A really nice post over at Discovering Urbanism on "the meaning of urbanism." Here's a comment I left over there, riffing on one of his main points:
"For decades, we have been imposing local, state, and federal regulations that encourage low over high density development. As a result it appears that the ratio of drivable, suburban choices to walkable, urban choices is way out of sync with the public's actual preferences. This skews market prices considerably. As a result, too many people are being forced into a suboptimal (according to their own preferences) living arrangements, especially those with less income."
Yes, yes, and yes. Combine diversifying demographics, the end of cheap oil, and the sub-prime meltdown, and you have huge imbalances between the mix of housing that will be demanded in the future and the mix of housing that currently exists. Not sure how much counter-balancing government intervention is needed directly related to housing - prices do adjust quite nicely, thank you very much, so eventually builders will want to build more multi-family stuff in high-density areas and less single-family stuff in low-density areas - but what the government can do is make sure it corrects any distortions that would prevent that from happening: letting gas stay too cheap, over-subsidizing new highway capacity, making it really hard from a regulatory standpoint to do infill development. Like you, I'm not saying high-density is better for everyone; I just want it to be priced and regulated right, vis a vis low-density.