Urbanism = Amenity?

Last week’s episode of Smart City (mp3, 23.6M) talks about sprawl and urbanism (the segment leads off the show). A few of the key ideas:

  • Sprawl has been driven by a combination of zoning (trying to separate uses – keep the slaughterhouse away from my house) and Federal subsidies for things like the Interstate Highway System. Changing Federal funding and the information economy break this paradigm.
  • Sprawl is also driven by a rational seeking of elbow room and affordability.
  • Urbanism – the ability to live in vibrant urban neighborhoods – is now an amenity that people will pay top dollar for.
  • The premium pricing for places like the Pearl may be a function of their relative scarcity – if we had a lot more high density urban neighborhoods, they might be more affordable.

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