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The Gated City (Kindle Single) by [Avent, Ryan]
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The Gated City (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Length: 90 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you ask people where they'd most like to live, many would name New York City or San Francisco--big cities with the best shows, the best restaurants, the best job prospects, and the highest levels of worker productivity. So why have those cities been losing population to cities with less of everything? With accessible examples and abundant statistics to back up his claims, Ryan Avent--the economics correspondent of The Economist--shows how high housing rates in these cities have driven people away and reduced not only productivity, but also creativity and opportunity. His solution is simple: let more people in by creating more housing, thus lowering housing rates and making them affordable again. He doesn't suggest giving developers free reign in city parks; instead, he advocates innovative changes to zoning laws, and an understanding that adding housing in cities brings with it more benefits than costs. --Malissa Kent

Product Details

  • File Size: 459 KB
  • Print Length: 90 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: August 31, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005KGATLO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,209 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeremy Aldrich on September 4, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For the greater part of this longer-than-usual Kindle Single, the author repeats and reframes his central thesis which I think he most concisely expresses towards the end: "The cost of housing in places like San Francisco and New York reflects one very clear, striking fact - there are many, many Americans that would love to live in places where they would be more productive and less of a contributor to climate change, if oly the locals would allow markets to respond to housing demands."

Using a series of examples, the argument is put forth that dense cities are good for both human and economic progress, that market forces should be allowed to work, and that NIMBY instincts are ultimately counter-productive. In the short section presenting possible solutions, the author highlights strengthening urban property rights, building "alternative downtowns", and compromising with anti-development forces by offering new connections to mass transit systems.

This is a sensible persuasive piece, the kind of compassionate libertarianism you might expect to read on a particularly good blog. It would have been improved if the author had gotten to the point a bit faster, but it is an argument worth considering.
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This is the book I wished I could write. Avent aggregates phenomena occurring in local neighborhoods around the country and connects this to declining national productivity vis-a-vis high housing prices in high-wage cities and the sunbelt's growth-fueled growth. The core argument, that NIMBYISM is destroying America, is well-developed. Rational actors in communities across America seek to minimize property risk and protect their neighborhoods by reducing the density of new projects or preventing them entirely. This leads to sub-optimal location decisions for many new residents, who locate in exurban greenfield development or leave regions altogether.

Avent presents transit-oriented-development as a uniquely American solution to combat the effects of NIMBYISM. The pamphlet is concise and Avent focuses on his core argument. Thus, he only touches on how transit-oriented-development can mitigate the negative impacts associated with higher densities. I was left longing for more of Avent's prose focused on strategies to address NIMBYISM and combat its effects on non-incumbent households and national productivity.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Avent's new book is a must read for anyone interested in urban affairs, land use policy, or just how public policy can have an impact on the growth rate of the economy. Avent makes a compelling argument that growing sectors of the economy aren't adding new jobs because of the effect of local land use policies on the cost and availability of labor in the metropolitan areas where firms in these sectors locate. His use of the agglomeration economics literature to show the costs of zoning policy is both engaging and masterful. This book is sure to be cited both in popular discussion about zoning and in scholarly debate on the long-term effect land use policies have on the economy. And it's a really engaging and fun read. -- David Schleicher, Associate Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
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This single takes on current urban planning procedures and explains and expounds on why they fail, and then what we can do about it. As a student of geography and urban planning, I enjoyed and feel educated by this book.
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Basically the author's thesis is that historically, innovation has occurred not in bucolic rural areas, but in densely populated cities. As a result, anything that limits the ability of people to live and thrive in cities will inhibit the spread of ideas and the easy connectivity to other innovators that allows great ideas to sprout and grow.

NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitudes held by long time residents of urban areas restrict the implementation of affordable housing, increase the cost and as a result the price of new homes in areas like New York City. Home prices then soar into the stratosphere pricing out young, energetic singles and families that tend to be the source of innovations. These families tend to leave high priced urban areas and move to areas where home prices are affordable and jobs that pay decent salaries (even if lower than the urban areas they moved from) are available.

So families are moving to the sun belt not primarily for the nicer weather than where they came from, but rather, they can afford a single family, detached home to call their own. As a result, dense urban areas are losing their intellectual and educational wealth to less dense areas that foster less innovation than the city environment.

The above is just a snippet of Ryan's thesis which is built up slowly and thoughtfully as the book progresses along.

My Personal Thoughts:
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Can't even walk down the street I grew up on. It's way too dangerous now even in daytime. Nighttime is a nightmare. I now live in a beautiful, safe, suburban community with my family in California. Home prices are only one of the reasons people abandon the cities.

The Gated City is an interesting read and was worth my time reading and considering carefully what Ryan had to say. Especially since I left dense city living and moved to a far less dense suburban environment.
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