Friday, 25 of July of 2014

News

Another Example of Vibrant Urbanism

Some things you just can’t make up … like this: NYC Subway Elevator Inoperable After Being Urinated In Too Much.

I’ve heard of “vertical sprawl” before, but now we’ll have to add a new term to the lexicon: “vertical urinal problem.”

“An elevator at a Long Island Rail Road station was number one when it came to being inoperable last month. And number one had a lot to do with it.  The elevator at Woodside Station in Queens was only in operation 58 percent of the time.  That is because it has been urinated on so much, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials have said urine has actually rusted the floor and gotten into some of inner workings of the lift, causing problems.”

Yet another reason why people do not embrace the transit-oriented vision of Smart Growthers.


Amazing New Discovery – Transit Riders Use Transit!


Miserable Cities

Forbes identifies the Most Miserable Cities in the U.S.

What do they have in common?  Mostly high density places that are run by “progressive” visionaries.

The list was compiled using crime rates, foreclosures, taxes, home prices, commute times and decreasing populations.


La – Robin – Hood is Out

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Tuesday he will not be sticking around for President Barack Obama’s second term, according to Roll Call.  Many of us first got to know LaHood when George Will wrote that this mediocre legislator had been transformed: “I think we can change people’s behavior.”

LaHood was talking about getting people out of their cars and onto rail transit.  However, he was not talking about people voluntarily leaving the road.  His determination was to coerce people out of their cars.  Since then he has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to wasteful projects in pursuit of the Portlandification of America.  Good riddance!


What’s New in Urban & Suburban News?

The latest edition of the ADC Communicator is available here.


Unintentionally Hilarious Headline of the Week

From the Silicon Valley Mercury News: “Happy 25th birthday of light rail, VTA: Now let’s make it work!”

Analogous to the parents who say to their kid living in the basement, “Honey, you’ve hit 25 … think you can look for a job now?


Brilliant

Simply brilliant.


So Much for Letting the People Decide

For two years citizen-activists have been gathering signatures to force the Vancouver City Council to put on the ballot a public vote on light rail.  The proposed rail line would extend TriMet’s MAX line from Portland to Vancouver.  They apparently had the signatures, turning in a certified petition with the names of 5,479 city residents, seven more than were required.

But the county’s supervisor of elections, Tim Likness, has invalidated the petition “because of a technicality, according to the Vancouver Columbian.  Apparently, 94 signatures were set aside because they didn’t have a tally total at the bottom of the page.

This is obviously an example to the wedge rail transit creates in a community … not between blacks and whites or the haves and the have-nots or any other division we typically see on political matters.  This division is between those with elite visions of transforming our communities and those who foot the bills in the communities we already have and kind of like the communities as they are.  And the elites must not allow the little people to vote on their extravagant visions!


Turnaround Housing Markets

More data is coming out about the conditions of the housing markets in the United States.  Business Insider is the latest, offering its list of the Top 10 Turnaround Housing Markets based on the increase in price between late 2011 and the end of 2012 for a median priced home.  The percentage beside the city represents that change.

  1. Las Vegas   27.5%
  2. Seattle   24.0%
  3. Phoenix   21.8%
  4. Oakland   21.0%
  5. San Jose   20.8%
  6. Salt Lake City   20.5%
  7. Atlanta   18.9%
  8. Sacramento   17.9%
  9. Fresno   17.7%
  10. Tacoma   17.7%

What’s not determined is what is behind the price escalation.  Is it a function of demand outpacing supply?  Is it the impact of excessive regulation?  More to come.


Affordable Housing Markets

The Street publishes the five most-affordable housing markets in the U.S.

  1. Detroit
  2. Atlanta
  3. Minneapolis
  4. Phoenix
  5. St. Louis

The analysis looks at only the 25 largest cities in the U.S. and calculates the amount one would pay each month for a median-priced home, assuming 20% down and a 30-year fixed mortgage that charged the local average interest rate.  None of these cities would be considered a Smart Growth City although Minneapolis perhaps comes close.  Using similar methodology, we also see the five least affordable markets:

  1. San Francisco
  2. New York
  3. San Diego
  4. Miami
  5. Los Angeles

Certainly San Fran and New York qualify as Smart Growth Cities, but there’s enough “plausible deniability” to keep the label off the others.  In fact, Miami and Los Angeles generally have a poor reputation among planners who see them as sprawling cities.  Yet, both Miami and Los Angeles share key characteristics of Smart Growth: Density and Public Transportation.

A generation ago, both cities began building new roads less and invested much more in public transit, including rail transit.  Both cities have also promoted super high densities as a way to contain outward growth.  In fact, let’s look at these ten cities to show how the densities (i.e., people per square mile) relate to affordable housing.  Using 2010 Census data:

  1. San Francisco   17,179 people per square mile (unaffordable)
  2. New York City   11,138 people per square mile (unaffordable)
  3. Los Angeles   8,231 people per square mile (unaffordable)
  4. Minneapolis   7,088 people per square mile (affordable)
  5. St. Louis   5,157 people per square mile (affordable)
  6. Detroit   5,144 people per square mile (affordable)
  7. Miami   5,129 people per square mile (unaffordable)
  8. San Diego   4,020 people per square mile (unaffordable)
  9. Atlanta   3,154 people per square mile (affordable)
  10. Phoenix   2,797 people per square mile (affordable)

If we were to broaden our search beyond the Top 25, the relationship between density and affordability would become even clearer.  Better yet, Wendell Cox has already published the 2012 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.