Blog Archives

Viewpoint: The urban future isn’t all about population booms

[Source: Froma Harrop, Providence Journal] — Sunbelt-and-sprawl advocate Joel Kotkin wrote two years ago that the future of American urbanism wasn’t in the “elite cities,” such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but in “younger, more affordable and less self-regarding places.”  He named (his order) Houston, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas and Riverside, Calif.

Boom-city boosters like Kotkin play a numbers game, where the place with the biggest population explosion wins.  This is also a kind of Blue America-versus-Red America urbanology, which includes an element of liberal-bashing: Any place that refuses to be steamrolled by developers is called “elite.”

In the aftermath of the real-estate bust, areas overly dependent on building houses, selling houses and financing houses are in the worst shape.  Economies need non-bubble jobs.  Unemployment rates in the recent hyper-growth centers, Riverside and Las Vegas, are now well above those in the aforementioned “elite cities.”  And Boston’s 9 percent unemployment is only a point above that of the more economically diverse Sunbelt powerhouses: Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix.

There’s little point in pitting cities, regions and states against one another.  This is a big country.  One can like San Francisco for some things and Las Vegas for others.  By the way, what gave anyone the idea that Houston, Dallas and Phoenix are not “self-regarding”?  They are, as well they should be.  [Note: Read the full article at The urban future isn’t all about population booms.]

Phoenix Sky Harbor drops to 9th busiest airport in U.S.

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — As millions of passengers cut their travel budgets, Sky Harbor slipped down the FAA’s ranking of busy U.S. airports.  Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was the ninth busiest airport in 2008.  In 2007, it was the eighth busiest.  Charlotte Douglas Airport, in Charlotte, N.C. is now No. 8.

The Federal Aviation Administration ranking measures the number of takeoffs and landings by commercial airlines, air taxis, private planes, and the military.  “This is a direct reflection of the economy and is unfortunately the way things are at airports across the country,” said Deputy Aviation Director Deborah Ostreicher.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix tops list for U.S. home price declines

[Source: Adam Kress, Phoenix Business Journal] — A new read on the housing market shows Phoenix home values have dropped nearly 31% in the past 12 months — the steepest decline of any major city in the nation.  Home prices across the country fell in August for the 25th consecutive month and prices in 10 major markets plunged a record 17.7% from August 2007, according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price 10-city index.  From July to August, prices dropped 1.1%.  The 20-city index marked a record year-over-year decline of 16.6% with a 1% fall from July to August. 

The hardest hit of all 20 cities on a year-over-year basis was Phoenix, where prices plummeted 30.7% during the past 12 months.  Las Vegas prices plunged 30.6% and Miami sank 28.1%.  The cities that held up the best were Dallas, which saw a decline of just 2.7%; Charlotte, N.C., down 2.8%; and Boston, off 4.7%.  No city showed a price gain during over the last 12 months.  From July to August, San Francisco saw the biggest price decline, down 3.5%.  Phoenix prices fell 2.9% and Las Vegas homes lost 2.4% in value.  Two cities showed gains in August.  Cleveland prices rose 1.1% and Boston prices inched up 0.1%.

The S&P Case-Shiller indexes compare the sale prices of the same homes year-to-year and are considered one of the most accurate home price gauges.