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ToryGattis

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Posts posted by ToryGattis

  1. I support this idea, but one great museum is better than many so-so ones. Technology/air & space museum seems like the ideal choice, since the dome is itself a technological landmark inspired by space, but please don't call it STEM! The word math does not attract people! If the National Air and Space Museum renamed itself the National Air Space and Math Museum I guarantee attendance would drop by half within a year.

     

    The name we've talked about is "National Museum of Technology and Innovation" - and it would have more of an engineering focus than pure science.

  2. There is a misconception that if the freeways weren't built, everybody would move into the core of the city.  Not true.  It just pushes the jobs out to areas where people want to live.  It would actually encourage even more sprawl.  People want to live in newer nicer areas with better schools and more affordable, newer, bigger homes.  If they can do that and still commute to jobs in the city, they will.  If they can't, then those jobs will move out to them.  If you want to see job growth explode in The Woodlands, Katy, and Sugar Land, just constrain the freeways to core of Houston.

  3. What about those places where you pay quarters and brush and wash yourself? Those seem to be the best deal.

     

    Yeah, I'm looking for fast and automatic.  I don't mind $5-8, but $13 seems absurd.

     

    I came across this map of gas prices, but it doesn't indicate car washes.  It is interesting to skim.  You can see how high the premiums are in certain nicer parts of town or at major intersections, but if you drive just a bit outside that you can save quite a bit, especially on premium.

    http://www.myfoxhouston.com/link/559838/gas-price-tracker

     

    I think I'm going to check out the gas stations with car washes at Kirby and Weslayan along 59.  Too bad there's no competition in Midtown.

  4. Never mind my edited response -- I was going to recommend CarSpa - but I think that is the same one you are talking about....hadn't been there in a year or so and didn't know they had raised prices so much...

     

    Yep, same one.  Their gas prices have always been a little higher, but not this much.  They haven't dropped down to $3 as others have, and the car wash got upped to $13.  Yes, they do the $.25/gal a discount if you buy the wash, but it still comes out much more than other stations.  It's not that big a deal in the bigger scheme of things, but nobody likes to feel like they're being ripped off, including me.

  5. I live in Midtown and normally use the Citgo along Brazos, but noticed today that not only is their gas $0.80+/gallon more than other gas stations (!), their basic exterior car wash is absurdly priced at $13.  Any recommendations for a good gas station + car wash with reasonable prices? (I know plenty of places with cheaper gas, but they don't have a car wash)  Ideally convenient to Midtown, but I get around quite a bit inside the loop so I'm flexible.  Suggestions appreciated.

    • Like 1
  6. I also agree with concerns about giving power to zoning boards that do not act in accord with their (supposed) mission.  Moreover, I'm not sure I'd expect them to always make the right decisions, even if they were well-intentioned.  

     

    The OP's question strikes me as involving very fundamental philosophical questions.  E.g., involving the agreements we make with the people around us in which we give up the right to do absolutely whatever we want, in return for the same from them.  It seems reasonable to me that people might feel more comfortable engaging in that sort of contract with people that one knows and shares some common interest with.  

     

    I think a big practical issue is whether/how we can agree on the size of that sphere of trusted  people?   Self, family, neighborhood, city, country, planet?

     

    Deed restrictions can be renewed if the neighborhood wants to keep them

     

    Legal contracts don't require trust, although it certainly helps.  In this case, neighborhood is the right size unit.

  7. Over the years, I've seen assertions that Houston has more master-planned communities than any other large metro area in the US.  It's evident that lots of people want to live in such places far from the core.  Many -- including some of those folks --seem to have a philosophical commitment to individual liberty (e.g., against zoning and government controls in general), but still want to live in a certain kind of neighborhood in which forces outside their control can't diminish their quality of life.  I understand that point of view and have no quarrel with it.   But ... it seems as if the only way to enjoy that kind of situation in the Houston area is to be somewhat affluent.  In my parents' era, it mean being able to afford to live in zoned enclaves like the Memorial villages.  Today, I guess that would also include The Woodlands, First Colony, et al.  

     

    Actually, they have a choice to live in a deed restricted community inside the City of Houston, and there are many of these communities affordable to the middle class.  In addition, new ordinances allow neighborhoods as small as a single block face to agree on new restrictions.  The best thing about deed restrictions (inc. in MPCs) is that they allow totally local neighborhood control, as opposed to a remote city-level zoning board controlled by insiders, the city council, and (often) corruption.

  8. Terminal D is being expanded. Air France may fly the Airbus 388. Air New Zealand does not have the plane to make it here non stop. It may have to refuel in LAX. I think when United gets more 787 next year they may fly there. But Houston is larger then New Zealand so I cannot see it profitable.

     

    It's not about IAH-ANZ passengers, it's about the connections between two Star Alliance hubs.  ANZ connects all over the South Pacific,  and IAH connects all over the US, Canada, and Latin America.  IAH has many more connections than UA can offer through LAX or SFO.

  9. Rail of any sort is 19th century technology. Just as the internal combustion engine is 20th century technology.

     

    I don't think people truly appreciate how much self-driving vehicles will change things 10 and 20 years from now.  Not only will the capacity of the freeways vastly increase (automatic vehicles can travel much closer together and at higher speeds), but imagine this: waves of automated small shuttle buses and taxis wandering the city all the time.  You tell your smartphone where you want to go, and the network automatically sends the right shuttle your way to pick you up and take you nearly directly to your destination, with the potential for a few stops along the way to disembark other passengers.  Now imagine the capacity of the freeways if they not only have more vehicles much closer together at higher speeds, but they're also carrying multiple passengers each.  And congestion price them to keep them free-flowing.  Rail can't compete with that, either on a travel time or overall cost basis.

     

    That's 21st century transportation technology...

    • Like 3
  10. If it were only $10m to $90m a mile, it would be very cost competitive with light rail, which is running as much or more than that here (oh, and there is no profit in any sort of rail transit - just massive tax subsidies).  I've heard capacity is a problem with monorail, and that the elevated ADA-compliant stations add *a lot* to the cost (full elevators required).  But I do like the route.

  11. I was kind of assuming that the urban area extended all the way to Galveston already so that there wasn't going to be any land growth in area.  In terms of population growth/development, I guess my question with the waterfront is how much the hurricane fears prevent ongoing development.  It seemed like Galveston and that general area was poised for a growth boom until Ike hit and it just seems to be recovering now. 

     

    It's an interesting area.

     

    Good point.  I did just read a Chronicle article about rapidly rising flood insurance rates because the Feds are revamping the program (needs to happen - taxpayers have been subsidizing flood insurance for too long).  Combined with new, more accurate flood maps, and people are getting a financial whack all along the coast.  It will probably reduce home values.  And certainly be a disincentive to new construction.

  12. I'm assuming that you're talking about the growth of the Houston metro area, not necessarily the city limits.  Looking 25 years out, I'd guess at the following assuming that there's no major economic changes.   This assumes the Houston population gets to the much discussed 10 million number in that timeframe.

     

    West - the Energy Corridor , Memorial City, and Westchase continue to develop into a major urban center of the city, similar to the way that Anaheim has developed in Los Angeles.  Increased density all the way out to Grand Parkway with suburban development continuing out to Sealy which is basically the edge of a commute zone to the energy corridor.

     

    Northwest - Office park, light industrial development along the Grand Parkway with a high probability of a major Generation Park like development along either the 249 or 290 corridor around the Grand Parkway.  Suburban development out to about Hempstead. 

     

    North - The Woodlands area continues to develop into a major urban center and the distinction between Conroe and The Woodlands continues to disappear.  Suburban growth continues out past Conroe, but Huntsville is still outside of the Houston Metro.

     

    Northeast - development in New Caney and the growth of the Generation Park area drives suburban development out to Cleveland.  Lots of talk about growth on the 105 corridor between Conroe and Cleveland.

     

    East - some modest development, but no major growth outside of current areas as the majority of the development occurs to the West. 

     

    South - lots of infill, but no major changes to the boundaries of the urban area.

     

    Southwest - Sugarland continues to develop into an urban area, but does not develop into a major job center and does not drive suburban development beyond the general Rosenberg area.

     

    Center - population inside the loop doubles with the expected increases in density and gentrification.  Areas with urban density continue to develop out toward the beltway as low - mid range families are increasingly driven outside the loop.  SW Houston continues to be the densest area in the city with a high number of mid-rise low income apartment developments.

     

     

    Discuss

     

    All of this sounds pretty much right to me.  The urban area doesn't have to expand that much to get us from 6m to 10m.  But what about southeast/Clear Lake?  NASA has been a declining force, but waterfront is waterfront...

  13. I was a kid out in northwest Houston, and somehow the whole family ended up awake and in my 2nd floor bedroom in the middle of the night when we heard crazy loud winds and lawn furniture hitting the house.  We weren't very smart about getting into a more secure lower floor space.  The next morning we could clearly see where a tornado had touched down in the gas pipeline right-of-way behind the house, not more than 50 yards from our house.  It had bounced around and destroyed a doughnut shop nearby.  But we only lost a single roof shingle.  Very, very lucky...

  14. Whenever this point comes up, I always like to point out that the road network is not optional.  Every property must be connected to the road network, if only for deliveries, construction, police, ambulance, and fire access.  Only in SimCity can you connect the world with only transit. Therefore paying a substantial portion of the road network out of property taxes is completely fair, because all property owners benefit from being connected to that road network, even if they don't drive themselves.

    • Like 5
  15. In the WSJ profile of Annise Parker, you said: "I'd argue we may be the most libertarian city in America."

    So Houston is Mecca for libertarians. It's really that simple. That's why a paleocon like me feels uncomfortable there. Fine.

    But Portland: Portland is a product that people have proven they want to pay for. I'm not sure why it draws censure, since libertarians should seemingly be indifferent to what people desire, or the forms it takes. In a world of choice, it is unlikely everyone would want to live in a place like Houston.

    Where you see hipsters, I suppose (sorry if I misuse the word "hipster" - it has no meaning for me) I see, beyond the gauzy progressivism, those drawn to Portland attempting to mimic what the very wealthy enjoy. This seems like very typical consumer behavior.

    Please note, I said, "very wealthy."  So, the lifestyle I'm taking about, though it may be very expensive, has less to do with material excess, than with beautiful surroundings, orderliness, and above all, not too damn many people around.

    So, for instance, the sort of place where uber-libertarian Steve Forbes lives: a charming, ultra-restrictive town in New Jersey, where the arrival of a Starbucks was considered an affront, where ag exemptions for pumpkin patches and Christmas tree farms preserve a nice buffer of open space.

    Is this a case where libertarians feel people need correcting, because they are guilty of wanting the wrong thing?

     

    The question was "why is Portland considered a model city".  The simple answer is that they are the mecca for Smart Growth.  I have my issues with smart growth, especially pointing out the downsides of what they consider utopia (mainly the high costs and government dictation of peoples' lives).  But if it's what the people of Portland choose to do, so be it.  I agree about a diversity of city types.  And I like that Houston is trying to offer many different neighborhood types within a larger metro, including dense urban neighborhoods and aesthetically controlled ones (like the small cities and The Woodlands).  I'm not a fan that Portland tries to dictate only one neighborhood model, but again, if that's how they democratically choose to do it, so be it.

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