Thursday, March 22, 2012

Density Growth

"Because we don't fully appreciate how important cities are in stoking economic development, we dismiss the economic costs of regulations that make them prohibitively expensive to live in...What they are arguing against are anti-density policies.."

Ezra Klein, "The city as growth engine," The Washington Post, March 13, 2012.

Forty years ago cities were labeled "growth machines" that generated real estate development for a cabal of land-based interests -- from big banks to big labor. These efforts rebuilt downtowns, displaced small business and manufacturing, and added to the suburban spread. It's good to see the argument evolve to cities as "growth engines," but the role of creativity, innovation, density, city form, and urban/suburban administrative boundaries is more complicated than this review suggests. The density of faceless office buildings and plazas is quite different from the density of lower-rise buildings chock full of small businesses. And maybe it's a good idea for capital and people to move to places that are less expensive and in need of more density and innovation.

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