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About Reefmonkey

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  • Birthday 01/23/1976

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    Memorial at Dairy Ashford
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    Dining, international travel, kayaking in the Gulf and West Bay, sailing, diving, cooking, reading, gardening, wine, margaritas. Native Houstonian, grew up in Spring area, first Cypresswood, then Champions Forest.

    Schools attended: Haude Elem., Brill Elem., Kleb Int., Klein HS, SMU (college and grad school)

    Bachelors in Biology, Masters in Environmental Science, used to be an environmental consultant, doing soil and groundwater risk-based remediation for closures, Brownfields on hazardous waste-impacted sites. Now do beneficial reuse for waste chemicals, coproducts, etc.

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  1. Was that, though, conclusively attributable to being landlocked? The time period you are talking about is one where practically every city, including unlandlocked Houston, was suffering from urban decay and White Flight. And I’m not sure a city reaching the limits of its corporate boundaries and not being able to sprawl out more is the end of the world. At some point city planners need to adjust to the fact that low density sprawling suburbs were a bad idea.
  2. So, I'm wondering, and asking this of people on both sides of the issue, do you think people commuting from outside the city they don't live in burdens the city (ie road maintenance, etc) more than it helps it economically (ie, through having a large workforce to attract companies), and if so, what do you think is preferable: A. A city being able to tax and/or annex an ETJ B. A city being able to charge a commuter tax
  3. Reefmonkey

    Electric Scooters Sharing

    I’m happy to drop it, just so we’re clear that there would be nothing to drop if you hadn’t made an issue out of something so inconsequential to score cheap points in the first place.
  4. Reefmonkey

    Electric Scooters Sharing

    Yes, I do know that cars were once a novelty, and the introduction of the car had a lot of growing pains as people struggled to figure out how best to incorporate them into society through regulation, etc. Since then we’ve learned from experience that new technologies and paradigms that may impact public safety should be rolled out slowly, with proper oversight. Unfortunately, though, Silicon Valley is a perpetual adolescent, quite often seemingly ignorant of painful past experience, apparently thinking AirBnB was the first to ever think of unlicensed boarding houses, Uber to “invent” the unlicensed gypsy cab. Back to when cars were first a novelty, it actually looked for a while that electric cars would win out over internal combustion. But they, along with the Stanley Steamer car, did not prevail. For electric cars, the infrastructure and technology had not kept pace with the promise, and the idea was effectively shelved for 100 years, and now its time has come. My read is that infrastructure and technology has not yet caught up to dockless e-scooter apps as a practical last-mile solution on a mass scale. In this case, it is not electrical infrastructure or battery technology, but city infrastructure. American cities have been built around the automobile for the past 90 years, making them an unfriendly place for smaller, slower, more vulnerable wheeled transportation, and the technology seems not yet ready for efficient distribution of scooters to where they are needed and to keep them from underfoot. Their moment has probably not yet come. And you are right that it wouldn’t make sense to make new laws for something that may be a flash in the pan, but we don’t have to make new laws, do we? There are laws against blocking and littering public sidewalks. There are laws requiring businesses that operate in public areas to get permission from local authorities, which indicate that the authorities have the power to review and require certain conditions, even deny activities. I’m a part of the riding community here in Houston, and I say you a vastly exaggerating the number of bicycles ridden on crowded sidewalks, and from my observations of e-scooters in San Francisco, they were being ridden on crowded sidewalks far, far more commonly than bikes. While you continue to double-down on making yourself look like a prat with your self-important pedantry over “shear” vs “sheer,” I’m just going to put this out here. “People Who Constantly Point Out Grammar Mistakes Are Pretty Much Jerks, Scientists Find” As if we needed science to tell us that.
  5. Reefmonkey

    Electric Scooters Sharing

    That all sounds pretty reasonable. If the gps resolution is a problem, then I guess the cities are going to have to get tougher, have their parking enforcement officers collect any scooters that are left out irresponsibly, and let the companies know they have them, fine them for every day they hold one, and at the end of 30 days they get auctioned off. Then the companies could start charging their users a surcharge equivalent to the cost of the fine if the last user left one somewhere it got picked up. That would encourage more responsible parking. The companies would need to require that only permanent credit cards or debit cards linked to a bank account be used when registering, no prepaid cards, because from what I read, that is already causing a problem and would be a way for people to dodge the fines. E-scooter aps or no, all cities need more and better protected bike lanes, and that would be the only place that these would be appropriate to ride. These devices should have highly visible (maybe even RFID) identification for each unit, so if a cop sees someone on the sidewalk on one and can’t take the time to stop him, can report it, the company gets a fine, which it passes on to the renter just like if you get a parking ticket in a rental car.
  6. Reefmonkey

    Alabama at Shepherd Strip Center

    I don't go nearly that far back, but some of my fondest memories from high school in the early 90s was driving into town from the suburbs with my friends on Friday or Saturday nights, browsing for hours in the Bookstop where Trader Joes is (we were artsy nerds who also went to foreign films as Landmark River Oaks and sipped cappuccinos at Dolce & Freddo on lower Kirby).
  7. Reefmonkey

    Electric Scooters Sharing

    I think a more apt comparison is not to cars legally parked in designated parking areas, but to people setting up "shop" on sidewalks, spreading out their merchandise they are trying to sell, so you have to walk around them, creating bottlenecks, etc., for that's what these dockless scooter services are, private companies using the public space to run their business, leaving their equipment out for people to have to step around. In places where sidewalk vending is legal, it is usually regulated, with the city approving locations people can set up their business, so that people don't set them up in places that cause foot traffic congestion problems and/or safety concerns. When a dockless scooter company's customers can just leave scooters just anyone they want, that kind of sensible regulation can't happen.
  8. Here's another article about Des Moines that shows suburbs without sidewalks is not some unique Harris county thing: "Like Windsor Heights, most of the disagreements are in neighborhoods built in the 1950s and 1960s that were designed to be different from the larger cities they border. The absence of sidewalks was intended to give the neighborhoods a rural appearance and more privacy at a time when walking for exercise was less common." And one documenting the phenomenon in Minneapolis-St. Paul: "For proof of the fractured history of sidewalks in suburbia, look no further than Katherine McManus’ block of Zarthan Avenue in St. Louis Park. On a street where children and parishioners walk to the school and church at the end of the block, the sidewalk simply stops at her property line and starts up again three homes down the street. Pedestrians veer into the sometimes-busy street to avoid walking on the grass. 'Walking dogs or having kids in the street seems ridiculously dangerous,' McManus said. Once, cities had sidewalks and suburbs had lawns. Not anymore. Next week, the St. Louis Park City Council is expected to approve a 10-year plan to put a sidewalk within a quarter mile of every resident (fixing the Zarthan gap in 2016). Hopkins and Edina have programs to add sidewalks." Trae, your premise is that you perceive unincorporated Harris County as so "very weird" and "different" from other metro areas where the suburbs are incorporated, and you blame lack of incorporation for that weirdness. One of those differences you perceive as being "specific" to Houston area is our suburbs' lack of sidewalks, but per above, that's obviously a nationwide phenomenon. Since your perception was not accurate in that respect, perhaps you should reexamine whether it might also be inaccurate in the other ways you find Houston area "weird" compared to other metro areas?
  9. Actually, the way Houston has been doing things is NOT my preferred way, I've stated my preferred way as being to create a regional flood control and land use management authority that would supersede the flood control districts of multiple counties in Southeast Texas, like the way the Texas legislature chartered the Harris Galveston Subsidence district, but greater in scope and geography. I've talked about it in five different posts before this one, so I'm perplexed as to why you're claiming that the status quo is my preferred way. I agree with you that incorporating unincorporated parts of Harris would absolutely make a lot of things easier and better (I have from the start), just NOT flood control and emergency management. As I have already said, I'm not saying that means a bunch of new municipalities would HAVE to make things worse, but in my opinion based on 20 years of professional involvement in this issue, the best thing to prevent then from contributing to the problem and to actually fix the problem would be the trans-county regional authority I've now advocated for six times in this thread. Emergency planning/response could still be handled at the county along with mutual assistance agreements between the new cities. On the no sidewalks issue, from the time I was a kid, I always thought it was lame the neighborhoods I lived in didn't have sidewalks, and when I heard the supposed reason for that, even without talking into account the racial undertones of that, I thought that was the dumbest reason not to have something that would be nice to have I had ever heard. However, it's not unique to Houston-area suburbs. My cousin and brother have both lived in the Atlanta-metro suburbs, and has lived in three different metro DC-area suburbs, and I've visited them in both areas numerous times. There are plenty of middle-class-to-upper-middle suburbs in both areas that have no sidewalks. And as you live in Los Angeles, you should know that Bel Air has no sidewalks, a deliberate decision on their part. With the exception of Bel Air which made its decision decades sooner, the most common vintage for these sidewalk-free neighborhoods is about the same time as Houston area's neighborhoods, an interval from about the early 60s into the 80s. One sees more sidewalks in neighborhoods of this demographic built from the 90s on. Why things changed, I don't know; maybe the HUD requirement sunsetted maybe people forgot about the HUD requirement and/or realized its stupid not to have sidewalks. Now I see a lot of sidewalks in newer neighborhoods built from the 90s on in unincorporated northwest Harris just north of Louetta near 249 (I mention that because it's where my parents live now so I know it fairly well). Just looking at Google Earth I can see sidewalks in Colony Creek Village, Bridgestone West, Charterwood, Glenloch, Memorial Springs, I could go on and on. Check out this link (from the DC metro area) that talks about different neighborhoods not having sidewalks. It certainly demonstrates that it is not just a Harris County thing, though the reasons for this may be more varied than the one I was told so long ago: There are parts of DC and other cities with no sidewalks. As pedestrian safety has become a higher priority in road design, DC and other cities have been adding them, though sometimes residents oppose the idea. Is there any good reason not to put one in? Do we have statistics? Ben Ross gives some historical perspective on why neighborhoods might not have them: Sean Emerson lives in one such area: So does Nick Keenan:
  10. Reefmonkey

    Electric Scooters Sharing

    I would try to explain explain it to you again, but that's obviously futile, you can believe what you want to believe, I'm out.
  11. Okay, it appears he does at least support his constituents having the option to be able to vote on whether they want to become a city (and I agree with him on that). They'd have to vote themselves out of Houston's ETJ before they could even get to that point, which even your article says is a long shot, and supporting constituents right to self-determination is no guarantee how he himself would actually vote if such a vote went from being a far-fetched hypothetical to actually on a ballot. And even his support for incorporation for his neck of the woods would still have no bearing on whether it would be better for regional land use management and flood control. Honestly, yes, there has been too much development, and in the wrong places, throughout the region, and the Katy area has a lot of those places (so does Houston). Drainage improvements constitute more than just detention ponds, there are still jurisdictions doing channelization, even though the evidence points to channelization actually making flooding worse. Absolutely channelization in cities upstream on Buffalo Bayou worsens flooding downstream, like in Houston. And yes, there are overarching agencies that cities have to report to. Not one, but separate ones of varying quality based on what county a city is in. A city in Fort Bend has to answer to a Fort Bend Drainage government agency, which does what it thinks is best for Fort Bend county, even though the water that is drained out of Fort Bend County becomes Harris County's problem. Fort Bend doesn't even have a Flood Control district, it has a Drainage District, which county residents obviously have come to understand is not adequate, because since Harvey there have been calls to finally establish a Flood Control district there We're in the mess we are in here in Southeast Texas because of a patchwork of independent jurisdictions with land use planning and flood control agencies of highly variable quality of oversight and little coordination with each other. Throwing a bunch more independent jurisdictions into the mix is not the solution to that. Oh, and an aside, something I missed that you said earlier in the thread, really just more interesting trivia information than anything else, but you pointed to lack of sidewalks in unincorporated suburbs. From what I heard from a long time ago, so take it with a grain of salt, but that doesn't actually have to do with lack of services, it's a vestige of Houston's White Flight in the 70s and 80s. Neighborhoods which took HUD funding during development, which was intended to make the houses more affordable to lower-income people, had to meet certain requirements. One of those requirements was they had to have sidewalks. New subdivisions that were marketing themselves to the middle class and above White Flighters deliberately didn't put in sidewalks as kind of a racist dog whistle to let prospective buyers know they didn't take any HUD money, so they didn't have any low-income, ie., black residents. Do we really think that Don Hand couldn't have afforded to put in sidewalks in a high end, expensive neighborhood like Champion Forest, if people really wanted that?
  12. I'd just caution against giving that article more weight that it deserves. It's from a little quasi-professional suburban community online newspaper and it seems to have a serious axe to grind. To wit: (emphasis mine) Pretty unprofessional tone there. From my perspective it seems the reporter is taking everything Meyers said and shoehorning it into the reporter's agenda. The reporter says "Meyers is basically the staff of unincorporated Fort Bend County. There is no other expert to send to vital meetings." Meyers is a CPA and real estate broker, and according to the article "much of [his] time is spent planning the next road that fixes the problem of roadway congestion." I don't think that makes one an expert on emergency management. But county commissioners are elected officials, and like to make sure they are included in big newsworthy events, whether their input is valuable or not. And while Meyers is pushing for Fort Bend residents to vote themselves out of Houston's ETJ, he is never actually shown to explicitly support the area self-incorporating.The reporter intersperses paragraphs with hypotheticals about cities self-incorporating among paragraphs reporting what Meyers said, and I can see how that might give the impression of Meyers advocating for self-incorporation, if you look more closely, he never really does. Even the line about Meyers "pointing out" that "if unincorporated areas were incorporated as their own cities and towns, there would be municipal staff available to go to emergency meetings. If you look closely, there is no direct quote of Meyers saying that, and no context around his supposedly "pointing out". It's very possible that the reporter asked ""if unincorporated areas were incorporated as their own cities and towns, would there be municipal staff available to go to emergency meetings?" and Meyers might have simply answered "yes, that's probably true," but that in no way would be Meyers saying that these areas should incorporate. Given this reporter's already-demonstrated journalistic unprofessionalism and bias, it's not unreasonable to suspect that the reporter may have made such a distortion. A quick search shows that Meyers is pushing hard for an amendment to the Open Meetings Act that would create an exemption for meetings held during a declared disaster like Harvey, so that's obviously what he sees as the solution to dealing with OMA hamstringing communication during disasters, not incorporation. I don't know one way or another, but from what the article didn't say and from I learned about Meyers from sources outside the article, it's still very possible that Meyers is one of those conservative small-government type exurbanites who wouldn't favor an additional layer of municipal government on top of his unincorporated county government. Also, individual small cities voting for more local drainage "improvements" independently and without regional coordination is one of those areas I'm talking about where incorporation could possibly make flood control worse. Katy is upstream of Houston in the Buffalo Bayou watershed. Surface water that leaves Katy comes downstream to Houston. Moving stormwater more quickly out of Katy can make flooding worse in Houston, without Katy knowing or caring. And if Katy makes drainage improvements that benefit it, this could open more land in Katy that is currently not feasible to build on because of water to development (remember, Katy is an area that used to be primarily rice fields), which would make the overall stormwater runoff problem worse, affecting those of us who live downstream of Katy.
  13. I’ve read the article and I actually agree with it, the taxation without representation issue, etc, I’m not sure I understand where you’re going with your focus on the Open Meetings Act and emergency meetings among county commissioners. I’m talking about long term planning being paramount, so emergency meetings don’t apply to that. I’m also talking about a hypothetical regional flood control district, that yes, meetings of its board of commissioners would be subject to OMA, but the day to day operations of its staff wouldn’t be. Even with existing organizations, during Harvey Ed Emmett didn’t have to give advance notice and convene a quorum of the county commissioners every time he talked with the Office of Emergency Management about how to handle the ongoing situation. I’m not sure how having more meetings with municipal staff from multiple cities braving flood waters to attend them would have helped in the middle of Harvey . But maybe I’m not understanding what you’re getting at.
  14. A Texas legislature-chartered regional flood and land use management authority would supersede HArris’s flood district. I’m sure there would be a group response to to another Harvey like disaster, but responses to disasters are too little to late, preventing Harvey-like and non-Harvey-like disasters disasters takes decades of coordinated regional planning From my professional perspective, I can imagine worse happening if people take the attitude that separate municipal authorities is the answer. Houston, Harris County, FEMA, Corps of Engineers, the Texas Legislature, had all been asleep on the job when it came to recognizing and managing the intensive growth in Southeast Texas for the last 50 years, but that doesn’t mean smaller authorities taking separate responsibility for land use management is the answer. A small town of 5,000-10,000 carved out of some suburbs with realtors and soccer moms serving part time on a city council with little if any full time city staff isn’t going to have the expertise to consider how city growth in their boundaries, and the boundaries of the cities neighboring them, will affect people downstream of them. I’m not making an argument against splitting into smaller municipalities, but this is an argument against Trae’s idea that splitting into smaller municipalities will be better for Harvey like events. My concern is an attitude like Trae’s (not to pick on her) would lead to complacency which would stall impetus for the trans-County regional land use planning that is actually needed, and again this is coming from 20 years of working closely with flood control authorities in several counties in the region.