Houston a green capital? plus top rankings, reducing crime, and elevated buswaysSome smaller items for your reading pleasure when escaping the relatives or shopping of Thanksgiving break (or work, if you're stuck there this afternoon or Friday).
"The Daily Beast set out to definitively sort the best and the worst, undertaking a comprehensive study that heavily factored in on-time arrivals and departures, and also examined safety records, tarmac nightmares, airport accessibility, the baggage process, security waits, and amenities."
Here's the IAH profile for the story. Hat tip to Jessie.
- Innovative ideas on crime reduction in the Economist, mainly through deep relationships in the community. Excellent ideas for Houston to try under our new mayor and chief of police. I'm particularly a fan of GPS tags to prevent recidivism.
"The lesson of High Point is that you can reduce crime by making credible threats, without having to lock up so many people. To deter, a punishment must be swift, certain and severe.
Mr Kleiman suggests several other promising, non-macho approaches to curbing crime. Raise alcohol taxes. Start school days later to prevent after-school crime. Force probationers to wear GPS tags, thus making probation a tough (and much cheaper) alternative to prison. Americans should experiment with such ideas, he says, and if they are serious about justice, the object should be to cut crime, not to make criminals suffer."
- According to Forbes, Texas cities are among America's Fastest Recoving Cities, including the four Texas Triangle cities in the top 10. Houston came in #1 on the home price criteria. Another hat tip to Jessie. Excerpt:
Lone Star Luck
In No. 2 city San Antonio, home to four military bases, and Austin, our third-ranked city and the state seat of government, municipal jobs supplement Texas' robust energy sector. In Dallas (No. 6), it's a thriving tech industry that buffers it from energy highs and lows. Although Houston (No. 8) is invested mostly in oil, it has diversified its energy industry beyond oil rigs into refining and chemicals manufacturing.
What's more, the state's housing prices never ascended to the unsustainable levels the rest of the country hit at the peak of the housing bubble. Thus, it didn't crash as hard. These factors have toughened the local economy against a recession that is inextricably tied to real estate.
"Texas didn't have as big of a boom," says James P. Gaines, research economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. "So we're not having anywhere near the kind of bust."
- Texas is one of the states in the least financial peril (3rd best), according to Pew. California is in the worst shape. Full map at the link. Hat tip to blogHouston.
- Neal has an interesting post on the potential for elevated busways as a superior transit solution in Houston vs. at-grade rail. I think it could make a lot of sense in certain corridors (depending on the economics), esp. if it could be tied in to the HOV lanes so express buses could make seamless transitions to local distribution. Maybe Post Oak would make a good candidate? Or something through the medical center? Would love to hear your suggestions in the comments.
- Houston #1 in green home construction. Dallas is #2. We certainly have the climate and electricity prices to make it a worthwhile investment. Yet another hat tip to Jessie (I promise I do find material through other sources too ;-).
- Continuing the green theme, a couple more from Jessie (and David): from the Wall Street Journal, "Will Houston Become an Electric-Car Capital?". TV39 has video of the new charging stations that will go up around town, and we will be a launch city for the new all-electric Nissan Leaf in late 2010. From the WSJ:
"Houston actually makes a lot of sense. Unlike many places in the country, Texas’ electricity grid isn’t under stress, for starters. And from an environmental perspective, it’s fairly clean, with a lot of juice coming from wind farms and natural-gas fired plants.
Electricity-guzzling cars that up the demand for natural-gas for power generation could even make the region’s fossil fuels industry happy, says says Kenneth Medlock, an economist at Rice University. And since most cars would charge at night, Texas’ booming wind-energy industry would find new customers, too.
In the end, America’s fourth-largest city epitomizes the country’s love affair with the car. Unlike in green urbs like San Francisco or Seattle, it’s all but impossible to live here without wheels—so they might as well be electric. It will probably be cheaper and easier to electrify urban sprawl than rein it in altogether.
Who knows? Maybe in a decade Houston’s famed ArtCar parade will be a largely electric affair."
(as I've been saying on this blog for a while: transit will not take over more than a tiny percentage of trips, the personal vehicle is now a permanent part of society, it will just change propulsion technology)
- Speaking of being a green capital: algae fuel is picking up momentum, and biofuels are Houston's best bet for leveraging our energy infrastructure skill base to lead the next generation of energy technologies.
Hope you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving.