A Houston Perspective

From The Liberal Side of Urban Development


Councillor Dick Quax last night posted on Facebook a link to a New Geography article on how Houston (known for its sprawl) is taking off as an “aspiration” city in the USA. I am going to link this New Geography post here at BR:AKL for several reasons:

  1. We – Auckland need a different perspective away from the Compact City model being told to us from Auckland Council. You might not agree with New Geography but, if you are intelligent and not a NIMBY-ist then you will at least consider what they have to say with Houston. 
  2. My Auckland Plan and subsequent Unitary Plan submission drew some of its inspiration from Houston. The Semi-Liberal Plan Districts (SLPD) and Municipal Utility Districts (MUD) were drawn from Houston and blended with the compact city model to give the best of both worlds approach (the 60:40 Brownfield:Greenfield Development) 
  3. Houston is a current power house in the USA and does have affordable homes – something we are looking for
  4. Houston is car dependent and auto-centric but I do not condone that in the slightest. In my submissions I called and will always call for the recognition that the car will always be with us, and we need a fully integrated transport suite to deal with our transport issues (The Auckland Transport Integrated Transport Program IS NOT that fully integrated transport suite)


So for your reading and consideration I give you that New Geography article


by Joel Kotkin 04/08/2013

America’s urban landscape is changing, but in ways not always predicted or much admired by our media, planners, and pundits. The real trend-setters of the future—judged by both population and job growth—are not in the oft-praised great “legacy” cities like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, but a crop of newer, more sprawling urban regions primarily located in the Sun Belt and, surprisingly, the resurgent Great Plains.

While Gotham and the Windy City have experienced modest growth and significant net domestic out-migration, burgeoning if often disdained urban regions such as Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Charlotte, and Oklahoma City have expanded rapidly. These low-density, car-dominated, heavily suburbanized areas with small central cores likely represent the next wave of great American cities.

There’s a whole industry led by the likes of Harvard’s Ed Glaeser, my occasional sparring partnerRichard Florida and developer-funded groups like CEOs for Cities, who advocate for old-style, high-density cities, and insist that they represent the inevitable future.

But the numbers tell a different story: the most rapid urban growth is occurring outside of the great, dense, highly developed and vastly expensive old American metropolises.

You can read the rest over at New Geography


And as always, comments (but no flaming) are welcome

2 thoughts on “A Houston Perspective

  1. Hi Ben   Just wondering, did you receive the information I sent you on Texas MUDs?   Cheers

    Dale Smith B.Sc. (Psych.) Dip. Bus. Studies (Real Estate) 

    1. I have the information on the Texas MUDs you sent – and with thanks. I am busy researching into these further to see if we can use them for our Greenfield areas especially in Southern Auckland. However while MUDs might work, I don’t have trust with the Council in abusing the scheme or it double dipping from both MUDs and conventional development levies.

      Let’s see how this pans out

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