1. For anyone who doesn’t follow Stephen on Twitter at @MarketUrbanism, he’s now a real estate reporter at International Business Times. Here he covers criticism of the National Association of Realtors’ forecast that housing prices have bottomed out.
2. In the debate over whether or not to ban food on the Subway, a rider whom the New York Times interviews brings up the key issue of enforceability. The state senate proposed the ban to mitigate the system’s rat problem. While the state could certainly change the rules about eating on the Subway, the informal law wouldn’t be so easy to change. Metro has always (?) been food-free, and the ridership culture generally supports this, but New Yorkers who are in the habit of eating on their commute are unlikely to stop due to a small probability of a fine.
3. At the risk of turning Market Urbanism into an EconTalk fan blog, Russ Roberts has another great urbanism-related podcast with David Owens, author of The Conundrum. The book is about the unintended consequences of environmental activism. While the podcast (and I believe the book) deals primarily with climate change and cities’ relatively low per-capita carbon usage, the problem of unintended consequences is abundant throughout urban planning. As much as they’d like to, planners can’t change human behavior in a vacuum.
4. Yes! Melbourne Planning Minister Matthew Guy proposes not some wimpy upzoning, but abolishing height limits in the city’s CBD. The plan has a long road to implementation, but it’s a first step in allowing developers to meet the growing city’s demand for space. The opposition predictably cites the fallacy that density makes traffic worse.
5. Penelope Trunk ponders the fundamental differences between city people and non-city people and concludes that city dwellers are relatively unhappy because they are “maximizers.” I’m not totally sold on happiness literature generally, mostly because I think its subjectivity makes it exceedingly difficult for individuals to quantify their own happiness in these types of studies. There might be reason to believe that Type A city residents have higher standards for happiness than others, biasing the results.