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Soylent Density: Density is people! (photo by author)

Last week I wrote about how limiting housing supply in the urban core forces demand for transit into the suburbs, increasing the costs of supplying that demand. Sunday’s New York times has an important article that more or less bulids on the points I made last week: density also makes economic sense.

But elected leaders in cities like Seattle continue to play rhetorical and political games with land use, caving to the single-family lobby out to keep the status quo. Think I’m ranting? Here’s what Ryan Avent, the author of the article in the Times says about the single-family status quo crowd:

[They] fight development, aiming to protect old buildings and precious views, limit crime and traffic, and maintain high-quality schools. But what makes a city a city and a not-city a not-city is the fact that a city is dense and a not-city isn’t. The idea of it may chill a homeowner’s heart, but the wealth supported by urban density is what gives urban homes their great value in the first place.

What many single-family advocates forget is  their home is more valuable because of the great stuff just a few blocks away, in dense commercial and residential urban villages. How about density it’s effect on housing supply? When housing gets cheap in sprawling areas because supply gets attenuated in the urban core, many people follow the lower prices.

Factors like taste and taxes account for some of the migration, but the biggest reason for the shift is housing costs. The average Phoenix home is worth about 30 percent of the price of a house in San Jose. The difference in prices is mostly due to differences in building. In every year from 1992 to 2009, Phoenix granted permits for two to three times as many new homes as did the San Francisco and San Jose metropolitan areas combined. Around the San Francisco Bay, neighborhoods dead set against change successfully squeezed the housing supply, just as OPEC limits the supply of oil when it wishes to raise its price.

Exactly. When the Seattle City Council dithers on big land use decisions, or tries to split the baby by supporting 65 feet when developers ask for 85, they do for housing supply what OPEC does for oil supply: reduce it. Less housing with increasing demand ensures higher prices. Higher prices for owner or renter occupied multifamily housing in the city just feeds the single-family lobby more ammunition and fulfills their prophecy of gentrification. What’s the obstacle to making density happen in Seattle and what’s at stake?

Rapid urban growth would mean denser neighborhoods, which makes many Americans uncomfortable. Preventing this density, however, denies workers access to the best opportunities, constraining the mechanism that helps support a strong middle class.

The standard, single-family home in Seattle is presented by the single-family lobby as apple pie. But Avent points out that the idea that density is a bad, socialist potion just isn’t true. To make our country, region, and city work we have to see land use as fiscal policy–loosen regulations and expand what housing suppliers can do and we can create not just more jobs but better jobs and more and better housing. The more we support density the better life, work, and play can become.

The public hearing on density in Roosevelt is right around the corner, September 19th. Now that the New York Times has weighed in, perhaps members of the Seattle City Council will give more credence to the arguments that squashing housing supply to appease single family home owners is bad for our local economy and way of life, not to mention transit, air and water quality, and climate.

65 Replies to “The New York Times: Density is better for the local economy”

  1. As a homeowner myself, I agree that single family homes are over-rated.

    BUT, I look at most of the condos I deal with (I work for a local utility) and there is no way I’d ever live in one. Too much politics, and way too many Nosey Parkers.

    Apartments are nice – no maintenance and no condo board – but, like condos, you are dependent on how well the building is constructed and insulated.

    I like a lot of those little freestanding four packs, but I’d be worried about what happens if one (or more) of them becomes a rental. Plus, you have the same condo board mentality, just with fewer people.

    So I’ll stay in my house. But if anyone wants to buy my front yard, I’ll makeyou a sweet deal. (The house is up on a bank, and the front yard is mostly sloping ground with a rather heroic rockery that is a pain in the A@# to maintain)

  2. It’s also been alleged that states with high levels of Unions have lower unemployment. I’m not 100% convinced of the causality of high density and “better economy”.

    What would be more interesting is whether “happiness” == “high Density”, ie is the percentage of people who live in high density cities happier than people who live in medium, to low density? Because in places where land is not constrained, people live in lower/medium density housing, ie they buy a house in the burbs, vs a condo in the city.

    You can see that here in the Puget Sound area, there are more condo’s for sale in Bellevue than houses, when price is equivalent.

    (Please note: I’m not trolling here, I’m a transit wonk, we can’t all live on a 5 acre mini farm lot with a riding mower. The energy use is all out of proportion to the benefit and it destroys the farm land we need to eat. It’s also ridiculous to build out any kind of transportation system which is energy efficient, creating congestion when we revert to driving. I’m just saying articles like these with no data links are hard to believe.)

    1. Oh and long term, I’d like to have a “mother-in-law” apartment with my house so when my mother in law needs assisted living I can put her there and keep an eye on the help and the costs of her care. So I’m all in favor of extended family housing as an option.

    2. They don’t just buy a house in the burbs purely because they want to. They do so because of the massive highway subsidies and draconian development restrictions in cities.

  3. [SFH owners they to] limit crime and traffic, and maintain high-quality schools

    Those insane crazy fools! They should be fighting to increase traffic and crime, and lower school standards…where do they want to live…Bellevue? Where public schools make the highest national ranks? Or Seattle…where the down town is an open air mental ward for knife wielding psychotics?!

    1. Seattle’s highest crime neighborhoods are the lowest density ones. Most of the city’s high density neighborhoods are in the north, and most of the crime is in the south.

      The same holds true for the state. The highest crime neighborhoods are in eastern Washington and around Centralia.

      The same is also true in NYC, where Greenwich Village has lower crime rates than Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.

      Seattle’s schools are also significantly better than most of the rural school districts and we’ve also seen tax revenue fall the most in the least dense of ST’s subareas.

      You might feel than density causes crime, but the facts just don’t reflect your feeling.

      1. Butch and John: Yes, there are more total crimes reported in high density precincts, but remember the population is also higher. The number of crimes per resident is usually lower in dense neighborhoods (except those with an unusually high poverty rate).

    2. Jane Jacobs has pointed out that it’s not the number of people per square mile that causes tensions and crime, it’s the number of people per room. If every house or apartment has at least one room per person (not counting bathrooms or kitchens), then there’s no overcrowding-induced crime.

      1. How? A 1 BR condo can hold two people by this measure, and in real life this is what Americans are comfortable with. My take on it is, it allows each person to be in a separate room when they’re studying or want to be alone, and that avoids tensions where two people are forced to be in the same room all the time.

  4. State-by-State Unemployment Reveals Relationship to Population Density

    As I read the linked article about unemployment, I was struck by the fact that the highest unemployment in the U.S., states where unemployment is above 10%, is found in states with population densities well above the national average. Conversely, the states with low unemployment are all states with population densities well below the national average.

    http://petemurphy.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/state-by-state-unemployment-reveals-relationship-to-population-density/

    1. Sprawl looks exactly the same to state population density figures as does dense urban development. The density question for nations and states is a question of population control; the density question for cities is a question of where all those people live.

      1. Basically states with “low population densities” are those that have eschewed centralized cities altogether in favor of a more equal spread of population across the entire state.

        With High Speed Rail, this is an equally valid vision for Washington State. It would be a world where someone could live on a gentleman’s farm in Yakima, and commute in to a job at SeaTac three times a week…and maybe fly out of Spokane every month for a corporate meeting.

      2. @John: States mostly don’t have much choice about where big cities spring up — they have historically arisen because of the initiative of particular leaders, and because of resources and physical features of the land (rivers, bays, valleys, etc). Many (maybe most) of today’s big cities were in fact founded before their states!

        States also have no choice about their climates, which drive their rural population densities. Vermont, Maine, and West Virginia have the least-urban populations; California is most urban, along with New Jersey and Nevada, but Utah isn’t far behind; Iowa and Wyoming are in the middle. But states like Maine, Vermont, and West Virginia have nice climates for agriculture, and thus support fairly high rural densities, and aren’t among the most sparsely populated states. Utah and Wyoming have very dry climates that don’t support much rural population density, so even though Utah has a very urban population, dominated by Salt Lake City, it is a very sparsely populated state overall.

        So you’re dead wrong about what it means for a state to have a particular density. Overall state population density has to do with what sort of rural density the state’s climate supports, and what sort of cities the state has in it.

        The rest of your comment, the “vision” part, is incoherent in lots of ways. If you’re spreading out the population evenly and using mass transit you need transfers. For transfers to be effective generally you need high frequencies. To support high frequencies you need density. Also, it’s worth noting that we seriously need to cut carbon emissions, and we’re not going to do it by traveling longer distances.

      3. Most Big Cities sprung up based on an 18th century (water) or 19th century (rail) resource.

        Now that we are two centuries (21st, at least for some of us) gone from that, modern states and forward thinkers can soon build their cities anywhere…off the existing grid with mini-generating hydrogen power if desired.

      4. Will the forward thinkers be so thoughtful as to include statues of Ozymandias in their cities of the future?

    2. What do those states have in common (besides low density and low unemployment in 2009 (the examples given) – Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah?
      They’re mostly agriculture and mineral extraction based economies, and were able to keep producing because of demand from Asia (mostly China), just like Australia did.

    3. Per the linked article, the low unemployment states do not have sprawling, exurban populations, but are rural states: Wyoming, North Dakota,etc. Unemployment is low because (1) recent energy booms and (2) nobody wants to live in a place like N. Dakota unless they have a job.

      In a world that resembled economic models, unemployed Michangers and Californians would be moving to North Dakota and Wyoming in droves. But they aren’t, because these places aren’t very desirable.

      1. I’m not sure desirability is the issue. I’m a bike-riding, transit-loving vegetarian and I found Wyoming a fine place to live for the little while I lived there. There are some other problems.

        First, if you move to Wyoming, it’s expensive to get home to see your family, because it’s just a really long way from anything. For most people, that makes Wyoming a non-starter.

        Second, Wyoming may have low unemployment, but that’s not an endemic feature of the state. If lots of people moved there unemployment would rise. Wyoming is a pretty harsh physical environment that doesn’t support that many people on local food sources. If it developed big export industries (manufacturing and services) it would need to import lots more food from far away, at high transportation costs. As it urbanized its rate of Federal subsidy per-person would probably drop a lot, also… and that wouldn’t help its current rosy economic numbers.

      2. It’s also people being stuck by bad mortgages and unsellable houses. These people would otherwise move to the jobs.

    4. Those areas also escaped the housing bubble and crash. The bubble occurred mainly on the coasts and in some places like Nevada, and those happen to be the places where the big cities are. At its worst, construction (growth) became the economy. Those were places like Las Vegas and Bend, Oregon, and in Florida, places where people would not have moved to in droves if it hadn’t been for the bubble. Cities have generally weathered the crash better than suburban or exurban areas, because cities have long-term qualities people still want to move to. Employment is looking “good” in North Dakota because the crash-prone areas did so much worse, and because there’s money in mining and shale gas right now.

  5. I keep reading these posts in STB on housing density, and I’m not sure who exactly you’re fighting.

    The constant tug-of-war between the Manhattanize All Seattle Now! faction and the Single Family Homes Forever faction was settled with Rice’s Urban Village plan in 1993. The document had its issues, but it was successfull in A) creating a rubric for density that channeled it into strategic corridors, and B) thereby lancing the political debate. Density would be actively promoted in those areas where it made sense; threats to neighborhood character were minimized and managed, and randomly placed condo towers became a thing of the past.

    So what you’re arguing for has already been bought into, both by city hall as well as the populace. And I’m certainly a true-believer in zoning that creates compact neighborhoods that reinvest in themselves, have a thread of historical continuity, and stress planning vs being reactive (in items such as transportation patterns).

    But if what some are suggesting is that we throw away any kind of rubric, and replace it with a simple “density uber alles”, then that doesn’t come across as an informed position, and I can certainly understand why our detractors would criticize us. Without a rubric, without measured application of principles, then we’re just a group pushing for a transportation system that doesn’t exist, for a city that doesn’t exist, against a state bureacracy that wasn’t built for it, in the face of a public whose support is fickle. Perhaps that’s how some view us.

    As an aside, I’ve been downtown on successive weekends-yesterday buying some fish at the market for my father back in Texas-and I’m just amazed at the ongoing transformation. I mentioned Rice…give him the credit for starting that turn-around…becoming the inflection point which succesive mayors have built upon. I first moved up here in June of 1992, and lived downtown for awhile in ’93. There were small pockets of life back then, chiefly around the market, and to some extent in the retail area around Westlake Center. The financial district was busy 9-5, Pioneer Square buzzed on Friday and Saturday night…Chinatown was its own, inwardly looking neighborhood. Aside from that downtown was a relatively barren and dangerous place, with stark territorial boundaries: go one block in a different direction and you’re in a totally different environment.

    That had changed significantly by ’99/’00, and now another 10 years on the transformation just keeps getting more remarkable. Scenes of full Link trains and modest crowds at stations-on Sundays at 4/5PM-and the news that Penny’s and Target are coming….wow, I’m speechless. I remember going to a neighborhood/city open house on the upper floor of the market back in ’93, and they were grappling with how to keep the bus tunnel open past business hours. The great hope at the time was that new hotels and an expanded convention center would lead to greater foot traffic which would drown out the criminal element. Everyone-city planners, developers, charities-were struggling to convince themselves conceptually that someday, people might actually want to live down there.

    What a remarkable achievement!

    1. Of course…since downtown derives its “population” mainly from business commuters, it, in fact, has one of the lowest residential population numbers in that those people vacate the premises weekends and after dark.

      So what you’re left with is a relatively empty set of destinations that could be located almost anywhere. And I would compare something like the Food Court at Southcenter, with any of these “destinations” in terms of use, safety, entertainment quotient and revenue per square foot.

      1. Downtown Seattle has ~60,000 people living in it. Which is half as many people as live in your suburbs (mine as well)- Kent, Except Kent takes up 25 SqMi whereas downtown takes up ~ 5 sqmi
        Also, Downtown has been growing about 3 times as fast as everywhere else: http://www.downtownseattle.com/Resources/Demographics.php

        It actually has a very high residential population considering.

      2. Winner by knockout–Alex!!!!

        I first moved to Seattle in 1981 and have noticed the improvements over the last 30 years. As a teenager, I loved walking from the Bon Marche to the Library on Saturdays(bus #26 from Wallingford) so I could stop at the arcade on the way. Now as an adult, I can appreciate all the work that is being done to improve 1st Avenue and Pioneer Square, as well as the International District. I do think Belltown was a wasted opportunity, but hopefully South Lake Union will not make the same mistakes…I’d much rather go to the Westlake Center food court than Southcenter. Well, I’d much rather spend a day downtown than go to Southcenter.

      3. Historical trivia: First Avenue had a couple hundred prostitutes every day, then the police cracked down and dispersed them to Aurora and Pacific Highway. The part of Pac Hwy that’s now called Tukwila Intl Blvd and Intl Blvd was then called the Sea-Tac Strip, which had a double meaning as (1) the unincorporated strip of land between Seattle and Des Moines, and (2) strip as in what prostitutes do.

    2. Any plan finalized in 1993 predates any firm plan for high-capacity transit, and is therefore obsolete. The population has changed, sensibilities have changed, and the 40′ height limits in many of these villages is totally inadequate.

      1. Well I think that A) the underlying “urban village” approach is still firmly in place (and should be), and B) there’s still a need for a rubric as to whether the height limits are 40′ or 85′ or 125′ or 500’…

        From some of the official blog posts here, I can’t always tell if STB still buys-in to the urban village concept, or how you weigh the pros and cons of various heights.

        “When the Seattle City Council dithers on big land use decisions, or tries to split the baby by supporting 65 feet when developers ask for 85…”

        Why is 65 ft wrong? Because the ask was 85? If the ask was 100 but the council weighed in at 85, what would STB’s position be? Perhaps the council itself doesn’t have a rubric for these kinds of decisions…maybe no one has a rubric except for a developer, who is simply calculating how to get X return for whatever their design concept is at the moment. Maybe that’s the real take-away: that it’s all subjective, a political tug-of-war driven by abstracts, that no one has a clear methodology for assessing all the needs, and then roughly determining the optimum height.

        Again, just giving you some constructive feedback here…this blog’s analyses on other topics are usually measured and thoughtfully weighed. If you apply that same approach to discussions of density, I would certainly be interested in what you have to say.

      2. I don’t have a problem with the urban village idea itself, it just needs to be radically updated. I think 85′ minimum within a 1/4 mile of all urban villages and HCT stops going to L3 out to 1/2 mile. Neighborhoods could of course have higher if they’d like.

        Do this across the board and while growth in the city as whole will likely be higher, it won’t all be concentrated in first neighborhood than the next. Population growth will be much more organic instead of upzone, rapid growth, move to the next upzone, rapid growth, etc. Also this will lower the ‘value’ of owning in an area with rational height allowances so landowners won’t be tempted to hold out and wait for a mega project to come along.

      3. Why is 65 ft wrong? Because the ask was 85? If the ask was 100 but the council weighed in at 85, what would STB’s position be?

        I can’t speak for everyone else here, but probably our position would be 100. In areas with good pedestrian and transit infrastructure, I fail to see the public interest in not allowing the market to discover the density at which people are willing to live.

    3. Roger seems to have a personal issue with the Roosevelt Neighborhood Plan and it doesn’t have any logical end. He either has some reason to support the owner of the land in question, or the developer, or just wants the neighborhood to loose its position on a well thought-out design for the neighborhood, It doesn’t matter how many units are gained in any particular place…as long as he gets his way.
      I’m not sure what it has to do with the STB either.

      1. I only speak for myself but I see Transit and Land Use going hand in hand. In fact for me, I just see transit as a means to an end. Transit allows the kind of density that creates the built environment/atmosphere I want in Seattle.

  6. There are by-laws against basement apartments, in-law suites, or even renting out an extra bedroom or two. Of course, if the home-owner has a mortgage, it would be a great help if the income from renting out that extra room could go towards that mortgage, but the by-laws (and income tax rules as well) discourage that from happening. The by-laws were created so that the subdivisions coming in are for the “rich” folks only. Not much help for a single-income family or with unemployed family members.

    1. Not in Seattle. In fact you can build a DADU and rent it if you want to. “Houses” in the U District routinely have 4-6 renters. It works in the U District because so many people walk to campus and use transit for other trips. Won’t work in Bellevue because virtually everybody relies on a SOV and there is little to no transit in most SF neighborhoods.

  7. There is plenty of scope for density in many areas of Seattle that don’t have many single family homes. Belltown, Lower Queen Anne, and South Lake Union have dozens of empty lots, parking lots, and derelict/underutilized buildings that could become attractive mixed-use market-rate apartments (obviously condos are out of the picture for a few more years). At least in Belltown, I feel like increasing the ratio of “regular” people to crazies/addicts/gangsters will help to make the streets safer after dark.

    The key here is market-rate housing. Let’s face it – people living in public housing projects or subsidized housing simply don’t have the money to support the street-level retail needed to keep neighborhoods vibrant after dark.

  8. Being Jesuit-educated, I was taught to not only analyze what’s being said in an article, but ask myself what isn’t being said. What is the author leaving out, hiding, or not telling me? And what jumps out me in this post is the lack of statistics comparing population growth in high density U.S. cities vs. suburban cities. If high-density cities are desirable, as the author claims, people would be flocking to them. Until I see the data … the proof … that that’s the case, I can’t buy what he’s trying to sell me.

    1. Unit price might be a better indicator of pent up demand. Some high-density cities could be built out and many suburban cities have room to sprawl.

    2. You have to look at housing capacity, and how full that capacity is, that would be a more accurate look for what you want to know. Say downtown Seattle is mostly built up, and has little room to grow (due to zoning etc.) whereas Kent has plenty of farmland/open space purchasable and zoned for subdivisions, (so it can grow)
      Also, housing price indicates demand. High price = high demand.

  9. Notwithstanding our need for additional density, I think Seattle is performing pretty well at adding new urban housing. Definately better than the cities used as examples in the linked article, San Francisco and New York. The ample supply of new townhomes and condos produced during the last decade kept our housing prices below the stratosphere of San Francisco, even below the eastside suburbs.

    Anyone know of other U.S. cities producing more new urban housing than Seattle?

    1. That has more to do with how many people are moving into the region than how many units are built. People all over the US and around the world want to live in San Francisco and New York, and they’re constantly moving there by the hordes, and living in the suburbs if they can’t afford the city. Seattle tried the world-class city thing in the late 90s and got in on the bottom rung, but it hasn’t had half the growth of the Bay Area. As such, people are less tolerant of high housing prices. $1.5 million is an ordinary price for a 2 BR house in the Bay Area, but here people would say, “You must be kidding.” That’s why it was so funny those $750K or $1.5 million condos on 3rd & Pine that weren’t built. Who the hell would pay that much for a condo in Seattle? It’s not like you have Market Street or Broadway at your doorstep.

      1. I find it far funnier that you think that your sentiment of what a price should be would have anything to do with what it’s worth. It wasn’t that long ago that $200k for a small house in Wedgwood seemed ridiculously high. Now, of course, it would be an unimaginable bargain.

      2. I agree with that. I’m just pointing out that the differences between Seattle and SF/NY are not just due to increased housing because the number of people moving into those areas overwhelm the amount of housing that can be built, and that’s why their prices are so much higher. In Seattle you can just look for the “For Rent” signs, talk to the landlord, and often (not always) wait a day or more before making a final decision. In San Francisco people report it taking a month to find an apartment, and the units are snapped up immediately on viewing. In some cities (I’m not sure if this is true in San Francisco) you don’t have a chance of getting an apartment without going through an agent, who monopolize the vacancies and charge a commission. I’ve never known anybody needing an agent to get a rental in Seattle.

      3. Ya don’t think that might have a little bit to do with rent control in San Francisco? Perhaps more so than, say, the abundant charms of Market Street?

      4. I’d forgotten about rent control. But doesn’t that only apply while you’re living in the unit, and it gets reset to market rate when you move out? I know people in SF who keep and sublease their apartments forever even when they have another home, in order to not give up the rent-controlled rate in case they want to move back there someday.

    1. Good question, Morgan. They weren’t. Sound Transit, by designing the station with no over-build told us that they didn’t see an developer wanting to build in Roosevelt and they didn’t figure the ridership numbers would affect they numbers they wanted anyway. The density freaks came on board after a developer found out that their pie in the sky proposal wasn’t a good fit, and the developer hired a good number of them. Notice that they no rely on the “one quarter mile circle” and the “underdeveloped properties” as reasons to develop those particular properties to heights above the design of the urban village. None of them have mentioned any other areas.

      1. No, that’s not what Sound Transit said (and I was at that RNA meeting, so don’t try to tell me anything to the contrary). ST said that it was probably not economically feasible to overbuild the station in the current market given the somewhat unusual constraints of the site, and that they were’t willing to risk building a station with a podium for overbuilding in the hope that someone would subsequently want to build it. That’s a risk they’re willing to take in the U-District as it’s a slam dunk that people will be lining up to build there, pretty much whatever the economic whether at the time the station is complete.

        Thanks for helpfully raising the tone of this debate by calling everybody who disagrees with your taste for SF housing “freaks”.

  10. I don’t usually wade into the comments but I think that it is important to point out that I don’t have any affiliation with any developer or PR firm or law firm working on projects in Roosevelt or any other neighborhood.

    Some of us support things because we believe in them not because of the financial nexus the outcome might have with our own portfolios.

    I suppose, in the world of people like Glenn, that would make me a “freak.” I am more than happy to add it to the growing list of sobriquets given me by my admirers.

    1. I believe you mentioned this in one of your land use blog posts, but it boggles my mind that so many Seattleites are willing to accept the “developers are evil” meme.

      Yes, developers want to make money. So what? If the way they do so is by making our region better to live in, we should be celebrating, not rioting.

      1. The problem is that almost all developers are going after the high-end luxury market. If some of them would make more basic units without granite countertops and 1-2 parking spaces per unit, the units would be more affordable. But developers won’t do that because they think they can spend $10,000 to get a $25,000 increase in the sale price. (Except when real estate crashes and they have to sell for less than their investment.)

      2. In the long run, increasing supply will decrease prices at any given level of demand. So even if those units are more expensive now, their presence will (eventually) lower the prices of everything else on the market.

        Honestly, the “long run” isn’t even that long. When I first moved to Seattle, pretty much every big new apartment building was having crazy move-in deals, where they’d give you the first month’s rent free (sometimes even the first two). A friend of mine looked at Rollin Street Flats back in 2009; they were willing to rent him a 1BR for $1400 (amortizing the free month over the lease term). A year and a half later, very few new apartments had opened in SLU, and Rollin Street was asking almost $2000.

      3. Yes but I’m talking the under-$1000 market. All new buildings since 2000 rent for $1100-1400 or higher. It may not be possible to build that $1400 unit for $1000, but it could surely be brought down to $1200 or $1100 if it didn’t have a microwave, a dishwasher, granite countertops, in-unit washer and dryer, a parking space, etc. But nobody is building such buildings. More supply will reduce the price but not that far, I think. In the long run I think those of us who want to live in inner-city housing need to start saving now for a world where everything available will be $1200+.

    2. You have called yourself a density freak on more than one occasion, Roger.
      Pretty much the same thing, Bruce. We all mostly hear what we want…and seldom change our minds.

  11. Why the slam against gentrification? I think most people would classify my Madison Valley-ish neighborhood as gentrifying (or possible gentrified) and it’s way better than it was when I was a kid….heck, it’s way better than it was few years ago. I’m for more density AND gentrification. It seems to me that gentrification just means a more pleasant (cleaner, safer…) place to live and better commercial services. I think the “G” word is currently one of the most un-seriously (but pc) vilified terms around.

    1. Gentrification, when it’s used as a negative term, generally means that prices (including rents) are increasing to a level that prior residents can no longer afford.

      For the most part, I agree with you; when neighborhoods become cleaner and safer, it’s just dandy. But it’s no good to just keep pushing “undesirables” further and further away, any more than it was good to push them into the “inner city” in the first place. We need a way for our *neighborhoods*, not just our cities, to accommodate a diversity of socioeconomic groups.

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