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Lewyn Addresses America

A little politics, a little urbanism- I also blog 100 percent on urbanism at and

As focused as I am on Mitt vs. Newt today, I saw something urban-related that I was also interested in.

One argument I’ve seen a lot of in the blogosphere: land use regulation (especially pro-environmental “smart growth”-type rules such as growth boundaries) lead to high prices which leads to housing price volatility.

But I just learned that four housing markets actually have housing prices below 2000 prices.  But none of them are high-price or high-regulation.  The four biggest losers: Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Cleveland.  Not Los Angeles, Not San Francisco.  Not Boston.  Not New York.  Not Portland  But four regions that have been fairly affordable and, as far as I know, aren’t more overregulated than other places.  That tells me that high costs aren’t the primary cause of volatility – or more precisely, that other factors are more important.

This doesn’t mean that Boston- level housing costs are a good idea.  I think super-high housing costs, like sprawl, reduces quality of life even if it doesn’t lead to housing bubbles.  But I think trying to blame every concievable crisis on anti-affordability regulation makes about as much sense as blaming every conceivable crisis on sprawl.


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