An Item From Ian.

The blog “Greater Greater Washington” describes how Houston, Texas has filled low-density areas with what we seem to call “gentle density” or the “missing middle”.

The article contains before-after animated GIF’s which make the point quite clearly. Hope this one works on your machine as it does on mine.


Houston is famous for its car-oriented sprawl. Though it lacks a zoning code, the city has historically mandated low-density development through non-zoning regulations, like minimum lot sizes and stringent parking requirements.

But in 1999, Houston enacted sweeping land-use reforms: it decreased the minimum residential lot size from 5,000 square feet to 1,400 in close-in neighborhoods. In effect, this reform legalized townhouses in areas with suburban-style houses on huge lots. Two or three houses could now take the spot of one. . .

. . . The results of these reforms have been remarkable. Areas that were once made up entirely of ranch-style houses, McMansions, and underused lots are now covered in townhouses . .

. . . And in some parts of the city, this redevelopment process has gone hand-in-hand with light rail expansion: