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Going Up: Population & Skyscrapers

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In less than 20 years, the eight-county area is projected to add some 3 million people. “That means we’re adding the entire city of Los Angeles to the region,” David Crossley of the Houston Tomorrow Institute said.

That's a little misleading since when most people think of LA, they think of much more than just the LA city limits.

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I can see the region adding three million people, but denser? The region still has plenty of space, and no authority that's compelling people to build more densely than they already are.

The city is already becoming much more dense without any land use controls to speak of. In 1980, the City comprised 556 square miles, and had a population of 1.5 million, for a density of 2,697 per square mile. Now, the City comprises 579 square miles, and the population has grown to 2.25 million, or a density of 3,886 psm. This represents an increase in density of 44%. Similarly, Harris County, with a land area of 1728 square miles, has seen its population increase from 2.4 million to 4.0 million, an increase in both population and density of 67%. As the cost of land and aging of the population increases the appeal of small lot townhomes and condominiums, the density can only be expected to increase. Further, as you mention, there is plenty of land for infill, which will increase density as well. It would be foolish to think that the density would approach that of 19th Century cities, but a 6,000 to 7,500 psm density is not only a reasonable expectation, but probable.

Over the years, we are seeing transportation costs rise, but also land and building and utility costs rise, as well. This forces everyday people to rethink just how important an oversized house and yard is. Add the occasional drought, and that St. Augustine lawn becomes a liability, not a pleasure. This is not to say that everyone will suddenly want rid of the big house and yard, but like SUVs, their position as status markers will diminish, allowing a greater percentage of families to explore smaller options. Even the Woodlands went to 55 foot wide lots in the new sections 10 to 12 years ago. You don't find 10,000 to 15,000 foot lots up there anymore, except for the estate homes.

Edited by RedScare
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