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Everything posted by ToryGattis

  1. I'll second the endorsement of Abacus. Very professional and affordable. ARS is also very professional, but pricey IMHO. I had the same problem a couple weeks ago. City said it's my problem. Showed me that my water meter was still running (albeit very slowly) even with the house not using any water. Abacus found the problem right next to the meter where the sprinkler system had been patched into our line to the house and fixed it no problem. Showed me that the water meter had no movement afterward. But the water in the street did not go away after a week. Called the city out again, and they left a note saying it's still not their problem. Had to call them *again*, and this time they sent a supervisor who figured out that the leak *was* their problem in the main under the street. They're coming to fix it tomorrow. Strange to get two leaks at the same time, but maybe the ground shifted and affected both pipes. Lesson: don't take the city guy's word for it, and watch your meter for a few mins with all water in the house turned off. If it's not moving, then the leak is on the city side.
  2. Netflix: $2 per movie (if you run your account right), unlimited watchers, your own cheap snacks, pause when you like, subtitles/BluRay/HD optional Theater: $10 x # people , parking charges in some cases, outrageous concession charges, long lines, crowded theaters, hard to get good seats, pre-movie advertising, annoying talkers - or worse, screaming children or seat kickers The choice is not hard. Only the mega-spectacle movies (like Avatar) are worth the big screen anymore.
  3. A more impressive aerial view, video at the bottom: http://anyguey.guanabee.com/2010/04/texas-stadium-implosion/
  4. I came across a link to the article: http://offcite.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Cite_81_Spieler_Commuter_Rail.pdf Found it in this blog post at the Chronicle: http://blogs.chron.com/houstonpolitics/2010/04/metros_spieler_on_commuter_rai.html
  5. I suspect pretty strict zoning codes constrain 'entertainment/nightlife districts' in other cities. Not in Houston, so we have these odd cycles of migration. I guess once a place is too hot, it's too expensive and the new ones migrate somewhere cheaper. I was disappointed they were somewhat driven out of downtown (via strict noise and other enforcements). That was the logical place. Plenty of parking and relatively few residents to bother (and the ones that are there probably want the street life).
  6. Don't have a subscription and can't find it online. If you have a link, it would be appreciated, or, if not, maybe more details of the argument? Does he get into commuter bus vs. rail? What are the key issues he cites?
  7. Might as well throw this idea I've had for a long time out there: Sort of a play on the Eiffel tower, but just a tiny pyramid suspended at least a half-mile up (maybe a mile? tallest structure in the world?) over downtown supported with 4 trussed pyramid legs along the downtown street grid. Put a restaurant and observation deck up there and call it "The Top of Texas". Put gondola cars in the legs, and even use it as local transit to get around downtown. It takes our already impressive skyline and makes it incredibly distinctive.
  8. In the Third Ward? No, nothing there other than the planned Universities and SE LRT lines.
  9. Oh, and I also attended a public meeting/presentation once - can't remember who, probably HGAC - that showed a very long-term rail map with commuter rail in the Alameda corridor along existing tracks.
  10. I attended a public information session about it quite a while back, and I blogged about it here: http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2007/02/big-plans-for-288-but-it-could-be.html
  11. There are already plans for HOT lanes in that median. Any rail would go down the Almeda corridor where the existing tracks are, but it's likely to be in the very long-term, if at all.
  12. Yes, but I believe that's a holding corp, and they retain an independent local HQ here that makes the highest-level loan decisions (not that that would come up with a small business loan anyway). I haven't tapped them for a loan, but I've had nothing but stellar service from everybody I've dealt with there.
  13. I've been happy with Amegy bank, which I believe is the largest bank actually headquartered in Houston.
  14. The recovery rate favors cities where parking is very difficult or expensive, so high fares can be charged without losing too much ridership.
  15. Here's the list: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2009/states/TX.html
  16. Actually, loose/easy zoning (Dallas, Atlanta) retained far fewer HQs than no zoning (Houston), but more than other cities with tighter zoning (LA, SF). Freeway expansion didn't create Galleria/Energy Corridor (although it did create Westchase, which would not exist without Beltway 8), but it did enable employees from suburbs all over to get to them easily, allowing them to grow (same with 59 feeding the core). The lack of zoning allowed them to develop how they wished - whether towers (Galleria) or campuses (Energy Corridor).
  17. I think Dallas' and Atlanta's relatively loose/easy zoning - including allowing multiple business districts - is also part of why they rank so well. I'm not arguing the 15 downtown would not be there, but that might be all we'd have - about the same as Dallas, coincidentally. As far as annexation, I am including the many decades of expansion, including the "freeway arms" that have protected the ETJ. Otherwise, I think we'd have our own equivalents of Plano, Richardson, Las Colinas, etc. relatively close-in that would have attracted multiple HQs, just as they did in Dallas. Freeway expansion didn't stop all from going to Sugar Land, The Woodlands, etc. - but it kept most.
  18. In most cities, they create one major biz district - downtown - and try to push all skyscrapers there. If a large employer doesn't find that convenient, they often will move outside of the city limits to find or build the building or campus size they want (as I noted in my previous post: most are in the metros, not the core cities - NYC and Houston being major exceptions). Without zoning, we ended up with multiple large job/business centers to choose from within the city limits. If we had gone with the typical 'one downtown' zoning approach, I believe a lot more of our F500 HQs would be in Sugar Land and The Woodlands. The West Loop and the Katy Fwy have been major problems until recently, as you point out. But before them were the 59 expansions (north and south) and the Hardy and Beltway 8 toll roads (not to mention multiple 45 widenings over the years), which substantially improved accessibility to the core and the major job centers from the far suburbs. The energy capital status gives us the F500s in the metro, but doesn't force them to be inside the city limits. Most auto companies/suppliers are not inside the Detroit city limits, nor tech companies in SF, nor entertainment or aerospace companies inside LA city limits.
  19. It is an impressive margin, but it's a city-limits game. Note LA+SF=13, but there are 51 in CA, almost all of whom are in those two metro areas. Houston+Dallas=41 out of 64 Texas, and most of those missing 23 are in the Metroplex, including #1 Exxon (although I think Houston metro still comes out ahead overall). But Houston does deserve a lot of kudos for managing to keep almost all of its metro F500s inside the city limits and contributing to the tax base. I think that can be chalked up to aggressive annexation, no zoning (allowing multiple skyscraper job centers, inc. dt, uptown, TMC, Westchase, Energy Corridor, Greenspoint, etc.), and strong freeway construction/expansion allowing employees in the far suburbs to have reasonable commutes to the core.
  20. For what it's worth, I showed it to a mechanical engineer friend of mine a number of years ago, and here was his response: I am in pain from such laughter. The concept has been proposed for long intercity routes, where it almost makes sense to put the structure in the train rather than the on the ground. But a 5000' turning radius in the city?? This is an even worse idea than that damn train that held me up for 10 minutes this morning by my house... (Main St. LRT) A simple cost model would show that, while visually sparser, having to put motive elements in every stanchion would be insanely expensive. And the massive load on the drive elements, plus the fact that they have to be gentle, like tires, would make the whole thing either extremely uncomfortable, or reliant on a bunch of new, unproven stuff. Makes maglev monorail look downright sensible.
  21. I have not heard this. Link to news story, please?
  22. The future is all tollways. There's no support for the needed gas tax increase for more freeways. It's tollways or nothing. If you don't like 'em, you're welcome to use the feeder. You think 610 is bad now, try to imagine Houston without Beltway 8. Scary thought.
  23. Oh, I disagree. Maybe not immediately needed, but long-term it will be a great reliever for 45S, which needs it more every day. There's a lot of development in the gap between Pasadena and Clear Lake. It would be a much more direct route to Kemah and the rest of the coast than 45 to NASA Pkwy. As far as 288: the mistake I think they're making is making it two-way like the HOT lanes on the Katy Freeway. Katy Fwy has strong two-way traffic all day because there are a lot of jobs out there in the Energy Corridor and Westchase. 288 is pretty much pure inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening. That means half the toll lanes will remain pretty much unused all day long (the contra-flow side). They would get more useful capacity, more riders, and more toll revenue if they made all (or most) of the toll lanes inbound in the morning and outbound in the afternoon.
  24. It's sad that Amtrak hasn't yet, but not surprising. Sounds like the buses need to offer a "business class" section with better spacing at a slightly higher price.
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