I gave a presentation in the Summer of 2007 at the monthly Livable Houston / Smart Growth Initiative meeting that we co-host with the Houston-Galveston Area Council on the 2006 Residential Permits data from the U.S. Census Bureau. We looked at data on the City of Houston and Harris County and compared those to the nine other largest cities in Texas and their surrounding county as well as the nine other largest cities in the country and their surrounding counties.
The talk turned into an interesting discussion, which was the intention, because we really were exploring this data and trying to figure out what it means. Houston and Harris County are unique in many ways, most importantly in that we saw a building boom in 2006 and the Metropolitan region had more permits filed for new residential units than any other region in the country. Much of the discussion was spent dissecting this fact and looking at what type of units we are building and the share that is going into the central city or into unincorporated areas of the county. Looking at it from one point of view, the City of Houston is doing a bad job of capturing its share of the growth that is occurring in the region. When we looked at multi-family units, though, we found the opposite is true, in that the city is developing multi-family units at a much higher rate than the county.
One of the final graphs presented, shown below, shows the unique character of Harris County compared to both other counties in Texas and those that surround the biggest cities in the country. In those areas of Harris outside of the City of Houston only 11% percent of new units are multi-family units, the lowest figure for this variable of any of the counties we looked at in the study, except for Collin County in Texas, in which you will find Plano, one of the cities that is developing drastically differently than its surrounding county.
- Jay Blazek Crossley
For more: http://www.houstontomorrow.org/research/story/Tale-of-the-Building-Permits/