History won’t stop for zoning

Munjoy Hill was an undeveloped area until the Great Fire of 1866, when a tent city emerged to house burned-out refugees. Gradually, houses replaced the tents, many of them modest ones built for workers employed in the rail yards and sea port at the foot of Fore Street. The neighborhood was the home of Portland’s black community and the first stop for waves of immigrants, Irish, Italian and Jewish, who were looking for a better life.

But when people say they want to preserve the “historic character” of Munjoy Hill, they don’t mean that they want to make a place for refugees, workers and immigrants of all colors and religions. They mean they want you to get a permit before you pop some dormers in your roofline.

via the Portland Press Herald

Hope

Hope lives in the fibrous burrows of your heart, it lines the layers of your skin and folds into the corners of your eyes. It does not fly in on the feathered wings of a bird, nor does it breeze away with the November wind. Hope is blindness in the face of what you think you know, it is doing what you do not think you can do. It webs itself between the consoling words you whisper into the neck of a grieving child.

from The New York Times

My Stepson, the Owl and Me

Inequality and competitive parenting

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Many people who grew up in America in the 1970s remember a low-pressure childhood with a lot more freedom and independence than today’s kids enjoy. Data backs up those impressions. In 1969, 41 percent of American children biked or walked to school, a figure that had dropped to about 18 percent by 2014. In 2017, according to the American Time Use Survey, a typical American parent spent close to twice as much time each week interacting with their children as parents did in the late 1970s (almost 28 hours for both parents in 2017, up from 14 hours in 1976). And education-oriented activities grew the fastest.

It’s a vicious circle: Inequality leads to the rise of competitive parenting, which further exacerbates inequality for the next generation. We’re seeing that play out in the United States.

 

from the Washington Post

The parent trap: The greater a country’s income inequality, the likelier parents are to push their kids to work hard

The Single Family housing market is heating up.

Take a look at the graph above, which shows home sales for 2015. Keep in mind that recorded sales dates are generally 30-45 days following the initial contract, when the agreed price is set.

This shows us that somewhere around April – when the relentless winter storms began to dissipate – the market started heating up very quickly.

To make sure this wasn’t just following a yearly trend, I also ran the numbers averaged over all years of sales data. The scale is naturally lower because of the historically cheaper homes, but it’s useful to see that the pattern we’re observing here is not replicated over the average of all years combined – something different was happening in 2015.

Maybe this is a recent trend? I pulled 2014’s data also (which you can see below) to make sure we didn’t see the same pattern there.  Prices were down slightly during the winter months (to be expected), but again, there weren’t any observable correlations between the 2 years beyond that.

There’s a lot more tests that could be run to verify these ideas, but I think it’s safe to say the market started heating up in April 2015 and hasn’t shown us any signs of slowing yet.

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Single Family Homes

Above you can see Single Family home sales shown in blue. These follow a similar trend with condo price / sq. ft. over time, with condos pricing slightly higher.

My assumption is that the higher average cost for condos is a result of geography. Most condos in the city are located on the peninsula, in higher-priced neighborhoods. I hope to break out the sales data by neighborhood at some point to determine if this is the case.

One interesting observation is that the gap between condo prices & home prices has grown much larger in recent years. Could this be indicating that more desirable neighborhoods (where these condos are present) have risen faster in price than other parts of the city? Segmenting the data by neighborhood will be the only way to know for sure. More to follow on that idea.

Raw Data External-Link