Let ’em build in LA

palm trees

palm trees

Economist Edward Glaeser (based on work he’s done with Matthew Kahn) argues in the LA Times for the environmental benefits of relaxing anti-growth measures in Southern California’s temperate climes:

Much of America struggles with cold winters and hot summers. Making such difficult climates comfortable for humans requires a lot of energy. By contrast, much of coastal California is pretty pleasant year-round, requiring far less energy. The natural implication is that to reduce carbon emissions, more Americans should live in temperate California.


  1. Eli is exactly right. Glaeser and Kahn have been neglecting environmental considerations in their recent work (altho Kahn’s Green Cities does a better job).

    Simply put, CA cannot deliver ecosystem services sustainably to 35M people. Maybe not even 20M.



  2. It’s hard to know where to start listing what’s wrong with that piece. Most development restrictions in CA are anti-sprawl, not anti-infill. Our problem is that the distant suburbs tend not to have much in the way of the former, although the pain of commuting from such locations has been a bit of a help. There are zoning density restrictions everywhere, but these haven’t been much of a barrier to construction of high-density affordable housing in the urban core

    My guess would be that high-density, transit-friendly infill in Boston would have rather less of a carbon footprint than sprawl housing in San Joaquin or Riverside counties.

  3. Eric’s right about water. Living in SoCal WILL save $$ on energy for heating/cooling, but not for moving one’s ass. If energy costs reflect GHGs (i.e., carbon tax), then let prices “guide” people to the right answers… maybe SoCal, maybe Oregon, maybe small towns in Iowa!

Comments are closed.