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burlesona

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About burlesona

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  1. People can be so defensive For what it's worth, I'm not trying to argue anything about whether I like Houston, whether it's a good place to live, or whether you can get a nice house here. I'm specifically ONLY interested in the way that the tax structure impacts the purchasing power of buyers in Houston, and therefore leads to lower listing prices than we would have with lower taxes. @RedScare: I added this comment at the end of the post, and it adresses the same point you made.
  2. I'd take a look at ZipRealty. I've been working with their Houston Agent, Theresa Turley. She has been extraordinarly helpful. They also offer a rebate of 20% of their commission which works out to about $600 per every 100k of home you're looking at. So, $1800 cash back on a $300k home! I've been really impressed with them, they're worth a look. I can also tell you, I was doing the same thing - meeting just with sellers agents as I searched - and it worked fine to get to see some properties. However, the difference when we brought in a buyers agent was surprising. I thought I was being pretty thorough in the questions I was asking and the concerns I was researching, but there was a lot I had overlooked. I'd definitely recommend getting a buyer's agent, no matter who you work with.
  3. I've been doing some research recently, that I thought you guys would find interesting. I was chatting with my brother-in-law who lives in Seattle, and he and I were comparing notes on shopping for a home. He was lamenting how expensive things were, and we both were complaining about taxes. Then we got into details, and I realized that his taxes were so much lower than ours that he and I would be making similar monthly payments on two very different prices of homes! And Washington DOES NOT have an income tax! I thought they did, but they don't! I then decided to dig into the issue and compare property taxes in the US 4 biggest cities, and post what I found on my blog. You can read the whole write up here: http://www.neohouston.com/2009/06/property...nd-home-prices/ Here's the biggest surprise: Homeowners in Los Angeles, on a median home price of $390k actually pay LESS property tax than homeowners in Houston with a median home price of $190k. Of course, California is all kinds of screwed up, but I was very surprised to find out how much less tax the city collects as compared to Houston. I wonder where they make up the difference?
  4. I've thought about that, and I think it's a great idea from a technical standpoint. The question is, can it happen politically?
  5. My concern is that people are thinking only of tomorrow's growth and not on the area as it's currently built. All I'm really trying to argue is that we need to pay attention to addressing the regions most urgent transportation needs today rather than giving up and skipping on to the next problem. That's why improvements in the SH6/1960 corridor are so important. My other biggest concern is that people are content that the proposed GP alignment will be the only major route crossing NW Houston, and that if that ends up being the case the areas in the middle of the GP, 290, 8, 10 'wedge' will be too far removed from any major regional transportation to develop efficiently. Thus, it's more important to build new routes close-in to where the already existing underserved developments than to build it super wide. We could offer phenomenal improvements in transportation access by providing multiways (which can fit in the existing ROWs) for those areas, and that should be our top priority in NW Houston. I don't really have a problem with planning for the next ring beyond that (closer to where GP is currently proposed) so long as we don't ignore the tremendous unmet needs already existing. Anyway, thanks for all your feedback, it's very interesting and I enjoy opportunity to expand my thinking on these things.
  6. I'll try and figure those numbers out. I calculated the pop and density inside the loop using the census estimates broken down by zip code, and it took a long, long time. There are way more zip codes outside (ie it would take even that much longer) and they don't match the boundaries of the freeways as much... so I'm not sure it would be as accurate. In any case, I'll gladly post numbers if I can find them, or if I have the time to calculate them (or find a better way to calculate them). Thanks.
  7. @theNiche: You're right, I meant 8.4 million, my bad. @Everyone: What I'm saying is Houston is screwed either way with the current plan. Either: A. That area doesn't develop very densely and form new activity centers, in which case the mega-freeway isn't needed... or B. The area does grow as projected, in which case the Grand Parkway won't be enough. As you get farther and farther out from the core there are fewer and fewer major through routes. This is the biggest cause of congestion and the biggest restraint on infill development. If y'all are interested in really arguing this topic with me, I'd love to hear what you have to say after reading the entire post on the blog and considering it in context. What I'm arguing is that Grand Parkway is too far out to make any difference on today's traffic issues, and that a better investment of the money TODAY would be to build several multiways (something like Allen Parkway) that can fit in the ROW of a major thoroughfare but carry far more capacity than an ordinary surface arterial. We need one that rings close-in to existing development (alt. grand parkway), we need major improvements in the SH-6/1960 corridor, and we could use a few others to connect up the network in between. You can see an illustration of this idea on neohouston if you care to look. Those improvements are more cost effective and more relevant to Houston as it is today - a city already choking on traffic. If we use Grand Parkway to pave the way for a huge new wave of low-density strip development without doing something significant to improve traffic in the existing areas, then the net effect of Grand Parkway will be a far worse traffic nightmare for most in Northwest Houston. If anyone wants to argue that the proposed Grand Parkway alignment will offer *any* measurable improvement for CURRENT traffic issues in NW Houston, I'd love to hear your thinking.
  8. Well, sorry if the clipping from the post is too out of context. The boxes are not meant as any kind of constraint, they're just illustrating the relative areas served by different freeways. My point was, most of the defenders of the Grand Parkway argue something like this: "It's just like when Houston built the loop or the beltway. We have to build it or growth will overwhelm us and traffic will be out of control." However, because of the size and scale of the Grand Parkway (the area between GP and the Beltway is 14 times bigger than the area inside the loop) you really can't compare the construction of the Grand Parkway to the Beltway and you especially cannot compare it to the Loop. We don't need an outer-outer beltway. What we need is an inter-suburban connector. Therefore the proposed alignment of the Grand Parkway is a bad choice, and what we should build instead is a more direct connection between Katy, Cypress and Spring. That's the idea that's explained in detail on the blog, it's a little long to re-post in entirety here though. Anyway, sorry I wasn't more clear about what the drawing represented before, thanks for pointing that out
  9. Hey everyone, I just uploaded a big post to my blog that I think you'll enjoy. You can read the complete story online at http://www.neohouston.com/2009/04/new-mobility-northwest/ Here's one of the main highlights: I hope you guys enjoy the post. I'd love to hear comments, either here or on the blog is fine, though I'll probably reply faster on the blog. Thanks!
  10. So, do you think the building is too small, or the parking lot is too small? Just curious.
  11. New Library in River Oaks is LEED Silver. Dave at neoHOUSTON went on a tour and posted a recap. Here are some of the vital stats, the full write-up is at: http://www.neohouston.com/2009/04/looscan-...eed-tour-recap/ if you're interested. Building Info Owner: City of Houston General Services Department, Houston Public Library Architect: Jackson and Ryan Architects Engineer: Walter P. Moore & Associates MEP Engineer: I.A. Naman and Associates Structural Engineer: Ingenium, Inc. Interiors: Bennett Design Group Contractor: Gilbane Construction Company Project Size: 21,175 sq ft. Total Project Cost: $5,576,500 Cost PSF: $263 Completion: March 2007 Pretty cool project overall, though they were really close to Gold, and I'm not sure why they didn't go for it...
  12. There are good alternatives, too, like linen pants. Think about what people wear on a golf course. It can look nice but be light and breathable.
  13. I got an idea from the De Lange Conference last week, based on a speech by Antanas Mockus, the former mayor of Bolivia. The background for the idea is described here: http://www.neohouston.com/2009/03/antanas-...ulated-society/ Take a look if you care to, I thought the whole idea of three dimensional regulatory policy was pretty interesting... Anyway, the part that really got me thinking is when Mockus talked about addressing water shortages in Bogota not by trying to impose new regulations, but by advocating for lifestyle change. I was thinking of what we struggle with in Houston, and clearly the biggest environmental issue we face is heat. Then I started thinking: when I'm around the house in the summer, I leave the thermostat at about 78 degrees, and I wear linen shorts and sandals most of the time. It's really comfortable, and my wife is especially appreciative since she gets cold easily. The problem is the office. I mean, when it's 98 degrees outside, wearing a suit is the pits. But for many of us, the office culture is unyielding on the dress code, no matter how climatically inappropriate it may be. What if we created an initiative to have "Dress for the Weather Week" sometime this summer? Think of how much money businesses could save if they turned the temperature from 68 to 78 and let employees dress appropriately for it? I know this is a cultural issue, and one that won't change overnight, but a city-wide event where we all dressed like we live in Texas for one week could fly, and if businesses did realize significant savings they might consider keeping it up. This could be especially beneficial for Houston businesses in the current market. What do you think?
  14. Went to the Urban Corridors discussion, it was pretty good. The complete recap including some more background on urban corridors is available at http://neohouston.wordpress.com/2009/02/26...rridors-debate/. Enjoy! What say you, is the city's sidewalk idea brilliant or bogus?
  15. Hey all, I thought this was something you might enjoy: The rest is too much to fit in the window here, but you can read it all on my blog at: http://neohouston.wordpress.com/2009/02/19...andidate-forum/. I hope this is helpful for those interested in the mayoral race!
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