Don't Forget the Neighborhoods Zoning Reform Leaves Behind

While urbanists target zoning reform to help build more housing in desirable neighborhoods, other neighborhoods around cities are being left behind to languish, according to this opinion piece published by Forbes.

April 29, 2016, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

High Line with Denari

pisaphotography / Shutterstock

An op-ed by Pete Saunders critiques the effects of zoning reform that only seeks to build walkable urbanism in already desirable neighborhoods.

Writing for Forbes, Pete Saunders launches an investigation of the skyrocketing housing prices by identifying several root cases of the common problem around U.S. cities. According to Saunders changing metropolitan economies, geography and the nature of redevelopment versus greenfield development are all contributing to the trends in the housing market. "But perhaps the greatest factor driving prices upward in cities is the growing preference for walkable urbanism (WU)," adds Saunders.

And therein the problem lies, according to Saunders's argument. Given that walkable urbanism is in finite supply, it's troubling that urbanists tend toward tunnel vision, or "a laser focus on a select group of neighborhoods in a given city that boosts prices in the most desirable areas, and correspondingly drops them in similarly constructed but less desirable neighborhoods."

Saunders calls on a housing price analysis and data visualization of New York City completed by Constantine Valhouli. Saunders uses that evidence to reach the conclusion that while zoning reform pursued by urbanists to help build new walkable urbanism might achieve those ends in certain desirable neighborhoods, it might also lead to negative, unintended consequences in many other parts of cities.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 in Forbes

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