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mikehouston last won the day on March 14 2012

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  1. Some progress from today - sorry for the terrible photo quality.
  2. This Target in Washington's Mosaic District would be more appropriate here now - not sure if it is a city target seems like a full-blown Target to me - but it is inside a parking garage on the 3rd or 4th floor with special escalators for the shopping carts. http://mosaicdistrict.com/shop/target/
  3. Isn't this where the AD Players new theater is supposed to go? No idea what is going on with that (guessing they don't have enough donations to go forward yet), but here is the link: http://adplayers.org/capitalcampaign.html
  4. Hate it. Some form of zoning is going to happen - the only question is when, and what name other than "zoning" it will have since that is like a 4 letter word to some people in Houston. There are too many major fights like Ashby and it is only going to continue as highrise gets built next to highrise ruining someone's view, towering over someone's backyard, etc. Better to have at least some forms-based zoning that says for instance that high-rises belong on Kirby or in the Village or something, not Bissonnet. Of course nothing is perfect but it seems like you could end up with fewer major fights this way and still be pro-growth and pro-development. Also if you plan out which areas are going to be high density then you can also serve them better with high quality public transit / complete streets etc.
  5. Downtown Houston now has Discovery Green and Market Square Park, and soon will have a re-developed Buffalo Bayou. Not to mention 3 light rail lines while Austin has some sort of commuter rail that doesn't seem like it would serve any purpose if you were living downtown other than to reverse commute. Or all the pro sports and world class cultural things Houston has to offer downtown. I think what has held downtown Houston back has been the lack of grocery stores and green space, and now that is changing... lack of good public schools is still going to be a drawback for any families looking to move downtown. I don't think downtown Houston is "surrounded" by freeways any more than Austin is surrounded by I-35, MoPac, etc... certainly not something that is preventing people from living downtown. Although I suppose I could understand your perspective if you rode the ferris wheel at the Aquarium, which provides a lovely view of... I-45.
  6. Any guesses as to how this plays out? Culberson still represents a significant portion of this line, correct? And he just introduced this amendment in June. How does this amendment realistically get removed if Culberson sticks to his position?
  7. I am not sure about traditional zoning, but I think Houston could benefit from having forms-based zoning. That is - regulate the height of buildings or form of them, and tie this to the planned infrastructure for an area. We would have no Ashby high-rise in such a situation, but more development along roads like Kirby, and possibly more emphasis on providing high-quality mass transit in the corridors that should support it. Also we could require more minimal setbacks etc. Also - probably we shouldn't call it zoning, as this is equivalent to calling something a "tax" to Republicans - it is Dead on Arrival. Just call it "form-based code" and leave it at that. Regardless of whether we end up with form-based code or not, I think the lack of zoning in Houston has been over-hyped and largely does not have that much to do with our success or the uniqueness of Houston - there are plenty of other regulations that take its place here. So I am fine with replacing current regulations with something that makes more sense.
  8. It took me about an hour to get from Beechnut and Chimney Rock to Westheimer and Chimney Rock (a trip that normally takes about 15-20 minutes, even with "rush hour" traffic). I think there were about 50 concerts scheduled for that night in the Galleria area, and everybody and their grandma was trying to turn into a parking lot somewhere on the Richmond strip. Even shopping centers in the Galleria are that are normally not crowded like the SW corner of Fountain View and Westheimer were tough to find a parking space in - I'm still not sure why exactly. I used the surface roads thinking they would not be crowded since my wife had told me that 610 was a mess. Didn't help. They definitely could have been helped by some sort of shuttle down Richmond / Galleria area and some off-site parking. I don't know that anybody realized it was going to get that bad. I didn't even realize that area was still that popular .
  9. According to Wikipedia: A relatively small building may be considered a skyscraper if it protrudes well above its built environment and changes the overall skyline. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyscraper But perhaps high-rise is more appropriate in this case. In any case, if this POS was being built next to my house I'd probably refer to it as a skyscraper too. Or maybe even a supertall.
  10. I think it is totally legitimate to ask if "your culture", whatever that culture is, has a decent presence in another city. It does not mean you are not also open to experiencing other things and cultures. I actually hear this all the time from Hispanic people who are not so keen on moving to places in the North that are otherwise big / diverse cities - like Seattle / Minneapolis / Detroit - because they are used to having the plethora of options for Hispanic culture, food, etc. that they have here in Houston - cities like LA / Miami with the established Hispanic cultures are much more appealing to them - and I don't blame them. The fact is Houston is a top US city for Hispanic culture (and have you tried the Mexican food in Seattle? It is terrible). Also - I think this comes into play for religious groups - since for many religions being able to experience their celebrations / rituals / foods as part of the larger community is important to them. This is especially true for religious minorities in the US - who do not want to go live in some place like Fargo ND if that means giving up their religious community. Also - they've done studies on racism, and one interesting finding I've seen is that although most people are not what we would consider racists, most people do have a strong preference to live in a neighborhood where there is at least one other member of that neighborhood that is like them - whether that is black / white / hispanic / or some religious minority. So - some diversity is actually something we are wired for. But living in an area where we are basically "sticking out" is not something most people look for. You can see this in Houston - we have historically black areas, white areas, Chinatown, etc - even though these areas still tend to be pretty diverse as well. That said, I agree with previous posters that ATL is pretty much in a league by itself when it comes to AA culture. But Houston does have a large AA community so if that is what you are seeking you should be able to find that culture here as well. Of the "black" places I know around town, Etta's (http://www.29-95.com...ts-ettas-lounge) used to be a blast. And the Breakfast Klub is supposed to be awesome though I haven't been yet: http://www.youtube.c...?v=ekAupa6_jQA. Third Ward is the historic black area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Ward,_Houston. We also have a black theater - the Ensemble - http://www.ensemblehouston.com/. They put on some great shows. We have great jazz clubs etc. I say all of this as a non AA who just likes to try various cultures out. Doesn't compare to ATL but pretty good compared to a lot of other places.
  11. Well - I don't for one second believe that only 50k people in Houston aged 16 and above is our target demographic - and I don't buy that only that number of people does not own an automobile either. If you believe that Houston metro is designed to serve only 50k people, sure - focus on buses. But if you believe that the purpose of transportation policy is to provide efficient transportation options for all citizens, then you need to consider rail. People in Houston often use cars because we do not have such widespread options today. I also maintain that LA / Dallas are not significantly different from Houston overall in their system build out at this point. From what I understand of Dallas's system, it does not serve the core very well, whereas Houston's approach is focused on providing starter lines within the core. Bottom line - I don't think there is a successful sun-belt transit city in the US today. But I don't think there is any inherent reason for that - just poor timing - the growth of many of these cities coincided with the era of cheap energy and a cultural love of personal automobiles. Now things seem to be trending towards more transit investment / more density / higher energy costs. As far as Houston being able to grow without sprawl, I don't dispute that sprawl will play a role. But I don't think any of us has a crystal ball and can see into the future. To expect the next 50 years to play out exactly as the previous 50 in terms of energy costs, public preferences, work / telecommute, demographic changes, etc - is silly. I tend to think sprawl is not going to be as much of a factor for various reasons.
  12. I don't think miles of rail in this case is a good metric for how well built out a system is. By this metric, Austin has 4-5x the amount of rail as Houston. But it is a terrible line. I don't honestly know enough about LA's recent light rail efforts to know whether they were well thought out or not. The point is Houston needs to build a good core of rail lines / express bus service before we will begin to see a greater percentage of transit ridership. Plus, new residential / commerical needs to start happening around the stations - all of this takes time - in some cases decades. LA has always been the best example in the country to me of a city that did not *get it*, and let sprawl and freeways take themselves to the limits. Now they are suffering the consequences and doing what they should have been doing in the first place - building more transit. I am fine with ALSO doing more buses like the Quickline, and more jitneys as well - as you suggest. But if building rail lines is going to take ~15 years then we may as well start building a whole bunch of rail lines and commuter rail lines as well. If we don't have the money for the best solutions I am fine with incremental solutions. Or raising my taxes and building the best solutions. I favor an "all of the above" transportation policy, within reason.
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