The Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Council, for example, has written a development plan for the Twin Cities area that envisions higher-density residential neighborhoods in which people rely on transit to get around. According to the plan, reports Stanley Kurtz, “[d]ense development comes in stages.”
At first, for example, there may be plenty of parking near [Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)]-style subway stops. Nothing, at that point, would seem unusual to the public. In the next phase of TOD, however, the parking lots get plowed under and replaced with still more stack-and-pack housing, leaving residents and visitors with few options besides public transportation. At this point, the report notes, the “public sector” will need to turn “aggressive,” to ensure that parking lots disappear while density grows. [National Review, August 12]
It’s all part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s program of empowering regional super-governments to force development into city centers. Backed by HUD Regional Planning Grants, these regional governments, often composed of unelected officials, can withhold funding from city and suburban governments that don’t go along with their zoning and transportation priorities. Kurtz notes that the Met as well as the authors of San Francisco’s recent Plan Bay Area are among the recent recipients of these grants. [National Review, July 30]
The planners want to get (other) people out of their detached houses with backyards and into apartments and condominiums. Joel Kotkin observes some trends:
Roughly four in five buyers, according to a 2011 study commissioned by the National Association of Realtors, prefer a single-family home. This preference can be seen in the vastly greater construction of single-family houses in the past decade: Between 2000 and 2011, detached houses accounted for 83% of the net additions to the occupied U.S. housing stock. The percentage of single-family homes in the total housing mix last decade was more than one-fifth higher than in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. […]
Overall, domestic migrants tend to be moving away from these denser metropolitan areas. Between 2000 and 2010, a net 1.9 million people left New York, 1.3 million left Los Angeles, 340,000 left San Francisco, while 230,000 left San Jose and Boston. In contrast, some of the largest in-migration has taken place over the past decade, as well as since 2010, in relatively sprawling cities, including Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Nashville. […]
[V]irtually all net population growth in the nation took place in counties with under 2,500 persons per square mile. The total population increase in counties with under 500 people per square mile was more than 30 times that of the growth in counties with densities of 10,000 and greater. [New Geography, August 8]
Apparently, we’re not behaving as the planners think we should.