Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Density used to be green, now it kills

Anyone who has followed this blog, knows that I was a big fan of urban density: it reduces commuting costs, pollution, urban sprawl but, most importantly, it increases the supply of housing.  I vilified NIMBY's in places like SF and NY for erecting barriers to new housing that would have increased density, and supply.  I even blamed them for homelessness, inequality, and segregation.

One of the things I love about myself is that I can admit it when I am wrong.  Although I still believe in what I wrote, now we have a bigger problem.
Density Kills,The coronavirus has been much more deadly in places like New York City or Boston than in rural settings. As demographer Joel Kotkin notes, Los Angeles has done much better than other big cities, because it’s less dense. “L.A.’s sprawling, multi-polar urban form, by its nature, results in far less 'exposure density' to the contagion than more densely packed urban areas, particularly those where large, crowded workplaces are common and workers are mass-transit-dependent...
Mass Transit kills. Kotkin mentions mass transit, and an MIT study found that NYC subways were a ”major disseminator” of the coronavirus in New York. This is unsurprising: New York City subways are crowded, poorly ventilated and filthy. The city is only just now starting to clean them every night. (A bit late.) Cars come with built-in social-distancing: With a car, you’re riding in a metal and glass bubble with filtered air. Subways and buses, not so much. Whether this virus sounds the ”death knell” for mass transit or not, people will be far more reluctant to ride packed vehicles in the future. and Bureaucracy kills. 
Bureaucracy kills. Much of the fight against the coronavirus has also involved a fight against bureaucrats dead set on making things worse. Early on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared COVID-19 a public health emergency, which raised the bar for testing requirements. As a result, hospitals and universities faced significant barriers to getting alternative tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Worse yet, the CDC tests turned out to be defective.
To be fair to myself, I always knew that Bureaucracy kills, but thank goodness I don't follow my own advice. 


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