Thursday, December 20, 2007

Houston as a land use model, our skyline and social rankings, LA rail rejects "trust, but verify", Bangkok TOD, and more

Time again for the miscellaneous small items, which I hope will give you plenty of reading material for a while. I'll be traveling over the holidays, so this may be the last post for 2007. Have a Merry Christmas, and I'll see you again in the New Year.
  • A University of Maryland professor is advocating voluntary protective covenants - like Houston's deed restrictions - as the solution to planning and zoning regulations run amok. Missouri has already passed such a law.
  • Houston is ranked as the 4th best skyline in the U.S., which is particularly impressive because we don't have the usual waterfront profile that make NYC, Chicago, and Miami (#1,2,3) so impressive. Hat tip to HAIF.
  • Continuing on rankings, we've been ranked #7 for social events, like festivals and, surprisingly, book-related activities:
"...Los Angeles had the highest number of book-related activities just ahead of Houston..."

Hmmmm. More book-related events in LA and Houston than NYC, capital of the book publishing industry? Gotta question that one. Hat tip to HAIF.
  • Check out the new Texas Triangle blog about our fast growing megapolitan, despite what some confused Yankees think. Only two months old, but already a lot of interesting stuff here.
  • L.A. has given up on the honor system for light rail tickets, and is moving to gates and turnstiles. Not a good sign for our system, which also runs on the honor system of occasional spot checks. Or maybe it's just the impact of Hollywood and celebrity moral standards on the locals?... ;-)
  • How's this for some ultra-intense transit-oriented development? Pretty freaky. Gotta assume those trains are quite infrequent. Hat tip.
And a final announcement: Houston Strategies is proud to now have its feed hosted on the newly redesigned Houston Chronicle Real Estate page. Check it out.

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At 12:59 AM, December 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The skyline ranking is based solely on a mathematical calculation of heights, so the presence of water didn't impact it much. Although think how many more condo towers we'd have if there was anything geographical to look at.

Am I the only person who's incensed that Atlanta has a building 7 meters taller than our tallest?

At 10:45 AM, December 22, 2007, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Easily remedied. We just need to add a little 8-meter high tower/"treehouse" on top of the tallest one. Call it an "observation deck" and let tourists up there for $10 each...

At 10:14 PM, December 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alas, there is already an observation deck on the 60th floor. Plus there is that FAA 1,000 ft height limit.

At 8:42 AM, December 25, 2007, Blogger Unknown said...

Comments on the LA turnstiles:

-- The turnstiles are being installed only in some stations. All of the subway stations will have turnstiles, but not surface light rail stations, which actually make up most of the system. Thus, like all other modern light rail systems in the United States, most of the lines will continue to be Proof of Purchase.

-- The economic case is pretty weak. The claimed lost fares are $5 million in an agency with annual operating costs of $1.2 billion, and that requires a $30 million upfront capital investment (which will need to be replaced in 15-20 years) and $1 million in annual maintenance. And the installation of gates is possible only because LA spent 100s of millions to build subway stations with mezzanines big enough to fit turnstiles. Furthermore, some of the claimed savings will come from having fewer police officers patrol the system. Is that really desirable?

At 9:29 AM, December 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The 1000-ft limit by the FAA doesn't existing in downtown. It's a myth that has floated around for years.


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