NEW YORK (Reuters Blogs) -- I'm not sure why it took me until
Rich people like to maximize the amount of space they live in, whether they're buying suburban McMansions or downtown lofts. As a result, higher property prices in dense urban areas are prone to making those areas less dense -- at least until the developers come along. This is where the second important effect of the rich-and-powerful comes into play. These people tend to fall on the spectrum somewhere between NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) and BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). Just look at the vitriol hurled by carless Soho residents, for instance, at New York's new bike-sharing stations. As urban areas become increasingly affluent, filled with wealthy politicians and their wealthier donors, it becomes harder and harder for developers to procure the zoning changes and construction permits they need in order to keep on producing new residential inventory. The result is that the normal state of affairs -- where powerful individuals get trumped by even more powerful construction-industry inevitabilities -- is turned on its head, to the point at which new construction can no longer keep up with the de-densification endemic to gentrification. Bloggers may rail against this state of affairs -- both Ryan Avent and Matt Yglesias have written at great length about how important it is to allow new buildings to rise within urban areas -- but ultimately the natural conservatism of the rich is winning out, across the nation. If you want to move to a city where density is going up rather than down, you might just have to move to Miami. Or China. -- Written by Felix Salmon in New York. Read more of Felix's blogs at Reuters.