The Overhead Wire Daily | June 11th, 2024 | Out of Room

June 12, 2024

An article in the Las Vegas Review Journal noted that local home builders believe that there’s only 8 years of land available for building in the region. It was the source of jokes on Twitter because the idea that these home builders couldn’t go vertical was quite funny to many posters.

But it is an opportunity to test an idea we shared a month ago related to how cities grow and what it means to actually build out. Cheap construction ends and more infill begins because people still want access to jobs and amenities and it gets harder to build no matter the planning regime. As the study we shared noted, California found it’s edge long ago and saw home prices go up. Texas will see that soon as well. And I guess now we might have another test case with Las Vegas if what the home builders say is true.

We most definitely aren’t running out of land to build houses and these places certainly aren’t full. My trip to China’s greater Bay Area of ~80 million people showed how low our tolerances actually are. We shouldn’t really frame it in the terms of limited supply, but rather an evolution into a new era and that needs a new model of growth. It’s much like the idea we shared from Michael Batty’s book on the podcast last week. AI isn’t some “intelligence”, it’s just the overdone branding for the next step in computing.

And this new era is what Jim Kumon told us about when he visited the show. Our economic and physical systems for building both transportation and housing were made for greenfields and sprawl. But our housing crisis, transportation project timelines and other alarms are telling us something else is going on.

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