Cities in the United States and around the world have hit a wall. Residents find themselves “driving until they qualify” to the suburbs to find housing they can afford. Many people who want to move to the big city and make a life for themselves can’t afford to even get started. In some rapidly growing cities, routine construction of housing or office space has become a pitched political battle with pro- and anti-development groups packing City Halls to argue over the smallest details of any new construction.

Desire path in Tottenham Green, England
Desire path in Tottenham, England. Photo credit Alan Stanton. CC-by-SA 2.0

There is an idea in transportation planning that, rather than polling individual users of a particular park, planners can use desire paths tracks worn down from frequent use as revealed preferences for where people really want to go and therefore where to provide paths. In planning for where cities build dense housing, there is an analogous revealed preference: land values.

In this site, we walk you through our framework for understanding the economics and politics of housing and construction and how to make sense of and use of market signals in designing and regulating cities.