Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Glaeser: "Anti-Urban Bias" in Federal Government Policies

In a recent Boston Globe Op-ed, Ed Glaeser writes:

Over the past 60 years, cities have been hit by a painful policy trifecta: subsidization of highways, subsidization of homeownership, and a school system that creates strong incentives for many parents to leave city borders. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, an economist at Brown University, has documented that each new federally-funded “highway passing through a central city reduces its population by about 18 percent.’’

Subsidizing transportation decreases the advantage of living close together in cities, which should make every urbanite worry about the Senate’s fondness for using highway spending to fight recession. The current Senate jobs bill calls for a more than $30 billion increase for transportation over the next two years.

It is a mistake to think that spending on trains balances the scales. Cities will always benefit far less than exurbs from transportation because dense areas already have good means of getting around, like walking. Urban advocates would do better to either reduce highway subsidies or to balance that spending with more funding for urban schools.

Political leaders have long championed homeownership, but subsidizing homeownership is also anti-urban. Sixty-two percent of Boston homes are rented; 78 percent of Wellesley homes are owner-occupied. Cities are defined by apartments, and more than 85 percent of homes in multi-unit structures are rented. Suburbs are known for their single-family detached houses, and more than 85 percent of such homes are owner-occupied. Subsidizing homeownership, through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the home mortgage interest deduction, lures people out of cities.

Read full article here.

How Have Recent Rezonings in NYC Affected the City's Ability to Grow?

Examining the effects of Rezoning: Case of New York City

A new report by NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy examines the rezonings that took place between 2003 and 2007, and finds that of the 188,000 lots that were included in a City-initiated rezoning action, 23 percent were downzoned, 14 percent were upzoned, and almost 63 percent were subject to a contextual-only rezoning (a term for a rezoning that does not significantly change the buildable capacity but otherwise limits the kind of building allowed). Despite the small share of upzonings, on net, these actions increased the City's capacity for new residential building by 1.7 percent, or roughly 100 million square feet of residential capacity.

''Given the scale of rezoning activity during this time, it is critical to take a step back and ask: 'what is the net impact on the City’s capacity to accommodate new growth?''' said Vicki Been, faculty director of the Furman Center. ''While we find that on paper, the upzonings have added more capacity than the downzonings have taken away, we also find reason to doubt that all of this new capacity will be built out for residential use, and it remains unclear whether we are on track for creating enough new residential capacity to accommodate the one million new New Yorkers that are expected to live in the City by 2030.''

Click link below to access article.

Smart Growth Resource Library: How Have Recent Rezonings Affected the City's Ability to Grow?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Boise No. 10 for falling home prices | Business | Idaho Statesman

Sales of Valley homes increased 38 percent in February over a year ago, and the number of homes listed for sale decreased 22 percent. But median prices fell again in Ada County.

Sober sellers also are getting between 95 percent and 97 percent of their more realistic asking prices.

But the National Association of Realtors says the Valley's home-price declines this past year were the 10th worst among metro areas.

Read full story:

Boise No. 10 for falling home prices | Business | Idaho Statesman

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Treasure Valley home sales rise 50 percent; median prices mixed | Idaho Economy | Idaho Statesman

According to ID Statesman feature published on Mar 11, 2010:

The number of home sales in the Treasure Valley year over year in February were up 50 percent from 308 to 462, according to the latest data posted on the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service Web site.

Over all median sale prices in Ada County were down $4,400, or 2.6 percent, from $167,900 to $163,500, the MLS reported. Canyon County experienced a slight increase of 1 percent from $99,000 to $100,000.

In Ada County, existing home sale prices in February were close to the five-year low of 160,000 hit in October 2009. The median was down $3,000, or 2 percent, from $165,000 in January to $162,000 in February.

Median sales prices in new Ada County construction also went down $9,000 or 4.6 percent from $194,000 in January to $185,000 in February.

In Canyon County, existing home sales hit a new five-year low of $94,900, dropping $1,100 or 1.1 percent below $96,000 in January. However, new home median prices rose 8.4 percent from $125,000 in January to $135,500 in February.

Be careful when you interpret the median home prices though. It is not the same as average home prices in our area.

Treasure Valley home sales rise 50 percent; median prices mixed | Idaho Economy | Idaho Statesman

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Local Employment Dynamics data from US Census

Here's the ON THE MAP website for the local employment dynamics data for Boise, ID. This is the GIS mapping tool I showed you in class that is going to eventually replace Census Bureau's "journey to work" data.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Downtown Boise condo sales are looking up | Business | Idaho Statesman

Few if any condominiums in Downtown Boise were selling in August, but since then at least 25 sales have closed or are pending.

Lisa Lyons, director of sales for CitySide Lofts at Myrtle and 15th streets, where 10 units have sold since September and three sales are pending, said: "It seems we've hit a price, and with the combination of low interest rates and available FHA financing, we've found the market."

Units at CitySide Lofts sell from $159,900 to $350,000, down about 20 percent from prices of $199,000 to $450,000 two years ago.

Sales managers, agents and developers for five projects Downtown said most prices have dropped between 15 percent and 30 percent from 2007.

Read full story:

Downtown Boise condo sales are looking up | Business | Idaho Statesman

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Recession and Recovery in the Intermountain West’s Metropolitan Areas

Mark Muro, Fellow and Policy Director, Metropolitan Policy Program and Jonathan Rothwell, Senior Research Analyst of The Brookings Institution published a report titles the Mountain Monitor in Dec 2009 outlining the outlook for the Mountain West states.

According to this report:

Drawing on data covering the third quarter of 2009 (ending in September), the new Monitor documents that no multistate region has been hit harder by the last year’s economic crisis than the six-state Intermountain zone.

Across the region, the deflation of a massive housing “bubble,” widespread job losses, and the onset of a significant public-sector fiscal crisis have wreaked havoc on many communities. In many Intermountain region locations, the sheer abruptness of the shift from hyper-growth early in the decade to a severe contraction in the last year has spawned a sense of almost existential whiplash.

As the findings below highlight, even within the region the effects of the recession and recovery have not been uniformly felt. Phoenix, Boise, and Las Vegas, for example, remained three of the most troubled metropolitan areas in the entire nation in the third quarter, with all residing in the weakest quintile of metros on a combined measure of overall economic performance.

Read full report here.