A new research paper determined that residential properties near transit stations in five major cities across the US maintained their values significantly better than properties outside of "transit sheds."
The Ohio Kentucky Indiana (OKI) Regional Council of Governments, which represents Greater Cincinnati, has released the findings from its 2012 "How Do We Grow From Here" survey. The results show strong public support for compact, walkable communities, UrbanCincyreports. OKI has authority over federal transportation funds in the region, and thus has substantial power in influencing future growth patterns. The organization got a larger than usual response from its survey — 2,474 responses and 1,200 commments. Large majorities responded that "It's important to have the option in my community to safely walk or bike," and "urban revitalization and redevelopment efforts are paying off," but only 38 percent said the region is growing in a sustainable way.
At New Geography, Joel Kotkin is trumpeting a Wendell Cox study that supposedly reveals Americans still love sprawl. "For all the talk of how the Great Recession has driven people — particularly the 'footloose young' — toward dense urban centers, Census data reveal that Americans are still drawn to the same sprawling Sun Belt regions as before," he writes. But there is less here than meets the eye in Cox's and Kotkin's "net domestic migration" figures. Of the 51 largest metro areas, New York City lost 1.9 million people to domestic net migration in 2000-2009 — "the biggest loser," Kotkin chortles — and lost 99,000 more in 2010-2011. Yet the New York metro region has gained more than 2.5 million in total population since 1990, 853,000 since 2000, and 129,000 between 2010 and 2011. Net domestic migration reveals enormous numbers of New York retirees heading south for warmer weather — and often tax breaks — and doesn't necessarily say anything about economic vibrancy. An international city, New York attracts immigrants from around the world. So does Chicago, which lost 53,000 to domestric migration from 2010-2011, and is also steadily gaining population.
Reconnecting America has released an impressively comprehensive survey of every metropolitan region in the US measuring a wide range of characteristics related to livability and smart growth. The survey gives grades from A to D in four areas: Living (housing and neighborhoods), working (proximity and access to jobs), moving (walkability and transit), and thriving (health and culture). The survey is not meant as a ranking — nevertheless it is easy to come up with a grade point average for the largest metro areas (see graph above). The only surprise on the list is Los Angeles, which ranks right below New York City and San Francisco, along with Boston and DC. The reason is that LA has a surprising percentage of the population living in higher-density neighborhoods on a street grid. Known for its driving, LA was built as a streetcar city. That bodes well for rail transit, which is being expanded there. The real value of this report, called Are We There Yet?, is in drilling down to data from individual metro areas, where there are many surprises. I did not know that Lincoln, Nebraska, is so livable (4.0 score for regions under 500,000), or that Greensboro, NC, had such problems (1.0 score for regions between 500,000 and 3 million). You might want to check out the grades for your metro area.