Wednesday, 24 of September of 2014

Category » Density

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.


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.


Congestion Costs in the UK

The Daily Mail reports that gridlock on Britain’s roads is costing families £500 a year in wasted time and fuel.  $800 U.S. dollars.  This represents a more comprehensive way to assessing costs than from previous studies, for it includes indirect costs from businesses passing along the costs to end-users.  From the INRIX summary: “These costs are a result of the direct impact of traffic on drivers in terms of wasted time and fuel as well as indirect costs to U.K. households resulting from businesses passing these same costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices.”

Sounds like the Brits need to abandon their sprawling car-centric ways and adopt Smart Growth, right?  Well, as ADC friend Phil Hayward says: “The UK under its Town and Country Planning system, after 60 years, has attained several targets that urban planning fads aim for. It has the highest urban densities of any western nations. It has the most compact urban form. It has very high petrol taxes and massive subsidies of commuter rail and subway systems.”

In other words, it exemplifies Smart Growth.  Consequently, Great Britain also has the West’s “least affordable housing, in spite of the lowest land consumption per person; the west’s greatest social exclusion, particularly from home ownership, the west’s worst traffic congestion delays, the west’s longest trip-to-work times, and the west’s worst local air pollution.”  (By contrast, the U.S. with much lower densities has the most affordable housing and much shorter trip-to-work times.


What’s Going On On New York Subways?

Yesterday brought us news of a second fatal shoving incident in front of an oncoming New York subway in less than a month.  On December 3, another innocent bystander was shoved onto the tracks as a subway came speeding in.

Of course, there have been many tragedies over the years of people accidentally falling onto tracks and being crushed by rail cars, and this method of demise has also been picked up by people committing suicide.  But this ghastly behavior of shoving seems to be a new development.  Was this a copycat killing?  The report says the woman was mentally ill.  If so, why was she unsupervised?

More importantly, what action should New York take to prevent further tragedies.  They cannot ban subways (to borrow the logic of the gun control crowd).  Can the move the waiting area, say, eight feet back from the edge of the platform?  I’m not sure, but I’m afraid to say I don’t believe we’re seeing the last of these “murder by transit” episodes.


Vibrant Urbanism – Christmas Edition

Just the other day, I was telling someone that it is noticeable that you see far more lawn ornaments in the lower density, suburban ring around cities than you do in the central city.  This is due, in part, to the migration of families to the suburbs.  Not many moms and dads want to raise kids in a tiny apartment above a Starbucks.

It’s also due to urban crime.  The person I spoke to responded that she had once lived near Gainesville’s downtown and remembers having her Christmas decorations stolen.  She has since moved to the rural outskirts of town.  In St. Louis, police are warning homeowners that the presence of Christmas lawn ornaments makes them a target for crime.

In Chicago, thugs are choosing a different way to get into the holiday spirit.  On Chicago’s rail transit Blue Line, a woman was assaulted by a man who had a stocking filled with … goodies … er, no, … coal … er, no, … how about poop?  Yes, feces.  A man attacked a woman with a sock full of feces.

“It was like the biggest degradation I’ve ever [experienced]. I wish he had just hit me,” the victim said.


Vibrant Urbanism, Part VXIXX

Man brutally shot in head in broad daylight in Midtown - New York Post

Man and woman found bound and gagged on San Francisco street – NBC News

Suspect Attacked, Robbed 85-Year-Old Woman In Elevator – CBS New York


The Federal Push for Smart Growth

With Obama re-elected, we can expect an even stronger push for Smart Growth from the feds.  The U.S. Department of Transportation says there will be no slowing on sustainable communities.  This will come primarily through the Livable Communities Act, which I previewed here.  In short, this is a preference for mandates over markets and central planning over property rights.  Spend lots of money on transit and, oh yeah, push much higher densities … all represented in clever soundbites and catchphrases … but also bringing the very things we don’t want.


Two-fer: Government Incompetence meets Vibrant Urbanism

Oakland Crime Rate Soaring As City Loses Officers


The Disappearing Dwelling Unit

If Smart Growthers love compact development, which is their buzzword for small apartments in crowded environments, they will really love San Francisco where the city’s Board of Supervisors voted to approve an ordinance approving the development of 220 square foot apartments.  That’s right – 220 square foot apartments.

These tiny spaces are meant to address San Francisco’s housing crisis “where one bedroom apartments and studios can run up to $3,000 per month in rent.”  But the problem with housing in this region is not the absence of tiny homes but rather it’s excessive land use regulations that stifle development and impose huge costs on building homes.

Hey, to the extent there is a “market demand” for 220 square foot apartments, let them build.  But there is also a demand for 1000 square foot homes, and 1500 square foot homes, and 2000 square foot homes and 2500 square foot homes, etc., etc., etc.  Let builders build to meet the housing preferences of all!


Why Cities Go Bankrupt

Santa Monica applies for funds to measure residents’ well-being

Even if the grant Santa Monica is applying for covers all of the costs to develop the index, the final product will undoubtedly produce a list of things that will require more and more government.