JLF Memo
Jun. 20th, 2011: - johnlocke.org Manage Subscriptions

In this issue: Anti-family urban policies and JLF's new City and County Issue Guide
By Dr. Michael Sanera

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The road to urban oblivion is paved with anti-family policies

Between 2000 and 2010, Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox report, Raleigh ranked No. 1 and Charlotte No. 4 in the nation in population growth of children ages 5 to 17. Raleigh, Charlotte, and the other cities in the top ten also top the rankings in job growth and are some of the fastest growing areas in the nation.

Kotkin and Cox observe that these cities have affordable housing -- but they don't mean government-imposed "affordable housing," which analysis has shown is a widespread failure. Instead, they mean housing produced by homebuilders at market prices that are affordable to the average homebuyer:


One thing these regions share is affordable housing. Throughout the real estate bubble, housing prices in Raleigh, the Texas cities and Atlanta remained low. Today, prices have also plummeted in virtually all the other markets in our top ten, reinforcing their relative affordability.


Why did housing prices in these areas remain relatively low during the housing bubble? With the notable exceptions of Wilmington and Asheville, many North Carolina cities avoided smart-growth policies restricting the amount of buildable land, and North Carolina suburbs were allowed to grow, attracting families with kids. Housing supply, for the most part, was able to keep up with demand, moderating price increases. (For more information, see the JLF report Planning Penalties in North Carolina: Why Other N.C. Cities Should Not Follow Asheville and Wilmington.)

On the other hand, cities with dense cores tend to have the fewest kids:


Children constitute barely 1 in 10 residents in the city of Seattle. The urban cores of San Francisco, Washington and Boston show similar low rates.

The few kids in these regions are mostly in the suburbs. The Seattle suburbs, for example, have
75% more kids than the city. This difference is driven both by growth in immigrants to more affordable, less dense suburban areas as well as the movements of people of childbearing age out of the city.


But doesn't the so-called millennial generation (born between 1982 and 2003) want to live in the core city center where all of the action is?


Of course, many of the more affluent and educated young adults will initially head to urban centers like New York, San Francisco or Boston as they seek potential spouses and begin their careers. But as they age, [researchers Morley] Winograd and [Mike] Hais note, many of the older millennials want to establish roots in more affordable suburbs that are often closer to their work, especially ones with good schools. According to a survey by Frank Magid and Associates, a large plurality of millennials name suburbs as their "ideal" place to settle, more so than earlier generations.

Given these demographic facts, we would expect city planners and elected officials to establish policies that conform to these trends. Keeping housing prices low, letting the suburbs expand, emphasizing personal transportation, etc.


What we find in North Carolina is the opposite. City planners, especially in Raleigh and Charlotte, are trying to pack people into the core city and force them to use public transit for mobility. Raleigh's new comprehensive plan does that by forcing new development into mixed-use areas that are connected by a yet-to-be-funded light rail system.

If fully implemented by cities across North Carolina, these policies will reverse the long-term growth and prosperity in the state by driving up housing prices and killing the suburbs. Were that to happen, North Carolina's metropolitan dynamism produced by families with kids will be reversed as families move to more family-friendly cities, such as in Texas, where elected officials are less likely to fall for smart-growth dogma (Texas already has four cities in the top ten).


JLF's new City and County Issue Guide 2011 is hot off the presses


Well, not quite. It is currently available in pdf format. The printed edition will follow in a few weeks.

From the press release:


Local governments will serve their communities best by focusing on core government functions, limiting spending and taxation, and protecting private property from unnecessary government intrusion. Those are key principles driving recommendations in the John Locke Foundation's new City and County Issue Guide 2011.

"This guide covers topics ranging from taxes to transit, from smart growth to stadiums, from education to eminent domain," said Dr. Michael Sanera, JLF Director of Research and Local Government Studies. "The common thread in the recommendations for each of these topics is freedom. By increasing individual freedom, local governments can foster the prosperity of all North Carolinians and keep open avenues to innovative solutions from enterprising citizens."

The 40-page guide addresses 18 of the most important topics local governments must address. It tackles services local governments provide, steps those governments take to fund their services, and government policies that restrict land use and property rights. Sanera and the JLF research staff analyze key challenges linked to each topic.


Click here for the Local Government Update archive.

Upcoming Events

Monday, Jun. 20th, 2011 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest Dr. Peter Frank
“Markets and Government at a Crossroads: Higher Education and the Intensifying Debate on the Foundations of Capitalism”

Tuesday, Jun. 21st, 2011 at 6:00 PM
A North Carolina History Project Lecture
with our special guest Judge John M. Tyson
“I Am The Hardest Working Man In The Country": President James K. Polk and Presidential Goals

Monday, Jun. 27th, 2011 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest Michael C. Munger
"The New Republican General Assembly: Surprises, Successes, and Disappointments"

Monday, Jul. 4th, 2011 at -
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest -
No Shaftesbury

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