Friday, March 13, 2009

Post Chicago Friday Night Linkfest

So I'm back from Chicago. Unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries after the first picture so I didn't get to take pictures like I have on all the other trips I've been on recently. I have to apologize for that one because man Chicago is a cool town.

The TOD bill is dead in Washington State. I agree with Dan, we deserve what we get.
You're just figuring this out? I wonder if anyone has ever thought to cost what has been exported in terms of tax base to the suburban road complex. For now, we can look at what was exported from Atlanta to Georgia.
In 2004, each man, woman and child in the 10-county metro area funneled an average of $490 to Georgians who live outside the metro area. Put another way, metro Atlanta receives 72.5 cents in state benefits for every dollar it pays in state taxes.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood names the next transportation bill Clean Tea and changes DOT's stance on bicycles.
A Plano Republican says that they should stop giving money to DART and use it to partake in the retail sales tax war. This is why many of our regions are so messed up. We depend on sales tax and cities are competing with each other instead of building better communities for thier citizens. Canibalization is a better term.
I'm still waiting to see a Ben Wear article where the transit critic is not Jim Skaggs, Gerald Daugherty, or that dude from Texas Monthly. Seriously. I don't really know what to say about the article otherwise. Keep digging that hole?
If you like fantasy maps of tram lines in the United States, you'll love the Dutch blog Infrastruct. The most recent is in English but usually its in Dutch alone.
I'm not sure if ground floor retail should be required. I think it should be flex space that has higher ceilings than the units above and able to be used for residential until the retail demand catches up.
There are a lot of New Urbanists as well as Kunstler who would argue that skyscrapers are not green as Glaeser says they are.


AC said...

Kunstler didn't offer an argument. He made a prophecy.

Anyway, using average BTUs per square feet to judge skyscrapers is the wrong metric. (Kunstler doesn't refer to this metric but there are more lucid critics who do.)

A skyscraper does use more BTUs per sf than, say, a five story office building building, all else being equal. But it's average BTUs per building occupant that matters. A downtown office skyscraper packs thousands of people into one building, so the btus per person will be much lower. And all those workers - who are there, after all, because they need to be near other office workers -- use a lot less energy than they'd need driving from one low-rise office building to another.

New condo towers these days tend to use a whole lot of BTUs per square foot, but they invariably have floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Developers do that to save money, I'm sure, but I bet there'll be pushback someday from energy-conscious buyers who would be happier with a brick facade, a couple of normal size windows, and sofas that didn't have to be recovered six months from bleaching in the sun.

arcady said...

Kunstler is a ruralist romantic who longs for a return to traditional village life, a notion I disagree with vehemently for various reasons. The New Urbanists are rather like that too: they like to talk about "Urban Villages", not seeming to realize that a city is not merely a concatenation of villages, and don't really get cities. Anyhow, I do think that there is such a thing as an optimal density for a city, and that it's probably a bit below the level of Hong Kong, but well above the level of pretty much all US cities and neighborhoods (aside from a few in Manhattan).

jon said...

new urbanism is more than just kentlands, celebration or seaside. new urbanism is very city focused... active streetlevel uses, mixed use buildings, mixed use neighborhoods, transit and pedestrian oriented neighborhoods, skyscrapers without huge plazas, respect for the urban context and streetwall, traffic calming, concern for the pedestrian and public realm, etc. new urbanism is classic urbanism that addresses the realities of a contemporary society that must deal with issues posed by the car and preservation of the natural environment. sure theres some very disappointing "new urbanist" projects in the suburbs where everyone drives but there is a difference between the ideas/concepts of NU and everything that is built using the label NU.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I would suggest everyone read the charter.

Alon Levy said...

Well, there are people who do offer arguments that ruralism is more sustainable because then people live closer to their sources of food. The problem is that these arguments are just complete crap - in the days of the Roman Empire, Italy was 50% urban, and relied on a grain shipping network ranging as far as Egypt.

Cap'n Transit said...

So how'd that work out for them, Alon?

I agree with you, really! I just think it's not the best example of sustainability. Mainly I couldn't resist. ;-)

Alon Levy said...

Well, until the 400s, it worked quite alright.

On another note: the Atlanta-to-Georgia money transfer isn't from the city to the suburbs, but from the city and the suburbs to the rest of the state. Suburbs generally have a very negative tax imbalance, far more than this of central cities, which tend to be poorer and have infrastructure serving the suburbs.

Patrick said...

I agree with everyone else. Kunstler is a romantic ruralist with no appreciation for urbanism. I'm not sure why so many in the planning community respect him.

I mean, I could be out writing cynical prophecies too, but it seems far more rewarding to actually work to improve things.

Alon Levy said...

Patrick: they like him because he hates the suburbs.