"Public Use" Hits the Road

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So New London's right to charge back rent to the residents whose land it's confiscating has been upheld as a constitutional principle, and "disastrous consequences for the country" have been averted. Bully.

No need to be outraged, then, over local governments in Colorado deliberately screwing with traffic regulations in order to increase toll revenues:

When E-470 opened in 2002, some people thought it was a strange coincidence that, about the same time, the speed limit on nearby Tower Road, a paved, 2-lane, rural highway, dropped from 55 MPH to 40 MPH. Several apparently unnecessary traffic signals also appeared. This, in spite of the fact that after the toll road opened, Tower Road would have even less traffic than it did before.

Well, it was no coincidence.

The lower speed limit and extra traffic signals, which make Tower Road slower and less convenient to use, are required by a "non-compete" clause in an agreement between the E-470 Public Highway Authority and nearby Commerce City.

The goal is to impede traffic on Tower Road so drivers will decide they are better off using the toll road. This protects the revenue stream from the tolls, thereby protecting the interests of the toll road's investors.

The story was uncovered by bloggers at unbossed.com, who unfortunately miss the point that a market isn't exactly free when government arbitrarily sets controls for, in this case, traffic flow; link via Jalopnik.

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  1. Privatization does not equal the free market, no. In fact I’d far rather have public (i.e. government) ownership of a monopoly than a privately owned but legally enforced monopoly, because in the former case the people running it are at least hypothetically responsible to citizens.

    In any case this is appalling, of course, but I’m not sure I find anything governments do surprising any longer.

  2. Nor would the market be free if 2 private roadmakers colluded to do this on their own in the private sector.

  3. As it is, speed limit laws are generally enforced throughout the country for revenue generation purposes. Those guys in Colorado are just doing it in a more shameless manner.

  4. Reducing the speed and volume of traffic on a local street, and encouraging through traffic to take the parallel limited access highway instead, is just good planning.

    Leave it suburban Republic- er, a libertarian think tank to conclude that moving traffic really fast is the only public value that is appropriate to consider when doing roadwork.

  5. Reducing the speed and volume of traffic on a local street, and encouraging through traffic to take the parallel limited access highway instead, is just good planning.

    Its not good planning if the street was doing just fine before it was “re-engineered”. It doesn’t sound like there is any need for the signals, and it doesn’t sound like there were any safety issues at the former speed limit.

    How is solving problems that don’t exist, in order to inconvenience the citizenry and increase toll revenues, “good” planning?

  6. Wow joe, I remember you saying in that other thread that toll roads were the work of the devil, and dachsunds have the best-tasting puppies.

  7. “Doing just fine…” at what, RC? Often, through roads through neighborhoods serve two masters – they’re the public street that people live on, and they’re also the commuter route that through traffic takes. In such a case, while it may be in the best interest of the n’hood and town to calm the traffic, the cost to mobility and access would be too high.

    When you open up a throughway, and the commuters have another road they can take, the balance shifts.

    “Inconvenience the citizens.” Somthing Suburban SUV Driving (Puppy Blending) Republicans tend to forget is that the people they zoom by are citizens, too.

  8. joe, that’s something every motherfucking motherfucker in a fucking car forgets.

  9. I don’t know exactly what it’s like now, Joe, but when I lived in the Denver area–I left in 2002 and drove on the toll road several times–E470 was located exactly in the middle of nowhere. Tower Road didn’t pass through as many neighborhoods as it did fields. This isn’t a method of easing traffic, it’s a shakedown.

  10. There isn’t enough information given in the article linked (don’t have time to read through the rest of the links in that one) to really determine whether the functional downgrade in the old road is something that was warranted or necessary, or whether it’s simply the result of an agreement to provide a de facto subsidy to the new toll road. Joe’s right: there could be good reason to reduce the posted speed and to introduce signals, but it’s really fishy that they would do it now, after the new road is open, when (presumably lower) traffic would seem to warrant it LESS than prior to the toll roadway opening. Add in the existence of a ‘non-compete’ agreement, and it starts looking VERY fishy.

    If the only changes made to a roadway to ‘slow it down’ are lowering the speed limit and introducing unwarranted signals, the net effect will just be higher revenue potential for local police, because people won’t significantly slow down to 40 on a roadway they’re comfortable with at 55. And maybe that’s why the local towns decided to go along with it.

  11. Reducing the speed and volume of traffic on a local street, and encouraging through traffic to take the parallel limited access highway instead, is just good planning.

    Huh? What local street is he talking about? Wasn’t the road in question described as a “2-lane rural highway?”

  12. Ugh, I guess I should hit “refresh” before posting something. Didn’t see your post Kevin.

  13. “Nor would the market be free if 2 private roadmakers colluded to do this on their own in the private sector.”

    In the freemarket, a third party would be able to build another road and undercut the first two. That’s how monopolies are destroyed.

  14. Joe, why should people need to be encouraged to use the new highway? After all, the planners obviously saw a need for it, so I’m sure that it would have done just fine on it’s own. I’d be willing to bet that those through motorists were already pretty excited for the new highway to open up. The volume of traffic on Tower Road would drop immediately on it’s own.

    What’s the point in dropping the speed limit 15mph and putting up lights that the planners never thought were necessary before? Could it possibly be that these new impediments have nothing to do with proper planning?

  15. That’s how monopolies are destroyed.

    Sometimes.

  16. Kevin,

    I don’t know what the area is like, either. I’m just pointing out that this is not an open and shut case here – there well could be good reasons for calming the traffic.

    Highway, “it’s really fishy that they would do it now, after the new road is open, when (presumably lower) traffic would seem to warrant it LESS than prior to the toll roadway opening.” Huh? If the commuters were relying on the old road, then the traffic calming could have only been done once the new road opens. Plus, the new toll road wouldn’t necessarily divert all that traffic, if they can get to their destination just as quickly, for FREE, on the old road.

    “If the only changes made to a roadway to ‘slow it down’ are lowering the speed limit and introducing unwarranted signals, the net effect will just be higher revenue potential for local police, because people won’t significantly slow down to 40 on a roadway they’re comfortable with at 55.” True dat. Though they did mention adding traffic lights. They really should narrow the road width and neck down the crosswalks if calming is what they’re going for, though.

  17. Stretch, I think I answered your question in my response above.

    And it’s entirely possible that this is just a scam, and there is no purpose or desire to do traffic calming at all. I’m just saying, based on the facts in the article, I can’t conclude that that is certainly the case – there is an entirely plausible, completely appropriate alternate explaination.

  18. Reducing the speed and volume of traffic on a local street, and encouraging through traffic to take the parallel limited access highway instead, is just good planning.

    A plan is defined as a method to achieve an end. Trip time, average speed, safety, or trip cost are ends as valid as any other. People who are called planners do not simply seek to devise good methods, they design solutions which align with their particular prejudiced concept of “good” ends. A good plan might optimize for any end, but in joe’s world, the only “good” plans are those which support his vision of human behaviour.

    The label “planner” is misleading. Even to call such people “engineers” demeans those who focus on applied understanding. What’s the term for a person who views the public as inferior animals subject to experimentation and conditioning?

  19. “Crosswalks?” On a paved, 2-lane rural highway?

    Here is a hi-res satellite photo from Google Maps centered on the area mentioned in the article where stoplights were required by the no-compete clause. If there’s a crosswalk within two miles in any direction from there, I’ll eat my hat.

  20. That’s a great theory you’ve got there, Dynamist, if you ignore the fact that a highway was just built parallel to the road. You might remember reading something about the construction of the highway from the original post? Yup, that’s me, the evil imposer of my own ends, oppressing all the drivers by, um, letting them drive on a highway and all.

    Phil,

    I guess that settles that. Maybe there’s a big project planned.

  21. Typical suburban Republican: building a limited access highway that goes to the same place isn’t enough. You have to be able to drive at highway speeds, without interruption, EVERYWHERE, or you’re being oppressed.

    Spoiled brats with great big toys.

  22. joe,

    You are the State’s ideal citizen. Whether the State is seizing homes for a private developer; blowing the heads off of subway travelers; or slowing down traffic on an existing road to enrich their cronies, you always suspend judgement until all the evidence is in.

    And then when the evidence is in, you make up further excuses.

  23. “Crosswalks?” On a paved, 2-lane rural highway?

    According to the Google Map you posted, the roads in question are right between the new Denver airport and the city itself. I wouldn’t count on it being rural for too much longer. If Denver’s anything like Colorado Springs, the place will be filled with new developments before I’m done typing this.

  24. Actually, Mike, it occurs to me that those Google Maps images aren’t always current, either. Could be several years old, in fact, so they’re hardly case-closing evidence. Still.

  25. Heh. Phases of joe!

    Where dismissive term of the day has historically included “libertoids”, “randroids”, and “suburban Republicans”:

    Waxing – “You’re obviously wrong, and anyone who disagrees on this matter is a dismissive term of the day!”

    Waning – “I’m just pointing out that another possibility exists. You may be right.”

    New – “Ah, dismissive term of the day. You’re obviously wrong.”

  26. Mike, Phil, stop being ideal citizens! How can you even suggest that the rural land next to a newly-constructed highway might see growth in the short term?

  27. joe:

    “You have to be able to drive at highway speeds, without interruption, EVERYWHERE, or you’re being oppressed.”

    Have you given no consideration to how wasteful stop signs and other interruptions really are?

    That’s why vehicles get better gas mileage at highway speeds than in city traffic. Think about the energy required to bring 2 tons of moving vehicle to a standstill, and then reaccelerate it to it’s original velocity, all for no good reason.

    Weren’t liberals supposed to be the one’s who cared about the environment?

  28. Russ R,

    Vehicle emissions are not the only factor that needs to be considered.

    Making sure people have the option to walk to some of their destinations, rather than having to drive, reduces congestion and emissions.

    If the efficient movement of automobiles via high speed roads was the solution to air pollution, Los Angeles and Houston would be the healthiest cities in America.

  29. My point, joe, is your blindness to your own bias. What seems worthy of a “good planning” assessment by your measures is just an expression of your preferences. It isn’t grounded upon anything more.

    You impose your end in every project you help design, as you clearly serve your idealistic view of human action over the full preferences of people on the ground. To call you a planner seems to give you more credibility than is deserved. Preacher, Visionary, Manipulator, perhaps. Which god do you serve?

  30. Come on, guys, give joe a break. He was right about one thing: I have a great big toy….

  31. “Making sure people have the option to walk to some of their destinations, rather than having to drive, reduces congestion and emissions.”

    I agree with your statement except for the “Making sure…” part.

    Just whose business is it to “make sure” that people and their destinations are located within walking distance?

  32. I really love how planners use the euphemism “traffic calming” to describe measures that increase congestion and pollution, decrease fuel economy, and increase travel times. I don’t know about you, but wasting my time (which planners assume is worth nothing) and money doesn’t make me calm.

  33. According to the Google Map you posted, the roads in question are right between the new Denver airport and the city itself. I wouldn’t count on it being rural for too much longer. If Denver’s anything like Colorado Springs, the place will be filled with new developments before I’m done typing this.

    You may be right. I don’t have enough info one way or the other, but when did anyone ever want to move CLOSER to an airport?

  34. “What seems worthy of a “good planning” assessment by your measures is just an expression of your preferences.”

    Actually, Dynamist, it’s an assessment that we have the opportunity to maximize both sets of preferences – for fast travel, and for safe local streets – because of the new highway. The statement you took exception to was that calmer traffic was an appropriate end to consider, even when fast travel had already been achieved. Bias, thy name is suburban Republican Dynamist.

    FYI, I serve the public.

  35. If the efficient movement of automobiles via high speed roads was the solution to air pollution, Los Angeles and Houston would be the healthiest cities in America.

    Can you tell me where in Los Angeles vehicles move efficiently? Because a three-hour trip from Century City to Irvine is many things other than “efficient.”

  36. “Just whose business is it to “make sure” that people and their destinations are located within walking distance?”

    Mixing of uses is the natural, spontaneous method of growth that occurs when density and walkability are sufficient. You don’t have to hold a gun to anybody’s head to get someone to put in stores along the main streets of traditional-style neighborhoods.

    Bob,

    Maybe how fast you can get to Wal Mart as you whiz by other people’s homes isn’t the only factor to consider. “Oh no, I’m not going as fast I want!” Honk, honk, “Get the fuck out of the road, kid!” Screw you, buddy, there are other people in the world.

  37. Mr Dobalina,

    Don’t look at me if you want a claim that that crappy planning paradigm works. But that was the intent.

    Try to remember that the next time someone tells you that another lane along the highway will solve all your problems.

  38. Just whose business is it to “make sure” that people and their destinations are located within walking distance?

    Well, if people do choose to live within walking distance of their destinations, I think that their local governments — who they elect and pay salaries to — need to ensure that people actually can walk to them without getting killed. In my area, Seven Corners and Tysons Corner are instructive examples in how not to accomplish this.

  39. I fail to see how one can refer to putting up stoplights and lowering speed limits as “calming” traffic.

    That shit infuriates me.

    :-p

  40. You don’t have to hold a gun to anybody’s head to get someone to put in stores along the main streets of traditional-style neighborhoods.

    But you do have to use the force of govt to create traditional-style neighborhoods where people would prefer something else.

  41. That’s why vehicles get better gas mileage at highway speeds than in city traffic.

    That’s not true of hybrids.

  42. “Oh no, I’m not going as fast I want!”

    Oh no! I’m not going as slow as YOU want!!

    I’m like that all the time when I’m WALKING. I prefer to walk at a fast pace, the shufflers and the fat-asses get in the way all the time. Can’t the city planners of my walkable neighborhood put in a fast-walkers sidewalk fer crissakes?

    By the way, I live in the only Republican ward in the city of Chicago.

  43. “But you do have to use the force of govt to create traditional-style neighborhoods where people would prefer something else.”

    Actually, that’s only true of where developers would prefer something else. And when developers are told they can build 400 units on a piece of land instead of 80, surprise surprise!, they do.

  44. “Oh no, I’m not going as fast I want!”

    “Oh no! I’m not going as slow as YOU want!!”

    That’s exactly the argument. We have a road that 1)moves commuter traffic, 2) provides access to local homes and businesses, and 3) needs to be crossed by pedestrians if destinations on the other side are to be safely and easily accessible.

    Why do the commuters’ values always triumph? The actual answer is, because for the past sixty years, the government has been making their desires the priority.

    Note the entitled horror that gets expressed when there is even a hint of backing off from that prioritization.

  45. joe,

    That entitled horror isn’t never just a one-way street.

  46. Man, you don’t have to tell me that, Russ D.

    “Why can’t you close our street to people who don’t live here? It’s OUR STREET! I’m going to the Council! Waaaaaaaaa!!!!”

  47. Yup, Joe, all the problems the United States has with land use patterns, highway use patterns, SUV’s, and speeding, are caused by libertarians.

    “Planners” had nothing to do with it.

    Nothing at all.

    “Good planning” will save us from those pesky libertarians and all the problems they create.

    Libertarians brought us Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.

    Libertarians brought us McDonald’s and Wal-Mart.

    Libertarians destroyed “traditional neighborhoods”.

    Libertarians gave us a society where people in SUV’s speed by playing children to try to shave a few minutes off of their commute.

    Thank heavens that “good planning” will save us from all these horrible things that libertarians hath wrought!

  48. joe,

    As fluffy suggests, isn’t that entitlement whining based on the fact that planners have oversold the virtues of planning?

    “You can have any neighborhood you like, so long as it’s pedestrian friendly.”

    These people want a walkable, but isolated community. Sort of like Pullman (where my family is from).

    I don’t even think I’m making a point, I’m just sayin’.

  49. joe,

    So, the organic, natural process of traditional neighborhood creation depends on planners, with the force of govt behind them, telling the landowners what they can build.

  50. “So, the organic, natural process of traditional neighborhood creation depends on planners, with the force of govt behind them, telling the landowners what they can build.”

    Right, crimethink. Then the land is taken from them, but not before charging them rent for it.

  51. Well, sage, technically the rent is charged after taking it from them but before the bulldozers show up.

    I find it interesting that joe is worried about all the people who prefer to walk several miles from Denver to the airport. Or those who want to stop in various non-existent neighborhoods on the way. Damn those Republican puppy-drinkers and their SUVs, who insist on driving quickly when it inconveniences nobody! See how they smirk at the nonexistent people by the side of the road!

    joe, ease off on the joe.

  52. Based on my recollection since driving in that area within the last couple of years, the satellite photos are very accurate. There are scarcely farm homes in that area of town, let alone a business/home environment necessitating crosswalks.

    I don’t recall a whole lot of clamor to build toward the airport, either. That airport has been there a non-trivial number of years now. It’s not like they’ve been expecting tremendous growth toward the airport if they’re JUST NOW getting around to “calming” traffic (coincident with the toll road opening fully).

    Hell, there are still prarie dog towns on the eastern edges of the northern towns like Commerce City (in the direction of the airport and thus Tower Road).

  53. To: everyone not named “joe”

    Why are you bothering to argue with a moron?

  54. Joe is many things, but he is not a moron, abc.

  55. No Eric; Joe is a troll. A very successful one, but a troll nonetheless.

    And ABC? I remember dealing with Joe’s like from my Usenet days; warnings to people not to feed the trolls oft go unheeded. What I want is a ‘Bozo Bin’ to send his posts to. That way he can troll to his heart’s content and those who want to argue with him can go ahead.

    But I won’t have to listen…

  56. Just to clear up any uncertainty about the area:

    E-470 was built to connect the suburbs to the airport, which itself, is out there. When I last lived in Denver (2002) there was some development starting nearby, but not much. Commerce City, as the name implies, is mostly industrial. Between that and the rural nature of the surrounding land, neighborhoods, crosswalks and the like are non-factors. The very fact that this undisclosed “non-compete” deal favoring the toll road took place at a time when putting the clamps on Tower Road traffic wasn’t even theoretically necessary for the present or near future tells you everything you need to know.

  57. Um, I understand how you could think joe’s an asshole, or even a moron, even though I don’t think so. Usually, I just think he’s wrong, and occasionally abrasive. But a troll? Just because he disagrees with most people here? Or is there some definition of “troll” I’m not aware of?

  58. The word “troll,” like “fascist,” has been co-opted and disfigured by the genuine morons of the world.

  59. (From the Jargon File Definition

    1. v.,n. [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames; or, the post itself. Derives from the phrase ?trolling for newbies? which in turn comes from mainstream ?trolling?, a style of fishing in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll. If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it. See also YHBT.

    2. n. An individual who chronically trolls in sense 1; regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that they have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand – they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, ?Oh, ignore him, he’s just a troll.? Compare kook.

  60. In what way does Joe not fit definition (2) above?

  61. In my area we only get new traffic controls and lower speed limits when the local political monkey can’t turn left within a half second of arriving at the stop sign. So now we have a 50 mph zone that drops to a 35 because there is a new light on a very similar rural highway. Oh, the other road is a dead end with three houses and the election can’t come soon enough.

  62. Note: Really good trolls craft comments that appear reasonable and well-thought out — but remain designed to get lots of responses. You can tell a troll from a contrarian by the fact the troll really there to learn or conduct a true dialogue and by the fact the troll will sometimes contradict himself and/or change his position on matters because the main purpose is not to convince, but rather elicit a response.

  63. Oops. “by the fact the troll really there to learn” should be “by the fact the troll really *is not* there to learn”

  64. Joe: “Inconvenience the citizens.” Somthing Suburban SUV Driving (Puppy Blending) Republicans tend to forget is that the people they zoom by are citizens, too.

    I was a ranch living Republican when the .gov ED’ed some of my land to widen & straiten the highway going through it. Now traffic has a nice strait runway into some nice sharp curves, so all the cars crash at the same place.

    I used some of the .gov pay off to buy an SUV, by the way.

    I have some land that logic dictates they will ED when they decide to move the crash point farther North. So, what should I buy with the next pay off?

  65. I’m glad joe’s here. He gives us someone to debate besides other libertarians. And maybe that’s why he’s here and not on some lefty blog — he likes to challenge and be challenged. He might get flip or huffy sometimes, but that’s not all he is. He’s just as often humorous or amiable. I think he’s got balls.

  66. I’m actually having a relatively entertaining discussion regarding this issue with Dave Goebel, COO of the New London Development Corp…reference below (this missing attachment is a boring diatribe about how important the redevelopment project is, how many jobs it will create, how it will help the environment, and all that other puke).

    If the thead continues, I’ll try to post it

    ^^^^^^^^^^^

    From: burt hoovis
    Date: Aug 17, 2005 8:30 PM
    Subject: Re: Input from a Concerned Individual…
    To: davemg@nldc.org

    That was a really long winded attachment…you could have summed
    it up
    by saying “The Supreme Court told us it was okay to steal
    people’s
    stuff, because what we’re doing is so damn important.
    Therefore, we
    can feel good about stealing people’s stuff.”

    I bet if the Supreme Court ruled that it was okay to throw
    people of a
    given ethnic/religious persuasion into gas chambers for some
    important
    reason, you could feel good about that, too.

    Hell, maybe you could even charge them rent for the time that
    they
    spent in your prison awaiting their fate!

    Anyway, this is a great discussion, but I fear that the more I
    say,
    the more I dilute my central message (i.e., that you’re an
    asshole).

    Thanks!
    Burt

    On 8/17/05, Dave Goebel wrote:
    > Mr. Hoovis:
    >
    > It is unfortunate when people make decisions know (or thinking
    they know)
    > only one side of a story. That seems to fit you. I have
    attached a white
    > paper that might help you to understand at least one side.
    >
    > Dave Goebel
    >
    >
    > —–Original Message—–
    > From: burt hoovis [mailto:burt.hoovis@gmail.com]
    > Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2005 8:11 AM
    > To: davemg@nldc.org
    > Subject: Re: Input from a Concerned Individual…
    >
    >
    > I’m really not interested in trying to have a meaningful
    discussion
    > with a thief…I just wanted to let you know what an asshole
    you are.
    >
    > Thanks!
    > Burt
    >
    >
    > On 8/16/05, Dave Goebel wrote:
    > > Mr. Hoovis:
    > >
    > > Your language gives you away. Anyone who relies on
    profanity to
    > communicate
    > > is apparently not capable of a meaningful discussion. If
    you wish to have
    > > such a discussion, let me know.
    > >
    > > Dave Goebel
    > >
    > > —–Original Message—–
    > > From: burt hoovis [mailto:burt.hoovis@gmail.com]
    > > Sent: Monday, August 15, 2005 7:55 PM
    > > To: davemg@nldc.org; jwronowski@nldc.org; jbrooks@nldc.org;
    > > zpenn@nldc.org; cfoley@nldc.org
    > > Subject: Input from a Concerned Individual…
    > >
    > >
    > > So you and your buddies are going to chage back rent to the
    people
    > > whose land you’re stealing? That’s great! I also heard
    that you’re
    > > offering the residents the value of the property at is
    assessed value
    > > in the year 2000, when they first tried to fight your bogus
    move.
    > >
    > > If there’s a hell, I hope all you motherfuckers rot in it.
    > >
    > > I don’t know how assholes like you sleep.
    > >
    > > Sincerely,
    > > Burt Hoovis
    > >
    > >

  67. Stevo,

    And I take it you like balls?

  68. I thought “troll” came from people who were pa-TROLL-ing the boards. Now I think it’s people that post as other people or who post just to get a rise out of other people. But that could be the beer talking…

  69. JWB,

    Now you’re being silly. A troll is someone who posts out of bad faith. We have no reason to believe joe doesn’t really hold the opinions he professes, or that he posts here for any reason other than debating people he disagrees with. He even shows a great deal of experience and knowledge, which just goes to show you that you can know a lot about a topic and still be wrong.

    Plus, he uses his full name in his email address. Even I don’t do that, because I’m always posting when I’m supposed to be working.

    Here I go, defending joe again. But like Stevo, I’m glad he’s here. How boring would it be to have an eminent domain post where we all said, “oh, yes, I agree, those city planners are assholes.” “Well said, dear boy.”

  70. Based on my recollection since driving in that area within the last couple of years, the satellite photos are very accurate. There are scarcely farm homes in that area of town, let alone a business/home environment necessitating crosswalks.

    Actually, if you switch to plan map view on the Google Maps page, you will see three separate subdivisions sprouting up. And even in the satellite image, you can see some development going on northwest of the intersection.

  71. ” I don’t know how assholes like you sleep.”

    On great big piles of money.

  72. I don’t understand why people insist on responding to Joe.

    “We have no reason to believe joe doesn’t really hold the opinions he professes”

    Yes we do, the fact that on whatever thread for whatever topic, he immediately sticks his finger in the air, sees which way the wind is blowing and immediately tilts in the opposite direction. He is a prototypical troll.

    Regardless of whether the signals are good or bad, the relationship between the government and the highway backers is petty corruption at least. Joe knows this, he just doesn’t care as the topic to Joe is always, “how do I come up with a counter argument to piss these idiots off?”

  73. OK, to beat this horse to death and beyond, you’re wrong about joe. If he was a troll, he’d only show up to disagree & goad us on eminent domain & shit. Instead, he posts on punk rock, baseball, etc. Also, he doesn’t put his finger in the wind and disagree with us on gay marriage or the drug war.

    joe, next time you want to call me a randriod or a suburban republican warmonger, remember i stuck up for you!

  74. fluffy,

    I didn’t invent the field of urban planning. But here we are.

    And you are correct, the unsafe, inhumane, auto-dependent landscape of suburban America was absolutely not the result of a freely operating market in land, housing, and transportation. It took a lot of work to make that happen.

  75. “the unsafe, inhumane, auto-dependent landscape of suburban America was absolutely not the result of a freely operating market in land, housing, and transportation.”

    Since there’s hardly a market anywhere that isn’t plagued with government intervention, I’ll take your word for it.

    Can you give examples of forces that have distorted the land market? I’d like to try to get a picture of what an unfettered market would have looked like.

  76. Russ R,

    Zoning requirement such as minimum lot sizes for homes, single use districts, and high parking requirements made sprawl development mandatory.

    Highway projects subsidized the extra transportation costs, which subsidized sprawl and starved areas served by transit.

    Redlining – imposed on a willing financial industry – denied capital and financial services to older neighborhoods, and those featuring racial integration and rental housing.

    The stew of failed ideas from the late 20th century that drove people out of the cities.

    The mortgage deduction.

    The fees charged by utilities to existing customers, used to fund the extension of those utilities to undeveloped areas.

  77. Thanks joe,

    Can you do me the favour of giving me the official definition of “sprawl”?

    I can’t see why it’s such a bad thing. I personally like open, uncluttered living space, and I can only assume that others share this preference. Not everyone wants to live in a high-density downtown core.

  78. “As God is my witness, as God is my witness, they’re not going to lick me! I’m going to live through this, and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again ? no, nor any of my folks! If I have to lie, steal, cheat, or kill! As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

    The oil is running out Russ. Get used to it.

  79. Dave,

    “The oil is running out Russ. Get used to it.”

    It’s no secret… The oil’s been running out since drilling began. So have the coal, gas, minerals and every other depleting resource. Do you think that only the enlightened folk are aware of this?

    As supplies fall, prices increase, until alternatives become economically viable and eventually take over. Do you know anyone who still uses whale oil to light their homes?

  80. Russ R,

    There is no official definition of sprawl. It varies from place to place.

    In general, sprawl is a style of development (which can manifest itself at the site, neighborhood, local, and regional level) that uses land inefficiently, and which incorporates automobile movement as the central principle of community design. Common features include streets that are inhospitable to pedestrians, sharp segregation of uses, large portions of the landscape dedicated to cars (highways and highway-like streets, giant parking lots), buildings sited and designed without consideration of pedestrian access and streetscape chatacter, and a fragmented pattern of roadways with little connectivity and a rigid pattern of concentrating traffic on major arterials.

    It is not “anything except urban downtowns.” Rural villages and farmhouses, and traditional neighborhoods (including those featuring single family homes) are also alternatives to sprawl. If you want to live in the country, live in the country. There will probably be a nice town- or village center nearby.

  81. confused,

    Not everyone on this board agrees about every single issue – as much as that sometimes seems to be the case.

    And just to prove my point:

    But you do have to use the force of govt to create traditional-style neighborhoods where people would prefer something else.

    Or, you can watch the price of oil go thru the roof as our “friends” in the Middle East and central Asia discover that they can’t pump any faster to supply both us and the Chinese. Suddenly those traditional neighborhoods that we abandoned during the cheap oil era won’t look so horrible. The end of cheap oil means that what sort of neighborhood you prefer might not matter anymore.

  82. I realize that there are people who like the suburban pattern of development, Russ. I think those people are loons, but I recognize that they exist.

    It’s just that the claim cannot be made that suburban development exists as a result of the free market.

    A free market in development and in transportation [critically in transportation] would in all likelihood result in a small number of high-density urban areas, and not a high number of medium-density suburban areas.

    The suburbanization of America represents social engineering on a much more dramatic scale than virtually any other government intervention into the economy than anyone could name – SSI, Health Care, environmental regulation, the regulation of the workplace, etc., all shrivel into insignificance in their effect on American society compared to the gigantic distortion that is our land use and transportation system.

    It’s simply impossible to simultaneously claim to be an advocate of the free market and an advocate of suburbia.

    The other side of the coin is that it’s ALSO impossible to be an advocate of government planning and a critic of suburban development. Every last pundit who points at the worst features of our trashy suburban culture and says, “This is what capitalism does to our environment and to the human spirit!” is full of shit. Capitalism had little to do with it, other than creating an economy that deployed resources efficiently in response to the distortions made by government planning. Planners wanted a junky suburban culture, and capitalism gave it to them to the nth degree. If blame has to be assigned for the features of “late capitalism”, I think we should at least be honest about where that blame lies.

    And the offensive thing is that now the planners come to us and say, “No, this isn’t what we really wanted! Give us a chance to do all of this over again, and we promise it will be better this time!” and that’s simply BS. We have no reason to assume that the current generation of planners won’t screw up as bad as the last two or three. Actually, we have every reason to believe that they will. Even if we can’t specifically identify the exact manner in which they will do so. The problem is that a guy like Joe can walk into a room and tell you about his plan and can make it sound eminently reasonable to all present – but 50 years ago, the guy who advocated building the Central Artery in Boston, or the guy who advocated building the LA freeways, sounded reasonable to their audiences, too.

  83. joe,

    so let me get this straight, and please correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Sprawl is a style of development that uses land inefficiently.

    2. This style of development places excessive emphasis on vehicles.

    3. Because vehicles and fuel are presently cheap (perhaps due to subsidies), it only appears to people that vehicular travel & transport is efficient, because they aren’t paying the full costs.

    4. Because of this flawed efficiency assumption, people are selecting locations that are spaced too far apart to be economical.

    5. The large spaces necessitate vehicle use.

    6. This dependence on vehicles requires more space for roadways, parking lots, gas stations, etc.

    7. This space is wasted because it could be put to more desirable uses.

    Is that about right?

  84. Rhwyun,

    “Suddenly those traditional neighborhoods that we abandoned during the cheap oil era won’t look so horrible.” It isn’t the old neighborhoods that were abandoned, so much as the new ones being built. Growth happens – our population is booming. The issue is the form that growth takes.

    A sequence of maps of an American city from 1700 to 1950 looks like normal cell growth. Thereafter, it looks like cancer growth. The latter is sprawl, while the former (even if the area converted from open space to urbanized area is greater) is not.

  85. fluffy,

    I realize you’re just using shorthand, but you shouldn’t diss the concept of suburbs that way. There is nothing inherent to being a suburb that is contrary to smart growth principles. The problem is the type of suburbs that have been built, not that there are suburbs at all.

    Most of the things people say they like about sprawly suburbs can be provided just as well, or better, in a traditional neighborhood design. The rest aren’t even provided very well by sprawly suburbs, and are actually rural characteristics of which late 20th century sprawl provides a pale imitation.

  86. YEAAAA, Joe!

    “Try to remember that the next time someone tells you that another lane along the highway will solve all your problems.”
    ** awesome point***

    whenever we drive west (homewards) on I-94 from around K’zoo, MI, there’s a spot where the road widens from two to three lanes. the SUV driving, cell phone yacking, go 48 in the left lane assholes move left. it’s a fucking contest by these jerkoffs to get left and slow down as quickly as possible.

    more lanes would make that worse, as these assholes would distribute themselves across almost all the lanes. although it makes the game “describe that left lane fever asshole” more fun. we’ve gotten pretty good.

    still, the favorite is the one who gets “insulted” that you pass them (when they’re going under speed limit), and get “competitive”. ah, yes, people who think that getting hot and bothered about parlor games = “competitive”.

    grrrrr.

    oh – and one of the biggest mistakes from post WWII planning is continuing to be removed. The next annex of Cabrini Green, north of division street this time, is being taken down. The high rises where “Good times” (racist fuckers) was filmed were taken down in the spring of 2000.

    Mike Royko (RIP) had an excellent article about the public housing issues called “A Shovelfull of Bad Thinking”.

    Interesting stuff.

    cheers,
    drf

  87. 50 years ago, the guy who advocated building the Central Artery in Boston, or the guy who advocated building the LA freeways, sounded reasonable to their audiences, too.

    Except the people advocating those things 50 years ago were developers, not planners.

  88. Also, fluffy, the comparison of contemporary planning to mid-20th century planning is facile and misleading. Have you noticed that no one ever complains about the planning done from 1620 through 1900? If the problems you identify were the consequence of planning per se, rather than a specific type and era of planning, you would hear these complaints. Sure, you hear complaints about the methods uses, but very seldom does anyone claim that L’Enfant’s Washington or Ogilvee’s Savannah are badly designed cities. (Except maybe people who whine that they can’t drive through them as fast as they like, which sort of misses the point.)

    Modernist planning – from le corbusier through Robert Moses – was an historical anomoly based on technophilic utopianism and a deliberate rejection of the accumulated wisdom of the ages. Damning all planning based on those problems is like damning all blues-based music because of the excesses of Prog Rock and Arena Rock in the 70s.

  89. It isn’t the old neighborhoods that were abandoned, so much as the new ones being built.

    In the rust belt, it is. Buffalo went from a population of 600,000 to less than 300,000 today. Same story for almost every city that was large in 1950.

  90. Russ R, I was purposely distinguishing the transportation inefficiencies from the land use inefficiencies. What I was referring to is the extremely low “bang for the buck” (or rather, bang for the quarter-acre) you get from sprawl design. Look at the landscaping beds around your typical half acre gas station in Florida. They could have built just as attractive a gas station on half the land, but because of regulation and the design norms they’ve created, the flower bed is fifty feet wide instead of eight or ten. Suburbia is defined by indeterminate grassy blobs of land that fail to serve any recreational, habitat, housing, economic development, transportation, or other value, other than conforming to the dead-hand of a bad aesthetic. You see this waste in neither rural areas, nor in urban or traditional neighborhoods.

  91. Russ,

    But on the transportion issues, you sum it up pretty well. The auto-dependent pattern shapes the market in such a way that other patterns are rendered inappropriate.

    Although I think you put too much emphasis on rational decisions based on transportation costs, and too little on ingrained habits (the most successful social engineering program in American history) and regulation.

  92. It is true, Rhwuyn, that there are many cities and towns that could be repopulated.

    However, even if they were repopulated at their old levels, that still would not account for more than a small fraction of the growth we’ve seen since then.

    Also, it would be undesireable for them to be repopulated at their old levels. Many of the old, slummy neighborhoods that got urban renewed really were unsustainable. There just wasn’t the infrastructure and services to make life liveable there. While you can certainly provide a high quality of life in an industrial-era-density urban neighborhood if you design it Manhattan or Tokyo style, there’s just no way that level of capital-intensive redevelopment is economical for Buffalo, Gary, or Detroit.

  93. joe,

    Well, I wasn’t alive in 1950’s Buffalo, so I can’t vouch for whether it was livable or not. But we’re not talking about Lower East Side tenements here: the population density would have been roughly 15,000 per square mile, which is not crushing at all. And in fact I would guess it was *more* livable than today, since in those days most, if not all, your daily needs could be reached on foot. Since then, most shopping and entertainment has left the city, requiring large numbers of houses to be replaced with parking lots and highways to get the remaining people out there.

    But yes, you are right, most of the growth has obviously taken place outside the traditional cities.

  94. “the population density would have been roughly 15,000 per square mile, which is not crushing at all.”

    I doubt the Buffalo’s population was evenly distributed across different styles of neighborhoods, and I doubt that the depopulation has occurred at the same rate across neighborhoods.

    If the pattern holds, the poorest, densest neighborhoods accounted for most of the city’s population, and account for most of the depopulation that has occured. It probably wouldn’t be a good thing to see those areas repopulated at the density they once endured.

    “And in fact I would guess it was *more* livable than today, since in those days most, if not all, your daily needs could be reached on foot.” That’s not the only variable in livability. It’s the one that gets the most press, because 1) many of the other problems have been overcome and 2) the problem of auto dependency has not. But let’s not romanticize the misery of the industrial era slum here. Living 30 people to a three decker sucked. Now THAT is your capitalist misery.

  95. joe:

    “I was purposely distinguishing the transportation inefficiencies from the land use inefficiencies. What I was referring to is the extremely low “bang for the buck” (or rather, bang for the quarter-acre) you get from sprawl design.”

    I could more easily accept the “distortions of subsidized vehicle use” argument.

    Conceding that vehicle use is abnormally cheap, it would have the effect of making ex-urban land more valueable (as it becomes more easily and affordably accessible). More valueable land is more expensive than it otherwise would be.

    If this suburban land, despite it’s artificially elevated price, is still being put to uses that you see as extravagant (flower beds and such), I think that either you or I are missing something in the argument.

    Maybe these large “indeterminate grassy blobs of land that fail to serve any … value”, are actually being put to a suitable use. Even at inflated land costs, owners are still happy to leave them undeveloped. Why? Who knows, maybe it makes them happy… and what makes people happy can’t always be measured in an efficiency study or on a balance sheet.

  96. You know what? Probably absolutely no one will care about my reaction to this, but after a nasty start, joe’s made a long run of polite, conversational, and thoughtful comments about the subject, adding quite a bit of value to the thread…and I’m inspired.

    I’m done insulting, parodying, and mocking joe. I’ll even reply politely or not at all to him if he writes something obnoxious (within reasonable limits of “things you can get away with face-to-face without a poke in the nose”; I reserve the right to repay something really nasty with an insult – but how often can he talk about a guy’s mom) I’ll even try to refrain from characterizing anything he says as trolling, and I will not call him a troll at all.

  97. joe:

    “I was purposely distinguishing the transportation inefficiencies from the land use inefficiencies. What I was referring to is the extremely low “bang for the buck” (or rather, bang for the quarter-acre) you get from sprawl design.”

    I could more easily accept the “distortions of subsidized vehicle use” argument.

    Conceding that vehicle use is abnormally cheap, it would have the effect of making ex-urban land more valueable (as it becomes more easily and affordably accessible). More valueable land is more expensive than it otherwise would be.

    If this suburban land, despite it’s artificially elevated price, is still being put to uses that you see as extravagant (flower beds and such), I think that either you or I are missing something in the argument.

    Maybe these large “indeterminate grassy blobs of land that fail to serve any … value”, are actually being put to a satisfactory use. Even at inflated land costs, owners are still happy to leave them undeveloped.

    Why? Who knows, but it obviously makes them land-owners happy… and what makes people happy can’t always be measured in an efficiency study or on a balance sheet.

  98. Back to the thread: I find joe’s arguments here about the distorting effects of government policy in creating the modern suburb quite convincing. If removing government encouragement for modern developments results in suburbs unlike what many of us are familiar with, well, that’s the market. I definitely would like to see something like that play out.

    I even found his arguments about pre-modernist urban planning to be (disturbingly) persuasive.

    Joe, what do you see as the failures (or problems, maladaptions, etc.) of pre-modernist urban planning practice in the US? I obviously ask with the unspoken question of “well, how can we minimize or remove, if possible, the necessity of planning to achieve livable results”, but you probably guessed that.

  99. Russ: I think joe’s mostly describing things like broad medians and unused bits of properties with unadorned expanses of grass (which naturally either require sprinkers or look awfully yellow in Texas summers).

    They’re prettier than dirt or pavement in the same place, but they’re obviously just extra space dealt with by covering it with green – or, in some places, some genuinely attractive shrubs and whatnot.

  100. Not to mention zoning requirements. My sister’s school just remodeled their pickup line, both to make it longer, and to add a second lane so you can leave after you have your child, and not wait for the person in the front of the line. But halfway through the project, they discovered that you’re legally required to have three feet of plant beds, or something like that, between the street and any new construction you do; so though the line is now longer, and can hold more parents, it’s actually narrower. Used to be that you could pass if you were in a small car; now there’s no way at all. That’s not responding to unseen incentives; that’s responding to phenomenally stupid regulations.

  101. So if zoning regulations, and vehicle subsidies are distorting the market and creating the waste of “sprawl” (quotes because it’s a concept I don’t yet entirely agree is detrimental), wouldn’t the simple answer be to eliminate the subsidies and zoning regs that create the distortion instead of adding more planning to correct “sprawl”?

    Or am I being hopelessly naive?

  102. Russ: Something like that would be my hope.

  103. Russ R,

    The value of the land increases – that’s the main reason highways get built – but the cost of living there, when travel time and cost, distribution of goods, etc etc etc, gets factored in, not even the extra cost of the land covers the extra expenses created by that style of development. They just get covered by the public.

    “Even at inflated land costs, owners are still happy to leave them undeveloped.” They are often mandated by regulation.

  104. Eric .5b, I’m a little confused by your terminology. What are you calling “pre-modernist planning?” Boston in 1800? Newton, MA in 1925?

    jadugal,

    Let me get this strait: there are so many people picking their kids up from school that cars are stacked up the yin yang, and you’ve got a problem with the three foot planting bed? The question you should be asking is why do all these parents feel like they need to pick their kid up from school?

    Russ R,

    Now you’re getting into another set of problems. Look at it this way – the environments of older cities were built to match the human form and sensibility because that’s what they had to plan for. Today, the social engineering has been successful, the environment has been largely built out “Maximum Overdrive” style, and we’re stuck in a rut. We either continue in the rut we’re in, or we shift ourselves into another rut. Neither one is natural, and both will subject people to coercion in one form or another.

  105. Russ R,

    “Sprawl” is detrimental because it’s entirely dependent on super-cheap energy. That’s why it didn’t exist until the 20th century brought about the mass-production of gasoline. It’s also detrimental because it sucks the life out of every “traditional” (old-style) settlement that it touches, due to the attraction of its spacious living arrangements (with the exception of a very few successful cities like New York or San Francisco). That might not sound bad to the majority here, who are perfectly happy with the suburban lifestyle, but to those of us who aren’t going to be settling down to a wife and 2.5 kids – it’s a disaster.

  106. ‘”Sprawl” is detrimental because it’s entirely dependent on super-cheap energy.’

    Sadly, I get the sense that most sprawlers would be perfectly happy to pay a lot more for their lifestyle, if the cost would also drive the lower income hordes back to the central cities.

    And stop buying into the phoney “Leave it Beaver” vs. Manahattan duality! What’s wrong with a mix of single, two, and four family houses on 3000-6000 square foot lots?

  107. And stop buying into the phoney “Leave it Beaver” vs. Manahattan duality!

    Who is this addressed to? Surely not me… There’s nothing wrong with that option you mention, except that it hardly exists anywhere. Sadly, the only living options left in America are the hyper-urbanity of New York et al., and the hyper-suburbia of… everywhere else. Your mix of single, two and four family houses pretty much describes Buffalo, before a quarter of its residents moved to the suburbs and another quarter moved to Arizona. And took all the businesses and amenities that made Buffalo a good, urban, place to live with them.

  108. “What’s wrong with a mix of single, two, and four family houses on 3000-6000 square foot lots?

    Finding buyers.

    Frankly, if I can afford a large single family home, I want to live in a neighbourhood with others who can afford the same. Who want’s to live among “poor” people?

  109. “Sadly, the only living options left in America are the hyper-urbanity of New York et al., and the hyper-suburbia of… everywhere else. Your mix of single, two and four family houses pretty much describes Buffalo, before a quarter of its residents moved to the suburbs and another quarter moved to Arizona. And took all the businesses and amenities that made Buffalo a good, urban, place to live with them.”

    visit the Ravenswood neighborhood of chicago. i guess where i am right now doesn’t exist.

    not everything distills to an east coast discription.

    frostily,
    drf

  110. “Finding buyers” has not been a problem in the New Urbanist communities that have been built using such a pattern – they are often near (but not at) the top of their regions’ real estate values.

    drf,

    Most neighborhoods of most east coast cities are like what I described – with the single family to multifamily ratio and size of the lots varying from place to place. Great Lakes and East Coast cities (and the older cities of the west) all share this common geography.

  111. joe,

    “And stop buying into the phoney “Leave it Beaver” vs. Manahattan duality!”

    Let me explain to you my honest living preferences.

    I’m 27, an MBA student, and will most likely be working in consulting after finishing b-school.

    I’ll be working in a city, so my ideal living arrangement would be an urban condo, a safe distance above the drunks, junkies, freaks and thugs that make urban life so distasteful.

    Assuming I have a family, my ideal living arrangement would be to move to the suburbs, so that my kids can grow up a safe distance away from the drunks, junkies, freaks and thugs that make urban life so distasteful.

    I suppose that I’m about as “duality” as they come.

    Anyway, thanks, I’ve learned a thing or two from this thread.

  112. crimethink: “Stevo, And I take it you like balls?”

    I’m very fond of my own and, as a metaphor (or is it metonymy?) for courage, something I admire in others. E.g., “Crimethink has balls for being the lone anti-abortion poster on this thread.”

  113. Hi Joe!

    I had kinda figured that – your description fit with what i experienced in the Art Museum area in Philly (early 90s).

    How would you classify Belmont and that area of surburban Boston. I think that’s near the Alewife (?) station? (I always think of the great lakes fish that dies off in the springtime with that name)

    I was teasing Russ a bit, as this neighborhood here in Chicago (Ravenswood/ Lincoln Square) falls into that “missing” category 🙂

    The chicago bus people have express lines running from “downtown” (State and, say, Washington) to Hyde Park area. The METRA electric line runs infrequently from down there. Both options are safer than the Red and Green EL lines. But prosperity is oozing southwards out of the loop. Where Fyodor played a few weeks ago, Cal’s, right at the bottom of the loop, that area was kinda gross even a few years ago.

    Whatever the relation, there are more and better CTA (bus) lines there, at least according to the show “Chicago Works!”.

    Not sure if it’s in English, but there are some issues with the older construction in Vienna and how to fix infrastructure to deal with the higher tech world. The one subway is being lengthened (U2), but that’ll nix more tram lines (sigh). The interesting thing is that, when i was there in 1994, the awful busses smelled, belched out this gross smoke, etc. In 2004, what might (or might not) be attributed to biodiesel, the busses were much cleaner.

    Russ – where are you in school? Hook up with Mo – he’s starting his MBA at Mendoza (Notre Dame).

    cheers,
    drf

  114. >Zoning requirement such as minimum lot sizes for homes, single use districts,
    >and high parking requirements made sprawl development mandatory.

    Since developers always object to large minimum lot sizes, high parking requirements, single use zoning, and low density in general, I’m amused that you ascribe this result to a lack of a free market.

  115. drf, same alewifes – they used to swim up the brook that gives the area its name.

    Belmont and Arlington (the older areas, anyway) are what I’d call a “traditional suburb,” a “streetcar suburb,” a “classic suburb,” or an “inner ring suburb.”

    Bob, that didn’t make any sense. There are regulations. The developers don’t like the regulations, and would build differently without them. I call this a distorted, regulated market. What’s the problem?

  116. not everything distills to an east coast discription.

    ?? I’ve never been to Chicago (except for a 1-hour layover on Amtrak) – but I’ve heard a lot of nice things about it. Maybe you missed it, but I said “New York ET AL.”, by which I meant New York, Boston, San Francisco and probably Chicago and a few others (Philadelphia? Baltimore?). As it happens, the East Coast (+ the Great Lakes) is where most settlement occurred before the rise of suburbia – so if you perceive some sort of East Coast bias in my preferences, well… what can I say.

  117. thanks, Joe.

    Hi Rhywun!
    wasn’t sure what the NY etc was suposed to mean. and we’re still great lakes. 🙂

    plus, New Jersey is a perfect description of what you’re saying.

    Chicago is a cool town. Stop by Goose Island on the 27th at 7:30 to meet us reasonoids.

    cheers,
    drf

  118. The statement you took exception to was that calmer traffic was an appropriate end to consider, even when fast travel had already been achieved. Bias, thy name is suburban Republican Dynamist.

    You’re arguing with the righty in your head.

    I take exception to your bias that calming traffic is what defines good planning. If you actually balanced all ends and developed a method which served the public, you would probably be laying out sprawling exurbs in about the same quantities as you attempt to recreate traditional neighborhoods. People want to both, but to you, one is “good planning” and the other is a corrupt waste of resources.

    To a dynamist, both can be well-planned, but neither is preferred. To this Dynamist, a neighborhood with several decades of age is better than anything fresh off a planner’s board. The wisdom of the people acting through time tends to correct the planner’s oversight.

  119. Joe, there actually are a couple of reasons the parents pick their kids up that have relatively little to do with city planning. Most important is that the school is full of spoiled little rich kids-I think some of the parents drive from two blocks away to pick their kids up. It’s kind of sad, but that’s the parents being morons, not the city or the school. Second is that they are kids; if I had a kindergardener I wouldn’t want him trying to navigate home by public transport. I don’t think the high school has the same problem.

    The planting bed is just annoying because it stupidly makes a bad situation worse; requiring three or four feet of trees between the street and anything you actually want to build wastes a whole lot of land space. The school was faced with a problem-a crowded pickup line; devised a solution-let parents leave as soon as they have their kids, so that if the first person’s kid is late he doesn’t hold up the entire line; and finds that the solution isn’t allowed because ten oak trees on this block of the street isn’t enough.

  120. drf,

    Some parts of NJ are nice but I don’t drive so living there is kind of out of the question. Plus I’m single…

  121. Hi Rhywun!

    all the more reason to consider chicago. i’m sure linguist has some single friends 🙂

    i used to go to princeton and pharma alley for work (RWJ, BMS, etc). Princeton is a cute town. And it’s kinda cool that it’s on the Amtrak NE corridor.

  122. Joe:

    I’m a little confused by your terminology. What are you calling “pre-modernist planning?”

    My choice of words bothered me, to, but I couldn’t think of anything clearer. I was referring to your remark:

    Modernist planning – from le corbusier through Robert Moses – was an historical anomoly based on technophilic utopianism and a deliberate rejection of the accumulated wisdom of the ages.

    and meant to refer to the state of art before that point. At least, I completely stopped myself from asking about post-modernist planning (heh!).

    Maybe “non-Modernist” planning?

  123. Thank you for calling attention to our Roads Scholars series at Unbossed.

    But, for the record, I don’t think we “miss[ed] the point that a market isn’t exactly free when government arbitrarily sets controls for, in this case, traffic flow…”.

    The negation of a true free market supply and demand economy through the governmental non-compete clauses is germane to several other points we have raised:

    (1) Who owns the land in the vicinity of the toll road interchanges?
    (2) How was the land acquired?
    (3) Who developed the land surrounding the interchanges?
    (4) Who owns the businesses that now exist near the interchanges?
    (5) What economic effect has the development along the E-470 interchanges had on similar long-established locally-owned businesses along Tower Road?
    (6) Was “jobs creation” used as a selling point to strong arm the municipalities to go along with the financing deals and non-compete contracts?

    I’ve created a subpage with the entire week-long Roads Scholars series in date order, if you’re so inclined.

    Thanks again for your interest in this topic. More to come soon.

  124. >Bob, that didn’t make any sense. There are regulations. The developers don’t like the
    >regulations, and would build differently without them. I call this a distorted, regulated market.
    >What’s the problem?

    The problem is that developers didn’t create the conditions you decry, *planners* did. The problem with American land planners is that they have a grand vision of how the city should look and impose that upon its residents, whether the residents and developers want that or not. At its core “modern land planning” in the US is a child of Soviet central planners, whose land-use ideas they emulate (including you).

  125. Russ, Statistically your family is a lot more like to get killed in a car on the highway than by a junkie. Please re-evaluate the safety priorities. For the sake of your prospective children. They will be counting on you.

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