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Housing

The Problem With Building a New City From Scratch

California needs to ease its housing crunch, but establishing brand-new cities isn’t the best way to do it, says urban planner Alain Bertaud. “The trouble is: Who wants to be first?”

Brasília, the planned city that became Brazil’s capital in 1960, under construction in 1968. 

Brasília, the planned city that became Brazil’s capital in 1960, under construction in 1968. 

Photographer: Freddie Reed/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

From California to Miami and points in between, housing costs in the U.S. are skyrocketing, bringing bidding wars in hot markets and fears of a fresh surge in homelessness as renters scramble for an affordable place to live. 

The deepening housing crunch — and the intractable resistance that residents often put up when the prospect of new housing emerges nearby — has led some observers to ask: Why don’t we just make new cities?