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East End is roiled as mixed-income housing plans advance


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6 hours ago, Naviguessor said:

Hi pm91. 

I am speaking from a homeowner's perspective, in the neighborhood that your are talking about (East Bayou District).  At the core of this neighborhood is Kennedy Place, a 108unit/224bedroom, Houston Housing Authority, low income housing project.  This whole neighborhood, as you see it now, has grown up around this.  There are literally, hundreds of new homes surrounding this development on all sides.  Property values have sky-rocketed since the purchase my new townhome in 2013, and I attribute it to the potential of the East River property, as well as proximity to downtown and easy access to highways and all central city neighborhoods (Montrose, Heights, Midtown, EADO, etc...).

 

So, the NRP project you are speaking of, is across the Bayou, on the southern bank . Much of this is designed as a replacement for Clayton Homes, which is currently being demolished and will be fully eliminated. THE NRP (which was actually further from the East Bayou District) will have little effect or interaction on this neighborhood.  The closer proposed development is the OJALA mixed income development which 304units are proposed along with hundreds of market rate units. It's a large piece of property.  Details are sketchy (and that is a concern) but it is easy to see how this could become a development of more than 1000 new units, as what has been indicated.  In my opinion, what will effect the neighborhood more, is the additional residents that this development is likely to bring, which will bring more retail (to East River and elsewhere), which is desperately needed. 

 

As I see it, The enormous size of East River, the amenities and residents it will bring, the ongoing development of he the Bayou/BBP will far overshadow a few hundred additional low income residents. 

 

Reference:

http://www.housingforhouston.com/public-housing/housing-developments/kennedy-place.aspx

https://www.saveeastend.com/

Thank you so much for layin it out. That area is definitely our first choice and we certainly hope we can move in. 

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I stopped attending CM about 5 or 6 years ago. back when they met at Tranquility park. the idea of CM is a great one. build awareness.   I stopped going for 3 reasons:   1. idiots

It wouldn't bother me if this also put 5,000 units in river oaks.

River Oaks would boycott if one mixed income house popped up.    The amount that this area gets screwed by the city is unimaginable. I've lived all over Houston and i'm in this area now. The

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1 hour ago, burt said:

HHA has yet to provide any ESAs and part of the issue is that they plan to purchase that land without making those disclosures. So if the land passed a Phase I, why not release it? If there is no remediation required, why not disclose that?  It gives the appearance that HHA is hiding something (which they have been known to do). Using tax dollars to purchase land  without doing proper due diligence such as environmental, traffic study, etc...is not being a good steward of tax payer funds. And given the history of the site and proximity to other industrial sites, I think it is safe to say that the environmental integrity of the lot is questionable until proven otherwise. 

 

So then don't say the area is "environmentally questionable," say that you want to see the ESA before the purchase takes place. That is a reasonable complaint, not "they're next to a lead facility!"

 

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7 hours ago, pm91 said:

So does anyone know how this will impact home prices? Currently shopping around and love the East River project of course, but now with the NRP project going in I'm wondering if I buy a house for say 350k on the North side of the bayou, which seems to be the average around there, is it immediately going to drop once the NRP opens up or is East River going to offset that?

No, I don’t think so at all 

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Real Estate 101...Industrial sites, dry cleaners, gas stations, tire shops, anything with underground storage...all considered to be "environmentally questionable" given the use of the land....so again...this lot (from a real estate perspective) is considered questionable given its past use until proven otherwise. The burden of proof is on the City and they have not lived up to their end to this point. 

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5 minutes ago, burt said:

Real Estate 101...Industrial sites, dry cleaners, gas stations, tire shops, anything with underground storage...all considered to be "environmentally questionable" given the use of the land....so again...this lot (from a real estate perspective) is considered questionable given its past use until proven otherwise. The burden of proof is on the City and they have not lived up to their end to this point. 

 

This is urban real estate in a formerly industrial area of town. Everybody knows there are industrial sites around here. The videos act like it's such a big deal that the sites have industrial neighbors and "part of the land is contaminated!" How do we know that part of the land is contaminated but the rest of it isn't? Sounds like a study has been done, and probably the sale price was based on the uncontaminated portion. I don't really have the time or inclination to find out, but the links you've posted don't present the argument clearly. This isn't Shady Acres out in Montgomery County, these are urban infill land parcels and contamination issues are a normal part of the development process.

 

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23 hours ago, Naviguessor said:

I think you’re correct. Traffic is a result of any reasonably sized development. In comparison, to traffic that East River will produce, the NRP development will be nothing. Right now, traffic on Jensen SD Clinton is relatively light. When/if the traffic circle at Jensen/Navigation get built, will have a huge impact in the traffic, in a positive way. 
 

Burt, I certainly have concerns about concentrating low income housing in any specific area of the city, for example the east end. But, I have a serious question. Which would you rather:

1. Give private developers incentives through tax breaks to construct LIH. Or,

2. Pay for LIH directly with revenue that the city has collected in the forms of taxes?  Do you believe that the city can build reasonable quality low income housing more efficiently than a developer (with oversight)?  The housing has to get built one way or another. Unless there is another way to fund “public housing”.  

 

I'd like to see option 3: every new apartment complex has to have a certain percentage of units set aside for low income. could you imagine a world?

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2 hours ago, samagon said:

 

I'd like to see option 3: every new apartment complex has to have a certain percentage of units set aside for low income. could you imagine a world?

I can for sure because that's exactly what happens in NYC and makes it so expensive for anyone trying to buy a market rate apartment...

 

Why doesn't everyone ask about modifying existing regulations to help lower cost? Not every apartment needs to be so big, have multiple parking spots etc. Cost could be lowered by not having so many building standards. 

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On 5/8/2020 at 12:50 PM, samagon said:

 

I'd like to see option 3: every new apartment complex has to have a certain percentage of units set aside for low income. could you imagine a world?

 

Sure I can. Its called San Francisco.

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On 5/10/2020 at 1:19 AM, Big E said:

 

Sure I can. Its called San Francisco.

 

It is a pretty cool concept. I like the idea... Doesn't have to be a big percentage at all... 5% or 10% of new buildings are rent controlled or whatever. I wouldn't think those units would be as 'nice' or premier in any way; but it makes for a diverse area.

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3 hours ago, Avossos said:

 

It is a pretty cool concept. I like the idea... Doesn't have to be a big percentage at all... 5% or 10% of new buildings are rent controlled or whatever. I wouldn't think those units would be as 'nice' or premier in any way; but it makes for a diverse area.

That's what one would think but it's not how it plays out 99% of the time with the selection process being extremely un-transparent. I can't believe this is still an idea in 2020, especially in a place as affordable as Houston. There are large one bedrooms going for 800 in some areas like woodland heights which are expensive. 

 

Btw it starts with this idea and then people start demanding that they be equal units or otherwise they are demeaning to the people inside them. 

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14 hours ago, Avossos said:

 

It is a pretty cool concept. I like the idea... Doesn't have to be a big percentage at all... 5% or 10% of new buildings are rent controlled or whatever. I wouldn't think those units would be as 'nice' or premier in any way; but it makes for a diverse area.

 

San Francisco is not a place to be emulated. Besides, its not really necessary in Houston. Houston has the most affordable housing of any big city in the country, partly due to our free market principles. No need to undermine them with an idea that has never actually worked in practice and doesn't actually lower housing costs.

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5 hours ago, Big E said:

 

San Francisco is not a place to be emulated. Besides, its not really necessary in Houston. Houston has the most affordable housing of any big city in the country, partly due to our free market principles. No need to undermine them with an idea that has never actually worked in practice and doesn't actually lower housing costs.

 

Its not even a bad idea on the face of it. Would it be great to have a better mix of different kinds of people living together, sure. History has proven that one of the best ways of lessening or at least dampening inequality of any kind is to find ways for those at the bottom to access ways to climb to the top. Lower income people with at least some access to higher income people would give them more opportunities to interact with each other. People with higher means who have more contact with those of lower income will gain more empathy to help those in need which will then help lower income gain more access/opportunity to get more means for themselves. While this is something we should do, how should we approach it? In nearly every instance when a top-down solution has been proposed to eradicate inequality, all it does is make it worse because it ends up feeling forced which only brings resentment instead of empathy. Plus with any top-down proposal the question that has to always be asked is who makes that decision? Even more important, can the person proposing the idea make a promise that this will always be carried out in good faith or ones who are benevolent instead malevolence? Thats a promise nobody can ever make. These ideas always have the veneer of being good ideas because they only solve surface level issues, but never deeper issues. You also can't solve something like inequality by some hypothetical number. The best we can ever hope for is to at least keep the level of inequality tolerable or as low as possible. The free market is best equipped to do that because only the best ideas float to the top in a free market. Notice I said best, and not some hypothetical perfect ideal.

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I think that's a rose-colored perception of the free market, but the larger problem with mandating a percentage of otherwise market-rate housing meet some definition of affordability is that, by definition, that will never produce enough affordable housing. The numbers are flipped - there are far more people who need affordable/workforce housing than there are people who can afford market-rate housing (until it naturally decreases in cost.) It is, at best, a bandaid. It's not really a solution.

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1 hour ago, Texasota said:

I think that's a rose-colored perception of the free market, but the larger problem with mandating a percentage of otherwise market-rate housing meet some definition of affordability is that, by definition, that will never produce enough affordable housing. The numbers are flipped - there are far more people who need affordable/workforce housing than there are people who can afford market-rate housing (until it naturally decreases in cost.) It is, at best, a bandaid. It's not really a solution.

 

There is no such thing as "rose-colored perception of the free market". That is merely your opinion not a statement of fact. You are free to like or not like the facts because its ok to have your own opinion. However, by placing your opinion/perception as a modifier to the term free market means that you asking the free market to put you and your opinion as a priority, and that is not how the free market operates. The free market is absent of personal opinion because its not something, in of itself, that is mere opinion, but is rather an observation of the real world and how market forces act in an environment where the free exchange of labor exists. Its not our opinion that matters in how it operates, but instead what we do with those facts or reality. In the same manner, it would be like I reacted to the fact that, everyone dies at some point, by saying that this fact in my opinion is a "grim perception of death". There is no "grim perception of death". There is just death because that is reality. Me saying "grim perception" is just my opinion that holds no sway over death because the fact that "everyone dies at some point" is an observation of fact about reality, not something that is mere opinion.

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19 hours ago, iah77 said:

That's what one would think but it's not how it plays out 99% of the time with the selection process being extremely un-transparent. I can't believe this is still an idea in 2020, especially in a place as affordable as Houston. There are large one bedrooms going for 800 in some areas like woodland heights which are expensive. 

 

Btw it starts with this idea and then people start demanding that they be equal units or otherwise they are demeaning to the people inside them. 

 

how does the selection process happen now?

 

it's not a suggestion to change the process of selecting the right resident, it's a suggestion that all housing have accommodations for the people who already qualify.

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39 minutes ago, Luminare said:

 

There is no such thing as "rose-colored perception of the free market". That is merely your opinion not a statement of fact. You are free to like or not like the facts because its ok to have your own opinion. However, by placing your opinion/perception as a modifier to the term free market means that you asking the free market to put you and your opinion as a priority, and that is not how the free market operates. The free market is absent of personal opinion because its not something, in of itself, that is mere opinion, but is rather an observation of the real world and how market forces act in an environment where the free exchange of labor exists. Its not our opinion that matters in how it operates, but instead what we do with those facts or reality. In the same manner, it would be like I reacted to the fact that, everyone dies at some point, by saying that this fact in my opinion is a "grim perception of death". There is no "grim perception of death". There is just death because that is reality. Me saying "grim perception" is just my opinion that holds no sway over death because the fact that "everyone dies at some point" is an observation of fact about reality, not something that is mere opinion.

 

You do realize that the "free market", even absent government regulation, is ultimately a collection of actions and responses taken by individual humans and businesses, and therefore just as susceptible to human error as everything else in the world, right?

 

The market *can* self-correct for errors over time, but that's not instantaneous and bad things can happen during that correction period.

 

Also, the market really only values one thing - profit. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but that means that there are lots of problems that it's just not well adapted to addressing. 

 

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and it's not like we live in a truly free market anyway.

 

there are incentives to build in specific areas, there are restrictions on how big you can build based on traffic pasterns, there are parking requirements.

 

regarding making some form of regulation about percentage of every apartment offering low income, at the end of the day, bad implementations of good ideas shouldn't result in never trying to fix the problems and make it work. it's still (in principle) a good idea. it is said that Edison had 1000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb before actually hitting on the solution. 

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55 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Source?  (It seems highly unlikely)

I know, this is literally one of the craziest things I've ever heard on here. Literally a place with one of the highest purchasing power indexes in the United States needs more free stuff for people with iphones and nice cars. People here have clearly never seen what real poverty looks like in a global context  

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That was definitely hyperbole  - it would have been better if I had said that something like a 10% affordability requirement would come woefully short of meeting the demand. The city's affordable housing waitlist as it stands is *years* right now. 

 

It is also absolutely true that Houston's housing costs are still far lower than places like DC, San Francisco, Vancouver, or New York. There most market rate housing absolutely is outside of the range of affordability for the average household.

 

For reference, here's the Texas Tribune's take on housing cost increases in the state: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/01/31/texas-renters-struggle-find-affordable-housing-2020-harvard-report/

 

As someone who doesn't live in Houston anymore, I sometimes forget that, even though the city is a lot more expensive than I remember it being, it's still a lot more affordable than the last few places I've lived. 

 

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8 hours ago, Texasota said:

 

You do realize that the "free market", even absent government regulation, is ultimately a collection of actions and responses taken by individual humans and businesses, and therefore just as susceptible to human error as everything else in the world, right?

 

The market *can* self-correct for errors over time, but that's not instantaneous and bad things can happen during that correction period.

 

Also, the market really only values one thing - profit. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but that means that there are lots of problems that it's just not well adapted to addressing. 

 

 

The market "does" correct itself over time. Its not a static thing and its not something being dictated to from top to bottom. Its an organic thing that is more apt to change with reality than any other method of allocating resources because its actually based on the supply and demand of said resources. From that standpoint, a truly free market is never really wrong, because it is based on an objective reality, just like an accurate population pyramid isn't wrong. But the free market can be distorted, by various means, the most common being bad government policy.

 

8 hours ago, samagon said:

and it's not like we live in a truly free market anyway.

 

there are incentives to build in specific areas, there are restrictions on how big you can build based on traffic pasterns, there are parking requirements.

 

regarding making some form of regulation about percentage of every apartment offering low income, at the end of the day, bad implementations of good ideas shouldn't result in never trying to fix the problems and make it work. it's still (in principle) a good idea. it is said that Edison had 1000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb before actually hitting on the solution. 

 

Houston has the freest market you will ever find, at least in the area of housing and development. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the most distorted, controlled markets you will ever find and the differences are stark. We still live in a free market, with the free exchange of goods and services, it just isn't a laissez faire market. 

 

A lot of ideas sound good on paper. Socialism and communism sound good to some people on paper. Pyramid schemes sound good to people on paper. Its that pesky real world application that lays waste to the best laid plans. Some ideas have no good implementation because the very idea is fundamentally flawed.

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On 5/12/2020 at 3:23 AM, Big E said:

 

San Francisco is not a place to be emulated. Besides, its not really necessary in Houston. Houston has the most affordable housing of any big city in the country, partly due to our free market principles. No need to undermine them with an idea that has never actually worked in practice and doesn't actually lower housing costs.

 

Even if we have the most, it doesn't mean that there is enough or that it's distributed evenly.

 

On 5/11/2020 at 4:43 PM, iah77 said:

That's what one would think but it's not how it plays out 99% of the time with the selection process being extremely un-transparent. I can't believe this is still an idea in 2020, especially in a place as affordable as Houston. There are large one bedrooms going for 800 in some areas like woodland heights which are expensive. 

 

Btw it starts with this idea and then people start demanding that they be equal units or otherwise they are demeaning to the people inside them. 

 

19 hours ago, iah77 said:

I know, this is literally one of the craziest things I've ever heard on here. Literally a place with one of the highest purchasing power indexes in the United States needs more free stuff for people with iphones and nice cars. People here have clearly never seen what real poverty looks like in a global context  

 

20 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Source?  (It seems highly unlikely)

 

I would encourage all of you to read the new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Transportation report that was published by LINK Houston and the Kinder Institute last week.

 

https://kinder.rice.edu/urbanedge/2020/05/05/affordable-housing-and-sustainable-transportation-houston

 

Full report is on this site: https://kinder.rice.edu/research/where-affordable-housing-and-transportation-meet-houston

 

TLDR is that large swathes of census blocks across the city do not have adequate access to affordable housing. Most of the East End actually does.

 

L1Ddory.png

 

 

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27 minutes ago, wilcal said:

 

 

 

L1Ddory.png

 

 

 

Interestingly, the locations of the affordable housing project being discussed here are in the areas marked as having good transportation but low supply of affordable housing.  Seems like a perfect location.

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21 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Interestingly, the locations of the affordable housing project being discussed here are in the areas marked as having good transportation but low supply of affordable housing.  Seems like a perfect location.

 

I actually asked about them a little about this in regards to the projects that Houston city council approved recently. They said that HHA uses some transportation data, but it's not nearly this granular. Part of the reason they did this study was to develop tools to provide to people like HHA and other organizations to help make smarter investments. 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, wilcal said:

 

I actually asked about them a little about this in regards to the projects that Houston city council approved recently. They said that HHA uses some transportation data, but it's not nearly this granular. Part of the reason they did this study was to develop tools to provide to people like HHA and other organizations to help make smarter investments. 

 

 

 

If so, it sounds as if HHA may have stumbled into a good location.

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7 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Interestingly, the locations of the affordable housing project being discussed here are in the areas marked as having good transportation but low supply of affordable housing.  Seems like a perfect location.

I believe you appear to have overlooked the downtown, Washington Avenue, Montrose, River Oaks, Rice Village, Rice Military, Heights, Woodland Heights and Galleria areas.... Or that the larger of the two projects is in an oversupplied "blue" zone. HTH

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On 5/12/2020 at 9:28 PM, Big E said:

 

Houston has the freest market you will ever find, at least in the area of housing and development. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the most distorted, controlled markets you will ever find and the differences are stark. We still live in a free market, with the free exchange of goods and services, it just isn't a laissez faire market. 

 

A lot of ideas sound good on paper. Socialism and communism sound good to some people on paper. Pyramid schemes sound good to people on paper. Its that pesky real world application that lays waste to the best laid plans. Some ideas have no good implementation because the very idea is fundamentally flawed.

 

it certainly is one of the freest markets as far as regulations, but that doesn't mean it isn't devoid of regulations. we have our fair share of regulations. some of them are good, some of them are bad.

 

are we sure it is a bad idea, or is it maybe a good idea that has been poorly implemented (and maybe it's implemented well enough, but is impacted by other factors) in the places that have been referenced as proof that it is bad? all I've seen so far are people saying it's a bad idea because cost of living in NYC and SF are super high. well, those places have some geographical limitations that cause the cost of living to suck. Houston's geographic limitations are not really existent, so that's not a thing for us. those other locations have other forces working on cost of living that Houston would not be limited by.

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On 5/12/2020 at 9:28 PM, Big E said:

 

The market "does" correct itself over time. Its not a static thing and its not something being dictated to from top to bottom. Its an organic thing that is more apt to change with reality than any other method of allocating resources because its actually based on the supply and demand of said resources. From that standpoint, a truly free market is never really wrong, because it is based on an objective reality, just like an accurate population pyramid isn't wrong. But the free market can be distorted, by various means, the most common being bad government policy.

 

There are some rather convincing arguments that there is no such thing as a "truly free market," and that what we call "free markets" are based on a very considerable amount of constraint. Almost all human societies, if left to themselves, will create some form of protectionism. In the industrial revolution, governments employed considerable coercive powers to create "free markets" and strip away local protections at the behest of industrialists and bankers. These free markets are no more objectively real and quite a bit less natural (if we view "natural" as "what has existed in most human societies over time") than the world of local protections that came before. See Karl Polanyi's work.

 

 

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15 hours ago, samagon said:

 

it certainly is one of the freest markets as far as regulations, but that doesn't mean it isn't devoid of regulations. we have our fair share of regulations. some of them are good, some of them are bad.

 

are we sure it is a bad idea, or is it maybe a good idea that has been poorly implemented (and maybe it's implemented well enough, but is impacted by other factors) in the places that have been referenced as proof that it is bad? all I've seen so far are people saying it's a bad idea because cost of living in NYC and SF are super high. well, those places have some geographical limitations that cause the cost of living to suck. Houston's geographic limitations are not really existent, so that's not a thing for us. those other locations have other forces working on cost of living that Houston would not be limited by.

 

When poorly implemented every time you try it, it should tell you something. Similar arguments have been made for both Communism and Socialism ("REAL communism has been tried yet"), and it falls flat every time its made.

 

As for NYC and SF, yes, there are geographic limitations for them... as there are for Houston as well (a swampy, forested region and lake to the east, as well as a bay to the Southeast), but "affordable" housing has only exacerbated their housing crisis, not helped them. They limit the amount of market based housing, further raising rents and home costs, and discourage otherwise viable building projects. At this point in SF, there is more "affordable" (read "subsidized", because that's what it is) housing available than market rate housing, and nobody can afford a house except the rich.

 

What actually makes housing affordable is encouraging the increase of the housing supply, which cities often artificially constrain with prohibitive planning and permitting processes (which often give undue influence to NIMBYs and community interests that oppose any kind of development), unreasonable land use regulations (such as decades old zoning laws), and other broken regulations like rent control (SF is also infamous for all three of these things: did you know that around half of SF is actually zoned for single family housing). Houston isn't just cheaper than New York and SF, its cheaper to live here than many other major cities in America, including other Sunbelt Cities like Dallas, with only San Antonio being more affordable (SA commonly appears in lists of the most affordable cities to live in the United States). However, Houston, if it had adopted the policies of other northern cities could very easily have become more expensive to live in.

 

13 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

There are some rather convincing arguments that there is no such thing as a "truly free market," and that what we call "free markets" are based on a very considerable amount of constraint. Almost all human societies, if left to themselves, will create some form of protectionism. In the industrial revolution, governments employed considerable coercive powers to create "free markets" and strip away local protections at the behest of industrialists and bankers. These free markets are no more objectively real and quite a bit less natural (if we view "natural" as "what has existed in most human societies over time") than the world of local protections that came before. See Karl Polanyi's work.

 

 

 

The idea that a "truly free market" has never been tried is actually a common argument among libertarians, classical liberals, minarchists, and anarcho-capitalists as well. They argue that a truly free, liberal system has never actually been attempted, though other methods of organizing labor, commerce, and government have, to mixed success, so people should try their way to see if it works.

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7 hours ago, Big E said:

 

When poorly implemented every time you try it, it should tell you something. Similar arguments have been made for both Communism and Socialism ("REAL communism has been tried yet"), and it falls flat every time its made.

 

As for NYC and SF, yes, there are geographic limitations for them... as there are for Houston as well (a swampy, forested region and lake to the east, as well as a bay to the Southeast), but "affordable" housing has only exacerbated their housing crisis, not helped them. They limit the amount of market based housing, further raising rents and home costs, and discourage otherwise viable building projects. At this point in SF, there is more "affordable" (read "subsidized", because that's what it is) housing available than market rate housing, and nobody can afford a house except the rich.

 

What actually makes housing affordable is encouraging the increase of the housing supply, which cities often artificially constrain with prohibitive planning and permitting processes (which often give undue influence to NIMBYs and community interests that oppose any kind of development), unreasonable land use regulations (such as decades old zoning laws), and other broken regulations like rent control (SF is also infamous for all three of these things: did you know that around half of SF is actually zoned for single family housing). Houston isn't just cheaper than New York and SF, its cheaper to live here than many other major cities in America, including other Sunbelt Cities like Dallas, with only San Antonio being more affordable (SA commonly appears in lists of the most affordable cities to live in the United States). However, Houston, if it had adopted the policies of other northern cities could very easily have become more expensive to live in.

 

 

The idea that a "truly free market" has never been tried is actually a common argument among libertarians, classical liberals, minarchists, and anarcho-capitalists as well. They argue that a truly free, liberal system has never actually been attempted, though other methods of organizing labor, commerce, and government have, to mixed success, so people should try their way to see if it works.

 

But to the extent that markets have become more "free," it has been based on coercion and does not resemble a natural state of human affairs. That's Polanyi's argument. Britain forcing China to engage in trade and the U.S. forcing Japan to open up at gunpoint are not "free."

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46 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

But to the extent that markets have become more "free," it has been based on coercion and does not resemble a natural state of human affairs. That's Polanyi's argument. Britain forcing China to engage in trade and the U.S. forcing Japan to open up at gunpoint are not "free."

 

And most libertarians would tell you that they aren't examples of a "free market" and weren't motivated by the countries desiring such. However, America forcibly opening Japan did more good for Japan in the long run than if Japan had remained a closed, backward feudal society. It was that opening that forced Japan to modernize. Britain was primarily motivated by imperialist, mercantilism based ambitions in its operations in China, not "free market" ambitions in any real sense of the word.

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16 minutes ago, Big E said:

 

And most libertarians would tell you that they aren't examples of a "free market" and weren't motivated by the countries desiring such. However, America forcibly opening Japan did more good for Japan in the long run than if Japan had remained a closed, backward feudal society. It was that opening that forced Japan to modernize. Britain was primarily motivated by imperialist, mercantilism based ambitions in its operations in China, not "free market" ambitions in any real sense of the word.

 

They might not have been perfect examples of "free markets," but almost anyone who favors market freedom and economic liberalism would say that those were moves in the direction of more "freedom." And the point that Polanyi makes is that most of the historic changes that we describe as moves toward "market freedom" were coercive measures done by governments against the wishes of local people. Britain certainly was motivated by economic interests and was cheered by "free trade" proponents. I am agnostic as to whether Japan benefitted in the long run; it has nothing to do with the point I'm making.

 

Your argument, by the way, is sort of like a Marxist saying "Well all those historical examples you give were not true examples of communism; no one has ever tried true communism."

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On 5/16/2020 at 9:31 AM, H-Town Man said:

 

They might not have been perfect examples of "free markets," but almost anyone who favors market freedom and economic liberalism would say that those were moves in the direction of more "freedom." And the point that Polanyi makes is that most of the historic changes that we describe as moves toward "market freedom" were coercive measures done by governments against the wishes of local people. Britain certainly was motivated by economic interests and was cheered by "free trade" proponents. I am agnostic as to whether Japan benefitted in the long run; it has nothing to do with the point I'm making.

 

Your argument, by the way, is sort of like a Marxist saying "Well all those historical examples you give were not true examples of communism; no one has ever tried true communism."

 

Depends on how you understand free markets. People will say they moved toward more economic freedom, because they opened up feudal, closed societies to modern trade. Coercive? Yes. In the same way that imperialism was also coercive. But such coercion has been the norm for the entirety of history. It just took a slightly different form in these instances to what it usually is, which is direct conquest. And ultimately, it did open markets up to world wide trade, which is why free trade proponents of the time period cheered it. But you will find no proponents of free trade cheering those on today, and such coercive actions aren't really necessary in a modern context.

 

Polanyi's point is not that different from those made by classical liberals and their descendants: coercive methods of organizing the economy were the norm throughout history, and truly free trade and economic liberalism have never been implemented in any real form, and actually represent a truly revolutionary form of organizing labor and the economy different from others in the past. Where he differs from them is that he saw a socialist society as an inevitable result. Keep in mind that Polanyi himself was of the socialist belief system and his wife was at one point a communist.

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22 hours ago, Big E said:

 

Depends on how you understand free markets. People will say they moved toward more economic freedom, because they opened up feudal, closed societies to modern trade. Coercive? Yes. In the same way that imperialism was also coercive. But such coercion has been the norm for the entirety of history. It just took a slightly different form in these instances to what it usually is, which is direct conquest. And ultimately, it did open markets up world wide trade, which is why free trade proponents of the time period cheered it. But you will find no proponents of free trade cheering those on today, and such coercive actions aren't really necessary in a modern context.

 

Polanyi's point is not that different from those made by classical liberals and their descendants: coercive methods of organizing the economy were the norm throughout history, and truly free trade and economic liberalism have never been implemented in any real form, and actually represent a truly revolutionary form of organizing labor and the economy different from others in the past. Where he differs from them is that he saw a socialist society as an inevitable result. Keep in mind that Polanyi himself was of the socialist belief system and his wife was at one point a communist.

 

Polanyi's point was that local protections had existed throughout history, and the removal of local protections in the industrial era to create "free markets" was unnatural. Too easy to characterize him as simply a socialist; what he wanted was the return of a patchwork of local systems and controls, not economies imposed by central governments (whether of the Leftist, communist kind, or the Rightist, "free market" kind).

 

To bring this back to Houston, the analogy to zoning would be that neighborhoods should have some control over what is built in them - since that is the norm for cities and villages throughout history. One would have trouble finding many cities in history that said, "anyone can build what he wants wherever he has land." To Polanyi, the "free market" in development is unnatural; local protections are natural.

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19 hours ago, JBTX said:

For the love of God, @Moderators, can we please excise the "free market"/housing policy and dump it into another thread?

 

one can only look at what happened to r/worldpolitics recently in reddit and understand the value of moderation in threads and forums. An extreme scenario yes, but the extremes teaches us the importance of maintaining a balance.

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34 minutes ago, Luminare said:

 

one can only look at what happened to r/worldpolitics recently in reddit and understand the value of moderation in threads and forums. An extreme scenario yes, but the extremes teaches us the importance of maintaining a balance.

 

Agreed. And thanks to whoever transferred this discussion.

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On 5/17/2020 at 9:13 AM, H-Town Man said:

To bring this back to Houston, the analogy to zoning would be that neighborhoods should have some control over what is built in them - since that is the norm for cities and villages throughout history. One would have trouble finding many cities in history that said, "anyone can build what he wants wherever he has land." To Polanyi, the "free market" in development is unnatural; local protections are natural.

 

Once again, we already have plenty of modern example of this, so local protections didn't disappear, even under the current free market paradigm, and they tend to stifle progress rather than moving society forward. Lets take San Francisco for example; neighborhoods and Neighborhood Associations have immense say in what gets built in them, and what it has led to is out of control NIMBYism that has constrained any and all development in that city. It can take years to get even smaller projects off the ground, and neighborhood interests can stifle a development at any part of the process, even if the developer has jumped through all the hoops, followed the law, and successfully met permitting and other requirements. As such, most developers don't even try. This has destroyed the local housing market and driven up costs, ironically leading to many people who used to make SF neighborhoods what they were being priced out of their homes. Houston's system isn't completely devoid of controls either: deed restrictions are still a thing in many neighborhoods. But, as Texasota said, human error is a thing. People fail to see the bigger picture when blinded by their own self-interest. Houston has struck a nice balance that has kept the NIMBYs at bay, something that our own website has demonstrated time and again when people attempt to block developments in Houston.

 

On 5/18/2020 at 11:25 AM, JBTX said:

 

Agreed. And thanks to whoever transferred this discussion.

 

Yeah. I avoided responding initially because I didn't want the prior thread to get more off topic than it already was. I'm actually surprised that it that long for the threads to get split, though I'm thankful for it now.

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8 hours ago, Big E said:

 

Once again, we already have plenty of modern example of this, so local protections didn't disappear, even under the current free market paradigm, and they tend to stifle progress rather than moving society forward. Lets take San Francisco for example; neighborhoods and Neighborhood Associations have immense say in what gets built in them, and what it has led to is out of control NIMBYism that has constrained any and all development in that city. It can take years to get even smaller projects off the ground, and neighborhood interests can stifle a development at any part of the process, even if the developer has jumped through all the hoops, followed the law, and successfully met permitting and other requirements. As such, most developers don't even try. This has destroyed the local housing market and driven up costs, ironically leading to many people who used to make SF neighborhoods what they were being priced out of their homes. Houston's system isn't completely devoid of controls either: deed restrictions are still a thing in many neighborhoods. But, as Texasota said, human error is a thing. People fail to see the bigger picture when blinded by their own self-interest. Houston has struck a nice balance that has kept the NIMBYs at bay, something that our own website has demonstrated time and again when people attempt to block developments in Houston.

 

You didn't really respond to my argument. I said that the norm for cities and villages throughout history has been some kind of protectionism, and you basically said protectionism is bad because it stifles progress (without defining progress), and then cited the most extreme case of protectionism that you could think of. So, first of all, what is progress? Lots of tall buildings everywhere? List some cities (other than Houston) that you would say embody progress, so I can get an idea of what you mean. Secondly, has it occurred to you that someone in San Francisco might point to neighborhoods in Houston for examples of why lack of zoning is bad, and feel just as convinced as you are when you point to San Francisco for why zoning is bad? Third (and finally), if we are going to argue about which paradigm is "better" (until now I have only argued which is more natural and common throughout human history), let's also consider the idea that the "best" scenario might be some kind of balance between the two paradigms, some sort of coexistence of local protections and free enterprise. It may be that, as Aristotle would say, a virtue is between two vices.

 

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8 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

You didn't really respond to my argument.

 

I think I responded just fine to your argument. Just saying that I didn't respond doesn't actually make it true. 

 

8 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

I said that the norm for cities and villages throughout history has been some kind of protectionism

 

And I didn't disagree with that assessment. Only pointed out that that same kind of protectionism still exists, even in the free market system Polanyi criticizes as having supplanted it.

 

8 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

So, first of all, what is progress? Lots of tall buildings everywhere?

 

How about people being able to afford decent housing? How about densification in cities where it is logical or even necessary to ensure that everyone can afford a home and the market is stable. The world changes and moves forward. "Progress" is relative and you shouldn't get caught up in the terminology. NIMBYs oppose change because they seek to conserve their chosen lifestyle. So they oppose any kind of development that disrupts what they see as their ideal life. However, NIMBYs are mainly motivated by self-interest that many times ignores the bigger picture of why a development is happening at all or why it may be necessary to the greater community. When talking about progress, I'm mainly talking about the natural evolution that happens as the world and market changes. A lot of the local protectionism we are talking about stifles that evolution, leading to distortions with unintended consequences.

 

8 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

List some cities (other than Houston) that you would say embody progress, so I can get an idea of what you mean.

 

Tokyo would be an example. In fact, Tokyo is just as free wheeling development wise as Houston is.

 

8 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

Secondly, has it occurred to you that someone in San Francisco might point to neighborhoods in Houston for examples of why lack of zoning is bad, and feel just as convinced as you are when you point to San Francisco for why zoning is bad?

 

I'm sure plenty would, just like many so called urban planners like to make Houston the whipping boy. It wouldn't hold much water with me though. The middle and lower classes can still afford to live in Houston, unlike San Francisco, and when you get right down to it, Houston, developmentally, isn't really that different from any other city in America, at least in terms of development patterns. And the ways it is different mainly work to its advantage.

 

8 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

Third (and finally), if we are going to argue about which paradigm is "better" (until now I have only argued which is more natural and common throughout human history), let's also consider the idea that the "best" scenario might be some kind of balance between the two paradigms, some sort of coexistence of local protections and free enterprise.

 

Once again, if you look at the world as it is now, that is pretty much where we actually stand: a free enterprise system, with all kinds of local protections and government intervention. We've never had a purely free enterprise system where local protections didn't exist.

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On 5/16/2020 at 12:56 AM, Big E said:

 

When poorly implemented every time you try it, it should tell you something. Similar arguments have been made for both Communism and Socialism ("REAL communism has been tried yet"), and it falls flat every time its made.

 

so I'm going to ask you for some proof that it is poorly implemented every time you try it?

 

after a fair bit of googling, the name of this policy type is inclusionary zoning, doing a bit more googling afterwords shows that there are no conclusive results to studies, and that there are different conclusions that can be reached.

 

so really it boils down to believing the data that corroborates the conclusions you want to see, and then discarding the rest.

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3 hours ago, samagon said:

 

so I'm going to ask you for some proof that it is poorly implemented every time you try it?

 

after a fair bit of googling, the name of this policy type is inclusionary zoning, doing a bit more googling afterwords shows that there are no conclusive results to studies, and that there are different conclusions that can be reached.

 

so really it boils down to believing the data that corroborates the conclusions you want to see, and then discarding the rest.

 

Seems like you've already done the actual research into scientific studies. As you said, what research has been done is inconclusive at best, partially because of the massive variance in IZ laws between various jurisdictions and just the lack of consistent data. There have been studies that have show that IZ increase the price of single family housing where it is implemented, while others have argued that that is not the case, but it doesn't actually help the poor all that much (which is actually a common left wing criticism, and in fact, you could argue that its not meant to help the poorest of society, but working middle class people like teachers who otherwise wouldn't be able to live in the areas they work in), though even the study cited in this second article states "effective inclusionary housing programs include incentives that offset the cost to developers," and that "mandatory programs with no offsets can lead to lower overall numbers of units produced", basically stating that the overall success of IZ in a given area is based on government subsidies to the developers to prevent housing costs from going up to pay for the below market rate units. The second article also cites the NHC, which is an organization that is heavily biased towards IZ and represents interests, both corporate and non-profit, that build affordable housing. Overall, research is mixed in this area, and data is woefully incomplete, but these articles are good at places to start in research if one is interested.

 

However one thing that is clear from simple observation is that inclusionary zoning, subsidized housing, "affordable" housing, whatever you want to call it, has done nothing to actually curtail skyrocketing housing prices in the locations its implemented, does not help the poorest in the city (once again, these IZ programs tend to target the working and lower-middle class) and the policy's overall effectiveness has not actually been established or demonstrated conclusively. This must also be taken into account with the fact that the vast majority of the housing stock in any given city will always be existing housing stock, not new housing stock, and in many places, there isn't much new housing stock being built, and IZ based affordable housing will always be a minority of that. Studies have noted that only about 29,000 inclusionary units were created in the whole state of California from 1999 to 2007. The actual rate of IZ would be preposterously low in any given situation just because there wouldn't be enough affordable units built to offset the rising prices and there never could be. Arguing whether or not IZ raises housing costs overall is disingenuous most of the time, the bigger question with regards to IZ is whether or not its a good subsidy program, because its the subsidies that actually determine its effectiveness, and no study has actually weighed the real costs of IZ versus just increasing Section 8 voucher funding, for example. As of now, it hasn't been demonstrated that IZ works in any appreciable form to vastly increase affordable housing and IZ has not made a real dent in the affordability crisis facing America's housing market because it hasn't dealt with the underlying issues causing it.

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2 hours ago, Big E said:

Once again, if you look at the world as it is now, that is pretty much where we actually stand: a free enterprise system, with all kinds of local protections and government intervention. We've never had a purely free enterprise system where local protections didn't exist.

 

When this discussion started out, it sounded like you thought we should aim for some kind of pure free market system, without local protections and government intervention. Now you are saying the world as it is now has local protections, etc. But doesn't most of the world have more land use regulations than Houston does? Other than pointing out the bogeyman of San Francisco, which is a pretty unlikely scenario for how Houston would be if it had zoning (Dallas might be a better example), you haven't really persuaded me that zoning is a bad idea.

 

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5 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

When this discussion started out, it sounded like you thought we should aim for some kind of pure free market system, without local protections and government intervention. Now you are saying the world as it is now has local protections, etc. But doesn't most of the world have more land use regulations than Houston does? Other than pointing out the bogeyman of San Francisco, which is a pretty unlikely scenario for how Houston would be if it had zoning (Dallas might be a better example), you haven't really persuaded me that zoning is a bad idea.

 

 

I never "specifically" argued against zoning as a general concept. I was mainly arguing against IZ, which is related as a form of "zoning" but doesn't encompass the whole concept. However, to touch on zoning, our zoning laws play an integral part in our current car dependent lifestyle and all the perceived negatives of it. The forced separation of residential areas from commercial ones across long distances; the overwhelming preference for single family development and large land tracks; the lack of mixed use development in many of America's cities; etc., etc. List any given issue you could have in America's urban design and fabric, and I can assure that zoning policy has played a key or substantial role in encouraging it and entrenching it into our national fabric, and this has effected housing affordability. Doesn't help that many of these zoning policies are decades old, fundamentally made for older times that no longer reflect our modern society. of course, zoning isn't the only policy at play here, but its the most visible

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1 hour ago, Big E said:

 

I never "specifically" argued against zoning as a general concept. I was mainly arguing against IZ, which is related as a form of "zoning" but doesn't encompass the whole concept. However, to touch on zoning, our zoning laws play an integral part in our current car dependent lifestyle and all the perceived negatives of it. The forced separation of residential areas from commercial ones across long distances; the overwhelming preference for single family development and large land tracks; the lack of mixed use development in many of America's cities; etc., etc. List any given issue you could have in America's urban design and fabric, and I can assure that zoning policy has played a key or substantial role in encouraging it and entrenching it into our national fabric, and this has effected housing affordability. Doesn't help that many of these zoning policies are decades old, fundamentally made for older times that no longer reflect our modern society. of course, zoning isn't the only policy at play here, but its the most visible

 

I think that zoning played that role of encouraging the car-based lifestyle because people wanted it to, because they wanted a car-based lifestyle and insulated neighborhoods, etc. To the extent that people decide they want a more pedestrian-friendly lifestyle, zoning can be a tool for that as well. It is currently being used as such in many cities, where certain streets and districts are identified as "pedestrian-oriented" or "transit-oriented" and rules are made which encourage this character of neighborhood (e.g. no public storage or other undesirable uses, no chain link fences, no setbacks or curb cuts on signature streets, etc.)

 

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