Zoning shrinks the economy, TX cities as people, Astrodome, appreciating townhomes, helping homeless, and more
Lots of smaller items this week:
A cool video proposal for what to do with the Astrodome. The proposal is to strip it to its frame as a park for events. Great visuals. An Eiffel Tower for Houston. That is somewhat appealing, but I hate to give up the potential enclosed, air-conditioned, climate-protected space, especially given Houston's harsh weather. Couldn't it be a park and events space while staying enclosed? And I think that's the county's current concept/plan. Then there'd be a place we could hold events and festivals in the summer and winter, instead of just the spring and fall.
"Bryan Mistele, the CEO of traffic tracker Inrix, argues in the Seattle Times that proposed new light-rail lines will be “obsolete before they are built.” Specifically, he says, automated, connected, electric, and shared vehicles–which he abbreviates as ACES–are already changing how people travel, and those changes are accelerating.
Sound Transit, Seattle’s regional rail transit agency, wants voters to approve a $54 billion ballot measure this November for more light rail. This, Mistele points out, is more than twice the cost of the Panama Canal expansion, yet isn’t likely to produce any significant benefits."
$54 *billion* (!!). Wow - that's a lot of money for what will soon be a very large white elephant. Thank goodness Houston METRO isn't trying to jump off a similar cliff...
"Cashman’s argument is that self-driving cars won’t be “affordable,” while public transit is. Excuse me? In 2014, American transit agencies spent $59 billion to move people 57 billion passenger miles (see page 106). That’s more than a dollar per passenger mile.
All spending on cars and driving, meanwhile, amounted to $1.1 billion (add lines 54, 57, and 116 of table 2.5.5). Highway subsidies in 2014 were about $45 billion (subtract gas tax diversions to transit and non-highway purposes from “other taxes and fees”). For that cost, Americans drove 2.7 trillion vehicle miles in light-duty vehicles. At an average occupancy of 1.67 people per vehicle (see table 16), that’s 4.5 trillion passenger miles, which works out to an average cost of 26 cents a passenger mile.
In other words, transit is only “affordable” because three-fourths of the cost is subsidized, while less than 4 percent of the cost of driving is subsidized. I’m in favor of ending both subsidies, but someone has to pay those costs; when adding them in, driving is four times more affordable than transit."
If Texas cities were people
Collin County (North Dallas): A Dad trying to be cool.
Austin: A Hipster trying to be cool. Lives at Urban Outfitters.
Fort Worth: Urban Cowboy.
San Antonio: Fort Worth's tejano buddy.
Houston: A nerdy kid that doesn't care about being cool.
Dallas: A dudebro that blows money at Neiman Marcus.
El Paso: Isn't that in New Mexico?
Dallas: I'm cool because I blew 500 dollars at Neiman Marcus.
Austin: I'm cool because I blew 500 dollars at Urban Outfitters.
Houston: What is cool anyways?
Social Systems Architect and entrepreneur with a genuine love of my hometown. I cover a wide range of topics in this blog - including transportation, transit, economic development, quality-of-life, city identity, and development and land-use regulations - and have published numerous Houston Chronicle op-eds on these topics. I'm a Founding Senior Fellow with the Center for Opportunity Urbanism and co-authored the original study with noted urbanist Joel Kotkin and others, creating a city philosophy around upward social mobility for all citizens as an alternative to the popular smart growth, new urbanism, and creative class movements. I am a native Houstonian, 6th-generation Texan, attended Rice University for my BSEE and MBA, and a former McKinsey consultant and adjunct faculty member with Leadership Houston. I am currently the founder of Coached Schooling, pioneering a transformational new approach for a more effective and engaging 21st-century K-12 education combining the best elements of eLearning, home and traditional schooling. CONTACT EMAIL: tgattis (at) pdq.net - send me an email if you would like to receive these posts via email, or see the Google Groups signup box below.