Houston, we have a problem. Could you move to San Francisco?

If residents of 'brown' cities, like Houston, relocate to 'green' cities, like San Francisco, it would reduce the America's carbon footprint.

Michael Stravato/AP/File
Traffic moves along a freeway in Houston in this 2002 file photo. 'Green' cities like San Francisco have many green initiatives, but so far there's nothing to encourage residents of 'brown' cities, like Houston, to move there.

This article celebrates a new local land use policy in the SF Bay Area requiring new housing to be low carbon in terms of transportation use, residential energy efficiency, and generating solar power.

The article does not tell us how many new homes are actually built each year in this area or how much the cost of a new home will increase by due to these new regulations.

I do support this new law but it will take quite a while for it to affect the "average local housing stock's greenness". Add 1 drop of hot water to a cold bath and the water is still cold!

In this paper , Ed Glaeser and I argued that we want more people to move from Houston and Las Vegas to San Francisco. This would shrink our overall carbon footprint because they would be exiting "brown cities" (due to sprawl, dirty power plants, and air conditioning demand and cheap housing) and moving to a "green city".

Does this new regulation encourage more households to move to the Bay Area?

I am interested here in whether developers fight back against this regulation. If their permits are fast tracked when they go "green" and if they think that there are customers who are willing to pay for these homes, then they will support this regulation.

Both of these questions remain open research questions. I'm trying to work on the 2nd one.

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