Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sprawl wins in a solar world, bribing commuters to ride transit, new option to Dallas, downtown's progress, lessons from Chicago and Atlanta

First, an event announcement: long-time readers know I don't do official political endorsements (this is a policy blog), but I have admired Bill King's strong stand on the city's pension crisis (among others), a topic most politicians seem to shy away from.  You can learn more about his Back-to-Basics campaign and ask all the questions you like (the man can definitely engage seriously on policy discussions) at his kickoff fundraiser Monday from 5:30 to 7 at Cadillac Bar.  Details here.

Moving on to this week's items:
The solution to these issues, as proposed by Townsend, is "solar-powered, self-driving sprawl." The thinking goes like this: sprawl is the ideal land use pattern for developing a solar grid that can power the electric cars of residents while still providing the electricity that the region needs to function. He quotes from a paper issued in 2013 by University of Auckland researchers: 
"[S]uburbia is not only the most efficient collector of solar energy but that enough excess electricity can be generated to power daily transport needs of suburbia and also contribute to peak daytime electrical loads in the city centre... While a compact city may be more efficient for the internal combustion engine vehicles, a dispersed city is more efficient when distributed generation of electricity by [photovoltaic solar cells] is the main energy source and [electric vehicles] are the means of transport."

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7 Comments:

At 1:51 AM, March 23, 2015, Anonymous Rich said...

Not everyone's a fan of sprawl. This recently appeared in the Chronicle:

http://www.chron.com/business/real-estate/article/Report-Sprawl-damaging-to-health-and-the-economy-6148584.php

“Sprawl costs the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion each year, as cities like Houston and Atlanta spend more on infrastructure, public service delivery and transportation, according to the report, which was written for New Climate Economy and authored by Victoria Transport Policy Institute in partnership with LSE Cities. In addition, people who live in sprawled neighborhoods are between two and five times more likely to be killed in car accidents and twice as likely to be overweight than those who live in walkable neighborhoods.”

 
At 10:28 AM, March 23, 2015, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Many, many flaws in that study. We're working on a rebuttal.

 
At 4:42 PM, March 23, 2015, Anonymous awp said...

I have been very surprised at how "pro-sprawl" instead "pro-market" your new institute has come across. Houston's strength is not subsidized sprawl, it is the ability to build whatever the market is demanding. This is especially clear, in comparison to other cities, with all the projects in the loop that have been increasing density. Suburbia is de facto encouraged (despite the words that come out of planners' mouths) in every metro, Houston is unique in actually allowing de jure increases in inner city urbanism.

 
At 5:25 PM, March 23, 2015, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I agree that the media has taken our "pro market" stance and called it "pro sprawl", which I'm not thrilled with. Agree that we're better at building core density.

 
At 1:52 AM, March 24, 2015, Anonymous Rich said...

Sprawl or Density, Houston reportedly has quite a bit of criminality. Newsflash:

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/7-dead-in-30-hours-in-Houston-6152976.php#photo-7017819

7 killed in 30 hours in Houston: A 'heavy summer' for homicides coming
Dylan Baddour, Houston Chronicle | March 23, 2015 | Updated: March 23, 2015 1:30pm

Houston
Population: 2,180,606
Violent Crimes: 20,993
Murder and manslaughter: 214
Rape: 618
Robbery: 9,891
Aggravated assault: 10,270
Property Crime: 110,919
Burglary: 23,733
Larceny: 73,591
Motor Vehicle theft: 13,595
Arson: 708
__

With such rampant vehicle theft, using public transportation looks better than ever. Too bad Houston Metro just postponed expanded rail line availability until this May (at the soonest).

 
At 1:36 PM, March 24, 2015, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Not sure there's much correlation there. Chicago has a massive rail network, and is one of the murder and violent crime capitols of the country...

 
At 2:08 PM, March 24, 2015, Anonymous Rich said...

I wonder if Chicago has as many vehicular thefts per capita as Houston, though. ;-)

Having said that, Chicago's demographics are slightly different from Houston's:

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1714000.html

Worse still, like Detroit Chicago has had its share of leaders head off to jail setting "fine" examples. Houston: not so much. Jesse Jackson's son (a former federal legislator for Chicago) and also former Chicago federal legislator Blagojevich come to mind.

At any rate, I have heard that crime increases in neighborhoods when they become mass-transit accessible. Perhaps that's merely a misinterpretation of increased populations and greater economic growth though; I don't know.

 

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