Tuesday, May 29, 2012

London Calling

I was in London last month.  Today, I finally retrieved the cord connecting my camera to my computer.  Here are a sampling of photos not of my hand which was bloodied during the trip.  I promise it wasn't hooligan related:

I'll have to load more when time permits.  These are taking ages to upload.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dallas Locals vs Tourist Photos Mapped

I took Eric Fischer's map of geotagged/uploaded flickr photos where he color coded them by locals (blue), tourists (red), unknowns (yellow), and their routes between photos, and overlaid them upon an aerial.  His map is of the citywide scale, so I zoomed in at high-res to get something more legible.  Interestingly, the most photographed places for locals is Main Street core and Fair Park with Deep Ellum and SMU as secondary tiers.  You can also identify the various pockets of activity zones along Greenville Avenue (Low, Lower, and Lowest?).

As for tourists, the heaviest concentrations are, predictably Kennedy Assassination site, Ross Avenue (less predictably), with the American Airlines Center, the Aquarium, the Hyatt, the Nasher, and Thanksgiving Square lesser so.

Less Capacity: Where the Traffic Goes. Part II

As you may know, I advocate not just against additional highway expansion and capacity, but actually...less.  In part 1 of this series I explored the question invariably asked first by people when I start talking about removing intracity freeways:  "but where will the traffic go?"

It doesn't all go to one place, but four places:

1.  Regional - Traffic that is going long distances probably shouldn't even be running through the middle of the city if they're not specifically going to a "micro-destination" within that city, particular long-haul, freight trucking, which is the biggest polluter there is.  A city, by definition is a place where lots of people are doing lots of different things, interacting and exchanging.  Move the pollution away from the people when possible.

2.  Local - If people are going to said "micro-destinations" like their job, or a restaurant, or their home, they can and should be using city streets.  Investors look at traffic counts and currently much of East Dallas is actually under-trafficked.  Hence, much of the property is also derelict.  Peak and Haskell couplet for example carry only 7-10,000 cars per day when they're constructed to carry 30,000.

3.  Modal Shift - About 25% disappears.  It doesn't simply shift to other roads, but other modes.  The economy doesn't shut down.  We still have our wants and needs.  Instead of cars, we realize it makes more sense to move by foot, train, bike, carpool, or shop online rather than in the mall.

4.  Proximity - By removing freeways and opening land for development, we restore the value and amenity of proximity.  People can live closer to places they work, shop, etc.  They can walk.  They can bike.  The density and tax base affords investment in mass transit.  It's proven far more successful to build density via demand then in turn, provide mass transit rather than building mass transit hoping it will yield density.

As for the idea to tear out IH-345 specifically, that road carries 80K cars per day in each direction.  That's 160,000 cars in total.  Let's break that down in the four directions, 40-40-40-40.

As point 3 suggests, 25% or 40,000 cars will disappear from roads as people start riding DART, telecommute, etc. etc.  That's one quartile taken care of.  Now we have to address the other 120,000:

4. Proximity - We're suggesting 25,000 people would populate the redevelopment of the IH-345 corridor.  If those 25,000 each make two trips per day, that's 50,000 trips that don't need the existing highway segment, because the majority of their destinations within a complete neighborhood are within 10-minute walking distance.  So we're up net +10,000, having spoken for 90,000 of the 160K.  We have 70K left.

2.  Local Roads/Boulevards - Much of the traffic will filter to local streets, driving up opportunities, land value, and commercial activity on moribund streets like Peak and Haskell.  As I wrote, they both could handle another 20,000 vehicles. 20+20 = another 40 spoken for.  We have 30,000 left.

1.  Regional traffic.  We have Loop 12, 635, and 190 circumnavigating the city to some degree.  Can they handle another 10,000 each?  12 and 635 would have a more difficult time, but 190 is brand new.  Sections complete enough for available traffic counts have it moving 50K per day.  Well under the 200K per day that 635 moves.  It could certainly handle 30,000 extra vehicles per day.  Add that to whatever happens with Project Pegasus and the Trinity Toll Road (projected 100,000 cars).

To the earlier point that we're replacing costly infrastructure with little to no tax base around it with exponentially increased population and tax base and far less infrastructural burden, opens up the opportunity to make other infrastructural networks viable, such as bike lanes and streetcars.  The increased variety and choice within the network as well as the diffusion of traffic to the four points above, would actually make the city more mobile and efficient by taking out a section of highway.

Amazing Chart Alert

Really, everything is steady in terms of percentage of consumer spending except for two things:  Food (we spend far less) and Transportation (we spend far more).  Incidentally, we're fatter than ever.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

World's Most Interesting Places

Heat map produced from geo-tagged uploaded Panoramio photos.  I've said before places are "sacred" or loved when they have many photos.

Is there much we can glean from Europe registering so hot?  Maybe.  Having a combination of tech savvy users  and interesting places can't be a bad omen for the future, I don't care what problems the Euro is having.  Those are temporary.  Of course, so are all the wars the Euro zone has had over the centuries.

Perhaps even more fascinating are the locals vs tourists maps. Here's a game of guess the city for you.  I'll buy you a beer or 12.  Pick out every one.  Dallas is one of them.  Except you have to promise not to look at the html code.  On you honor.

Blue = Locals. Red = Touristas.

Locals and Tourists #2 (GTWA #1): New York

Locals and Tourists #1 (GTWA #2): London

Locals and Tourists #11 (GTWA #12): Vancouver

Locals and Tourists #4 (GTWA #3): Paris

Locals and Tourists #83 (GTWA #279): Phoenix

Locals and Tourists #82 (GTWA #134): Detroit

Locals and Tourists #80 (GTWA #135): Dallas

What's Today? Linkages.

Steve Brown, architecture critic (not really), plays architecture critic to cast no new light whatsoever on the issue of reflective glass on Dallas buildings.  Fitting, because just a day or two ago, I tweeted about hearing from One Arts Plaza condo owners who have had their units penetrated by morning glory.  That is, if glory is a beam of radiated, concentrated sun rise reflected off Museum Tower into their home.  They can now boil their morning tea.  Brown:
This gives the current dustup about light bouncing off downtown’s new Museum Tower some historical perspective.
As mirrored buildings go, Museum Tower doesn’t hold a candlepower to the reflectivity of other downtown familiars including Bryan Tower or the Hyatt Regency.
Of course, if Museum Tower were on the west side of downtown, there wouldn’t be any fuss about where the afternoon light is bouncing.
With renewed emphasis on energy efficiency and green construction, reflective glass is enjoying something of a renaissance. Granite and concrete soak up a lot of sun.

But Museum Tower isn't on the West Side of downtown.  Nothing wants to be on the West Side of downtown.  Because it is the West Side of downtown.  This is the same argument as saying, nobody would "complain" (pay special attention to the language used there) if the tower was built on the moon.  Of course, nobody would complain because it doesn't adversely affect them there.

Investment and density wants to be where other investment is.  That is to say, people (investment) are attracted to people (investment).  When investment (people) cluster, there will invariably conflicts that must be resolved and buildings socialized to participate in the larger whole and greater good.

Similarly, when there are a lot of people wanting to be in a certain place, public realm matters.  These shiny buildings not only ignore the public realm but worsen it, thereby decreasing the value of the overall place.  Have you seen many people hanging out outside the Hyatt?  Lovely part of town that, between rail lines, highways, and neverending circles of cloverleaves.  It's literally the worst part of town.  Rather than expanding Lew Sterrett county jail, we should move it to the Hyatt.

Highly reflective glass is a lazy solution to supposed environmental issues that doesn't actually design at all.  It does not pay attention to the local climate.  As I've said a million times, if we were building in Dallas for Dallas and the sunny, hot place it is, there would be far less exposed sides of buildings and more exposed roof surface area to reflect the radiation upwards, not downwards.  Onto the public realm.  And to keep the blustery, dusty Texas winds up over human habitat rather than knocking it down and concentrating it onto our streets and sidewalks.  Environmentalism that ruins the surrounding environs.

I swear, if it wasn't for Wilonsky, I'd have the DMN on block, ignore, and 'enemied' on facebook by now.
Will Doig writes a piece for Salon that is sort of about Arts Districts, but also talks about large-scale private development like Victory.  I'm quoted several times.  This bit didn't make it into the piece, but I reiterated something I said on the panel regarding "How to Save the Arts District," that the Dallas Arts District is more like a World's Fair Site than a real, authentic, organically derived arts district.  Though that sentiment comes through in the piece in sum.

If we lower our standards for it (to World's Fair site) or at least recalibrate/appropriate, then we wouldn't be so underwhelmed by it.
Meanwhile, back at the DMN bat cave, transpo reporter Michael Lindenberger writes that the Mayor, TxDOT, and the three dissenting council members (how dare they?!) have placed their credibility on the line.  Good!  Their in charge of billions of dollars and the future of the city?  They're credibility better damn well be on the line with every single decision.  And there ought not be a statute of limitations on this or any previous decision either.

In fact, the entire framework of this piece and the broader discussion about the need for the Trinity or Project Pegasus, if we can only afford one,

YOU DON'T SOLVE CONGESTION.  It's like this is these people's drug war.  A crusade that can never end, but gives them purpose.  Meaning.

Instead, you decide what form of congestion you want.  That is, if you want concentrations of high activity areas, precisely the kind of thing that makes cities attractive, valuable, sustaining places.  Everybody in a car, where everyone else is the enemy, it's unsafe, the air is polluted, the public realm is disastrous, noisy, and repellant... or this:

'Tis a segment of the Champs Elysees.  What's the most trafficked road in DFW?  635, I believe.  It moves around 250,000 to 300,000 cars per day.  Busy, busy.  Champs Elysees only moves a mere 100,000 cars per day (not counting how many cross it).  It also moves 500,000 to 600,000 pedestrians per day.  Wowzers.   Sounds congested.

It is.  Because the most popular places in the world are congested.  They're desirable precisely because of the congestion.  That it isn't all in cars.

Social and economic exchange is happening in the picture above.  Such is the purpose of cities.  And as such that should be the goal.  The powers that be in Dallas, COG, TxDOT, and their useful servants (elected leaders), think the purpose of a city is to move cars.  The article actually comes across vaguely threatening towards councilmembers Greyson, Hunt, and Griggs.  And I'm sure they welcome it.  They're actually the courageous and informed ones here.  By all means.

As long as the transportation planners, spender's credibility is on the line as well.  Why isn't the credibility of those planning the Trinity Toll Road in the first place on the line?  There have been too many transportation decisions made without any accountability whatsoever.  It's time to start making them accountable.

Yes, let's please put everyone's credibility on the line.  Pretty, pretty, pretty please with sugar on top.  Because unless we change course, how we define congestion as well as what our goals are for the city, and its fundamental purpose, they will deliver the type of city that we'll regret and no one will want to be in.  And that's the real danger.

Oh, let's not forget they're spending your tax dollars to do so.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Helpful First-Aid Lessons

New May edition of Clean Air Mail! Learn how you can protect yourself and your family from Ozone’s harmful effects.

Yes.  The responsibility is on you.  Like, when I stab you (hypothetically, of course), I'll be a helpful neighbor and supply you with a first aid kit and instructions to deal with your new problem.  Not mine.

Now think about how many highways enter Dallas, how many run past downtown, surrounding areas, neighborhoods, etc., and how many vehicles, particularly commercial freight trucks, move past the city without stopping.

"When most people think of vehicle emissions, they assume cars do most of the damage, but it’s actually commercial trucks that are largely to blame. Freight transportation on U.S. roadways is expected to double by 2050, and by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions are forecasted to jump 30 percent due to freight transport alone." Daryl Dulaney, Siemens infrastructure chief 

Check out today's air quality.  I love how orange is on the "healthy" side of the spectrum.  Next year we'll add gray and black to the other side to make orange seem even more healthy.  Just no prolonged exposure. In other words, don't go outside.  Not our fault.  Oh you have asthma?  Also, not our fault.  Carry an oxygen mask around.

Now think about all the other cleaner, more efficient ways we could accommodate all of the same movement needs.  Or, just think about every other city in the world you love to visit. They are likely not third world backwaters, but decidedly more advanced, high-tech, and more economically opportunistic than a car-dependent city.  The smartest city in the world is the one that empowers the user with the most choice.  Highways limit choice.  They're constructed specifically so you have to use them.  There is little way around them.  And it's not pleasant nor convenient to do so.  Of course, neither is actually using them.

The first conventional wisdom we have to get over is that highways are necessary for cities to function.  They are not.  They are only necessary when you already have them, the life of the city and its interconnections are adapted specifically around them, and you helplessly feel like you can't possibly live without them.  That is because the way the city is structured is an outgrowth from the highways themselves, essentially making them a self-fulfilling prophecy.  An unhealthy system for sure.

Here's another highway and a gas mask.  You're on your own.

Moving: My Money Where My Mouth Is

We overrate views.  We do.  I've said it before.  And I was rightly called out for it, because my current abode overlooks half of the city.  Not for too much longer.  I also often tweet pics from various high places.  Just like staring at google earth for hours at a time, I can watch over the city.  But it gets old.  The novelty expires.  It never really changes.  The same patterns.  The same traffic.  The same buildings.  The same lights on in those half-empty towers.  I can't zip to another place like I can in Google Earth.  It's the same.  Every day.  

It's hard to make out too much from these iphone panoramas, but these are the views I'll be giving up.  They extend nearly 180 degrees from the American Airlines Center to the Northwest around to the Joule Hotel and cantilevered rooftop pool to the South. On clear days, you can even see Cowboys Stadium 20 miles away.  The new bridge is there as well, though likely the reason why I'm none-too-impressed with it, as my view accentuates how out of scale it is with its context.  These are the views I value less than, and will quickly trade in for, a quick flight of stairs than a long elevator ride with countless intermittent stops and an even longer wait for it in the first place.

Living up high is overrated.  I prefer the variety of street life.  Being connected to it, not disconnected and floating well up above it.  I've always been fond of the characterization pics you see from New York or Montreal, where somebody is sitting on a window ledge smoking.  You don't do that up too high, but when you're low enough to still have a connection with the street and people below (with a lessened chance of splattering).

I have several reasons for moving, but the one relevant to this blog is that for the first time I'll be living on Main Street.  In the center of the action in downtown.  We looked at several places in Deep Ellum, though very few were available.  Places are getting snatched up in both downtown and Deep Ellum sight unseen.  I'm not that adventurous.  We love Deep Ellum.  LOVE. IT.  And not the nostalgic Deep Ellum, but its current iteration.  There are some great new bars and restaurants, as well as a pretty rad, alternative vibe that I may not seemingly fit in superficially.  But I prefer it to uptown any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Though, I like working in uptown due to the pedestrian activity and plethora of lunch options.  Unfortunately, none of the available units were quite up to our standard (I'm a bit prissy).  Nor was I quite ready to bail on downtown.

Luckily, we found an amazing unit.  Right on Main Street.  And when I say on it.  I mean ON. IT.  Second floor if your throwing rocks.  Expect return fire, if you do.  I will no longer have vast views across the city that I long since abandoned for black out curtains to keep the ever glowing city lights from penetrating at night.  Instead, I'll be trading it in for ever changing action with Pegasus Plaza, the heart of downtown immediately out the window.

Views.  Such an easy real estate sell.  Too easy.  And hence, overrated.  Street life?  More nebulous, but more real.  Difficult to replicate and therefore, underrated.  We need more street life.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Morning Linkages

Regarding the issue of density vs density, or the comparable value of low- to mid-rise density versus high-rise density, brought about by economists being perhaps overly simple minded, the city of Melbourne commissioned an interesting study comparing densities of various places around the world.  The most interesting part though is that "density" in this study isn't limited to residents or dwelling units, but also jobs per hectare (= about 2.5 acres) and cars per hectare and where they're parked. Related to building heights, the study found zero correlation between density and height in that density can occur in a variety of forms.
Another interesting study, not so much in the findings (predictable), but in who commissioned this:  the Arizona DOT finds that land use intensity actually has an inverse relationship to congestion.  In other words, higher intensity, density places have less congestion.  The reason is because more transportation choice are available, including walking via proximity.  Note to all transportation planners:  you can not dissect transportation patterns from land use nor vice versa, land use's impact on transportation patterns.  They are inextricable.
Lastly, Forbes has some new numbers on yearly ownership and maintenance costs for cars ($8,220) and bikes ($308) and that if Americans replaced one 4-mile car trip with a bike trip, the country would save $7.3 billion per year.  These are simple numbers unfortunately.  I see $7.3 billion as a small number spread over 500 million Americans.  The big numbers come in when we start multiplying the costs (or savings) exponentially over the infrastructure necessary for everyone to move by car (or otherwise).

Related to this, the common rebuttal to Yonah Freemark's lambasting of Dallas's proposal to build a highway within the same corridor that already houses 20 lanes of roads AND a light rail line.  Freemark's critics suggest that you can't compare the theoretical 100,000 cars that the new highway will move to the 15,000 people the Green Line moves per day.  This is faulty thinking on a number of levels.

First, if the object is to relieve congestion on 35 this isn't 100,000 new cars.  So therefore the corridor is not moving any new people nor getting them out of cars.  So the 15,000 that the Green Line moves is actually more than 35 / Trinity Tollroad would move netted above what it already does.

Except we know that is not how roads actually work.  Due to induced demand and Jevons Paradox, by making driving more efficient, we actually "induce" more drivers onto the roads.  So that would be potentially 100,000 new cars that have to be moved through the corridor, thus a self-fulfilling prophecy is the Trinity Tollroad.  The transportation planners are right!.... Only in the false world they've established.

However, we shouldn't WANT 100,000 new cars per day on roads making our bad air even worse.  The goal MUST be to get people out of cars.  As the Arizona study points out (and countless others), more highway capacity only serves to spread the real estate market (and people) further and further apart from each other and their daily destinations.  Thus, making driving and car ownership all that more necessary.  And coerced.

If the goal is to actually alleviate congestion rather than throwing money at a problem that will only be exacerbated by current methodologies and measures, we would be reducing demand on the existing highways by tolling them.  Not building new tollroads.

To jumpstart the local economy and the desirability (and livability) of Dallas and areas in and around downtown, we should be removing highway capacity not adding to it.  If we're serious about downtown and surrounding areas, we should be trying to move traffic, but move the market.  To favor areas in and around downtown.  We're presently doing the opposite.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Linkages

First and foremost, a must read.  Yonah Freemark dismantles Dallas's ridiculously misguided idea to build yet another freeway, along another freeway, along a new transit line, and within a proposed massive new park.  Any of which would be a bad idea on its own, but Freemark singles out the expense paid towards the DART green line through the same corridor:
Transportation planning is about the choice between transit and roads, but it is also about whether to invest at all. Dallas has spent billions of dollars on a rail rapid transit network, but it has simultaneously undermined it with the construction and maintenance of huge road capacity. What is the point of investing in the former when the latter makes it unviable?
In other words, you can't have it both ways.  If we're serious about DART and transit, we'd be trying to support it rather than investing to keep the scales tilted against it.
Cities as a center of revolt and commodity, a presentation from the Future Cities conference in the UK:
And continuing on the idea of Charter Cities, economists and architects debate... and architects are doing themselves no favors with these renderings.  You DO want to be taken seriously, don't you?  Don't you?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cool Mapping Site Alert

This is already getting a ton of play around the blogosphere.  Let me add to it and introduce you to mapnificent, which maps pedestrian/transit sheds based on location and amount of time to determine the effective "radius" you can travel in that period of time.

Even though Atlantic Cities is way ahead of me (and apparently with way more time) in mapping cities at even scaled comparisons I put three together (so far), though many foreign cities are missing and as yet unavailable.

I mapped three cities from their "heart" or primary crossroads, NYC from Times Square, London from Picadilly Circus, and Dallas from Pegasus Plaza.

As you can see London has by far the largest area that it covers.  NYC is surprisingly small and you can see what a barrier large water bodies can be.

A couple of quick thoughts and limitations:

1. Like any data mapping device, this is entirely quantitative.  You can't really derive any information based on quality of place from it.  It is merely a measure of true universal accessibility.  And accessibility without the expense of the car and the pressures and costs on infrastructure of everybody being in the car instills opportunity and a certain amount of independence.  It's a way for anybody to reach a larger market for their ideas, their business, etc.

2.  This can't take into account headways (yet?), the frequency of transit service or the time between buses and trains.  Otherwise, it would be tethered to the moment you input the data (or as with google maps direction planner, any time you wish to begin your trip), which may very well be a next step for the creator.  For instance, it doesn't give London the credit it deserves for frequency of the tube (though it doesn't run past midnight.  Frown.)  Doing so would add a pretty incredible amount of noise into the data, but it would be helpful.  When I was in London last month it was truly astonishing that every time we stepped to a train platform a train was either waiting or pulling up.  And we rode it quite often.  This means when we're running 15 minute headways or greater, that adds that much more time to the trip, thus narrowing the true radius.  Therefore, a low density place like Dallas which can't support more frequent headways will be overrated by this site.

3.  Another next step will be to tether this to regional rail (HSR) data and air passenger routes as well.  This is my dream.    Can we measure how far you can get anywhere in the world from any one place in 1-hour?  2-hours?  4-hours, etc.?  (and factoring in headways).  Doing so would allow us to decipher the MOST connected (and least) places in the world.  By altering the time gradient to 10-minutes, 30-minutes, and a few hundred minutes, would allow us to determine the local and global connectivity factors and thereafter begin to draw some correlations between global+local connectivity and land value, density.  Tapping into open source mapping data is really expanding boundaries of thought and understanding.  Yet the most exciting part is this is just the baby steps.

Response to Density Post

Kevin at Fortworthology posted my recent blog on the diminishing returns of densityadding his own thoughts as well.  It has sparked a bit of predictable backlash which I will respond to here.  My post simply stated that height doesn't necessarily = density and it certainly doesn't yield more intelligent density, ie compactness than low-scaled density of similar numbers in terms of residents per square mile or acre.  Furthermore, the economist driven solution to needing more density and reducing unaffordability is to build height.  As if Manhattan is affordable.  No, my point is that we have to be careful that we don't allow building height to lessen the quality and character of places that made them so desirable in the first place.

As I stated in the original piece, I'm not against height indiscriminately, but rather, quite discriminate in where and when it is appropriate, desirable, and well executed.  As I often say, Density = Desirability.  I like that statement because density done poorly diminishes desirability.  My response is mostly triggered by the notion that if you limit heights in DC or Paris there will inevitably be sprawl outside its borders.  Sure, it may be lower density, but it takes on the form allowed by the rules of development and transportation infrastructure in determining what format the development will be.  Because it's less desirable to be further away from the activity and amenity of the core (if healthy like Valencia) then it will be lower scaled and more affordable.
You're actually making my point about Manhattan (where the commenter suggested I wasn't fairly counting NYC's daytime/worker population in its density).  Those are people commuting from long distances.  Given New York's geography and water bodies that means longer than usual distances and extensive infrastructure to move people (commuters) that far.  You also don't necessarily end up with sprawl.  Sprawl is a by-product of the development rules in place and transportation infrastructure immediately outside DCs boundaries.   
See Valencia Spain and its surroundings for an example of suburbs that aren't sprawled at all, but all about 1 mile radius in size around train stations.  All are very walkable, have a range of densities/building heights (from mid- and high-rise in the larger 'pueblos' or suburbs down to single family homes), nearby jobs/industrial sectors which are quarantined as LULUs but accessible to freight rail and highways without adversely affecting neighborhoods, and are nestled within adjacent agricultural production and a predictable food supply.  
These areas provide many of the "affordable" options where constrictions in supply multiplied by demand for the core city might price some people out of Valencia proper.  However, because the pueblos are "complete" in that there are jobs, amenities, and services there within walking distance, as well as convenient transportation to the core cities, any of the pueblos aren't particularly dependent, but rather both in- and inter-dependent upon the core city in that they can supply the labor force of "blue collar" workers that can't or don't want to live in the city.  
Or they can work in their particular town.   Choice of housing and transportation is built into the system thereby making it 1) more intelligent and 2) more appropriately affordable to each's needs while maintaining opportunity of the broader metropolitan market without socio-economic segregation/alienation nor over-building of regional transportation infrastructure (highways).  This is a far healthier "regional" metropolitan area than ours currently is and has yet to fully play itself out.
Where Valencia's problems have occurred is the rampant spending that brought down much of the world economy.  However, the majority of what was spent in Valencia will be around for more than 100 years:  the extensive Ciudad des Artes and Sciencias (which gets the most flack from residents for being a $2billion euro boondoggle, and rightly so), a new high speed rail station and network interconnecting Valencia to Madrid via 80 minute train ride, and too many to count luxury high-rises.  That's certainly better than actual sprawl and much of what we've built which will be gone by 2050 while Spain will still be reaping the benefits.

Urban Ouiji

Greg Lindsay, jeopardy champion and author of the book Aerotropolis, has a great post investigating Paul Romer's idea of Charter Cities over at Next American City.  Unfortunately, it's a subscription only piece.  On the other hand, Next American City is smart enough to set their articles up on an itunes-like pay-to-play a la carte basis.  You can get it for 1.99 or join for the year for about 18 bucks.  I'm signed up for the year because they're doing great work.  Blowing away Atlantic Cities for more in depth, research-driven, long form pieces, IMO.  

Charter Cities, if you're unaware, is Romer's idea for bringing markets and therefore opportunity to otherwise backwater, third world locations.  As Lindsay and Romer's critics correctly point out, sometimes reality gets in the way of theory.  And that many of those places are the way they are because of political instability (to say the least) and potentially authoritarian regimes that may not like ceding much control indefinitely to global free trade zones.  Let's just call them unreliable for the kind of investment you actually want.  As we see locally here in Dallas, most of the investment willing to wade into the corrupt waters of south Dallas is the exploitative kind. 

My issue with charter cities is not Romer and his urban planning "consigliere's" basic principle of cities and that they're best governed by simple operating systems, basic rules, rather than top down, directed planning.  But rather that when opening these places up to markets, they have have HAVE to be followed by legitimate institutions.  Simply opening the people up to markets is a recipe for exploitation if they're not given access to the opportunity empowered by education, internet, a legitimate rule of law and court system, ie a fair and level playing field.  And that never happens over night.  Otherwise, the global market, and therefore opportunity, isn't available to them, but they're available to the inevitable next wave of strip mining for the cheapest global labor.

Another major issue is the size and scale of the ports and airports that have to be built upfront to make it work.  The entire idea strikes me as similar to the various forms of Enterprise Zones that cities have enacted on under-utilized pieces of land (usually underdeveloped for a reason), where new businesses would get whatever form of tax breaks and subsidies to locate there.  However, I've yet to see many (any?) that actually achieve a critical mass.  Typically, they're situated for global interconnectivity (on highways), but lack the requisite local interconnectivity with neighborhoods, parks, schools, and everything else necessary.  They're islands.  Similarly, Charter Cities are trying to build islands from scratch without either the global or local interconnectivity.  But who will build the full scale ports/airports and related infrastructure before incrementalism builds to the critical mass to sustain such investment?  It's a massive risk and given the scale they're talking about, likely too large of a risk unless you're literally desperate (note the countries cited: Honduras, Madagascar).

As I told Greg last night, I found a lot of truth in the statements by Romer, his disciples, and critics alike.  But none of them had the market cornered on the reality of cities either.  And therein lies the beauty of cities, civilization.  We're all pulling in our own direction and the total sum of forces determines the ultimate destination.  And like a ouiji board, though we're each exerting some amount of force in disparate or coordinated directions, we assign the result to some mystical forces entirely out of our control.  Whether we want to believe it or not.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Diminishing Returns of Building Height

Richard Florida has a good, short post up arguing against what we might deem "blind density."  In other words, in an effort to chase after density, we're simply building taller.  Not more compact.  And certainly not more efficient.

The diminishing returns comes from a few places.  First, walkability and modal share of alternative transportation begins to jump around 20 units per acre.  People are closer to the things they need and places they need to go.  Other forms of transportation besides the car not only make sense but are more effective forms of transportation within dense places.  Dense places will invariably have congestion.  As Mumford said, "if you're trying to move 100,000 people around in a square mile area, the motor car is the worst possible solution."  These gains in other, more efficient forms of transportation start to gradually decline from 40 to 60 units per acre and then plateau.  There are no more gains to be made in terms of walkability and transit ridership over a certain density "saturation" point.

Another issue is that adding height often diminishes the quality and character of a place.  Not everybody wants to live or work in a high-rise.  By adding density only via height, you're effectively adding supply while diminishing your market, aka demand.  Furthermore, because you're decreasing your market with that height, that means those who won't live in the area will have to commute in from further out areas increasing the overall vehicle miles travelled and overall load on infrastructure.  Simply adding height rather than smarter, compact density is another way of supply-side urbanism.  If you're selling the view, only a few people can afford views and when other buildings sprout up your view is of some dude in his underwear dancing to the oldies.  Again, narrowing your target market.

A couple of tweets I, uh, tweeted a few months ago:

Barcelona = 41,000 ppl per sq mi. NYC = 27,000 ppl per sq mi. Lesson: it doesnt take skyscrapers to have high quality density.

If we want to cherrypick Manhattan: 71,000/sq mi. L'Eixample in Barcelona (well to do central district): 92,000/sq mi.

It should be noted that L'Eixample is the nicest, most desirable part of Barcelona.  Barely a building over ten-stories as well.  Density (should) = desirability.  While I'm not totally against height or tall buildings (I live on the 19th floor currently), I am very wary of a rush towards adding height that might diminish the overall character of the place that makes it so desirable in the first place.  Think DC or Paris with their strict height limitations.  Are they too strict?  Perhaps.  But wouldn't you be skeptical of proposals from sociopaths like Le Corbusier want to destroy it and rebuilt in their singular vision?

Also, low-scaled, clustered, but high density buildings are the best way to protect buildings and the outdoor public spaces (and their microclimates) from harsh weather and climates, be they hot and sunny or cold and windy.  Think about the way Penguins cluster.  In hot climates, the close spacing of buildings decreases the amount of sun exposure to both buildings and public spaces.  The ample square footages of rooftop surfaces serves as heat sink (or reflector) rather than walls, windows, and outdoor spaces.

Lastly, besides the role of density in transportation choice and reduced infrastructural load, the goal of density (mostly to economists) is to accelerate the internal combustion engines of cities, efficient and accelerated exchange of goods, services, and ideas within proximity.  However, stretching buildings upwards has the same effect as stretching them outwards.  I often lament living on the 19th floor (moving in 10 days - will post more on that later).  I often walk to work.  But I still experience rush hour:  waiting for the elevators before and after typical work hours (often as much as 10 minutes if a few of the elevators are down, which invariably some always are).

As I said, in ten days I'm moving to another building.  I'll be living on the 2nd floor right above Main Street.  I'll be able to pop down the stairs in no time flat and get to that infamous interchange zone, the public street, far more efficiently (and desirably) than from 250 feet above the street.

So if the goal is proximity with density, the measure of proximity shouldn't simply be in the sprawling x- and y-axes, but also be measured upwards, in the z- or 3rd-dimension.  Smart Density should be the goal.  Not dumb (UP!) density.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pavlovian Response

Making grand master plans and executing them to a T tends to call for authoritarian powers, Popes, monarchs, emperors...DOTs.  All of whom have/had a special security force to ensure a level of protection between them and the people.  For DOTs, the defense mechanism and therefore autocracy, is the immense bureaucracy, arbitrarily devised and applied standards, and intentionally skewed linguistics where words no longer have meaning.  

For example, "improved" doesn't mean anything more than widened.  To stand against them, you quite literally have to stand in front of a tank.  That is, if the tank ran on money, federal pork, and our dependence upon said money for misplaced and abstract notions of "GROWTH" and "JOBS."  Though by now we should know nothing is what it means.  This tank's intention was to build a conveyor belt to transmit tax base from your community outward.  Somewhere else.

Plans are made and implemented alright.  It's only a certain type of plan.  Except, they're far too often the plans that don't actually "improve" Dallas, though they do tend to widen it.  And these same plans tend to ignore property rights.  I got a kick out of page 18 of the historic plans Wilonsky posted, "Buildings not established according to plan.  Road must be widened at considerable cost."  I have no idea what this page is even talking about.  Were the buildings too close?  A rational response to the street by the original owners likely.  So why should it be widened?  Or were they too far off the line?  So then why must the road be widened?  To arbitrarily affix the curb precisely to an arbitrarily devised building setback line?

With regard to plans that aren't so anti-urban, they still tend to operate within a broken operating system.  They're pruning dead trees.  Or they're creating "emerald necklaces along highway loops.  Same thing, actually.  Anti-urbanism in a pretty tattered and torn green dress, like a sex crime victim.  (Sidenote: has any movie penetrated our collective conscience without much box office success deeper than Fight Club?)  All of our codes and operating systems are broken.  Transportation departments, at least the slow ones, still think that widening roads makes movement more efficient.  Zoning is still largely two-dimensional and homogenous except for the nearly 1000 planned development districts in Dallas (our way to get around the also arbitrary and arcane zoning code in place).  Architecture is too focused on clownish and adolescent pursuit of stylistic creativity when we need structural and financial creativity to meet the massive housing need of pent-up or out of place residential markets.

There are a few concrete reasons anthropocentric urban design rarely gets off the ground:

1. They're often overly prescriptive.  They too often say "development, you should do this."  Why?  Because we say so.  A certain part of that is inherent in a civilized society and rule of law, but planning would be better off creating the platform for what we otherwise know and describe as the commonalities of good urbanism to emerge on their own because it's more advantageous to the investor, developer and end users.  Planning for the most part today tries to paint a picture of a garden and sell everyone on how pretty the garden looks rather than digging into the actual DNA of a place, to till the soil, and cultivate the life emerging within the garden on its own.

2.  Part of the reason planning has ended up this way is because it is far easier work to paint a picture than tend a garden.  And that's where we bump into the hegemony of the autocentric city, the immense amount of dollars invested into keeping it going (for lack of a better reason than "improvement."  Improved what? "Traffic flow.  Congestion relief."  Neither of which on their own actually achieve those ends nor are the results that desirable.

We're still running DOS in an everchanging world where the fundamental priority is still human need, social and economic exchange.  But DOS doesn't know that language.  Just 1s and 0s man.  Actually, maybe that can work.  1 is yay and 0 is nay.  Except the operating platform is the affected populous.  More 1s than 0s and the plan moves forth.  And really, that's more like the way cities operate, as fractals of subjective and variable desirability (density) within a framework of objective innate humanity (interconnectedness).

To defend that humanity and the fundamental purpose of the city, we might have to pick up a rock and stand off against the tanks...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Integration -> Accommodation, The Equation

L +/- Gx  = $ =

WTF does that mean, amirite?

Derived from the awareness that over time, places, though always in somewhat constant state of flux if there are no other infrastructural changes, will reach an equilibrium where highest and best use is responsive to the surrounding infrastructure.  In other words, density equals what the infrastructure and interconnectedness of a site allows.

Given that for development to be predictably successful, density has to be proportional to desirability.  I like the statement Density = Desirability.  Because it is 1) responsive to demand processes, but also 2) if places get too dense, they can become undesirable themselves.  In other words there are diminishing returns if there is an imbalance of building height to public space, or out of proportion building space to public space or vice versa for the agoraphobic.  

Somebody responded on twitter that density rarely = desirability.  This is partly true and partly a strawman.  As I said, at any one point in time an area is trying to find its equilibrium.  A snapshot doesn't capture the trending direction of a property nor the infrastructural "improvements" that may be actual improvements to the network interconnectivity or may not be improvements at all.  Again, lots of moving parts.  The key is determining where a site, area, neighborhood, or city are at any one given point in time, establishing the goals, and following through with the infrastructural network interventions to achieve those goals.

What the equation above symbolizes is the following:

Local Connectivity  Plus or Minus  Global Connectivity (to a variable exponent degree)  Equals Value of a site, which then in turn Equals   Density.

Value is driven by connectivity because connectivity is what is the release valve of demand.

If a place is locally connected but not globally connected it will be of low value and low density. 

If a place is globally connected by not locally, it will lack durability, resilience.  The infrastructure and auxiliary impacts of global movement is generally undesirable to be around.  Would you like to live next to a highway or airport runway?  The "other side of the tracks?"  

This is why Global connectivity often detracts from Local and therefore has a negative overall value on place.  If you want to maximize value, a place has to be both globally and locally connected, but sure that one doesn't disrupt the other.  This is why subways are good because they're tangential to local networks at street level, though very expensive.  It is the subway systems in major cities that allow for great density but little to no other global interconnectivity, such as highways through the fabric.  Even if you bury the highways, they have to exit somewhere.  The exiting infrastructure and parking is corrosive to local networks the way vertical circulation from subways are not.

Global connectivity is the amplifier of value for better or (and more often) for worse. Like too much density, too much global connectivity detracts from overall value, particularly over time.  You want to maximize the two networks, integrate them, make them complement each other, and know what is appropriate where.  

Often we try to put too much in places that aren't ready for it too soon.  The, "build it they will come" mantra.  And this is why all-at-once mega-developments or mega-cities fail.  They tried to skip the necessary feedback loops where integration begets accommodation begets decoration, then more integration and so on and so on.  This is the way cities evolved organically from time in memoriam.  Developers, investors, and planners alike should follow this formula...that is, if they're actually concerned about long-term, resilient, lasting, and increasing value.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Really Killed Detroit

We've been sold a premise that Detroit died for a variety of reasons:  over-reliance on a singularity of industry, the unions in that industry, the inability to innovate and keep up with the rest of the world, etc.  But that is all based on the premise that 1) Detroit is dead, and 2) it died solely because of the auto industry.

When we look at some population numbers, a different story begins to emerge.  Yes, Detroit has lost quite a bit of population, dropping from a peak of 1.85M in 1950 to .77M today.  The first thing we should know though, is that most of the automotive and manufacturing plants moved out of Detroit.  That's right.  They're in the suburbs:  Dearborn, Livonia, Birmingham, etc.

So based on the premise that the auto industry killed Detroit, shouldn't the metropolitan area have suffered as well?

It hasn't.  Not at all.  While Detroit fell from 1.85M to .77M people, the region has grown to nearly 5M, up from 3.3M since 1950.  Even when you look at the various aerials of the aerials on google earth, it is only within Detroit proper that areas are bombed out.  Neighborhoods in immediately adjacent Dearborn are full and stable, nary a missing "tooth" to be found.

Between that period on a county by county basis, the Detroit MSA is in five counties, from the 1960 to 1990 census only Wayne County lost population:

County:      2000  -  2010  (+/-)  %
Wayne (Detroit):  2.6M - 2.1M  (-.5)  -19%
Oakland:  .69 - 1.08 (+.39)  56%
Macomb:  .4 - .7  (+.3)  75%
Washtenaw:  .17 - .28  (+.11)  65%
Monrow:  .10 - .13  (+.03) 30%

While Detroit proper has continued to lose population since including a staggering 25% between 2000 and 2010, the suburbs have held relatively steady or grown, particularly the bleeding exurban edge.

This is a pretty good case that the Detroit Metro Area is eating Detroit moreso than foreign car companies or the Sun Belt and other growing populations have.  And it's the provision of cheap, easy regional travel that crippled the core city, its ability to support that infrastructure, and fed the edge.

I'm a Transportation Expert

I rode DART once.

It was terrible.

It didn't even come directly to my house.

How inconvenient.

So I drove to the DART kiss and ride to see how the rest of you people get around.  Nobody was there to even give me a kiss.  Nobody's kissed me for a while.

And there were other people doing people-y things on the train. Like talking.  And breathing.

Today, I drove to work.  It would've been so much better had the rest of you not been on the road.  That's the real problem here.  I'm the victim.

Because you were on the road and in my way, I let you know how inconvenient you were making my life.  I gave you the finger.  And you.  And you.

I would drive to work at 4 am to avoid all of you people when driving is a true pleasure.  No one else on the road.  I can weave in and out of lines til my heart's content as if I'm the stunt driver in a car commercial filmed on a closed test course.

That too would be inconvenient.

I would have to go into work early.  And do things.  Like work.  Maybe even research.  That sounds difficult.

So I've decided that road congestion is a scourge that must be confronted head on.

And I'm going to write about it.

Because I'm an expert.

As an expert, I asked other experts, NCTCOG, what I should write about.

"How do we solve traffic congestion, good buddies?"

They gave a long, involved answer in mumbled monotones.  It sounded like mozart to me.

So I told them that was way too much for my paper.

I write in one word sentences.  Because my readers are stupid.  I think.

I asked them to boil down the solution for me.

"Add capacity."

That's it!  I thought.

It's so simple.

If there is a lot of traffic that means demand is high.  Just add supply.  I took economics.  This is simple stuff that my readers wouldn't understand.  It will take me to translate this for them.

So I will.  Here goes:

"Add capacity."

A bunch of yahoos the other day showed up to a meeting.  They mentioned something about "Soul."  I assume they meant Motown.  I flew over Detroit once.  I know all about it.  Everybody moved to the Sun Belt where they could drive happily and freely.  The market in action.

In "Soul," apparently some Mayor thought it would be a good idea to take highways out of a city.  What a maroon.  I don't really know anything about the guy.  Some Young Moon or Kim Jong Kardashian or something.  He obviously hasn't read my transportation expertise.  Because transportation is about moving cars.

Then those poorly informed Koreans, likely illiterate and too poor to afford our paywall, went and elected him President!

They say you rise to the level of your incompetence.

Transportation Editor.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

You're Looking In The Wrong Direction

Note:  This does not in anyway suggest highway building for highway building's sake shouldn't be fought against, and fought vigorously.  

I know we all loved the idea of the Trinity River Park.  You have every right to be skeptical it will ever happen.  There are those, and they are many, who have long felt the Trinity River Park was a ruse to build another highway.  They might be right.

Me?  I've never thought it would be nearly the amenity as advertised.  "It's like Central Park!  But Bigger!"  Then you read the fine print:  DOES NOT COME ASSEMBLED NOR WITH NEW YORK.

The thing about Central Park is that it is integral with and within the city around it.  You access it by crossing the street.  Between the levees, the flooding, and the myriad of wrecklessly construed spaghetti of highways, ramps, feeder roads, etc. the best way to access the hypothetical Trinity River Park might be by zipline from the top of the Bank of America tower.  

On top of that, the real estate opportunities are minimal.  There simply isn't the critical mass of land areas to reach the intensity, density, and vitality of building use nor the connectivity to surrounding regions which is the primary demand driver of density and activity:  sub-areas blending into larger wholes.  That can't happen when fragmented by rivers, be they streams of water, cars, or trains.  

It's an edge.  And along edges there exists border vacuums.  Value is at centers.  Convergence points of networks and critical intersections.  Whatever density lines that edge is determined by the value, amenity, and connection to whatever defines that edge:  Pacific Ocean and beach?  Value.  Riverfront Park: likely some value.  Highway?  No value.  

Until we begin to see some legitimate improvements in the area, investors will be allergic (or crazy) to build there.  As it is, there isn't much to write home about:

I suppose as urban rivers go, the Trinity is better than some.  However, I'm more likely to try to get away from it than go towards it.

Then there is Lew Sterrett, of course.  The highest density area in or around downtown Dallas.  There, density is not a by-product of desirability.  Sign of distorted market and systemic failure, no?

And then there is the mixmaster.  Who knows when Project Pegasus-turned-Horseshoe will happen.  It isn't pleasant before, it won't be pleasant after, and sure won't be nice during the reconstruction.  And as we all should well know by now, highways are more barriers than connectors.  Disintegration of local networks leads to disinvestment.

On the other hand, there is a waterfront amenity.  We're just looking the wrong direction.  Downtown can't grow towards the Trinity.  Trying to make it do so will be a colossal money pit of deluded dreams and promixes.  There is opportunity in the other direction.  

Towards White Rock Lake.  It's pretty nice.

Think about all the great areas between downtown and White Rock Lake past, present, and future:

Swiss Avenue:

Lower Greenville and Henderson Aves:

Not to mention all the great historic neighborhoods.

Even having run the mathematical spatial integration map using University College of London's DepthMap software shows that the Near East Dallas area should, SHOULD, be one of the most active, valuable areas in the entire city.  If not THE most.  This is why I think this area will blow uptown out of the water in terms of amount of investment, future tax base, and especially CHARACTER.  There is so much charm and history there to be enjoyed if we can get our act together.

Space Syntax model of downtown and downtown adjacent areas.  White Rock Lake is at the upper right corner.  Trinity cuts the swatch between North Oak Cliff (bottom left) and downtown.  

Except much of East Dallas is decrepit.  One of the reasons is because there are roads well under capacity.  They were built far too wide for the traffic on them.  Peak and Haskell couplets, for example, carry between 7000 and 10000 cars per day.  They're designed to carry 30,000.  

I'm not saying they should be narrowed.  I'm saying we need to fill them up with traffic.  Investors and developers look at traffic counts.  Right now, the area is a mix of decrepitude surrounding green shoots of life.  It needs more energy.

Except the traffic bypasses the area.  

To open the gates of opportunity and livability to the east we have to tear out IH-345.

Imagine the best of uptown...

Deep Ellum...

and Downtown/Main Street converging and blending into one another.  The way cities are meant to.  The way they want to.  The way WE want them to.

Oh, and then there's Phase 2:

Trinity Parkway / Project Pegasus / I-30 reroute all in one.  A friend of mine proposed this a few years back when I first started talking about highway tear-outs.  It still has a lot of merit.  Even moreso with the Trinity Parkway.  Want it to connect to I-30?  Re-route 30 around Fair Park/South Dallas/Cedars.  

That's another 900 acres of development out of Right-of-Way on top of the 245 in the IH-345 study area.  About 2500 in total that is repositioned when you start adding in all of the Cedars/Fair Park areas to the ROW and ROW adjacent properties.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We Should Be So Lucky

But high education rates takes a lot of work.  Ignorance doesn't.  For this post to make sense, feel free to see my previous. Somebody needs to watch the watchers, right?

Some numbers:

I m so smart. S-M-R-T
South Korea on the whole is one of the best educated countries in the world.  According to PISA/OECD rankings South Korea ranks in the top 5 in science, math, and reading performance.  On average, the country has the 2nd highest education rate in the world.  The US is 14th, 17th, and 23rd in those categories.  And Texas is getting graded on a curve, carried by the rest of the country.  Depending upon the numbers Texas is 44th and 47th in education.  Thanks again, Mississippi!

As for comparison to San Francisco.  64.55% of Dallasites haven't completed college compared to 46.47% of San Franciscans.  47.06% of SF citizens have achieved bachelors or higher compared to 30.45% of Dallasites.  Those dumb hippies.

In South Korea, 82% of the population head to college.  I'm still looking for the amount that graduate.  But no worries, here are similar numbers from SF and Dallas:  69.67 and 54.13 respectively.  Once again, Dallas is last of the three by some margin.

Yeah, but we're rich.  Err.
Dallas has 23.2% of the population living below the poverty line.  San Fran has 11.6%.  Seoul's is 12.  To put that in a little bit of context, we're also the most car-dependent of the three.  By far.  Travel by car is also the most expensive form of travel.  Car dependence and the infrastructure catering to that inertia is bankrupting us, crippling the economy, increasing the reliance/dependence of an ever-increasing percentage of the population on public services, and reducing the cities ability to provide said services.

I wanted to take a picture of my walk home where a crosswalk led straight into a curb.  Tough luck wheelchairs.  Survival of the fittest is a mofo.

In  Seoul, 26% commute by car.  In San Francisco: 46.4%.  In Dallas, that number is 89.1% (0.1% bike - I'm guessing that's rounded up).

They say you get the leaders you deserve.  No wonder San Francisco and Seoul made the smart decision to take freeways out from their downtowns.

People are people.  We have the same emotional needs and wants as everybody else.  It's the way we're wired.  The differences, be they climatic, architectural, education rates, or in transportation patterns aren't indicative of inherent "market" preferences, but superficial.  They aren't inherent, but by-products of systems gone right.  Or wrong.  If you're willing to hold those prejudices, we aren't looking so hot.  At least the weather is warming.

Myopia.  Ain't it grand.


/Brought to you by the Thirteen for Qarth:  The Greatest City That Ever Was Or Will Be.

Bigotry at the DMN?

Inflammatory headline?  Well you tell me.  Am I being too sensitive?  Maybe slightly.  But, please read DMN editorial writer Rodger Jones' coverage of last night's Trinity Parkway public hearing.

Or is it just ignorance?  Before we go through it, let's revisit something that he, transportation editor, wrote just a week ago:

Transpo people have said for years that congestion cannot be relieved without more roadway "capacity" of the equivalent of six new lanes where the freeways all converge in central Dallas.

For years?  What years?  1950 to 1980?  Sure, he's "quoting" apparent "Transpo people" (are they like swamp people?), but shouldn't he challenge this assumption?  I would think the transportation editor of a major American newspaper would do his homework on these issues.  Perhaps read every single legitimate study that pinpoints how capacity doesn't reduce congestion.

Let me provide your homework assignment:


Now for the other side.  Here are the meaningful nuggets Jones offered up:

-- Length: 2 hours, 41 minutes, including 20-minute intermission that ended at 8:12 p.m

Yes.  It sucked.  As I tweeted last night, "bore opponents into submission.  I think that was Sun Tzu."

-- Number of tables/easles set up to display maps: 12

Number of tables/easles that displayed the No-Build option, as pointed out by Councilman Scott Griggs: 0

-- Number of people in hall once the mike was opened for public input: 161, including representatives from public agencies, engineers, cops, janitor, A/V person, journalists, a few children, etc.

Sounds about right.  I guessed 150 give or change.  Nothing like having a public meeting in the convoluted convention center when anybody would rather be anywhere else.  What's the ratio of people getting paid to be there and those not getting paid?  You were being paid to be there.  We weren't.

-- Elected officials speaking in opposition: 3
-- Elected officials speaking in favor: 0
-- Appointed/civic leaders speaking in opposition: 0
-- Appointed/civic leaders speaking in favor: 2

This is all true.  The elected officials though were actually from Dallas.  They have the constituents in mind.

-- Members of the public speaking in opposition: 22 (not including a second trip to the mike by one opponent)
-- Members of the public speaking in favor: 2

Gotta squeeze in that important note about somebody who went up twice.  That's like going back for seconds of wedding cake before all tables got their slice.  To Lew Sterrett with them!

-- Members of the public who had already left when their turn came to speak at the mike: 6

Probably because they had places to be and maybe even realized the futility of last night's event.  Almost as futile of trying to fund the road even!

Now for the biggie:

-- Number of times San Francisco was mentioned as city to emulate: 5
-- Number of times Seoul, South Korea, was mentioned as city to emulate: 2

Really.  Really?  "To emulate."  In what way?  Should we all just let our imagination run wild with whatever preconceived notions we might have?

Not even a hint of context for why these cities were mentioned is provided.  Just "emulated."  Is this your bigotry or are you intentionally being inflammatory to play upon the bigotry that we all know exists.  What if I wrote, "Rodger Jones likes little boys," if I had seen you holding hands with what very well might be your son (if you have one.  I don't know).  Maybe not.

It's accurate... to an extent.  But, hey.  I'm not the journalist.  I guess context was sent packing with the last round of layoffs.

I'm sorry.  That's unfair.  Excuse me, but I'm hyperactively intolerant towards intolerance.

Let's not add why people referenced Seoul or San Francisco in their impassioned pleas against highway construction and let the public, likely wondering why these cities were mentioned, hanging.  Let's not mention the 300% increase in property value around the Embarcadero, where a freeway section was torn out.

Here is the data on the Embarcadero:

  • Carried 100,000 cars per day
  • Took down 1.2 miles
  • Boulevard now carries 50,000 vehicles per day
  • Trolley carries 20,000 per day
  • Add in pedestrian counts and you're likely well over the 100,000 people moved prior to the tear out
  • Land value up 300%
  • 75% increase in transit commute trips in the impact zone since 1990
  • 54% increase in housing units in impact zone compared with 31% increase in the control zones
  • The number of jobs increased 23% in the impact zone from 1990 – 2005 compared with a 5.5% increase in the control zones

Now Seoul, where the former CEO for Hyunday (yes, a car company) ran for Mayor on the platform of tearing out the Cheongyee Expressway...

  • 8.5 mile section of elevated freeway buried a stream
  • Cost $281 million or $33M per mile (note: the Trinity Parkway is $140M per mile to build)
  • Number of vehicles entering the area decreased by 43%

Air Quality:

  • 21% less tiny airborn particulate matter
  • No2 dropped 20%
  • BETX dropped 25% overall and 65% in some areas
  • Reduced summer temps along corridor 8 degrees
  • 25,000 visitors per weekend day. 50,000 per weekday
  • Added 113,000 new jobs along corridor
  • Long-term benefits expected to approach $25 billion

That mayor...he's now President of South Korea.  I doubt he'd be as dismissive as you're being.

Provide context.  Do your homework.  Do your job.