Morning Ed: Cities {2017.07.20.Th}

[Ci1] Henry Grabar wonders why all of these cities that say they want to fight climate change aren’t taking the most obvious steps.

[Ci2] Conor Sen has some suggestions for how malls can reinvent themselves as community centers.

[Ci3] Matheiu Vaillancourt wishes cities would stop touting autism-friendliness.

[Ci4] Mexico City may be abolishing its parking minimums! Yay! But they may be instituting maximums! Boo! Seriously, is it that hard to let the market sort it out?

[Ci5] Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote a piece on how the suburbs die. I’m not especially convinced that the Connecticut experience is going to be generalizable to the rest of the country.

[Ci6] The new hiptown in Australia is Adelaide.

[Ci7] Phoenix can’t seem to grow fast enough. Look, I’m as happy to flip mother nature the bird and say we will build cities wherever we want to build cities as any redblooded American, but that’s what we have Las Vegas for.

[Ci8] An interesting look at revitalizing the suburbs.

[Ci9] Almost a century ago, folks projected that our cities would be a lot more communistic than they turned out to be. (But hey, at least there’s a church!)

[Ci0]


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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56 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Cities {2017.07.20.Th}

  1. I would also much rather have a zucchini garden crisis than a housing crisis.

    NIMBY-ism distilled into a single sentence.

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  2. Ci2: I am bemused by the writer’s surprise upon discovering that he could get a chicken sandwich at a mall. This does not bode well for him as a keen observer. The general problem I have with the piece is that it ignores that malls are optimized for mall stuff: a bunch of small and medium retail spaces sandwiched between a few big retail spaces. When I see talk of converting this into hotels and doctors’ offices the question I ask is whether it would be cheaper to rip the interiors out and convert them to other uses, or to knock the entire structure down and start over. I expect the answer is “it depends,” but I also expect that one of the things it depends on is the physical condition of the structure, which in turn depends on how well it has been maintained, and in turn the likely answer to that for a mall that has been slowly circling the drain for the past decade is “poorly.”

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    • …whether it would be cheaper to rip the interiors out and convert them to other uses, or to knock the entire structure down and start over.

      Here — northwest metro Denver — the answer is knock it down and start over. With mixed use, generally with multiple buildings and more stories, and often with the parking much better hidden. In effect, tear out the mall, put in a neighborhood.

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    • Yup. One of the two malls within an hour of me (it was gone before I moved here, and the second mall is pretty much doomed now that its Sears is closing) got torn down because it was discovered asbestos was used in the building material. (That must have been pricey for the owners). Where it stood is a big empty concrete-covered space, kind of depressing to look at.

      Apparently the future is those glorified strip mall things, with separate outdoor entrances for each store and no connection between stores, which in our climate (where it is just slightly cooler than the surface of the sun for a good seven months of the year) seems like a considerable step backwards, but what do I know?

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  3. Ci1- Having a family history that goes way back (1904) with Cal, nothing has sickened me more than those signs. Way to remove every bit of the strides of liberalism and replace them with a growing cult of personality. Sad trombone plays Golden Bears…

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    • Dan,
      Well, one is a business transaction between a Person and a Business.

      Apparently you can’t read, because they’re talking about making this into a felony. To join a peaceful protest. Yeah, you can’t see shades of firehoses and Civil Rights here???

      *munches popcorn*

      I mean, seriously, 20 years in prison for NOT BUYING FROM ISRAEL????

      Jesus fucking christ. I thought this sort of shit was restricted to Australia.

      … In other news, We’re Winning! ;-)P

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            • Dan,
              http://aclu-co.org/court-rules-bakery-illegally-discriminated-against-gay-couple/
              The bakery got fined. Big deal. (I’ll be willing to listen to arguments, as they’ve proliferated on this site, that businesses should be allowed to discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation or other things. It’s just a law, after all).

              20 years in prison is a LOT of time. For supporting a peaceful boycott.

              (Interestingly, Cardin thinks there are no criminal penalties, so I think it’s likely that some congresscritter just let AIPAC write it without proofreading it).

              And then there’s the “Commons” ideal. That everyone should be able to go get a hotel room, or get a cab ride.

              The Israeli Boycott is essentially saying that people and businesses NEED to do business with Israel (or at least not SAY that they won’t). A foreign country, goddammit! Next week, IRAN. Or Turkey, or Venezuela.

              (note: this CONTINUES to be different from the SoS sending nastygrams for people doing business with countries that we are sanctioning. America gets to say “you’ve been bad, no dealing with our citizens.”)

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    • Israel isn’t a protected group, and it singles out a specific country. Here we typically ban discrimination on the basis of gender, not against women specifically. Hence Stephen Miller was able to go to the “women’s showing” of Wonder Woman.

      So if anything, it makes a good point as to why (a) anti-discrimination laws should be as equally applied as possible with as little weighing towards favored/disfavored groups as possible, and (b) corporations are people with at least some first amendment rights.

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      • Israel isn’t a protected group

        This bill seeks to make it one.

        and it singles out a specific country.

        The Fourteenth Amendment requires the government to treat all citizens equally, there in requirement the all foreign governments be treated equally. People who have no problem with government mandated association with the bakeries are screaming bloody murder about government mandated association here. Again I’m taking about businesses not individuals.

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        • Corporations are people! So that distinction is lost on me in either case.

          Making Israel – and only Israel – a protected group is not like saying “You can’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation” it’s like saying “You can’t discriminate against gays (but can against straights).”

          They would be on more firm ground if they prohibited discrimination against both Israel and Palestine (or any specific foreign country).

          The argument for making Israel, or any specific foreign country, a protected group is exceptionally weak.

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        • The bill isn’t making Israel a protected group as in discrimination. It is simply trying to outlaw certain political speech. Anti-D law is by it’s nature a balancing act regarding various important objectives. Anti- D laws effect public accommodations. Israel is not a public accommodation nor is political speech aimed at it.

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      • corporations are people with at least some first amendment rights.

        No need to trigger all the stupid that this will inevitably trigger. It’s enough to recognize that shareholders are people who do not sacrifice their Constitutional rights when acting jointly in corporate form. Like in Citizens United. Which was a straightforward First Amendment case that did not rely on the idea of corporate personhood. Which, by the way, isn’t what people protesting it think it is.

        So many layers of ignorance in the anti-CU CJ.

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    • Legislation is a bad idea.

      It was better when this was something to be argued in the something something of ideas or whatever.

      By making it legislation, it becomes something that will result in people asking “why in the hell is this a law?”

      And that conversation will do a better job of making both sides dig in than either change their minds.

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  4. Ci7: Despite the comment, the story is mostly about infill developments, not sprawl.

    Ci5 and Ci8: Aside from a casual mention of Chicago in Ci5 without any actual examples (could have used this one about McDonalds moving its headquarters), and a mention about poor people living in the Atlanta [inner-ring] suburbs, it’s all about the NE urban corridor. There are suburbs in other parts of the country. Anyone whose experience was the suburbs on the south side of the Denver metro area, seeing the flock of construction cranes, the number of both high-rises and business campuses being built, would be scratching their head.

    There’s a separate flock of cranes in and around downtown Denver. Another one up in Fort Collins. Colorado’s growth is approaching 100,000 people per year, mostly along the Front Range. It’s insane.

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  5. Trump’s latest interview…

    TRUMP: Hi fellas, how you doing?

    BAKER: Good. Good. How was your lunch [with Republican senators]?

    TRUMP: It was good. We are very close. It’s a tough — you know, health care. Look, Hillary Clinton worked eight years in the White House with her husband as president and having majorities and couldn’t get it done. Smart people, tough people — couldn’t get it done. Obama worked so hard. They had 60 in the Senate. They had big majorities and had the White House. I mean, ended up giving away the state of Nebraska. They owned the state of Nebraska. Right. Gave it away. Their best senator did one of the greatest deals in the history of politics. What happened to him?

    But I think we are going to do O.K. I think we are going to see. I mean, one of my ideas was repeal. But I certainly rather would get repeal and replace, because the next last thing I want to do is start working tomorrow morning on replace. And it is time. It is tough. It’s a very narrow path, winding this way. You think you have it, and then you lose four on the other side because you gave. It is a brutal process. And it was for Democrats, in all fairness.

    I mean, you think of Hillary Clinton, and you look, she went eight years — very capable — went eight years as the first lady, and could not get health care. So this is not an easy crack. The one thing I’ll say about myself, so, Obama was in there for eight years and got Obamacare. Hillary Clinton was in there eight years and they never got Hillarycare, whatever they called it at the time.”

    Few thoughts…
    When asked how lunch is… he talks about Hillary.
    Obama never had 60 Senate seats.
    Nebraska… very much still a part of America, not lost.
    Blames Hillary for health care reform not happening under Bill; fails to accept responsibility for, well, anything happening or not happening under him… unless it’s good and then he takes all credit no matter what.

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  6. Ci5:
    “Mad Men reminded us that mid-century advertising executives worked in the heart of Manhattan, but slowly began their retreat to the burbs as crime exploded in New York City. The corporate offices followed them and their growing families in the 1970s and 1980s.
    It created an environmental effect. Westchester, New York, has IBM, Pepsi, MasterCard, Atlas Air. Fairfield has Time Warner Cable, WWE, Ethan Allen, Priceline and many more. This diffusion throughout the suburbs allowed executives to keep their family in one town for years, but still be able to change companies throughout their career.”

    “The elite in our culture have almost always viewed the suburbs with some contempt.”

    The latter does not follow from the former.

    Like, at all.

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    • True. Suburbs were not treated with contempt. It was that mass transpo hadn’t developed well enough until the 50’s and 60’s to allow people to live in suburbs and commute into a city. Suburbs were rural places until the post WW2 boom. Many people always dreamed of having land of their own. That was the super giant impulse for people to move west for a long time. Also lots of elites had summer/vacation homes in rural areas that they were just fine with.

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    • Two thoughts Kzaay

      1 – Ad execs are not necessarily the elite, and

      2 – Familiarity breeds contempt.

      The workers in question may sit near the the cultural elites, but they are simply following along, using the ideas of the elites to sell products to the masses. If you look at the history of advertising you will see that the forms and images used to move product are about 2-5 years behind the zeitgeist. That and the idea that they live in the suburbs but long for the city is exemplified by the Pete Campbell character of said Mad Men. He moved to the burbs but longed for the city (if only to have a accessible love nest.)

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      • I haven’t watched “Mad Men” (GASP!) but as points out, this is a pretty good example of “elite” being essentially meaningless. They talk about much more than Mad Men: IBM, Pepsi, GE, Ethan Allen, etc.

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    • The answer is pretty simple: When writers on the right talk about elites, what they mean is “the media.” When writers on the left talk about elites, what they mean is “the corporations.” Elite, in this usage, has no real meaning other than to signal that its the bad guys’ fault.

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  7. Ci4: In ten years, right-thinking Mexicans will be saying that the overproduction of parking spots prior to the introduction of these maximum parking regulations proves that it can’t be left up to the market. Those pointing out the overproduction of parking spots was mandated by law right up until the limits were imposed will be dismissed as market fundamentalists motivated by a quasi-religious belief in the infallibility of the market.

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  8. Ci1 is a spot on article. The best things that cities can do to combat climate change is encourage density and discourage car use by creating good transit and walkable neighborhoods. The comments section and George demonstrate that many Americans won’t have this though. NIMBYism and car culture are a thing and deadly to ameliorating climate change at the municipal level.

    Ci4: For politicians yes. People like cars and want places to park their cars easily and cheaply. Politicians aren’t going to do anything to annoy people who vote in local elections most times.

    Ci9: I think you mean Parisian rather than Communist and its only one artist.

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    • It’s a vicious cycle. Failure to provide urban core housing results in high prices, forcing more people to live outside the urban core and drive cars, necessitating the need for parking, which reduces the available square footage for housing and keeps prices high…

      You gotta build transit and it has to flow right along the existing corridors, with park & rides along the way. Once you got people using the transit, you can start removing the parking.

      And yes that means you will be hated as the corridors are contracted during construction, and you might get voted out. Suck it up and put on your big boy/girl panties, no one made you run for office*.

      *I’m getting real tired of public servants and officials complaining that their jobs are too hard/dangerous. Stop whining and do your damn job, or go find work in the private sector.

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        • In the same vein, the political class needs to stop promising the citizenry that they can.

          And while I’ll hold the citizenry to account, the political class knows (or at least should know) what the budgets and projections look like, so they know, in detail*, how much cake there is to go around, and really need to stop telling everyone there is plenty of cake for everyone.

          *Yes, I know all that information is public knowledge, but the political class is hired specifically to manage these things because the rest of the citizens do not have time to do their jobs AND keep on top of the politicians jobs**. Perhaps if they were more focused on their work, and less on how to get re-elected without having to actually produce results…

          **And this is what the press and watchdog groups are for, although how effective they are these days is questionable.

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