Saturday, July 08, 2006

RSVP ASAP: Hot Town, Cool City

I've been alerted to a very cool event happening this Thursday. It's a sneak preview screening and fund-raising for the local documentary "Hot Town, Cool City" this Thursday, but you need to RSVP by Monday if possible. This page has all the information about the event. Here's the overview:

Houston’s people are not just friendly —they are intimate —the City and its people are intimate, passionate, and diverse. It is the power of these qualities which makes Houston a COOL CITY. The passions of artists, chefs, philanthropists, business owners, and individuals have built a city of hidden gems that are right out in the open. When we read between the lines defined by the freeways we find a treasure map, with those gems waiting to be discovered.

On the surface Houston is about big oil, NASA, big medicine, big sports, big freeways, hot summers, and humidity. Behind that facade is a network of Cool— Houston is down to earth but still international, sophisticated, cutting edge, avant-garde and world class. The new documentary, Hot Town, Cool City, attempts to answer the question- Why Houston?

More overview here. Great stuff. A teaser/trailer is also available on the web site.

Hope to see you there to help support this extremely worthy project.

33 Comments:

At 2:17 PM, July 08, 2006, Anonymous Tom Bazan said...

For over 170 years, Houstonians have been entrepreneurs and embodied the self-reliant, rugged idividualist characteristics inherent in a true-blooded "Texan."

We don't need a nanny-state, with zoning, and European-Socialist transit systems.

It always was one Cowboy or Cowgirl, and one horse with a Homestead.

That's what makes us cool, 'cuz the rest of the nation has surrendered their Liberties to the bureaucrats for "cradle-to-grave" bureaucracies.

 
At 3:29 PM, July 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its comments like Tom Bazan's which is why a recent Chronicle article stated that Houston wasn't even on the map for younger professionals.

Young people dont want to wait in traffic for 2 hours each way to get home. Young people want the option of going to an entertainment district, having some drinks, and being able to come home without having to pay $40 to a taxi.

What we want isnt to be stuck in a city where there is absolutely no organization, leading a city that will sprawl itself out of existence like Detroit has and Dallas is doing.

And this is why young people flock to cities like NYC and SF and Miami and Atlanta and even Austin, even though they cost a lot more to live in, because they want the amenities and the lifestyle that Houston has completely ignored.

And for that reason, Houston will remain a great place for 60-something former energy-execs to retire. But there is a real brain-drain in the city of Houston, and Ive seen it myself with no one wanting to stay here for a job.

So yes, Houston will do fine in attracting retirees, unfortunately with its current developmental attitude, it will be an aging city as all its educated youth leave for the coasts.

And Im not sure if there is a less cool statement than "It always was one Cowboy or Cowgirl, and one horse with a Homestead."-- I mean, unless youre trying to recruit 70-somethings from Wyoming. Which seems to be the market Houston is going for

 
At 5:38 PM, July 08, 2006, Anonymous Tom Bazan said...

Average commutes nationwide average less than 30 minutes, it's a fact! The 2-hour commutes are for the lemmings stuck on the tram!

The $40 taxi rides may be due more for the fact that Yellow cab seems to always get their way with the Mayor's and City Council. Go bark at them for misdirected "police power," and not allowing jitneys, etc.

Does Houston want young, single, imprudent folks who will not propagate our species, but have discretionary funds for most of the seven deadly sins?

Houston has several universities, a piece of the space program, the texas medical center, major petroleum industry investment, nuclear power generation, a major port, major international airport, and a friggin' toy train that I am told officially made Houston (3rd) world class.

It is good that we have elderly among us. It gives us a source of wisdom, enhances character, and reminds us of the cycle of life.

 
At 6:12 PM, July 08, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

-They can live in an apt or house just as close to the entertainment districts as in Austin, Portland, Boulder, or pretty much any other city - and cheaper than pretty much any other city.

-Please name one major US metro that is not sprawling

-Please name amenities Houston is missing - esp. vs. Atlanta - with the exception of climate and topography (unchangeable).

-Actually, census shows the young abandoning the coasts because they can't afford home.

 
At 9:24 PM, July 08, 2006, Anonymous Tom Bazan said...

Good point Tory,

There was a recent article about the overpriced, vacant dwellings in Boston, MA.

Further, California is due for a sharp, and painful correction in the housing market.

When the economy deflates, all the bonds for LA Utopian urban rail, etc will be downgraded to "junk."

The Valley (San Jose) system was "junk" long ago, and they were selling off assets to keep boondoggle rail running.

 
At 10:23 PM, July 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW, did Bazan really just say that - "Does Houston want young, single, imprudent folks who will not propagate our species, but have discretionary funds for most of the seven deadly sins?" That's some complete ugliness.

 
At 9:47 AM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous Tom Bazan said...

Seems as if Anonymous is feigning being offended.

I challenge Mayor White, to placate Anonymous, to dedicate his third election campaign to trying to alter the City of Houston policies so as to cater to, in the hopes of attracting more young, single, imprudent folks who will not propagate our species, but have discretionary funds for most of the seven deadly sins.

Anonymous, you are free to think such policies are in the best interests of the long-term prosperity of Houston, but I do not.

I suppose Chief Hurtt will likely seek to form a secret squad (SS) of Taser-equipted Thought Police, with me as one of the first in need of Politically Correct re-education.

 
At 10:15 AM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous RedScare said...

Nothing better than a Sunday morning with a hot cup of java, reading Tom Bazaan hyperventilate with hyperbole.

By the way, Tom, you might reread your Houston history. There are far more non-Texans involved in the early building of Houston than "true-blooded" ones. Oh, and where did the Cowboys and Cowgirls come from? Houston was built on railroads, ports and oil, not cowboys...unless you count John Travolta.

 
At 1:53 PM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous Tom Bazan said...

Redscare,

Excellent point. Houston was founded by two Yankees.

I seem to recall (Vinnie Barbarino) Travolta being cast as a Red-neck lounge lizard in Pasadena.

Time to put another pot of coffee on the fire.

 
At 3:30 PM, July 09, 2006, Blogger Ian Rees said...

I wonder what street corner Tom Bazan shouts from all day. I'd love to meet him, help him get to a shelter, etc.

 
At 4:35 PM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately individuals like Tom Bazan seem to be the most vocal in terms of city planning, thus preventing the city from being planned to the enjoyment of the average individual.

As long as a few extremists decide how Houston will be planned, we will have a hard time changing this city from the Detroit-like course it has been on. And its interesting that some people seem to enjoy a city veering down that ugly path.

 
At 6:00 PM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous Tom Bazan said...

anonymous,

Now how can a single individual, or a few, labeled "Luddites" by the Hearst rag, critical of the bureaucracy, possibly have any influence over the City Planning Commission, the COH planning department, the Mayor's office, METRO and the H-GAC while there are a dozen plus "smart growth" and pro-urban rail entities, subsidized by Leftist interests, and some taxpayer funded like the GHP, arrayed in support of "steam-rolling any opposition to these ill-devised transit and TOD schemes?

Surely you jest.

 
At 6:02 PM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous Tom Bazan said...

"Ian Rees said...
I wonder what street corner Tom Bazan shouts from all day. I'd love to meet him, help him get to a shelter, etc. "

Your typical, and lame Leftist tactict of trying to assert someone opposed to the pro-urban rail lunacy is a derelict won't work.

 
At 6:49 PM, July 09, 2006, Blogger Ian Rees said...

I've never had a single person question my idea of leaving Houston, yet, I've had dozens wonder why I stayed here for graduate school. I suppose people like Tom illustrate why trying to implement any kind of planning or foward-looking transportation infrastructure here is a lost cause. We're destined to learn LA's lessons all over again, for what reason, the fear of "European-Socialist Failed Utopian Rail Systems" ? That it would impinge his creation myth of the Texan cowboy? Here's some news for you: Houston is a city, like any other city. It is going to become more dense, more crowded in the future. If you want to drive your pickup truck and mosey on into town, while living on your ranch, why don't you move to West Texas, or a city of less than, you know, 5 million people.

 
At 8:17 PM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Your typical, and lame Leftist tactict of trying to assert someone opposed to the pro-urban rail lunacy is a derelict won't work."

You're right that he might be moderate or liberal-- if you saw a homeless person saying what you're saying now, you would probably shoot him on the spot.

This blog is amazing in its ability to attempt to portray itself as attempting to come up with strategies to help Houston, but instead espouses one view-- we need more roads.

The problem is, you can't keep building roads, and as numerous city planning studies have shown, you start running out of land for housing because the roads necessary to move all those people by car start taking up the space those very people would live in. This is the great conundrum of sprawl, and this is why cities are having to go back and rethink mass transit when it used to be more lanes were the solution.

Rail is the future of Houston if its to continue growing. And you can either impede Houston from its continued growth by blocking mass transit or you can realize that the current rate of road construction is not sustainable.

 
At 8:57 PM, July 09, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Commuter rail will fail in Houston. Too slow, too many job centers, too many transfers, and a hot, humid, pedestrian-hostile climate. Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta have all built it, and they still can't get employers to come downtown.

Build freeways to the maximum right-of-way available, offer congestion-priced high-speed toll lanes wherever possible, and let express buses, vanpools, and carpools get people from where they live to whichever building in whichever job center they like. It is scalable and sustainable.

 
At 9:42 PM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous RedScare said...

"Commuter rail will fail in Houston. Too slow, too many job centers, too many transfers, and a hot, humid, pedestrian-hostile climate. Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta have all built it, and they still can't get employers to come downtown."

This is exactly what the previous poster was complaining about. Not one of your reasons is supported in any way whatsoever. And, worst of all is your weather argument. You are actually suggesting that waiting at a train station is hotter than waiting at a Park&Ride! Your obsession with freeways has caused your previously balanced posts to become poorly reasoned and poorly supported cheerleading for pavement. That's a good recipe for losing respect and readers...except for Tom.

 
At 10:11 PM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous Mike said...

Tom's comments are very instructive. I've always wondered why such a large bloc of Houston's leaders are so passionately opposed to rail, in any form, even when (as with commuter rail) we could try it out on existing tracks. I've always wondered what was fueling all the spite over something as innocuous as a transportation mode.

Now I've figured it out. They think... it really deserves to be written in italics: they think that people who like mass transit are leftist homosexuals. It's almost hard to believe, in this day in age, but it all adds up. There are a substantial number of influential people in this city who see this whole transportation disagreement as being "us God-fearing Texans vs. you liberal Euro-wannabe fairies."

Now I am a Catholic, heterosexual, Texas-born conservative who voted for George Bush in both elections. But I have seen and lived in enough of the world, and at a young enough age, before my ideas hardened, to see this whole thing for what it is. It's uncritical, prejudiced, jingoistic thinking, and it's ugly.

 
At 10:31 PM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous Mike said...

This documentary, by the way, sounds like a real work of art. I can't wait to see the reaction at Cannes. Maybe they'll even create a whole new award for "Chamber of Commerce Booster Film of the Year."

 
At 10:46 PM, July 09, 2006, Anonymous nmainguy said...

http://www.bazan.net/bazan.html
"Mr. Bazan's realty consulting firm has been certified as a Minority, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (M/DBE) by the City of Houston, Texas, since 1992, and further recognized by the State of Texas as a Historically Underutilized Minority Small Business Enterprise (HUB)."
Man, I'd love to have that gig and still be able to rail against imagined government interference. Nothing like sucking off the government tet in the name of "self" reliance until you're full...then just bite it off and proceed to your rant.
Sweet.

 
At 8:24 AM, July 10, 2006, Anonymous Mike said...

You mean Tom is relying on a nanny state???

Using government bureaucracy to help his business?????????????

And that he's not a True-Blooded Texan???????????????????

 
At 9:06 AM, July 10, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

RedScare: OK, that was the short list of why commuter rail won't work. Longer explanation here:

http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/
2005/11/commuter-rail-is-wrong-ride.html

The weather issue is not waiting for the train or bus, it's the transfers and the walk at the end - and an HOV/HOT express bus can get you there at high-speed, nonstop, without transfers, and much closer to your building.

I call 'em like I see 'em. Pavement is not evil if it's the most effective mobility solution. If I heard a compelling argument for commuter rail over express buses, I'd consider it, but "let's just try it and see" is not a reason - and has its own set of negative consequences if it fails, as discussed in the link above.

I do support much of the LRT/BRT network in the core, where the benefits can edge out the costs. But the value proposition turns ugly with commuter rail, IMHO.

I'd like to put in a plea for comments to get back to reasoned arguments, not name-calling, baiting, ranting or grandstanding. Much appreciated.

 
At 9:29 AM, July 10, 2006, Anonymous Tom Bazan said...

I listed facts, and I was certified to provide professional services. I believe in full disclosure.

I allowed the certification to lapse several years back as the program is baloney.

I was able, as an individual fee appraiser, to be nominated by several City Councilmembers for various appraisal assignments. That too is in the record, as each assignmnet was voted on by Council.

Few professional minority firms would be allowed to participate in city contracts, and, most companies who receive steady COH business seldom tried to meet the goals.

I was selected, along with others, for an indefinate quantity contract for the state, but I spent far more for the extra insurance than the fee for a single appraisal assignment I received over the two year contract period.

This is hardly sucking off the government like those greedy attorneys seem to do.

Further, I have done very little City work after 2000, when I became involved with an effort to educate citicens as to the negative aspects of urban rail.

 
At 2:10 PM, July 10, 2006, Blogger Ian Rees said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:19 PM, July 10, 2006, Blogger Ian Rees said...

I'm not only an atheist, but I don't believe in having children! Iraq is a criminal war! And I support rail!

 
At 8:41 AM, July 11, 2006, Anonymous Mike said...

Tory, would you be in favor of commuter rail along the BNSF tracks north from 610 towards 249, and then to Tomball? There is no existing roadway there on which we could run buses. If this could be set up for less than $200 million, would you support it?

 
At 11:32 PM, July 11, 2006, Anonymous Thomas said...

The BNSF line to Tomball is one of the few places where commuter rail might actually make sense, for the above-mentioned reasons. The proposed line down 90A to Richmond might also work, since there is no HOV lane on 90A and therefore no time advantage to whatever buses already use that highway.

Commuter rail along 290 never made much sense to me. There's already a perfectly good HOV lane there.

Also, just to clarify, there is no commuter rail in Atlanta, (unless you consider MARTA to be a commuter rail operation, but I don't really think it fits the definition).

 
At 9:17 AM, July 12, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

If commuter rail is to be done, those are the two correct corridors: 249 and 90a, because there's not much competing HOV service. I agree that 290 doesn't make much sense. Metro's service area doesn't extend into Ft. Bend, so the 90a service wouldn't be competing with express buses. But my sincere wish would be that Metro would check trip times to major job centers, and offer express bus service where there is substantial time savings, rather than forcing long transfers. Ex. 90a to Downtown via Main LRT is nuts - 30 mins on LRT alone. Ex. 249 corridor to Greenway via LRT connections will be nuts, although in that case I'm not sure HOV would be much better unless they put managed lanes on the West Loop.

 
At 7:38 PM, July 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Bazan:
"Further, I have done very little City work after 2000, when I became involved with an effort to educate citicens as to the negative aspects of urban rail."

Excellent, so your viewpoint is not based on logic, but rather towing the party line for the sake of having a job.

Good to know there is no bias here.

 
At 8:04 PM, July 12, 2006, Anonymous Brian S. said...

Wow, this conversation has really denegrated. Amidst the hyperbole on both sides I think one of Tom's points has been overlooked.

Does our city have a dearth of young professionals or merely a dearth of young SINGLE professionals? I think that the later is more supported by facts. I recently looked at the 2005 census data for Boston and compared them to Texas. 8.2% of Texas' population is below the age of 5, but in Boston its 5%. That means their birth rate must be 60% of what it is in Texas. By the way, Boston and Massachusetts are losing population. Rhode Island and Vermont have even lower fertility rates than Massachusetts. Their families are being replaced by DINKS and singles.

The same goes for much of California's coast. I was surprised to see dozens of cities in California losing population.

Some like to say that Houston doesn't have a viable future, but do these cities have much of a future? Are they facing a population implosion like Italy or Russia?

 
At 9:33 PM, July 12, 2006, Anonymous Mike said...

I think Boston and the California coast are just maxed out. I'm here in Boston right now, and there is really nothing more you can build without seriously trampling on somebody else's vested interest, whether that person be a retired New York stockbroker who's paid a million dollars for a few acres of land to recapture "the rural life," or a protected wetland, or one of the half dozen places where Nathaniel Hawthorne spent a year. You can't expand any roads, because these aren't just roads, these are historic parkways designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and even to put in a right turn lane would require wiping out a jogging trail used by thousands of people daily.

Ditto with California - there's only so many millions of people you can squeeze between the coasts and the mountains. It's not that these places are more liberal, or more preservation-crazy, or more stuck in the past... it's just that there's not a lot of room, and they've reached capacity.

 
At 2:40 PM, July 13, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Yes, they are maxed out, but it's because they choose to not allow more development (high-rise, high-density towers, for instance). I find it odd that the world worships NYC/Manhattan, but nobody wants to emulate it. One of my mantras is "affluence seeks space" - i.e. as people get wealthier, they want more private space. If they can't afford it, they shrink their families/household to compensate. Couples who might be willing to have 2-3 children in a good sized house decide to have none or one when in a small house or apt. So, yes, many coastal cities are experiencing a similar population implosion to Europe.

 
At 5:09 PM, July 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Las Vegas is an example of a city increasingly emulating NYC. It's quite common to hear the term 'Manhattanization' in relation to Las Vegas. See www.manhattanization.com. There are of course dozens of examples in Asia.

 

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