, but the pessimism they represent. Read beyond the initial recitation of mundane obstacles to share a positive vision of the future. The economics of affordable housing do not have to be complicated. Awesome housing for everyone can be realized merely by changing the conventional wisdom.

Here are four policy choices that have turned millions of Americans into slaves to their home mortgages, and pushed additional millions into cheap rentals that cost them most of their paycheck.

1 – Punitively high fees for building permits. These exorbitant sums are necessary to pay for infrastructure such as connector roads and utility conduits that cities used to pay for out of their operating budgets. But out-of-control expansion of government combined with overmarket pay negotiated by government unions has changed all that. Now local governments have to charge developer fees that can easily exceed $100,000 per home.

2 – Laws that require “inclusive zoning,” whereby low income people are given subsidized homes and apartments in high-income neighborhoods. This pushes up the costs for housing that people have […] Read More

Sustainable Megacities

Modern urban centers around the world now have neighborhoods that house well over 100,000 people per square mile. The Choa Chu Kang district in Singapore, defined by boulevards lined with 10 to 12 story mid-rise residential buildings, has a population density of more than 125,000 people per square mile. The entire borough of Manhattan has an average population density of more than 70,000 people per square mile, with far higher densities in areas of midtown and lower Manhattan.

According to a 2018 report released by the United Nations, today 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is estimated to increase to 68 percent by 2050. At the same time, the United Nations projects the global population to increase from 7.8 billion today to 9.7 billion by 2050. These projections lead to a surprising calculation: the absolute number of people living in rural areas is expected to decline, from 3.5 billion today to only 3.1 billion in 2050.

What should not be surprising by now is that people around the world, voluntarily and inexorably, are migrating from rural areas to cities. But the corollary effect is relatively unheralded; that around the world, open land is slowly depopulating. For the most part, this is happening absent government coercion. It flies in the face of the conventional wisdom—heard endlessly in the United States—that we are running out of open space. We aren’t.

If we have a sustainability challenge, it is not […] Read More