Friday, June 18, 2010

End of the Week Linkages

Busy week generally equals slow week on the blog unfortunately. To make up for it? Great selection of articles.

First, locally some good news out of Oak Cliff as the good folks at Go Oak Cliff have been able to close a dangerous street at X+, which will be converted into a plaza. The conventional solution would have been to raze the entire neighborhood, napalm it, and widen all roads to increase visibility triangles, "improve" the roads, and some notion of safety as dictated by a computerized formula.

Hey, don't blame me. That's what this here computer done said. Yessiree.

Jason Roberts' words:
The beauty of the project is not only the reclamation of the streets, but NYC is seeing traffic injuries plummet where they’ve installed these, making the public space not only more inviting to families and residents, but also safer.

Surrounding businesses are also booming thanks to the allowance for greater foot traffic (something we also saw at Better Block)…and of course, as Jane Jacobs noted, the heightened number of people out creates more “eyes on the street” which lowers area crime.
Fast Company has an interview with brilliantly named Portland Mayor Sam Adams, who says "Portland good? Green? I'll make it better!" You read this interview and then try to imagine the same words coming from a local DFW politician and keel over in a fit of rage-enthused hyena cackle:
I would say Clean Energy Works, which is the nation's only consortium that offers on-bill financing for clean energy upgrades and retrofits. It addresses the hidden roadblock for sustainability, which is the lack of financing for clean technology upgrades for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and facilities. This kind of financial tool is now needed more than ever. We've also embarked upon a 25-year strategic plan for the city. Called the Portland Plan, it better aligns the $9.7 billion in government spending that happens in Portland, and over time, make it more accountable to the public. I'm the mayor, but I'm only one of about 45 public decision makers on issues within the city.
This was his first impressive answer of many. The bold part was so striking to me because of his conscious awareness of where progress gets held up and his direct action to unclog the drain. That is called problem solving. We could use a hit of that.
I'm always willing to put an idea out there, and in a friendly way, challenge others to come up with something better. I have a point of view, and I want to challenge others in an energetic and open way to come up with better ideas--and they often do.
No. This is my vassal state which I lord over and only over-priced consultants from cities that don't give a damn about Dallas other than to chuckle at our misfortune and home grown labyrinthine complexity can tell me otherwise. Then I do as they say.
With the federal stimulus, for example, we took our $2.4 million from HUD and the Department of Energy, and used it as venture capital to get Clean Energy Works going. We could have doled it out to individual facilities and buildings, which would have been more direct and politically expedient. But instead, we wanted to create a return on investments in a new industry. In this era of very tight revenues and budget cuts, it's a lot about rethinking: About better aligning what you do have, and about paying attention to the quality and the effectiveness of what you're doing.
/Swoon. He goes on to discuss his desire for every area of neighborhood to be a complete 20-minute neighborhood where you can get everything you need within a 20-minute walk from your home including access to transit and then jobs. The point being to keep $850 million in the wallets of taxpayers.

I have calculated similar exorbitant numbers we light on fire in car-beholden Dallas. Trying to track down the post, but I think I arrived at approximately $1 billion per year the City of Dallas could keep in Dallas taxpayer wallets with reduced auto-dependency. And that doesn't even count the savings of safer, less clogged roads. NYC by the way calculated they save $19 billion.

"Transit is so expensive!" /Shrill whine.

A new study from UC Davis compares Neighborhood Satisfaction between conventional suburbia and traditional, more walkable neighborhoods. Blowing up conventional wisdom with TNT from the abstract:
We find that neighborhood satisfaction is higher among the traditional neighborhood residents, even after controlling for sociodemographics and other characteristics. Differences in the characteristics associated with satisfaction in each group include the perception of liveliness and diversity, contributing significantly only among the segment of the sample living in traditional neighborhoods, and the perception of economic homogeneity, contributing significantly only among the suburban segment. Features such as parking, yards, and school quality do not emerge as important predictors of satisfaction for either group.
Perhaps schools are more of a trailing indicator, no? Maybe childless folks move in, make a place safe, then families with school age rug rats follow, and improve the nearby schools through their very presence as the families seek a hybrid between the interesting vital neighborhoods of single life and single-family living.

I know Vancouver and Manhattan have been struggling to keep up with school construction and expansion because of all the young families moving in. That would seem to suggest the families weren't looking for schools but rather the neighborhoods... and the schools would follow.