- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
The City in Between
For those of you who haven't noticed, philly.com posted a revised homepage over the weekend. It'll be interesting to see what people think of it. MDC
This will be a tiny post, but I wanted to flag two items: one story and one resource.
First, the Inquirer's pair of articles (here and here) on the real estate picture in the city. Despite a slowdown in year-over-year sales, the residential market seems to be pretty brisk -- and continues to push prices beyond the "old" borders of Center City (e.g. south of Washington west of Broad or north of Girard east of it).
There are all sorts of things you can say about this development, from transfer and property taxes to the changing shape of neighborhoods and the workforce. But I was struck by this assessment (which I neither endorse nor disdain) of the future picture for real estate development in Philly, by Kevin Gillen, an economic forecaster and Wharton fellow:
Philadelphia's housing has less of a high-price problem and more of a "low-income, low-quality and high-cost" problem, he said. The city's low-income population occupies old, depreciated housing stock that's very costly to replace or maintain.
"We are a city with Baltimore houses, St. Louis house prices, and Cleveland incomes, but New York costs, Boston taxes, and San Francisco regulations."
The other resource I wanted to link to also concerns real estate and neighborhoods. A site called Walkscore.com has a Google-style interface to determine a neighborhood's "walkability index," an idea that's been kicked around for a long time in a lot of different contexts. Here, though, it's popping up as a resource for real estate agents, renters, and homebuyers.
One thought that I had is that walkability, particularly in a city like Philadelphia, can be used as a proxy measure for a neighborhood's health and vibrancy, possibly independently from home and rental prices or other criteria. If a neighborhood has adequate resources nearby, in the form of schools, shops, restaurants, pharmacies and grocery stores -- and significant choices for all of those -- it's doing pretty well. This is on top of the benefits of walkability on its face.
However, there are two major resources that as far as I can tell, don't factor into a neighborhood's walkability score: access to transit and access to employment, again with a premium on significant choices for both. Clearly, the two go hand in hand -- many people don't walk to their jobs (although many in the most desirable neighborhoods do) but use transit to get back and forth. Walkability doesn't mean nearly as much if it consigns you to a particular part of the city, or means that you have access to plenty of bars and movie theaters but no way to pay for them.