tv Conservative Urban Development Policy CSPAN August 29, 2017 10:05am-11:09am EDT
to know what you are reading to send it on twitter or instagram, or posted to our facebook page -- post it to our facebook page. book tv on c-span 2 -- television for serious readers. >> up next, a conversation on urban conservatism. several conservative activists made the case for why they think conservative policymakers should start to make -- pay attention to concerns in america's cities. >> i will go ahead and apologize for the lack of seating in the room, although we are heartened to see sony people interested in this topic. i am the executive editor of "the american conservative," lewis mccrary, and i want to thank you for joining us.
this event is a joint initiative of "the american conservative," a magazine based in washington, and the r street institute, a right center think tank in town. i want to thank hillsdale college kirby center for sponsoring us to use this great facility. this event is also being broadcast on c-span. so i want to thank them for being here as well and thank those who are joining us on c-span for this discussion. in that vein, i would like to ask our audience here in the house -- the usual reminder to silence your cell phones. although we do encourage live
tweeting, if you are so inclined. #conservativeurbanism. i also hope you'll take a moment when you get home later or now, to follow both the american conservative and the r street institute twitter, facebook, you can find our website. in addition, the new urbanism initiative of the american conservative has their own twitter account. @newurbs, which i encourage you to follow. i would like to thank our donors and sponsors who made this event and the continuing new urbanism program possible. tom wilber, the bradshaw night foundation, and dominique watkins. thank you for your support of this event and the new urbanism program. i would also like to our knowledge our american conservative board member in the audience, howard. and i believe i saw scott mcconnell here as well.
and i would also like to the go moment to thank the people who are less visible, both of the staff of the r street institute, and "the american conservative." before we get started with the panel, a bit of background on the new urbanism initiative at "the american conservative." "americans ago, the conservative" does what it does best. to challenge status quo thinking among conservatives of a particular policy area. continuing the same course is good for the country and the community and ordinary citizens. when the magazine was founded in 2002, the issue of the moment was the calming iraq war and -- of the coming iraq war and the resources wasted on that and
intervention abroad. at that time, washington would come to regret that. "the american conservative" was essentially the only voice on the right cautioning against that intervention. fast forward to 2014, many of our editors and contributors realize there's a similar domestic issue. which the current approach pursued by our government at all levels -- state, local, and federal -- and shortly, we will be hearing from a local government official -- who lead to a long term weakening of politics. that's the state of our built environment in the quality in places which we live, work, and raise our children is the one that we're here to talk about today. to put this in some larger context, i think since the end of world war ii, there's been clearly a dramatic reshaping of our build environment, not just
in the big cities but in smaller towns and suburban neighborhoods. much of this change was set in motion before the war by the mass-produced automobile. but certainly after, as the greatest generation returned home to give earth to the very large baby boomer generation that set off a great demand. much new housing had be constructed. but the federal government -- this will be interesting to conservatives -- played an increasingly prominent role by shaping this environment by helping create incentives, to create vast new sauce -- swa cul-de-sacrbia and styles and neighborhood formats that many generations and many of us grown up in. with large shopping malls and shopping parks surrounded by acres of parking lots. which aim to replace these downtown commercial areas. and that great republican icon, dwight eisenhower, created the interstate highway system.
known as the, really, officially, the national system of interstate and defense highway that once and for all made the car, i think, the preferred mode of transportation not only between metropolitan areas but reshaped them as well. a lot of people have these big, long, urban commutes, and as a result, destroying lot of these long established neighborhoods. and at the same time, federal urban renewal programs encouraged cities across the country to engage in misguided -- what was then called clearance, creating these big housing projects, where people in poverty were isolated and faced rising crime. and in some downtown medium -- and some downtown medium and large cities never recovered from that brutal surgery that removed much of our cultural heritage. along the way, i think there were dissenters from this project. which was largely a bipartisan effort among those in power.
perhaps the most prominent, someone you certainly know in the audience, 1960's jane jacob. who successfully stopped the lower manhattan expressway project from plowing right through the dense urban neighborhoods there. she and others, unfortunately, were not able to save the great masterpiece in midtown manhattan. penn station, which met a wrecking ball in 1964. by the way, there is now an effort, among some conservatives and others, to try to rebuild that great space. please check out those articles online. so i think the next step in this movement is later on in the 1980's, after this initial reaction. some people began to engage not just in protest and reaction to what was happening to the landscape in our cities and towns that worked to create a positive agenda that would
involve local governments, private real estate developers, in a way that could rediscover some of these older, more humane ways of building for places for people to live and work. congress,ovement, the eventually became known as the congress of the new urbanism. it celebrated 25 years of success both in doing new development and restoring an old urban fabric that creates kind of places many people actually want to live, whether they are suburbs or older poor neighborhoods. the new urbanists, who have been working now for three years on this project, they tend to have more left to center politics, are generally happy to have conservatives who supportive more humane environment as fellow travelers in this movement. so here we are, three years into this, what we have called the new urbanism initiative. -- "theject, i think american conservative" is only outlet on the right to take
these issues seriously. in the past three years, we published in our print magazine and online on these issues. i think we have a sickly pursuit two strands of inquiries, ways of looking at this issue. strands -- two first, more of the cultural one. how people imagine the built environment. their place within it, and how they can tap into these great, lost traditions of architecture and urban design. at least before world war ii. i think it made our city, towns and suburbs great places to live. as conservatives, we're called here to try to work out how families can thrive in more dense, urban environments perhaps with one familyar and living with less amenities. reimagine how can we make this a reasonable choice for more than or bahamians.
secondly, the second show and i think we will address today, beyond the larger cultural strand of how weeshape the conversation is the public policy. i think at lst a couple of people on this first panel will focus on that area. that involves creating a regulatory environment and promoting infrastructure that at least allows for walkable urbanism. lot of our infrastructure now really excludes that possibility even as a choice for folks. sometimes, it involved removing regulations like strict parking minimums. or removing things that allow mixed use development so people can live above the store, as they've done for centuries before the last 50 or 60 years. which essentially made that illegal in other places. it also means building more housing, period. especially urban housing in metro areas, which many families
who want to live in these places are priced out of, especially in expensive markets, like san francisco, washington, boston, new york -- places like this. hopefully, that creates the kind of framework to start our discussion with our initial panel. i want to introduce our panelists, as we get started. first panelist, initially, to my left, is jason segedy, who is the director of planning urban development and assistant to mayor in the city of akron. he previously was the director of akron's metropolitan area transportation study. overseeing all the transportation funds in greater akron. i understand he's been a long time reader of "tac." which i am happy to hear that we have readers in akron. our second panelist, to the left
of jason, is gracy olmsted. who i am pcticing is a former colleague of mine at "the american conservative." now the associate managing editor of "the federalist." a state editor for a weekly news letter for women. you can read her writing besides in "the federalist" and " the american conservative" in "christianity today" and "catholic real life," and gracie will talk to us today in part about how all these lessons apply also to smaller towns and rural areas and how these leonare continuum. finally, unfortunately, michael hendricks had a family emergency and had to cancel. but i'm happy to say that my former colleague, jonathan coppe, represents r street. the cosponsor of this event. and the visiting senior fellow with the are sure is a two will
be stepping in. at r street, john researches urbanism in built environment and previously, former colleague at the american conservative. and initially started this whole new urbanism initiative three years ago around this time today. so thank you to all our panelists for being here. i think what we will do is start with jason. maybe giving us remarks. jason, we are happy to have you here, because, unlike some of us journalists and other thing tank-types, he actually runs planning in akron, ohio. it is the center of the rust belt. i think you can tell us what is going on there are in ohio and give us a lot of lessons for how we can actually practically fixed things in places like that. take it away.
jason: thank you so much for having me. it is great to be here in d.c. with all of you. i think when lewis were talking before, i was going to offer up a couple of thoughts as we start to frame the discussion. i think in a lot of our cities , in particular in my part of the country, what we're seeing in a lot of ways what i would call the end of "big." the idea that these big corporations, big government, big plans and projects, are going to save us. i think if you look at the trajectory of what's happened in a lot of our cities, particularly in the rust belt, as lewis said, urban renewal was one of those big kind of top-down commanding control strategies that was supposed to revitalize us. fast forward, 40 or 50 years, that didn't happen. i think the next step in lot of our cities what i call prosperity, theology of building casinos and stadiums, convention centers. not to say those things aren't important.
in some cases, we can probably all point to projects that probably should have never been built. they have their place. by thing the idea that this silver bullet project is going will save your city -- people will build a convention center, step two is question marks, and step three is success. [laughter] we don't necessarily have a plan to get from here to there. and then i think, particularly in ohio and michigan and other parts of my part of the country, lately, i think a lot of people have adopted what i would call kind of a "predestination theology." the idea we need to shrink. and that the only hope for us is to basically shut down our cit is. i'm not a big fan of that approach. i think it is important to be realistic about the market and about some of our challenges. we have incredible assets in our part of the country. i always make the case in akron, we're a city of 200,000. we have four million people within an hour drive.
i refuse to believe that we cannot, with the planning, get .01% of those people back in the city and start to increase the population. i think that's a matter how we go about doing those things. just one of the other quick thought. a lot of what -- with the rubric of conservatism, a lot of the discussion that has morphed over the last 20 years -- i always think it was a stereotype to some degree -- conservatives were always pro suburb and anti-urban. but i think a lot of people, suburban and urban today, are craving a sense of community and sense of place. i think that goes back to what i was saying about big versus small. and manageable. i think there is actually a lot more common ground out there than a lot of people might first think. i think some of the ideas maybe conservatives can reconsider with cities would be -- in our
part of the country, and this is true lot of the midwest and northeast, local government is extremely fragmented. it gets very difficult to have any sort of regional cooperation. i think there are good government practices of sharing services, consolidating things. i think that's something we have to explore. and then i remember i was part of a sustainable communities project that the obama administration provided funding through h.u.d. and d.o.t. and e.p.a. on. we had a lot of tea party people come to those meetings saying we were communist and setting up a totalitarian regime in northeast ohio. but i think within some of that noise that was coming up, there were real concerns about is the government going to come in and tell people where to live. my opinion is we need to make cities competitive and have people want to come and live in them. not prohibit people.
i think that is something very different in our part of the country than the coast. here, a lot of real estate issues are it is so expensive. in akron, i can sell you a really nice house for $150,000. i will even sell you a lot for $200,000. we have 1400 of them that the city owns. just some thought. i think, i guess in closing with this part of it, thinking about the shared challenges and the shared opportunities in different parts of the country and how we to move forward. gracy: i have had the distinct pleasure of living in different parts of the nation and several different neighborhoods, which i ain't kind of gives you a boots on the ground experience what's happening in lot of american communities. either in a farmhouse and then moved to alexandria condo on the third floor. one of the most walkable
neighborhoods in america. which was lovely. spent some time in a world war ii-era suburb and got to see the impacts that divide from the walkable nature of a downtown had on kind of the community life of that surb. and now have the great blessing in a victorian fixer upper with a front porch. and in that time, having had a child, i inc. it is also amazing how having someone small that you push around in a stroller changes your relionship with the street and makes it both very intimate and very terrifying, depending where you live. buone thing that jane jacobs said in "the life and death of the american city birth," she thought what she was writing was applicable to mainly large cities. it was applicae to places where people didn't know each other. where you interacted with strangers on a daily basis. i would argue that that is true of most places in america today.
unfortunately, a lot of small towns and suburbs no longer have the sort of social fabric that leads them to feel that they have a community. that they know the people they pass on a daily basis. there is no longer that serendipitous meeting at the grocery store or on your way to the bank or wherever that might be. my argument would be that where that's what we see in jane jacob's work is more applicable to more communities outside of thlarge city. we can fix some ings via cultural and social means. however, there's a way in which we can build an environment that encourages people to spend time together. which leads me to a story, actually. my great grandfather and hi siblings grew up on a farm. there were seven of them. and they had a farm in which the corn field was right next to the watermelons. the watermelon patch. and they would steal through the corn field everyday after
school. and steal a watermelon and bring eatack to the cornfield and it andust make sure their mother was not watching. when they were adults, they went to her and apologized and said, mother, we're sorry. we lied to you and stole those watermelons. she said why do you think we planted the watermelons next to the corn field? which is a long way of saying, we can foster serendipitous fellowship via built environment. [laughter] and i think that is becoming increasingly important in current days and days to come. jonathan: thank you. i love that story. i am going to have to steal it. and thank you, lewis, for putting this together. this is really an extraordinary event and an extraordinary craft for this discussion. having for the past few years
working at this peculiar intersection of urbanism and conservativism, i heard a lot of things. i heard that conservatives don't like cities. they don't want anything to do with cities. and they would just as well cities disappear. that is sometimes true. i've heard that cities don't like conservatives, that they don't want conservatives, that they would just as well disappeared. that is also true. but what i have come to understand is just how many of us are in so many places. and how for all the reputation that cities get of being monocultures of liberalism, the essential tenants of conservativism, of an attitude towards preserving traditions, of an attitude towards strengthening people's agency --
those are present in cities. party labels may come and go. but conservatism is very present. what we have seen, as lewis described, is a built environment that was not planted well in many places. but rather was driven apart. we saw many cities torn apart by interstate projects that snakes through, intentionally, poor , working class neighborhoods, black neighborhoods, in an idea of progress. because highways are good, so more highways are better, and highways in cities have to be just as good as highways outside of them. we saw lot of enthusiasm that destroyed a lot of good architecture, a lot of good urbanism. and in many cities in america, you see them starting to try and repair. trying to put pieces back together. and there are places where it's
happening. one of the great sites of that is the city of detroit. where it is as bad as its reputation gives you to believe. it has gone through things that no other city in america has. and it has gone further down. but in detroit, in all of that darkness and all of that trouble, there has been a spirit of people who move into a house that you can get for not even $150,000 but $150 and fix it up. who then fix up the next house. and you know, for not much money, they can get a block, a parcel. and over the years, they can work at fixing them and inviting neighbors and creating neighborhood where they are.
engaging in the act of civilization, of taking a place where no one lived and making it fit for people to live again. and that's a great thing to see. and you see that in many places across the country. many downtowns. if you go to indianapolis, 30 years ago, looked at itself and said we are no place. we are a suburb that is designated as a metropolitan area. and it invested in its downtown. because it knew it needed a core. it knew that it needed a place for people to come and gain their identity and come to know each other. so in places as -- and then you see places like new york, where i'm guessing lot of people in this room remember new york in the 1980's an1990's.
when films such as "escape from new york" were made. and the dystopia was for a more imaginable than the bursting concentration of economic activity of art, vitality, that represents new york city today. so what is important to realize as we are looking forward is just as the vision that the big planners who thought theyere going to fix everything could not anticipate their mistakes, so, too, a lot of the ideas that we he about what necessarily must come will not come to place. what will happen is that people will be citizens, and activity will happen. and we can either help that by encouraging the built environment to be better and to produce community or make it
work and make it harder for that. so i will just close by mentioning that in some places like akron -- jason has written extensively about how there is strong demand side problems. you need to bring people in. in the places that have come back and have revitalized, like new york, like san francisco, like seattle, increasingly, there's a supply problem. and in these places, where people are gathering to conduct economic activity, social activity, art, it is so attractive that many people are coming in, but the regulations cumulated described over the decades and made it impossible to build new places for them. so in riving places, there is a supply crisis in this country. if there's anything that conservatives should understand, it is the supply side problem. [laughter] so there is an opportunity for us to step in and to take
forceful leadership, to say, where there's economic activity, people should be able to go. and where there are demand side problem, we should invite people to come in. lewis: great. that's a great introduction to start us off. maybe we can address some of the -- what are some of the practical things being done, particularly, jason, maybe you can tell us more about how your direct during -- you're directing this supply side problem? re: able to actually complete -- are you able to compete with the washington's and seattle's and places like that? what's the kind of medium terms for a place like akron and the rust belt? jason: i think one of the luxuries places like akron has, i don't think we have to compete with -- we'll never compete on those terms. i think it is not even necessarily that healthy to see
it as a competition. each of these cities historically had a niche for why it is where it is. i think being the best city that you can within that niche. one of the challenges in akron that i'm confident we can overcome, over time and with applying some good practices, is we don't have a lot of demand right now. but a lot of that is we don't have a lot of demand for the supply that we have. akron was the fastest growing city in the united states between 1910 and 1920. we tripled in population. and if you think about what was going on between 1910 and 1920, it was the automobile. we built half the tires on planet earth in that decade. and the decades following that. the typical house in akron is a 1914, two story, wooden frame house with a front porch. for our rubber workers. and a lot of cases, that was a great house in 1914.
fast forward 103 years, some of the neighborhoods where that house is attractive, they've been fixed up. we tear down 500 houses every year in the city of akron. those houses themselves -- that is where we get into detroit prices. $10,000, $8000 and $4000. we're the most affordable housing market in the 100 largest metros in the united states. which is an awesome thing unless you want to make money building something or rehabbing a house. because i am not a math whiz, but if you buy a house for 10,000 grand, put a lot into it, and sell it for $40,000, that is not a real good return on your investment. what we have to do is how do we work with that supply and demand framework. i'm proud to say three weeks ago we launched citywide. a 15 year property tax abatement. if you build new house in akron, you'll pay zero property taxes on that house for the next 15 years. it's not a silver blet. it's not going to equally
encourage building every single part of the city. but i think it is a powerful tool. another thing that we're doing is our zoning code, like a lot of cities in the united states, regulates heavily the use of land but not so much what things look and feel like. if you want to put a barbershop next door to a house, it will be incredibly difficult. if you want to build a dollar store 100 yards up the street with a giant parking lot, no problem. so i think we have to do is turn that on its head. make it easier for people to have more flexible use that make it a little bit more stringent about what things ok and feel like. lot a lot of cities, we lost a lot of historic urban forums. becoming very suburban looking place. i think one of the big opportunities at we have that not a lot of cities on the coast have is because land is fairly
inexpensive, -- we have a ton of infrastructure in the city of akron. same would go for cleveland and detroit, etc. we were kind of the leading edge of the freeway building boom. traffic congestion. i live with friends and colleagues say we have traffic. we have no traffic. my commute is nine minutes. we are in the midst of tearing freeway-mile of urban in the core of the city. the freeway was built for 100,000 cars in the 1970's. it was never finished. it carried 20,000 cars about ten years ago. i think we made the good decision not to double down on that awful investment that should have never been made. right now, we're carrying that freeway out. it will free up 30 acres that we can redevelop. it is either a linear park, some mixed use. maybe a mix of both. we do have a lot of opportunities, if you know where to look for them. it's more a matter of being the
best city we can. i think if we do that, we will be attractive to people. lewis: coming off of that, if we can come back to the cultural side. the importance of place. how that attracts people and creates a sense of value. somebody want to comment on? gracy: well i think one problem that relates to that, of course, is -- and this is a problem in a lot of small communities that i've seeand interacted with. that as larger cities, the san francisco's of the world, attract people, what happens to the smaller communities surrounding them? usually, they become suburbs. a lot of them experience that transformation from once being a vibrant rural town to becoming a bedroom community for people who buy groceries elsewhere, who buy everyday needs elsewhere, who go ahead and go to chuh in the city as opposed tooing to church locally. in addition, a lot of local
businesses suffer. so they're trying to answer the question of how do we make ourselves uniquevibrant, powerful, both socially and economically, when all our resources are being drained from us. and they have this feeling of kind of becoming faceless. i do think it's interesting to see how a lot of the zoning and relations issues in place and a lot of the money that goes into suburban development ielieve can and should be redirected into the small town built environment. surrounding its downtown. the old houses that are already there. trying to rejuvenate the spaces that already exist and making them places people want to live so that all of those resources aren't just being pulled away from what's already being created and that is already beautiful but just needs little bit of help. but continues to build a community that was once strong but is now starting to fall apart. jon, i wonder if you can
talk to us about somof the perverse incentives in place in terms of urban set up over the years, in terms of federal financing. how we spend money on infrastructure. "thetually had a piece in american conservative," about how we can -- if we have new big infrastructure bill, what it can do to at least create a level playing field for infrastructure that's friendly towards walkable urbanism. those sorts of things. jonathan: absolutely. one of the great challenges that we are encountering now is, just how much infrastructure, as jason was describing, was built very peculiar times. for most of america, it wasn't the rubber boom. particularly. but it was the baby boom. it was when the greatest generation came home from world war ii and settled the crabgrass frontier. the federal government had got involved from the new deal.
setting up institutions like the federal housing agency. and they got more involved. they set up very specific targets and very specific institutions to create what they wanted. what they wanted was what was fashionable at the time. the dispersed suburb. where you would you separate everything out, as jason was describing. uses were regulated very closely, because nobody wanted a tire factory in the middle of their single family residence or --esidential neighborhood. so they were these very crude regulations. what they did not account for were what you were discussing earlier -- is traditional mainstreamed. where you have a little more density. where you can have an apartment over the store front.
and during the day, the grocer looks out and keeps and eye on the home, and at night, the people keep an eye out in case -- keep an ear out in case anyone is threatening or breaking into the shop. this pattern -- there are many wisdoms to it. too many to list here. but it was the core of every american downtown until this point. because -- the federal financing standard would not permit a mixture of uses. they saw themselves as residential only or commercial only. the finding, they'll financing, dried up as the entire banking financing,ing, the dried out as the entire banking market moved to the direction that the feds were pointing. so, this was just sort of dug up by people who were wondering why we didn't build thgs better. this obstacle was discovered.
so i know that there are people on the hill right now who are trying to figure out how they can fix the federal program. not so that incentives in some cities can be poured into a new preferred form. but rather so that the playing field can be leveled. so that when people decide that they want to build something in their place, they can access the market and they can make that investment. in that article in you mentioned, he described the premium a walkable development has these days. a lot of people write about cities get this wrong. thinking it's just about big cities. you're seeing densification everywhere. you're seeing suburbs urbanizing because people want walkability. because people want to be able to walk to a store. the price premium is there.
people will build it, and people will come. the question is, if we're going to let the legacy cities, the cities that already exist build it, and let people come, or if we're going to keep pushing them further out. lewis: i want to ask -- and i open it up to everybody on the panel before we opened it up for questions -- i think we all pretty much agree that urbanism is great. increasing walkability is great. there's a lot of movement. there is always a lot of pushback to all of these projects. i'm sure jason deals with this on the ground, and jon probably deals with it to some extent. how do you respond to people who don't want any change? no one increased -- do not want increased density? do not want the freeway removed? how do you make the case for this new vision of restoring walkable urbanism? jason: if 20 years in local government has taught me anything, it's that people never
like change. i think that whatever the change is, you have to be kind of willing to be in it for the long haul. you have to be willing, as a public official to listen and , tweak things. there is wisdom in the crowd. maybe it is sometimes with individuals -- it's a little bit more problematic. one thing this job has taught me is, contrary to popular belief, americans are very in favor, heavy government regulation of other people's private property. [laughter] and that really does come up in the real world with zong all the time. so in a lot of cities, akron included, there's a move to -- like airbnb is a great thing. we have a growing refugee community in the city of akron. about 6000, 7000. jason roberts from the better
block -- we did the biggest block in united states in akron two years ago. jason fell in love with the neighborhood. created -- went and called the exchange house, which was rehabbing a house he bought for $22,000. making it a cultural center for the bhutanese and doing airbnb. airbnb are getting more popular. on the other hand, we do have people that rent out their house for parties. four, like, 150 people, for weddings and events. i think in the zoning code, most people would agree it is probably not reasonable in single family neighborhood to have 150 people regularly hanging out in your front yard. but in airbnb, where you have two people and they're eating breakfast with your dog is probably okay. so how do we navigate that and arm and in a regulatory fashion? another thing, even in the city like akron, where traffic congestion is pretty much nonexistent -- certainly by d.c. or any other coastal standard. mayor, who i worked for, has
-- our mayor, who i worked for, has been really progressive with the idea of doing what we call road diet. so taking streets and roads that were built for far more traffic than they carry. great thing another luxury we have, all we need to do is take paint. we can turn that four lane road into a three lane road with bike lanes. it's pretty easy to do. we will sometimes get push back. from people. of you are taking away the lanes , it will take me -- and then they make up a number of how much longer they think will take to get somewhere. what we're able to do with projects like the better block is when we did that project we , shrunk a five lane street to a two lane street with bike lanes. we actually measured all weekend the change in average speed of the traffic. "carmageddon" didn't happen. it took maybe 12 seconds longer for people to get through there. that's another thing in the planning profession that's changing. which i think is great. is going back to the scientific method.
we've got a whole wonky industry of consultants and people that do traffic studies and sophisticated computer models. that's how i started my career. but people never stop to think why don't i have somebody stand outside and film traffic for an hour and see what it does. when i get rid of a lane. i think that's one of the things that is changing and is healthy in the profession and making our cities better. i think it eases, going back to what you asked public , perception. but you can actually demonstrate with live real world experiences this is what happens when they dohese interventions. and you can learn what not to do. sometimes they fail, and you can then from that. lewis: anybody else want to address? gracy: i think harnessing local perception, too, is always going to be helpful, just cause people who live on a street know that street and they know the traffic on it. i would argue that most americans don't want a dead main street. they don't want their towns to
be so heavily covered with traffic that they don't feel like they can walk along the street with their dog or children. most people who live in these towns, if they understand the magnificent difference that happens when you take the street from the car and give it back to the townspeople, they're going to want that, and they're going to fight for it. i live in a community now that is fighting now for streets back from commuter traffic. it is very staunchly advocating for wider sidewalks. which i hope will come to pass. tohink it all goes back reeducating all of ourselves. because we've been raised in a generation that's car industry. to asked the question what is the street for? what is the chief end of the str eet? and it is not the car. it's not to give us heavier car traffic.
it is to enable community as much as we can. i think that involves necessarily more pedestrians and more fellowship that happens by foot as opposed to by four wheels. jonathan: i would also just indicate that, speaking of new urbanism, one of the great institutions for this is the -- it is time intensive. but the people who do it well do it very well. gathering all stakeholders from an area together and working through the issues of what you want your place to look like. and it helps to be able to say, all right, here's a picture where something was done well. people will say, we want that. but you were saying you want to ban that. so that can get a conversation started, at least. i will not sit up here next to
jason and be able to say it's easy to get political input and buy-in. but government is not easy. self-government, much less. but, for some people, they're able to push it through, and they're able to make good things happen. lewis: great. let's take the next 10 minutes or so, before our next panel, and take some questions. i think we have a mic. if you could just wait for the mic and identify yourself and keep your questions short so panelists can respond. so we can get in a lot of questions. why not start over here? >> hey there. as was mentioned in the beginning, a lot of problems with, rt of, u.s. is turning into sprawling ps
eudo-suburbans is government incentives pushed it that way. in houston, i think you have to build a certain distance from the sidewalk, which reduces density. conservatives, at least in the u.s., are pretty ideologically opposed to spending regulation. so do you think just taking away the government will result in cities that reverse this more than half a century of rot? light rail, even, is expensive. jason: i think what we're dealing with in a lot of cases in cities across the u.s., this is a very compcated holistic cultural regimen, i guess you could say, that we've developed.
government regulation is definitely a factor in how we build things the way we do. i think when you're talking about how developers build, we've gotten 60 or 70 years under our belt of doing it in a certain way. althoughi think change in regulation is certainly a great tool, and we should do that more, i think lot of times, the , a building is developing community. and it depends a lot on which city we're talking about. but a lot of times, we'll want to build suburban style in a city. the third factor is, what we were talking about earlier, is the public. mixed-use might sound like a wonderful idea to everyone in this room. certainly myself included. the neighbors might feel differently. so i think it's navigating those conversations in the public sector-private sector in the citizenry. jon alluded to this earlier. that we kind of turned our back on 5000 years of how to build cities.
if you guys read chuck marrone's "writing strong town" -- he was a great advocate of this. he was just in akron last week. we threw a lot of stuff out the window after world war ii. and i take the country is going to be kind of repenting at leisure from a lot of the squandering of the resources on that for a long time. >> i think we missed the main point of the queion? do you think we get regulation in the -- jason: regulation, tsay, not allow more parking to be billed? that is a big deba. in akron, for example whad a , downtown parking requirement. for 30 years, no one was beating down the doors to live downtown. so it's kind of silly that we had that. we got rid of it. so no longer do we force you to figure out to build a rtain amount of spaces per unit. that was 1.5 spaces per unit. we did talk a lot about maximums instead of parking minimum.
i think the jury still out in the literature. and in cities. there is kind of a market urbanism argument against the maximum, saying well now , government is intervening too mu. i think other people see it as kind of a necessary corrective. my own thought is probably , in a market like ours, it is enough to say, we won't force you to build too much parking. here: the gentleman over with the green glasses. most robust the findings with social science is that increasing density increases leftist power all over the world. is there anything -- is there any evidence that increasing density help republicans? is there red city model or red state model? thank you. [laughter]
gracy: -- jonathan: i'll take that. because this is an event sponsored by the american conservative, i have to first point out that "conservative" and "republican" are not often and often aren't things that go together. but if you're looking from a partisan and republican perspective, which, in fairness, we are in washington d.c., what's interesting to note is that only one of the 20 largest american cities right now has a republican mayor. that was not the case 20 years ago. there has been a sorting that has taken place. part of that is due to we can speculate about a number of reasons for that happening. but a lot of it, from folks i talk to, is disinvestment from
the parties. if you strengthen citiesnd you don't put any resources or attention into cities, then the people who are paying attention to them will do better there. i talked to jill holman here, who is one of the great people who is working in the republican party to try and push back and actually have resources for people in cities who want to do licy work. there's been a great vacuum of policy work. and so it is not a surprise that , if you're running, and you don't have any ideas, and none of your funders or none of your party infrastructure cares about a place, that place won't respond well to you. but in places -- in other places, you have seen very interesting models. the recent mayor of oklahoma is -- oklahoma city is a republican who will soon be running for governor, i believe, and is a
very interesting figure. san diego acquired its republican mayor through interesting means, but has one, nevertheless. i think -- you know, you'll find opportunities for good policy. and people will respond to that when you have it to present to them. so you need something to offer people before they will give you their vote. lewis: let's take somebody in the back. the gentleman there with the glasses in the back. >> so a lot of the talk we had up here we about cities that have, as you said demand , problems. i'm actually in the house commission in arlingtocounty, just across the river. we have supply problem. so one of the more difficult tongs i run into in talking
residents, beyond straight up is people's understanding of relationships between more supply and what effect that has on house prices. people that understand supply and demand has strong incentive to not allow more housing in their neighborhoods. the people who don't understand supply and demand see new development, see that tends to be more expensive, and conclude development is the reason why things are so expensive. so if we just stop building, prices will become more affordable. where the causation is, in most cases, the other way around, unless you succeeded in destroying anything that makes them attractive to live there. so i guess my question is how do sell that where more supply generally deals with housing problems/how do you create incentives for existing property owners, of why should you caree're putting up four units and a small midrise down
the street as opposed to i will jump in shortly to say that california is a very interesting model. they are dealing with the worst housing crisis in the country. what you're seeing is exactly a litical coalition forming that is attempting to bring this foret wisdom and advocate building, while also being in dialogue as you discuss with the levers of power in city. they create coalitions that advocate for housing in any form, whether it is affordable subsidized housing work market rate -- or market rate. the important thing is, you have to have market rate housing. the less of it you have the more expensive everything else gets. and the more that people stop
market rate housing, the more that people are driven out of their homes. so that is a message you have to drive home. for the incentive -- you know, there's a real governance issue here. and it is one we may have to look seriously at, which is where we place veto power over the ability to create places for people to live and for people to, you know, do things with her own property. we have placed that power at the most local level. conservative logo list, i'm generally for moving all of the power to the local. americans, as we see behind us, we have a great tradition of recognizing when
incentives need to be balanced and when governmental structures need to allow ambition to check checkon and interest to interest. it may well be, especially in places with supply problem, we need to take a hard founding look at our government structures. >> probably time for one more question. the gentleman in the back holding up the beer. >> thank you. i wanted to bring back up detroit as an example. john, we were in detroit together and saw some amazing stuff. downtown detroit has absolutely turned over in a profound way. the other 138 square miles of detroit have not seen much change.
what i want to ask is, how do we build an urbanist movement going forward that is equal access, that actually brings economic growth, not just where the money wants to go, but to the places that need it the most? how we build something that isn't just making great places for the people who are going to live there next, but for the people who are going to live there now? >> that is a really great question. in a lot of ways, that question is almost the flip side of the one about supply. in the arlington example of akedle being very fre albina housing and what that is going to do, in my part of the country, detroit has been almost the opposite concern that people will read about gentrification in new york and san francisco and anything new happens and that gentrification genie is out of the bottle and peoe are worried about it. not to minimize the concerns
why people feel that way, but my response in my city --n people say justification gentrificati would be a great problem for us to have. i am familiar with this. i think our part of the country for a long time has been unrelentingly negative about the futu of cities as a people almost get this weird stockholm syndrome -- whoever coins the term should get an award for whatever it should be called -- but where people are afraid -- i've heard people come to me and they are like, they just opened a second coffee shop, like that is going to put the other one out of business. coffeeood to have two shops. our problem is not that we have too much of anything. i think in a place like detroit, going back to your question, what we have to navigate is the real concerns of the largely
african-american, low income population that has been disenfranchised and had things done to it for a really long concerns,really legit but helping people see that getting more investment in the city is a good thing. i think what makes it a challenging conversation to navigate is i don't think it is as simple as a rising tide, let's all vote. if you ever read joe cortright, he talks about gentrification and poverty in places like detroit. there has been inequality in detroit for like 60 years, it is 138 none of it was in the square miles before. i think it is a difficult thing to navigate. i would be lying if i told you i know the secret sauce to revitalizing neighborhoods that haven't had investment in 40 or 50 years. but i think it does start with what i said earlier of starting
to think small. there is the famous quote about "make no little plans." of cases, wea lot did big stuff for 50, 60 years and in a lot of ways, it brought us places like detroit. i think we have to start thinking about local and ground-up and restoring places built by the people that live there. >> i think that is a great place to wrap in this first panel. we're going to move into our second panel thomas so we ask you to bear with us. thank you to the folks standing in the back. i know there are a couple of extra seats in the front for anyone getting tired. let's give a round of applause. [applause]
>> we have some tweets from members of congress regarding the storm and the flooding along the gulf coast. >> coming up later this morning, 11:30 eastern, the director of domestic operations for the tional guard will be briefing reporters of the national guard's response to the storm and flooding along the gulf coast. live on c-span from the pentagon
briefing room starting at 11:30 eaern. at 1:00 p.m., the interim president of the naacp dirt johnson will address the recent travel advisory issued for missouri after the state's governor signed a law making it more difficult for people to prove they have been victims of racial discrimination. naacpesident will -- the president will also talk about charlottesville, virginia, and efforts to remove federal monuments life starting at 1:00 p.m. eastern this might be the only government class you ever take. you will be a voter forever. you'll be a juror forever so i need to give you tools that will help you for the rest of your life in those pursuits. >> at 8:00 p.m. etern, high school teachers discuss how current events affect their lesss on history, politics, and government. >>hi