October shorts

It’s no longer shorts weather, but quick links endure!

1. Capital Bikeshare just turned one, and surprisingly has doubled its initial ridership projections and is currently running an operating surplus. [via GGW/WashCycle]

2. Economists like Ed Glaeser (and Ryan Avent, although I haven’t read his new treatise; reviewed by Rob Pitingolo in GGW and Lydia in CityPaper) often make the mistake of overly simplifying how housing markets work. Instead, numerous other important factors complicate matters, including:
– as Rob points out, housing is a bundle of goods whose utilities vary for different audiences
– housing construction can induce demand, particularly by adding amenities to a neighborhood
– housing construction can also remove amenities from a neighborhood, like a low-rise scale, thus changing other intangibles included in that bundle of goods
– construction costs don’t increase linearly; rather, costs jump at certain inflection points, like between low- and mid-rise
– housing and real estate in general are imperfect markets, since land is not a replicable commodity
– the substantial lag time for housing construction, even in less regulated markets, almost guarantees that supply will miss demand peaks

Pro-active planning remains the best and most time-honored way of pre-empting NIMBYs. Get the neighborhood to buy-in to neighborhood change early on, and then they won’t be surprised and upset when it happens.

3. Very interesting to see (via Dan Mihalopoulos/CNC) that Inspector General Joseph Ferguson has put a lot of sacred cows on the table for increasing revenue in Chicago — particularly several implicit subsidies to drivers. A downtown congestion charge, tolls on Lake Shore Drive, a commuter income tax, privatized parking enforcement, higher water/sewer fees, and higher garbage collection fees all would substantially impact suburbanites, single-family homeowners, and drivers.

4. How important are street enclosure ratios? As this gallery of reconstructed L.A. traffic sewers shows, they’re so important that almost nothing else matters if you get them right. (Photo-illustrations by David Yoon.) Back when I was reading comments on LEED-ND 1.0, a lot of complaints centered on the street enclosure requirement; I think that thinking about such urban design factors is just foreign to the architects & engineers who typically do LEED submittals. Yet it’s absolutely fundamental to defining urban rooms.