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Showing content with the highest reputation on 11/29/09 in all areas

  1. 4 points
    The suggestion that tearing down 100-year-old bungalows to build new houses in the Heights increases architectural diversity is seriously flawed, as the original homes are rare and irreplaceable; and each one lost decreases - not increases - architectural diversity in Houston. I also challenge the suggestion that tearing down 100-year-old bungalows to build new houses in the Heights in some way increases the neighborhood's diversity. Tearing down 100-year-old bungalows to build new houses in the Heights raises property values. The new construction will cost more than the old home it replaces, and property values on the entire block also will likely overall go up (at least in the short term - the long-term effects are a different issue). Even the original homes next to the new construction may increase in value, despite their now being less appealing places to live, because the lot value has gone up. Is someone really going to argue that a neighborhood becomes more diverse as property values increase? That as the pool of people who can afford to buy (or just pay taxes on) properties in the Heights shrinks, diversity increases? Indeed. The market for Houston real estate is already pretty free. The minimal restrictions placed on it largely address informational gaps and so-called tragedies of the commons, both of which impede the operation of a truly free market. Efforts to protect the historical integrity of the Heights through property restrictions seem to me to be classic examples of attempts to promote rather than discourage the operation of a free-market system, as fairly intact historic Houston neighborhoods are a scarce resource that should be valued in part as a resource common to the entire city/state/country. Let's not mask property-rights advocacy as free-market theory - the latter seems beyond the ken of the average property-rights advocate.
  2. 1 point
    But the first 25, even 30 years of that change (if you use the 70s as a jump off point) were so-called "urban pioneers" and, by and large, artists and "alternative lifestyle" people who lived in bungalows. there was an affordability, a proximity to downtown and... wait for it... wait for it... an appreciation of the existing architecture and history of the neighborhood. How many of these large, new constructions were built before 2000? In fact, how many were even built before 2004 (which is when I moved to The Heights)? A very small percentage and many of them (a few on the north side of Harvard come to mind) were such good reproductions it was hard to tell they were new. I live in a historic deed restricted neighborhood where it is almost 100% bungalows. there are 3 or 4 new homes out of 1200 in the neighborhood, yet my property value has increased by 5 figures every year i have lived here. And during that time only 2 of 16 homes on my block have undergone any extensive renovation. The majority of the homes around mine, my block and others, are still on their original foot print. This is important because new construction is not the primary driving force of the gentrification of this neighborhood. Even without new homes, which again are mostly less than 5-8 years old, this neighborhood (i.e the heights as a whole) would still be highly desirable. There are many large cities where people are living, and even raising families, in homes/spaces smaller than a normal Heights bungalow for a lot more money. Proximity, the backlash against white flight, the homogeneity of the suburbs... There are a lot of reasons people live in the heights and live in less house for more $ than they can get in other parts of Houston, not even the 'burbs per se. This is not an argument against new construction. There are many beautiful new homes in the Heights. I have friends that live in several. However, I think it's wrong to say this neighborhood only has increased value because of new homes. This area would have increased value without them as well, just as it did for the 2 decades before all the new homes were built.
  3. 1 point
    While visiting family in Brownsville for Thanksgiving: Adios ..
  4. 1 point
    Oh, please... In my younger days I was a municipal employee (not Houston) and I know that most employees do a good job and take pride in their work. They generally do not, however, volunteer to perform any work beyond the minimum required to complete the assigned tasks. Houston appears to have a problem in settling for substandard work (design, construction, maintenance) as a result of low expectations by supervisors, politicians, and citizens. We deserve better. Regarding "people like me" as you say... If the tens of thousands I have handed over to the local/state/federal government, the thousands I have donated, or the hundreds of hours I have spent volunteering give me a sense of "self-importance" and "entitlement" then excuse me.If expecting the work performed by municipal employees to, at the very least, meet expectations and quality levels found in nearly every other city in Texas and the US, and is considered "self-absorption" then excuse me.If expecting regular maintenance of government managed properties without requiring a citizen complaint is "whining", then excuse me. And why should inspectors be considered "extra" staff? If the city cannot perform such basic maintenance as keeping roadways clean and maintaining municipal properties then what faith can we have that more critical maintenance tasks - bridges, pipelines, sewers - are performed with a higher level of inspection or care? You don't even need "men in white coveralls" as you say - there are thousands of State, county and municipal employees who live in or drive through this city every day - why are they not reporting violations to their supervisors? And dead animals on freeways? I have seen dead animals on paved shoulders of freeways for days and weeks at a time. I have reported some, and I have purposely not reported some to see how long it takes for them to be cleaned up. In one case it was about a week, in another it was never (flattened eventually) (I am speaking of 288, 610S, and 45S). Are there never any TxDOT, DPS, DPW or any other vehicles or employees that use these freeways? Are roadways never cleaned in this town? I could start a list on a daily basis, and I could call 311 all day long about endless issues - Why should it take such an effort to get things done in this city that are performed as part of normal daily work in others? I have used 311 many times, but at some point it is useless and futile to report every single issue as there are so many (they actually told me that they cannot repair damaged and inaccessible decorative sidewalks on a major street in the "walkable" neighborhood because "they will be rebuilt in 2015" and per the law it is OK to use the street for wheelchairs and handicapped if the sidewalks are not accessible until then!). Regarding costs referenced, per TxDOT, the cost of construction on I10 was $1.7 billion, and total cost $2.56 billion as reported in 2005 - (http://www.offthekuff.com/mt/archives/011121.html) - I do not know the final cost but it was "billions" - it is not the cash source that I have issue with but the priority on a single road expansion over multiple improvements to other infrastructure. Finally, per Governing Magazine (http://lhtac.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Sidewalk_Cachet_Vol_12_No_6.pdf) in 2005 Houston Capital Improvement Plan, which includes sidewalks, was funded at only $4.5 million.
  5. 1 point
    I cannot be all that sorry for them. I mean, they built houses on fake islands out in the middle of the Gulf. They built a hotel in the middle of a lagoon. Plans for an entire offshore city. Lunacy. We're to feel sorry for that?
  6. 1 point
    Tha's funny. Because the UEA-CRU guys were working with Exxon too. From one of the hacked emails... They were also taking funding from Siemens and some other corps who have large interests in alternative energy business. This would be the same conflict-of-interest the skeptics have, just the other direction. You can read ALL of the emails at this link: http://www.eastangli...s.com/index.php Some pretty egregious stuff in there. I'll work up some exerpts this evening and let y'all decide for yourselves...
  7. 1 point
    I got dogpiled by a bunch of folks who weren't capable of paying attention to the very post they were responding to. I had to repeat myself too much. Not worth the effort. Really? I hadn't noticed.
  8. 1 point
    Yeah, no kidding. But you've set a hurdle so low that it might be most appropriately measured in milimeters. Does human activity impact the climate? Yes (but if it can't be disproven, then its not science). Does human activity cause atmospheric warming, adjusting for interfering variables? On average, almost certainly yes (but if it can't be disproven, then its not science), but not necessarily in some regions. Where the hurdle gets pretty high is when you start looking at regional impacts and scenario-based modeling. And for atmospheric scientists, trying to figure out what is the appropriate public policy is going to be nearly impossible. They can contribute to the conversation, but theirs should not be the final word. The policy debate is being influenced the most by bought-and-paid-for scientists. I'm not saying that all the data is misrepresenting the evidence, but I am saying that the data that the greatest number of people are exposed to is probably the data that is the least trustworthy, and that just because a scientist is backing it doesn't make the evidence unassailable. What is an economic reason, to you? What is not an economic reason, to you? How do we make reasoned decisions with respect to public policy? I think that the more appropriate question is whether the developing world has that prerogative, not us (i.e. Americans or first world countries, whichever you meant). They stand to lose the most from restrictions on the use of fossil fuels. Will they cooperate with our environmental desires...when we, ourselves, haven't developed a reliable model to describe and either prevent or mitigate the impacts (whether by reducing emissions to reduce the impacts or by building new infrastructure to cope with the impacts) of anthropogenic climate change on our own country, much less theirs? Diplomatically speaking, ours is a weak position. Cooperation will not come easily. ...but no, we can't discuss details like this because you all are apparently too damned ADD to read through a lengthy and thought-out post and think I'm trying to debate you on a yes/no answer to whether human activity causes climate change. That's it, bitches, I'm back on sabbatical.
  9. 1 point
    I'm sorry, but a scientist that studies weather patterns is not the least bit qualified to develop public policy. You may as well ask a theoretical physicist to design a spacecraft. Their initial input is helpful, but it takes an engineer to make it happen. And even then, not just any kind of engineer. Anybody who practices the philosophy of science is a scientist. If you understand and embrace it (and its limitations), then you're in the club; just because you're in the club, though, doesn't mean that you're any good at it. Specialization of skills is useful. (South Park has made fun of the popular conception of scientists this way, too.) BUT, if someone who is not a specialist can apply an understanding of science to the findings of the specialist, they can do wonderful things with the knowledge. (i.e. physicist ---> findings ---> aerospace engineer ---> spacecraft design). When it comes to the application of economics, public policy is one of the very few things that an economist is any good at. But not unlike "scientists", the public has a pretty warped view of economists; they think it's basically a subset of the business school. True enough, though, when it comes to moralistic issues of what is equitable and just, there's really no such thing as an expert. Agreed, but I don't see what you're getting at. Was the comment directed at me?
  10. 1 point
    and neither is Red.. or Attica, or Bryan to name a few more.
  11. 1 point
    It think the outrage that has began to coalesce around the issue has more to do with the manipulation of media by certain interest groups to promote a social and political agenda than it does with a backlash against scientists, generally. Both sides of the issue shamelessly rely on opposing scientists and accuse the other side of trying to buy the issue. The scientific pursuit of knowledge is a noble concept, but so is the notion that a residential appraisal is supposed to protect consumers from bidding too high on homes...and we all see how well that policy works out. Scientists are human and aren't above the fray (some than others). They make emotional decisions and are susceptible to greed (some more than others). They also aren't philosophers, policy-makers, or economists; the moment that they start moralizing over the fate of humanity, they're talking beyond their zone of expertise. They may as well be Chron Forum participants. There almost definitely is an anthropogenic component of global warming, although the extent of it is debatable. Very few people are actually arguing that there is no effect. That's the science. But in between science and policy-making, there has to be a moral judgement. Is global warming good, bad, or neutral. Who wins, who loses, and how are the impacts inequitable to various populations as compared to the status quo? What combination of prevention and mitigation should we undertake as a society? Maybe a warmer Earth is worth it for the economic enjoyment of fossil fuels; it's not a question that can be answered by a climate scientist. And don't get me wrong, there is an anti-intellectual current in our culture, but it was there long before global warming became a hot-buttom issue. The anti-intellectualism manifests itself in different ways on both sides of the debate, which is what South Park's manbearpig was meant to poke fun at. Al Gore is not a scientist; he's a fearmonger and propagandist; his proposed "solutions" are myopic, extreme, and short-sighted.
  12. 1 point
    Maybe the City of Houston will now turn their attention to the only team in town that's going to the post-season? LET'S GO COOGS!!! Time to get the Bayou Bucket back to its rightful home on Cullen Blvd.
  13. 1 point
    That's a mighty big claim you've put out there. Explain it thoroughly.
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