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Everything posted by TheNiche

  1. Good to see some positive news on this one, considering that it had gone sideways for over four years. (God damn...has it been that long? What the hell happened!?)
  2. You don't have to be an appraiser to pick favorable comps. Just try to avoid foreclosures unless you can demonstrate a high foreclosure rate in the same neighborhood, then avoid mentioning sales that weren't listed with a broker or that obviously sold between related parties.
  3. No, at this point in the tax year, qwerty will need to write a letter to the appraisal district and beg for help. Qwerty should follow this up with phone calls spaced at about once a month in order to try and prod them into responding. They are under no obligation to communicate according to statutory requirements, to meet with him, to offer to settle at a new value, or to grant an ARB hearing. As for the suggestion that an appraisal should be obtained, don't forget that an appraiser is less able to overtly cherry-pick information than a homeowner is. The appraisal might very nearly guarantee a reduction, but may also be a limiting factor where the amount of a reduction is concerned. (Also, the appraisal should not be current. It would have to be back-dated to January 1st, 2012.)
  4. If he had not any contempt at the outset of his endeavor, he may very well have obtained some by its conclusion. One could hardly blame him for it if he had. And then what? He dies. His contributions are taken for granted, the park an element of the norm; an always-was to Chicagoans. Humanity marches on to the beat of the same immortally depressive drummer.
  5. There are maps available online. The big map on Wikipedia gives you an idea of what we're talking about, but it does take some intensive searching to find the detailed ones. Big parks and major geographic features are excluded. Local examples include the Barker and Addicks reservoirs, including George H.W. Bush Park, even though they are surrounded by the same UA. Small parks (up to and including Memorial Park) are included in the UA. I don't think that the Katy Prairie Conservancy land is within or adjoining the Houston UA yet, but it probably will be one day; however the Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR was excluded from either the Houston UA or the Texas City UA. Unless you're talking about five-acre ranchettes or something like that, I don't think that a park-like neighborhood would be excluded.
  6. Yes, but don't sweat the small stuff. I think that it just distracts them. Focus on the roof, foundation, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, animal and insect infestations, recurring graffiti problems, etc. They don't tax landscaping (yet), so don't harp about your trees if they died last year. If you purchased your property recently for less than the appraised value, then submit your closing statements. You might also ask a Realtor for sales comps in your area. Specify your purpose. If they think that you might want to sell your property, then they'll only show you the highest ones or perhaps the lowest ones except for those where they were the agent. They might do this anyway because most of them are nincompoops. Lastly, you can argue inequity. Look at your neighbors' values, look at your values. See if they are more or less in alignment. Don't bother with this unless you've got a good argument, though. Petty arguments only distract them, or worse. And you're asking for a favor that they aren't obligated to give you.
  7. The taxes due in January 2013 are for the valuation as of January 1st, 2012. Although the protest deadline was May 31st, you can still write a letter to your appraisal district and respectfully request that they consider a reduction of your value, pursuant to 25.25(h) of the Texas Property Tax Code. Attach plenty of evidence and an explanation. I don't know whether 20% is too much. It depends on your evidence.
  8. True, I probably wouldn't have brought it up if it contradicted my hypothesis. But that the meaningful data supports my hypothesis is your problem, not mine. You can either find a way to criticize my data with intellectual honesty or you can present some of your own and await my criticism of it. But if all you can do is point out circumstantial ad hominems, then you've lost the argument.
  9. I was never talking about the MSA because, as I've explained, those boundaries are inappropriate for a comparative analysis of density. Your comment was tangential at best, meaningless in fact, and intended to mislead in the worst possible case.
  10. Yes, it is clever. It is clever because the Los Angeles urbanized area takes in Hollywood, Pasadena, Torrance, et al. The UA takes in everything up until Fontana, CA, everything up until Ventury County, CA, and everything up until the Laguna Hills. In general, the Census tries to acknowledge and separate out the Inland Empire as its own urbanized area. And that makes sense in principle. There is a difference. Likewise, Houston's UA takes in Pasadena, Pearland, Sugar Land, Baytown, et al., but stops just short of Dickinson, allowing Texas City's UA to take in all points south and for Galveston to have its own UA. Just as with Los Angeles, the precise delineations may be controversial, but the underlying principle is sound.
  11. Why do you people not READ stuff before you respond!? This is extremely frustrating. You're looking at figures for the City of Los Angeles or the County of Los Angeles, which are political entities whose boundaries do not conform at all with the machinations of a city as an economic entity, much less a transit authority whose service area extends beyond them. The Census attempts to cope with these issues by defining MSAs wherein commuting patterns between outlying counties and core counties indicate a decidedly one-sided flow. However, these entities are delineated by County. As a result, western MSAs have a tendency for being ridiculously large in terms of square mileage and for not conforming very well with commuting patterns that decidedly change within the same county. For instance, both San Bernadino County, CA and Riverside County, CA adjoin Los Angeles County and include portions of the Los Angeles urbanized area as defined by the Census (see below) and also include public transit connections to Los Angeles, but those counties extend all the way to Arizona and Nevada, three hours distant. We obviously shouldn't be factoring in the density of Death Valley. Each of these counties also include mountain ranges and national parks, and these should no sooner be factored into density than should Lake Houston or the Addicks Reservoir. This is why I am using Urbanized Area. The official definition from the U.S. Census Bureau is as follows: The use of a UA allows for a more direct comparison of geographies wherein public transit has even the potential to be relevant.
  12. METRO's sole purpose is to exploit positive externalities by providing public goods that the private sector is unable to provide at the same level of quality or quantity. The many are only so willing to subsidize the few because the many shall benefit from it. The few are incidental.
  13. Nope. I was initially just eyeballing it on Google Earth, but now I've checked the Census data for urbanized areas and Los Angeles is at 1,736 square miles compared with Houston's 1,660 square miles, a difference of 4.6%. I think that this is within a margin for error that allows me to proclaim that my eyeballs were materially correct. (Red was probably citing the urbanized area defined from the 2000 Census, but these things grow continuously, unlike the political boundaries that comprise MSAs and municipalities. And since Houston isn't hemmed in by geography and politics, ours grew outward whereas theirs grew upward.) Since we're running numbers, I'd point out that the Los Angeles urbanized area is actually the densest UA in the nation, at 6,999.3 residents per square mile. This is typical for California. Of the 30 densest urbanized areas in the nation, 24 of them were in California. (As I had previously mentioned, I don't think that Californian experiences with transit have very much predictive validity for Texas.) Houston's urbanized area had 3,978.5 residents per square mile, 67th on a list of all UA's ordered by density even though it was the 7th most populous urbanized area and even though it had experienced the fastest numerical growth over the last decade. The data still fits my hypotheses. Thank you for bringing it to my attention that I'm actually just as smart as I think I am.
  14. Let's not fool ourselves. The time savings offered by HOV/P&R is merely an inducement for people to decide to use that infrastructure. The real benefits of carpooling and P&R buses are that there are fewer vehicles on the road in the inner-city neighborhoods where HOV lanes terminate. The benefits are not just related to an easing up of inner-city congestion, either. A recent survey by the Downtown Houston Management District revealed that nearly half of downtown employees carpool or take mass transit. (Carpooling and transit use was the highest among downtown employees commuting from further than five miles out, so you cannot attribute this to light rail.) On account of that there are fewer downtown employees that are demanding a parking space, the City can ease up on parking requirements for new downtown development and employers are more likely to locate downtown (or will be willing to pay higher rents, thereby justifying more downtown development) because they don't have to issue as many parking vouchers to their employees.
  15. My criticism of the predictive validity of the data from Los Angeles stands. Offer better data, additional data, or logically-sound contradictory hypotheses. Please remember, I am not arguing that bus and rail are perfectly interchangeable. I think that rail is qualitatively superior to buses. The issue in question is the degree to which it is superior relative to its cost effectiveness, and not just along any single corridor but as a part of a larger system and given the finite budget of a transit agency. All of Los Angeles became a lot more expensive in a fairly short period of time. This was a consequence of geographic and political constraints that affected their entire region simultaneously. (If you drove as far north from downtown LA as Beltway 8 is from downtown Houston, you'd hit mountains; drive as far west as Beltway 8, you hit the ocean; drive as far south as Pearland, more ocean; drive as far southeast as Galveston, you hit a huge military base; drive as far east as Baytown and you're in the next mountain valley, Riverside. And in between these points, LA has mountains.) By contrast, Houston's built-up area is essentially the same size of LA's except that it only houses about one third the number of people. And it keeps growing outward. The fraction of it that is densifying or that is becoming particularly expensive is very small. Since we have room to grow whereas LA does not, it wouldn't surprise me if it were another century before transit can be as effective as it is in LA. By that time (and hopefully sooner), transit as we know it today will probably be irrelevant, technologically obsolete. I'll bet that we will have pulled up the rails yet again.
  16. I would expect that an increase in traffic congestion would accompany an increase in density and that there should be an accelerating rate of increase of transit use. Although I know the structure of the formula and the data seems to fit within it, I do not know the coefficients that would provide for an accurate or precise adjustment for density. I welcome any suggestions you may have. Come again? I'm not sure whether its your logic, your grammar, or poor reading comprehension on my part, but I didn't understand that.
  17. Other factors to consider regarding the predictive validity of this study, especially since we're looking at 10- to 20-year intervals of time: - Has there been population and employment growth (i.e. daytime population) along these corridors? Is densification an endogenous or exogenous variable with respect to fixed-guideway rail transit? - Did demographic profile of the neighborhoods change; for instance, did the proportion of the population that are adults of a working age increase? And again, endogenous or exogenous? - What happened to ticket prices as compared to the costs of operating automobiles over this period of time? (Please note, I'm sure that transit agency costs went up, too, but ridership decisions are made on the basis of the costs experienced by the end consumer, not a government agency.) - Differences between California and other places are not adjusted for, in particular relating to culture, costs of living, and the effect of state law. Nor are changes to these factors being accounted for internal to California. - Opportunity cost is unaccounted for. Transit routes do not exist in a vacuum, but rather as segments within a system that encompasses multiple modes, including other forms of transportation that are not administered by the same agency. As a rule of thumb for whether transit has been effective, you might as whether the percent of commuters using single-occupant automobiles been reduced at all. In the case of the Los Angeles MSA, the 1990 figure was 72%, the 2000 figure was 72%, and the 2010 figure was 73.5%.
  18. Then perhaps the suburbs should say goodbye. That is what this is about. It is a compromise of political necessity in order to preserve a system of municipal appointees and cronyism. Personally, though, I'm with you. I will be voting NO on general mobility payments. I want a political battle. I want to radically alter METRO's charter (with legislators from Lubbock giving their input). I want that organization torn apart and rebuilt, and I'm glad to have you on my side...even though you can't vote because you live in Boston.
  19. No, we already have one and it sucks. I prefer regional control and leadership that is directly accountable to voters.
  20. The state legislature will absolutely positively not give a damn unless elected legislators from within the METRO service area bring up the issue. Then, on account of that METRO is a state-chartered entity involving so many distinct political jurisdictions of asymmetric importance, it is becomes legitimate fodder for the entire state to weigh in on.
  21. As stated previously, I may as well compare to Lake Jackson. There would be no predictive validity to anything in particular that was being studied.
  22. It's the highest grossing 'off-Broadway' play ever devised.
  23. "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." ^ Yeah, that makes a ton of sense.
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