Thomas Sowell Beats Dead Horse on Housing

Houses in San Francisco

A maddening editorial by Thomas Sowell appeared in the Dallas Morning News and other papers (AP). His point being that the preservation of open spaces is driving up housing costs.

While Sowell rails against the “liberals” who seek to protect this open space against housing development, people cut from this kind of cloth never seem to mention the subsidies that have gone into highway development that threaten the open space in the first place. And freeways aren’t the only way big government subsidizes suburbia and threatens open space.

Nor mentioned are the other mechanisms in place that effectively limit housing supply, among them historic preservation ordinances, zoning, deed restrictions and height restrictions.

And isn’t California as much of a big government state as they come? Why does everyone want to live in this big government state enough that a simple bungalow could demand nearly $2 million?

Luckily, his arguments are somewhat of a moot point now. There isn’t so much demand for housing in the exurbs these days. Sowell is clearly still debating the hot topics of the 1980s.

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Once upon a time, environmentalists lived in the forests, while the many of the rest of us moved the suburbs to be near the forests. Today we’re on our way back. Living near nature is an attractive notion, but many who tried it found nature soon vanished and they were left isolated. For both environmental and social reasons, living in the suburbs or the forest is not sustainable. Today we know cities are good for people and for forests. We know that the less land each of us occupies, the more space there will be for nature. In a city, we have a smaller footprint. Living in a city isn’t only good for the planet, it’s good for all of us. When home, work, shopping end entertainment are close, it encourages walking and promotes the active lifestyle that keeps us healthy. The New Colonist is about moving in from the suburbs, moving into and reclaiming towns and cities that have been depopulated, and building more housing in healthy cities. It’s about building smarter and closer-in new developments; building transit-oriented, mixed-use developments in new communities, and bringing more transportation options to communities where a car is presently the only option. Sustainable city living–chronicling the return from the suburban diaspora–is the focus of Newcolonist.com. …Move In. City Life is good for you. It’s good for the your health. It’s good for the planet. Eric Miller Richard Risemberg