I’m Going to Kansas City, Kansas City Here I Come

My blogging will be light for the next few days, as I am heading to the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Kansas City. I am flattered to participate in a plenary session in which I will get to deliver my spiel, “Smart Growth for Conservatives.” I’m stoked because this will be the largest audience I have ever addressed. (I hope I don’t blow it!)

Apparently, the conference organizers found the idea of a pro-smart growth conservative so novel that they had to see one for themselves! In all seriousness, our panel will endeavor to find common ground between liberal, conservative and libertarian views on smart growth. I’m looking forward to the conversation.


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22 responses to “I’m Going to Kansas City, Kansas City Here I Come”

  1. reed fawell III Avatar
    reed fawell III

    God Speed. Hope “spiel” is posted online.

  2. You’re not taking Ed Risse with you? geeze…. you are bound to go astray… !

    sayyyyyy.. is that Connaughton guy going to participate in the Highways for Smart Growth segment?

    have fun and remember… what happens in Kansas City… no..no.. that somewhere else… KC is the opposite of LV.

  3. Jim, you darn well need to stop some evening at Jacks Stack Barbecue. Locations all over the metro area. The ribs are beyond superb. If you cannot eat your way to happiness, there is something seriously wrong with you.

  4. DJRippert Avatar

    Be sure to tell the people in the audience from Kansas City what happens to home affordability as “smart growth” measures are adopted.

    Kansas City home affordability index: 105
    Richmond home affordability index: 128
    SanFrancisco home affordability index: 132

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Get “stoked” but don’t get “croaked.”

    KC can be rough.

  6. I kicked this comment up from a different thread. I’ll try to tie it in. Hope you don’t mind.

    Darrell – that’s an interesting perspective that is certainly an eye-opener to the rest of us who routinely point to NoVa and Hampton as the more prosperous work centers in the state.

    Is this a situation where it has gone downhill but still is better than many parts of the state?

    How can the kids are not going to NoVa instead of farther away?

    Darrell | February 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm |

    Well I’ve said here for a long time now that Tidewater is really RoVa. Federal jobs are what holds the per capita wages up here. State welfare from NoVa pays 50 percent of the local governmental budgets. And the ports would be broke if Richmond didn’t cover the short fall. But for some reason people think we are some big rich metro akin to DC.

    Now as for the kids. They have really bought into the hype of college and are digging a never die debt hole few will climb out of if they stay here. This area has very few entry level jobs, a prime ingredient in developing occupational critical mass and true growth.

    NoVa may as well be in New England. New workers can’t make enough to afford living there. So the kids look else where for a mix of jobs in an affordable area. The Smart Growth crowd isn’t going to like this next comment. They in effect move to the nation’s jobs suburbs just like local home buyers do in distant suburban neighborhoods. Atlanta, Dallas, Salt Lake or many other cities with low cost of living with job opportunities for advancement to mid-level positions are the nation’s new suburban landscape. These other cities with high costs are nothing more than the Hillbilly company towns I grew up around. “Another day older and deeper in debt.”

    1. reed fawell III Avatar
      reed fawell III

      Excellent post, Darrell – very insightful.

  7. Thanks Darrell. Young folks tend to be more flexible in housing arrangements more willing to live in conditions that older, marrieds would not – is my impression and looking back on my own youth.

    looks like HR is not the only port city in trouble:

    City of Baltimore is on a path to financial ruin, report says

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/06/city-baltimore-is-on-path-to-financial-ruin-report-says/#ixzz2KIsvtEZy

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      I am not sure that Baltimore’s problems have anything to do with its status as a “port city”.

      “Baltimore already has the highest property taxes in Maryland — twice as high as in neighboring Baltimore County. The city’s local income taxes are the highest allowed under state law. While the city enacted some new taxes to deal with the 2010 deficit — including taxes on bottled beverages and higher hotel and parking levies — city officials say they can’t tax their way out of the problem without driving away residents and businesses.”.

    2. DJRippert Avatar

      Just tell the good people of Baltimore to wait for the inevitable influx of wealthy Echo Boomers predicted by Jim Bacon. When these twenty-somethings turn into thirty-somethings and forty-somethings they will stay in the cities despite sky high taxes on their growing incomes, lousy schools and incessant crime. Why? Walkability!

      America’s cities are dying. Detroit is gone. Chicago is turning into a war zone. Baltimore is toast.

      America’s cities are also becoming the epicenters of income inequality as only the very rich and very poor are willing to live in these cities:


      I have long suspected that Jim Bacon’s wishful thinking about America’s urban renaissance is more representative of an anti-tax Tea Partier rationalizing a basis for opposing infrastructure projects than anything else.

      Meanwhile, we all wait with baited breath for the fist dispatch from Jim Bacon after he leaves his comfy house in the suburbs to join the exodus heading into inner-city Richmond.

      1. reed fawell III Avatar
        reed fawell III

        Baltimore can come back. Just as it has so many times before.

        I recall in the 60’s driving north from DC up Interstate 95, coming over top a small rise, you’d spot Baltimore slightly below squatting miserably under a reddest brown dome of smog and swamp gas. A vision worthy of a Colmac McCarthy novel.

        Within the next 20 years some enterprising Mayors (Shaeffer for one) and real developers (Rouse Bros. for example) brought Baltimore back from the dead. Things like Harbor place. Call it urban renewal the smart way. Built not by government fiat. But by smart enterprise enabled by smart government.

        Same thing happened to Philly. A Rouse son, Williard Rouse 111, and other leaders brought that city back from its long myopic depression.

        Then of course there is New York, a great city ruined during the 60s and 70s. High taxes, endless regulation of the wrong things, and mindless urban renewal fanned the fire that the fires tearing that city apart.

        Yet the city came back, resurrected, beginning with Koch. The battles were fierce. I recall, walking the NY streets with New Yorkers who should have known better. Listening to them, you’d have thought Rudy was the devil incarnate.

  8. Darrell – one more question my man. Almost every morning when I scan Twitter, it says there are backups on area roads in HR and VB. I equate that with people trying to get to work… like I see in NoVa and I hear news reports that HR (like we heard from NoVa) must have more transportation infrastructure to accommodate it’s growth.

    what say you about that?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Hampton Roads (MSA) population:

      1986 – 1,350,396
      1990 – 1,450,855
      2000 – 1,576,370
      2010 – 1,671,683
      2011 – 1,679,874

      Gas Tax, in cents per gallon (1986 – 2011): 17.4

      As inflation erodes the buying power of the gas tax more of the total purchasing power is devoted to maintenance and less to new construction. For areas with a growing population (like the Hampton Roads MSA) this has the inevitable effect of causing more congestion and greater traffic delays.

      Why is this hard?

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        The Hampton Roads MSA has grown by 329,478 people since 1986. That’s 1.6 times more people than live in the City of Richmond today. The Hampton Roads MSA is effectively adding another City of Richmond every 15.6 years.

        That’s hard to do with a frozen gas tax.

        1. While I agree there are problems with funding in HR, to include only the population of the City of Richmond seems like cherry-picking. It would be akin to presenting the population of the City of Norfolk as the population of HR.

          In reality, in the last 20 years the population of the Richmond MSA has increased by 392,611 compared to 220,828 for the VB-NOR MSA. In fact, given past growth trends, I would expect the Richmond MSA to eventually pass HR and become the second largest in the state some time around 2040.

          1. DJRippert Avatar

            It’s sort of cherry picking. My goal wasn’t to compare the Hampton Roads MSA to the Richmond MSA in population. My goal was to try to provide something of a mental model for people. Population wise, the Hampton Roads MSA is adding a good sized city every 15.6 years. Now, close you eyes and imagine all the highways, roads, etc in the City of Richmond. That’s what Hampton Roads needs to add every decade and a half.

            Richmond may well pass Tidewater in population although Richmond has had a very erratic history as a major American city. Once upon a time Richmond seemed poised to be, by far, the most important city in the south. However, a series of catastrophic decisions by her political elite followed by a century of vision-less leadership left Richmond as a Class B metropolitan area. Meanwhile, Charlotte, Atlanta, Tampa, Jacksonville and New Orleans all prospered. Today, you can watch NFL teams play in any of those cities or you can watch the Redskins hold summer camp in Richmond.

            Richmond should be bigger and more prosperous than Atlanta. But it isn’t. A small group of narrow minded (and largely inbred) elites have held the city back for centuries. And that’s too bad. Too bad for the vast majority of Richmonders who are good, hard working people and too bad for the Commonwealth of Virginia which deserves a Class A city.

  9. Interesting new transportation funding proposal from the Reston Citizens Association, hardly a bastion of conservatism, but filled with a number of good thinkers. The RCA has written all the powers that be in Virginia that, in the event Congress grants an amendment to MWAA’s charter to let it do non-airport-related real estate development, MWAA be required to devote an amount (unspecified) to reduce the debt incurred by MWAA to build Dulles Rail. I think the idea is brilliant. The development that MWAA wants to engage in is permitted by the future arrival of Dulles Rail. But for Dulles Rail, the land would not have the same development potential Therefore, it seems only reasonable for such development to pay a larger share of the costs of the enabling transportation facilities.

    MWAA will likely fight this tooth and nail. Why? Dulles Airport operating costs are very high and traffic has been heading south. MWAA does not want to cut costs or charge more to airlines and passengers. It’s looking for cross-subsidies. That’s wrong. MWAA should be hung out to dry, and the RCA’s proposal adopted.

  10. DJ, I know enough to say I’ll never understand how Richmond works so I appreciate you shining some light on its history. In all fairness, Hampton Roads isn’t much beyond a “Class B” Metropolitan area itself, but I don’t think that was ever in the cards for us as Darrell alluded to above.

    It seems every 15.6 years the HR MSA adds another couple of cities and counties.
    1973: Added Currituck and Chesapeake
    1983: Added Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Suffolk, Williamsburg, Gloucester, James City, and York
    1993: Added Isle of Wight, Mathews, and Surry

    Seems we’re overdue for an expansion. I’m looking at you Southampton and why not eat-up the Elizabeth City micropolitan area too? Of course I’m joking, but I was shocked when I looked up how large the Greater Richmond MSA is. There are locations in the MSA that are 3 counties away from the CBD. At least in HR, all the counties border the Bay.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      NoVa isn’t much beyond a “Class B” metropolitan area unless you add DC and the Maryland suburbs.

      Which is kind of the problem.

      Virginia has no effective center of gravity.

      Richmond is too small and NoVa and Tidewater are too diffuse.

      We need to either build up Richmond or find a center of gravity in Tidewater or NoVa.

      Maybe Virginia Beach?

  11. Hampton Roads traffic congestion is a factor of 1960s roads. increased security at the bases, and accidents that take forever to be cleared. Two cars scraping paint can result in a ten mile backup down here.

    If you take out the houses, not much has really changed in this area. The oceanfront has the same shops and bars that were here in the 60s. Different names and newer hotels. Same goes with Virginia Beach blvd. and most of the other roads around here. Pembroke mall and Military Circle have been here forever.

    Then there is Virginia and the surrounding areas like Baltimore. Sooner of later the money is going to dry up and the whole Mid-Atlantic will join the Rust Belt. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

  12. This doesn’t fit anywhere per se, but it is a very significant funding proposal, IMO. It’s is from the Reston Citizens Association — the voluntary membership group.

    MAILBAG – NoVa wants a hand: A group of concerned Northern Virginia citizens wrote to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, both Virginia senators and Reps. Gerry Connolly and Frank Wolf about commercial development around budding Silver Line stations – and MWAA property. The letter “recommends that, if it approves of such a step [allowing MWAA to engage in non-airport-related development], Congress direct MWAA to share any income from these tax-free commercial initiatives with those who are paying for the Silver Line, including Dulles Toll Road users.” Read it: http://bit.ly/14C2Ex8

  13. This is an excellent observation on TMT’s part. If the premise is that METRO creates smart growth development and METRO needs a sustainable source of funding – why should FAIRFAX be the beneficiary instead of METRO?

    why don’t the METRO corridor tax districts pay for METRO?

    what say you TMT?

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