Tuesday, May 03, 2011

City of the Year, top rankings, CA vs TX, $gas$ vs transit, city slogan?, and more

Before we get to this week's misc small items, just a quick note that I'm going to be traveling on business and may miss the next couple of weeks' posts, probably to return the 24th.
"You can't build in California, you can't manage in California and you have to pay a big tax," Mr. Puzder told the legislators. "In Texas, it's the opposite—which is why we're building 300 new stores there this year."
One speaker from California shook his head in wonder: "You can have the most liberated lifestyle on the planet, but if you can't afford to put gas in your car or a roof over your head it's somewhat limited."
Finally, blog reader Mark emailed me suggesting this Houston slogan: "Houston: It's Not For Sissies"  Feedback/thoughts appreciated in the comments.

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At 10:09 PM, May 03, 2011, Anonymous Dave said...

It's really hard to take New Geography seriously when they make claims such as this:

"Fuel costs are only a small component of total motoring costs. Cars today are lasting longer, are more reliable, are cheaper to run, and are kept in use longer. When oil was cheaper total costs of motoring were higher. That’s one reason why we are driving more."

Really? Let's break that statement down.

1) "Cars today are lasting longer." This means that depreciation is spread over a longer period, resulting in lower costs.

2) "are more reliable, are cheaper to run". This means maintenance and repair costs are lower.

3) "are kept in use longer." Again, lower depreciation costs.

Gasoline, however, has increased over 200% in the last 10 years. Until the last few years, gas mileage had stagnated, and in some cases, even decreased, due to larger vehicles and engines.

If cost of ownership, maintenance, repairs and time of longevity costs have all decreased, it is mathematically impossible for fuel as a percentage of total costs to have decreased. And, indeed, it has not. Numerous studies have shown that fuel costs comprise between 23% and 35% of annual vehicle costs. And the study I cite is from 2006, when gas prices were $2.60 per gallon. They are 50% higher now.

As for the other ways people get around high gas prices, moving closer to work? Really? People will sell their house, pay 6% realtor commission, moving costs, and other expenses, because gas went up to $4? Sure. Move to another country? Yeah, in your crack induced haze, perhaps.

Like the saying goes, I am dumber for having read that article.

At 10:10 PM, May 03, 2011, Anonymous Dave said...

Oops. Here's the cite,


At 2:37 AM, May 04, 2011, Blogger Alon Levy said...

Why does everyone else keep saying that the US will never have Europe's transit ridership because it has lower gas prices?

At 8:52 AM, May 04, 2011, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I think gas prices are only a small part of it. The reality is that European cities pre-date the car, and are built for walking (including the necessary density). Then train technology came along, and they added transit. Most jobs stayed centered where the trains ran.

Now compare that to most American cities, substantially developed in the car age. Decentralized and low density, with jobs all over - and only minimal accommodations for walking. Like it or not, that's the technological age our cities developed in, and it's not conducive to transit ridership. And I don't expect American cities to radically restructure themselves around walking+transit any more than I'd expect European ones to radically restructure their cities with freeways, broad streets, and plenty of easy parking...

At 9:52 AM, May 04, 2011, Anonymous awp said...


I agree NewGeography is often pretty bad/disingenuous at economic reasoning,

What he should have said to make the point he was trying to make is...

Given the fall in car ownership costs over the past 40 years for the per mile costs of travel to be the same as in the 70's gas would have to be something like $10 a gallon.

Over the long run and in aggregate Urban economists do expect that the average miles traveled will fall with increasing per unit price of travel.

People won't move tomorrow because the price increases today, but the next time they do move distance to work will be a bigger factor in their residential location decision. Also, if people continue to move to the cities, we would expect newcomers to give higher weight to distance to work when per unit distance price of travel increases.

At 11:03 AM, May 04, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many things wrong with that slogan:

1) Negative words. "Not for X" isn't inclusive - what kind of crappy marketing would that be?

2) Speaking of which, it's majorly heteronormative, seeing as we have a fairly large contingent of "sissies" here who do just fine.

3) More generally, it's got such a specific viewpoint (the rugged Texan individual), and Houston is a very diverse city.

4) Worst of all, it doesn't even address all the wonderful things about Houston that this blog points to: great for families, great for bachelors, great for companies.

Try harder.

At 11:35 AM, May 04, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In case you missed it, "the deal" magazine profiled Houston recently and had us on the cover. They cited the healthcare and port related diversification in the economy, but still said energy is the key driver.


At 11:40 AM, May 04, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another article in the same magazine - drilling down on energy and deal making in Houston:


At 1:50 PM, May 04, 2011, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Thanks for the links. I'll have to include those in a future post.

At 7:10 PM, May 08, 2011, Blogger Mark said...

Hi - my slogan suggestion is not to be taken seriously - it is only a suggestion and reserved for those whiners who can do nothing but complain about heat/humidity/etc. Thanks! Mark


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