The French love Houston, NYC QoL, and moreContinuing the list of smaller items from earlier this week, which has already grown quite a bit just in the last few days. Plenty of reading material for your weekend...
- NYT article on the nightmare of owning - specifically parking and re-parking - a car in NYC. In this case, in the outer boroughs like Brooklyn where you actually need one. You think this factors into their quality of life ratings?... ;-) Excerpts:
Plenty of New Yorkers spend more time each week parking than they do in a house of worship, or visiting aging parents, or reading to kids.
City drivers now plan their entire weeks — entire lives — around being able to move their cars for the hours allotted for street cleaning, then hurriedly move them back, safe and sound for another few days.
“It sort of extends the ‘good-for-tomorrow’ problem, in that you’re afraid to use your car if you’re in a spot that’s good for tomorrow,” Mr. Trillin said. “In a way, you have a car, and you can’t use it. You’ve got yourself a spot that’s just too good to leave, no matter what. You might as well just cement those cars to that street.”
This led him to another only-in-New-York solution: “You might as well sublet it. Have somebody live there. There’s no rent-control laws applying to cars. I think that ought to solve the problem.”
“Parking is such a joke in this neighborhood that no matter what they do, it won’t make a difference,” said Buddy Ferriola, from the deli Pollio on Fifth Avenue. “You got 20,000 cars and 2,000 parking spaces.”
- Continuing on the theme of NYC's "quality of life," check out this NYT article on what 20-something's have to do to scrape by living there. Absolutely nuts. Because our media so universally worship the city, it lures so many young people who are ultimately disillusioned (they even say in the article they're suffering until their 'big break' comes along). I understand that most give up within a few years and move elsewhere in the country, usually back home or near home.
- Some great stats on Houston's leading employment growth and home affordability vs. cities in the rest of the country.
- If you want to see what outsiders from all over the country saw on a Houston bus tour at the recent Preserving the American Dream conference, check out these posts with pictures of the city core and a private master-planned community, Sienna Plantation.
- A recent Cato study argues "...we can save more energy and reduce more greenhouse gases by encouraging people to drive more fuel-efficient cars and reducing the energy wasted in congestion than by building rail transit." Some excerpts:
Buses today consume as much energy and emit more greenhouse gases, per passenger mile, than the average SUV. Most light-rail systems also consume as much as or more energy per passenger mile than SUVs, and 40 percent emit more greenhouse gases per passenger mile than the average car.
Transit agencies that want to save energy and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions should focus on increasing bus loads or reducing the size of their buses. The average King County Metro bus has 44 seats, yet carries on average just 14 passengers. Concentrating service in areas where loads are higher, and using smaller buses in areas or at times of day where loads are lower, will do far more to save energy than building rail transit.
- More and more people are starting to explore the linkage between Smart Growth policies and the housing bust, something Texas thankfully avoided: Randal and Wendell, as well as local libertarian Brian.
- Loren Steffy in the Chronicle on how Houston benefits from a lack of zoning and limited development regulations.
- The Wall Street Journal on why doctors are moving to Texas and personal injury lawyers are moving out (especially to CA). Tort reform has clearly succeeded here.
- A Cato report analyzing how long-term transportation planning gets done incorrectly and even abused by metro planners to get the plans they personally want, rather than the ones with the best cost-benefit.
“No plan did sensitivity analyses of critical assumptions. None bothered to project potential benefits or cost-effectiveness or projects considered. All but a handful of plans failed to include any realistic alternatives, and many failed to project the effects of the proposed plan on transportation. As a result, plans lacked transparency: taxpayers and other readers of most plans would have no idea how to projects were selected, whether those projects or the plans themselves were cost effective at meeting plan goals, or even, in many cases, whether the plans met any goals.”
- Great tongue-in-cheek quote from the Austin Contrarian - a future I hope we are not looking forward to in Houston:
Finally, a novel item to end the list. This French blog talks about the benefits of the low-regulation Houston development model (i.e. an "open city"). Can you believe a French blogger advocating Houston over Paris?! (thanks to Joel for the link) Since I doubt most of you read French, here's Google's attempt at an English translation. Rough, to be sure, but it will give you the gist. Clearly, the word is starting to get out about Houston since the bursting of the global housing bubble. In addition to the French, I also know people from New Zealand and Australia trying to learn from and promote our model. I can see the titles now:
Here's the agenda I'd propose for propelling Austin into the "Superstar City" pantheon: (1) discourage the construction of traditionally affordable housing like garage apartments and duplexes; (2) restrict the amount of land available for multi-family housing; (3) strictly limit multi-family density; (4) limit the construction of upscale condos and townhomes in order to force affluent homebuyers to compete for the scarce supply of close-in housing; (5) ban small-lot and "urban home" zoning; (6) require property owners/developers who build dense developments to shoulder the financial burden for things like affordable housing, parks and infrastructure; and (7) impose onerous design standards to increase the cost of new construction.
We can call it the "progressive" agenda. We'll be in the superstar ranks in no time.
Houston: From Pariah to Paragon...