A QUESTION FOR VDOT

EMR has sent VDOT the following question:

Why does VDOT ‘assume’ there will be more Large, Private vehicles using the US Route 29 Corridor in 2017 than there were in 2007?

We have provided below, based on the recent work at SYNERGY, some of the reasons citizens should question ANY assumption of growth in Large, Private vehicle travel in the US Route 29 Corridor – or in any other InterRegional corridor in the Commonwealth:

High fuel prices drive down travel demand, especially travel in Large, Private vehicles. The ONLY thing that is keeping the cost of fuel low in October of 2009 is The Great Recession.

Going forward there appear to be three broad options with respect fuel prices and thus travel demand in Large, Private vehicles in the US Route 29 Corridor or anywhere else:

1. The Great Recession will end soon with a return to the 2002 / 2006 economic / consumption trajectory. Not many predict this outcome but if it occurs fuel prices will go back up making Large, Private vehicles economic dinosaurs. Economic reality will reshape travel demand and functional Mobility and Access systems.

The configuration of these transformations can be predicted by considering the impacts of high fuel / energy price events over the past four decades. All serious examinations of the growth / consumption scenario point to more compact human settlement patterns served by shared-vehicle systems and much smaller, lighter, slower and safer vehicles for IntraRegional Mobility and Access. InterRegional (and MegaRegional) Mobility and Access will depend on more efficient shared-vehicle systems.

2. The Great Recession does not end soon. With a long recession / depression few will be able to afford a Large, Private vehicle much less the fuel to take long trips. Economists suggest that a ‘recovery’ from a long recession / depression may be similar to the ‘recovery’ following The Long Depression (1876 to 1893). That economic transformation ushered in a new settlement pattern – the rise of the Industrial Center that eclipsed the society that was 95 percent agrarian / 5 percent Urban (aka, The ‘Cities / Agrarian Society) that evolved over the prior 13,000 years. The Industrial Center (the settlement pattern template of the Industrial Revolution) was dependent on the evolution of railways for Mobility and Access.

The shape of the settlement pattern that will replace the Large, Private Vehicle Settlement Pattern that has evolved since 1920 can be projected based on an understanding of economic activity and the trajectory of property values of organic components of human settlement (measured Radius Band by Radius Band) over the past three decades. This new settlement pattern must be – like the ‘The Great Recession Ends Soon’ alternative scenario – more efficient and compact. These patterns and densities of land use will by necessity rely far less Large, Private vehicles because of economic and physical reality – high fuel costs and the space required to drive and park Large, Private vehicles.

3. There is middle ground between these two polar options. This is often called The ‘Modest’ Recovery. A ‘modest’ recovery is the current Federal Reserve prediction and that of many economists. Under this scenario there will be little employment growth in the US of A or Virginia because of Global outsourcing and increased application and productivity of machines and technology. This has been the case in the ‘recoveries’ from the last two recessions.

In the modest recovery scenario Enterprise ‘profit’ will be based on cutting costs – including employment – not revenue growth. Stock and commodity markets will continue to reflect speculative activity rather than citizen prosperity. The wealth gap will continue to widen. This is not a context where there will be growth in travel demand in Large, Private vehicles. The same long term trends to more compact and efficient patterns of settlement will be evident.

Whatever future scenario is closest to evolving reality there will be a smaller and smaller role for Large, Private vehicles to provide citizens with Mobility and Access.

The key question is: Will there be resources left under ANY scenario to carry out the transition to a sustainable trajectory without dire, society-disrupting poverty and conflict?

Humans will need to learn to embrace the joys of living ‘smaller’ and living ‘closer’ to the Jobs, Services and Recreation. They will need to live ‘smaller’ and ‘closer’ if they are to maintain an acceptable quality of life in a technologically based Urban society.

As Urban society has evolved, few humans in any location on the planet find reversion to hardscrabble subsistence agriculture or hunter / gatherer existence an attractive option.

Economic reality will force the federal, state and municipal Agencies to stop subsidizing the travel between dysfunctionally scattered origins and destinations. This means there will be less use of Large, Private vehicles for both passenger and freight. Urban dwellings in remote locations will continue to lose value.

These scenarios reflect the reality that humans have come to the end of cheap energy – aka, Peak Oil. Peak Oil (aka, Hubbert’s Peak) is an issue of ‘WHEN.’ It is NOT an issue of ‘IF’ as noted in Appendix Four of SYNERGY’S study “Timberfence Truth of Consequences” citing a number of recent studies including the UK Energy Research Centre.

In fact citizens are already facing “peaklike” conditions.

Food riots in poor nation-states, economic turmoil in nation-states with declining petroleum reserves (e.g. Mexico) and high / fluctuating fuel and energy costs are all “peaklike” conditions. These conditions will grow more sever as the Industrial Green Revolution based on cheap petroleum and abundant water exacerbates the process of shifting to more expensive energy sources.

There is no cheap replacement for the carbon / fossil based energy – the ‘natural capital’ that has been accumulated over the past 4 billion years. Humans have burned through much of this natural capital in the last 200 years – and especially the last 113 years of industrial growth / Mass OverConsumption since the end of The Long Depression. Citizens must learn to live on natural (solar) ‘income’ now that stored natural capital is becoming more scarce and more expensive.

There are MANY alternative energy sources but NONE of them will be cheap compared to carbon / fossil based sources. In addition, no known energy source is as well suited as petroleum to fuel Large, Private vehicles. If there was such a source, it would be in wide-spread use now.

There is no question that fossil sources of fuel are finite and becoming more and more costly to bring to market. The same is true for petroleum substitutes.

The Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) for ethanol is at or below one when all the costs and subsidies are considered. The same will be true for all petroleum substitutes that rely on irrigation for growth and / or water for processing. It is also true for hydrogen, ‘safe’ nuclear, ultra-deep geothermal, direct and indirect solar conversion as well as recent deep off-shore and ultra-deep terrestrial petroleum discoveries.

VDOT and its consultants should have been preparing for the advent of Peak Oil since at least 1973. Instead they have been blindly continuing the subsidy of travel in Large, Private vehicles.

As a result of Business-As-Usual, there has evolved a Perfect Storm of dysfunctional and untransportable human settlement patterns. State Agencies say municipalities are responsible of ‘land use’ (aka, human settlement patterns) and municipal Agencies say the Commonwealth is responsible for Mobility and Access.

If VDOT was not preparing for Peak Oil and the decline of Large, Private vehicles, then the Governor, the legislature, the Commonwealth Transportation Board and concerned citizens should have required that they prepare. They did not and now the price must be paid.

Back to the US Route 29 Corridor: Can VDOT or its consultants name ANY growth curve which is dependent upon a finite resource that has continued to grow geometrically? SYNERGY has identified no scientifically verified example of a sustainable growth curve with the configuration similar to the growth in vehicle miles traveled by Large, Private vehicles over the past 50 in the Commonwealth. Why is VDOT relying on an unprecedented condition as the basis for public action in the US Route 29 Corridor?

EMR

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50 responses to “A QUESTION FOR VDOT

  1. Large private vehicle will get smaller.

    And there will become more fuel efficient or use a different energy source.

    But there is no competing transportation option that offers similar results at lower cost.

    And there is no land use option being presently pursued that offers different but economically equivalent results.

    RH

  2. "The Great Recession will end soon with a return to the 2002 / 2006 economic / consumption trajectory.
    ……….

    All serious examinations of the growth / consumption scenario point to more compact human settlement patterns served by shared-vehicle systems and much smaller, lighter, slower and safer vehicles for IntraRegional Mobility and Access."

    I don't see how the second part follows from the first. If the recession ends and we return to the previous trajectory we will have more autos and more sprawl. that's what any serious examinaton of 2000 to 2006 transportation would conclude.

    RH

  3. "With a long recession / depression few will be able to afford a Large, Private vehicle much less the fuel to take long trips. "

    OK, so what is the problem then? We learn ot live more like Europeans. If the goal is to get people to drive less, then just make them poor.

    But if that ISN'T th egoal and you intend the recssion to end, then people will continue to drive.

    RH

  4. "This new settlement pattern must be – like the ‘The Great Recession Ends Soon’ alternative scenario – more efficient and compact."

    Wait a minute, you didn't prove the first premise, you just made a logical leap that was unsupported by the premise. This premise proposes just the opposite, yet you claim the same result based on a broken first premise.

    And, you do not say but suggest that this result, more compact spaces, will be the way to end the recession.

    Never mind that more wealth will lead to more auto use.

    ?????Wheewee, with logic like that I could prove electrons are stationary.

    RH

  5. "In the modest recovery scenario Enterprise ‘profit’ will be based on cutting costs – including employment – not revenue growth."

    So what we are talking about is a modest recovery except for everyone who gets laid off in cost cutting. And one that continues until such time as costs can be cut no further, as in bankruptcy.

    Cutting costs does not lead to properity. Consumption and production lead to prosperity and that means you spend more, not less, EVEN IF, you make some gains in efficiency along the way.

    RH

  6. "The key question is: Will there be resources left under ANY scenario to carry out the transition to a sustainable trajectory without dire, society-disrupting poverty and conflict? "

    Well, now you are getting somewhere.

    The question is not whether the Earth can eventually begin to heal itself and reach ecological equilibrium again, but whether, and to what extent, humans will be a part of that equilibrium.

    ——————————-

    "The Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) for ethanol is at or below one when all the costs and subsidies are considered."

    You state this as a fact, but it is still under debate. Even if it is true, it only makes a difference if the energy used is presumed to be non-renewable.

    Otherwise, it might still be economically attractive to use more energy to grow and produce ethanol than you get back by burning it. The economic advantage is based on WHERE and in WHAT DENSITY the energy is needed.

    RH

  7. "The same will be true for all petroleum substitutes that rely on irrigation for growth and / or water for processing. It is also true for hydrogen, ‘safe’ nuclear, ultra-deep geothermal, direct and indirect solar conversion as well as recent deep off-shore and ultra-deep terrestrial petroleum discoveries. "

    In other words there is no future for any enrgy source that uses any resource whatsoever. The only way we can use energy efficiently is to not use it, walk everywhere, and generate our own power by pedalling on the exercise equipment. All of that is free, no cost, and won't lead to proverty and deprivation of course.

    All we have to do is deprive ourselves of automobiles, energy, and anything else that uses it.

    RH

  8. Note to the anonymous writere who is about to step in to defend Dr. Risse: I'd stop picking on him if he didn't make it so ridiculously easy.

    As he would put it, any serious analysis would agree with me, and any one that doesnt agree can't be be serious. And they are ignorant to boot.

    RH

  9. "Can VDOT or its consultants name ANY growth curve which is dependent upon a finite resource that has continued to grow geometrically? "

    Can you identify any resource that isn't finite?

    RH

    "Stupidity is the only infinite resource."

  10. " New Way to Tap Gas May Expand Global Supplies"

    A new technique that tapped previously inaccessible supplies of natural gas in the United States is spreading to the rest of the world, raising hopes of a huge expansion in global reserves of the cleanest fossil fuel.

    ..
    could increase over the next two decades, comparable with the 40 percent increase in the United States in recent years.

    gas. Larger gas reserves would encourage developing countries to convert more of their transportation fleets to use natural gas rather than gasoline.

    Even the most conservative estimates are enormous, projecting at least a 20 percent increase in the world’s known reserves of natural gas.

    One recent study by IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting group, calculated that the recoverable shale gas outside of North America could turn out to be equivalent to 211 years’ worth of natural gas consumption in the United States at the present level of demand, and maybe as much as 690 years. The low figure would represent a 50 percent increase in the world’s known gas reserves, and the high figure, a 160 percent increase."

    Over the last five years, production of gas from shale has spread across wide swaths of Texas, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. All the new production has produced a glut of gas in the United States, helping to drive down gas prices and utility costs.

    “You see a lot of land-grabbing by different companies in Europe, potentially spreading to the Far East, China and India.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/10/business/energy-environment/10gas.html

    looks like T. Boone Pickins was on to something…

    Cutline: " Toyota Looks to Embrace Natural-Gas Hybrid Cars"

    http://gas2.org/2008/09/24/toyota-looks-to-embrace-natural-gas-hybrid-cars/

    Looks like EMR might have to delay the schedule for the end of the world as we know it…

    NG Hybrids won't have longer ranges though so they'll have to be small and will mostly be urban commuter vehicles – not how you get to grandmas over hill and dale.

  11. No need to 'defend' Prof Risse here.

    Anon RH has not made scored a single useful point. Just a some sophmoric attempts at being cute.

    The problem is every time someone tosses our "RH" comments, it gives someone in VDOT the cover to do more harm.

    Perhaps that is what whoever is paying RH wants to happen.

  12. "Anon RH has not made scored a single useful point. Just a some sophmoric attempts at being cute."

    Not that, I'm just not smart enough to make any sense out of what he is saying.

    What I see is him saying there are three scenarios and all three of them lead to some kind of disaster, that disastere will always be mitigated by more compact living and doing without more stuff, which will make us all better off to the extent that none of the predicted disaters will matter.

    Sorry, I don't get it. Either I'm hoplessly ignorant or else I need a better professor.

    RH

  13. Larry,

    Just wait until the first explosion of a CNG car.

    CNG emits less carbon, but more water vapor, also a greenhouse gas.

    Fortunately the new technique to extract natural gas needs a lot of water.

    This is going to be important technology, but those who are opposed to any kind of consumption will be opposed to this also.

    If I ever get a sponsor to pay me for this, EMR will be the first to know, because I will be gloating all over his front porch.

    Too bad PEC withdrew their support from the blog. Maybe I could have called my contributions a gift to a non-profit and taken a tax deduction.

    RH

  14. Long recession / depression?

    Do any of you guys watch any of the stock market indices?

    If there really is going to be a long recession / depression – we should all short the dickens out of the market.

    Seriously.

    All US stock indices have been surging since March. They have been rocking for 6 1/2 months. There will either be signs of a significant recovery in the overall economy by 12/31 or the markets will collapse.

    Do you guys really see a long recession / depression? If so, we can make a fortune right now. And I mean a real fortune.

    Go short, buy puts, sell calls.

    When do you bears predict that the long recession / depression will "catch up" to the stock market and sink the indices?

    Tomorrow?

    Halloween?

    Thanksgiving?

    New Year's Day?

    I've been reading and posting to the this blog for a long time. I imagine I'll still be here in 3 months.

    When should I start shorting everything?

    Any chance this is a real recovery? You know … like the last 35 recessions and recoveries. Or, is this really The Great Depression II?

  15. I found this document to be very information with respect to the issue of land-use and transportation:

    " OPTIONS FOR IMPROVING THE COORDINATION OF TRANSPORTATION
    AND LAND USE PLANNING IN VIRGINIA" 2004

    I think EMR and Ray both would find it useful but perhaps not for the same exact reasons.

    in this document they survey
    LEGISLATIVE PRACTICES FOR COORDINATING TRANSPORTATION
    AND LAND USE PLANNING

    and they start off by setting of a matrix of states that are Dillon Rule and Home Rule but then they also look at states that do Centralized land-use planning verses states that delegate land-use to the localities and regions.

    Now one might think that Dillon Rule states do not also centrally plan – but states like Florida and Maryland have state level Comprehensive Plans that the localities have to conform to – you could call this Dillon Rule on steroids.

    Va is a Dillon Rule but delegates land-use to the local level.

    South Carolina – on the other hand is a Home Rule state which has also delegated land-use to the local level where the locality has very wide authority for local land use – to the point where the State cannot even put some road corridors in the counties that oppose them.

    Why is this important?

    Well.. because EMR advocates certain levels of governance and land-use planning and decision-making and there are differences in the states.

    Virginia, in fact, is said to be unique in the 50 states because:

    1. – only 4 states does the state level DOT construct and maintain local roads

    2. – There are 134 independent counties and cities in Va – each making their own land-use decisions

    3. – A single word change in the Va Code from "shall" to "may" could affect the way that adjacent counties and cities can agree to coordinate on regional issues.

    But I have to say that VDOT's practice of doing major corridor studies is fairly common practice for all the State DOTs because it is considered one of all of the 50 primary responsibilities to plan and execute statewide connectivity that is important for a variety of reasons beyond the large private vehicle.

    For instance, jobs – that depend on the movement of goods and services.

    Being able to move large equipment and structures like bridge beams from where they are manufactured to where they are needed.

    Evacuation routes for disasters.

    emergency corridors to move disaster aid to areas that need it.

    EMR, unfortunately is sometimes so focused on the "evil" of the large private automobile that I think he completely overlooks the truly vital roles that statewide roads play in virtually everyone's life.

    but I digress..

    read this doc:

    OPTIONS FOR IMPROVING THE COORDINATION OF TRANSPORTATION
    AND LAND USE PLANNING IN VIRGINIA

    http://www.virginiadot.org/vtrc/main/online_reports/pdf/04-r14.pdf

    I bet you'll learn things you did not know – that will help in better understanding some of these issues.

  16. Page 140 of the doc will give some enlightening history behind how Virginia does land-use.

    The U.S. Dept of Commerce played an important role in land-use governance…

    http://www.virginiadot.org/vtrc/main/online_reports/pdf/04-r14.pdf

    Page 140 of the Adobe Reader – as the internal pages do not sync with the reader pages.

    note also that this paper says that about 2/3 of all the states are Dillon Rule States so Home Rule states are much fewer in number.

    All of this should be fascinating to EMR and those who lurk here in support of EMR.

    read the doc…learn some things

  17. I'm with Groveton. I had a portion of my 401k that was in a money market that had pretty good returns every month. It was a defensive measure I put in place before the Tech bubble burst, and left there on accont of my advancing age.

    In the last three months thereturns have gone to near zero as interest rates fall, while my junk bond fund (and everything else) is surging.

    My European stock account took an absolute bath, but now has bounced back. That defensive cash account is going to have to go back into play, maybe in TIPS.

    Meanwhile with interest rates so low, maybe I refinance my rental house.

    I read in time that the average 401 k account for people 55 to 62 is only $72k. The average 401k account overall is only $47k.

    So much for self determination, personal responsibility and independence. A lot of those same people who have been screaming bloody murder over bailouts for bad investments by banks will soon be looking for bailouts themselves.

    RH

  18. Note to EMR:

    "The ancient Maya calendar is about to "run out" but you should pause before partying like there's no tomorrow: rumours of apocalypse have been exaggerated.

    The Maya measured time in baktuns, which lasted approximately 400 years. The run-up to Christmas 2012 marks the end of the 13th baktun, a period spanning about 5,125 years dating from 3114 BC, the start of the Maya "long count" calendar. "

    RH

  19. From the VTRC report:

    "Juxtaposed against the infrastructure cost savings are the reports that generally agree that land prices will rise as growth is controlled; conversely, without land use controls, the price of single family dwelling units at the border of metropolitan areas tends to be lower. 71,85 Studies have indicated that the urban growth boundary of Portland (Oregon) has effectively reduced
    sprawl and yielded compact development, but that this boundary has also contributed to higher housing prices. Similarly, in a comparison of two California cities, the city with growth controls showed housing prices that were 8 percent higher than in the city without growth controls.85
    Studies in San Francisco and Ann Arundel County (Maryland) also suggest that land use controls
    raise housing prices.85 Other regulatory mechanisms, such as developer impact fees, also raise
    prices, although the underlying reasons are sometimes more complex.87 In short, there is
    substantial evidence that controlling the supply of a good (such as land) results in the price of that good being higher, assuming demand continues."

    ——————————–

    Well shoot, if it adds 8% to the value of my home, why wouldn't I want growth controls?

    Of course the problem with this is that it doesn't point out what happens every where outside the growth boundary, where prices fall.

    There is no discussion of how to balance the increased costs (prices) in some locations with decreased prices in others, and the (rather small) projected savings in infrastructure costs.

    There isn't even any mention of decreased prices in other locations, which indicates no thought is being given to a primary government responsibility: equal protection of everyone's property.

    I've been asked previously to provide evidence that growth controls increas property values, and here it is.

    RH

  20. "For example, TCRP Report 74 indicated that under a controlled growth scenario, the
    average housing cost would decrease by $13,000 relative to an uncontrolled growth scenario.
    TCRP notes that growth controls “in the presence of slightly increased density and more nonsingle family housing types, do not increase the price of housing in locations where they are put
    in place. There is, however, a cost amenity reduction (smaller units and lots) that has not been
    calculated here (emphasis added).” 71"

    —————————-

    Finally, although growth controls do have a tendency to
    raise land prices, the literature gives examples of other factors that affect interpretation, such as
    37 growth controls causing construction quality to increase (and prices still increase) or the lack of research data on non-residential land affected by growth controls.85

    ——————————–

    RH

  21. U.S. freight company J.B. Hunt Transport Services (JBHT.O) is close to signing a long-term intermodal agreement with an eastern railroad, most likely Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC.N), according to analysts.

    JB Hunt, which provides trucking as well as intermodal services, currently partners with Norfolk Southern and CSX Corp (CSX.N) in eastern United States to transport freight through their rail networks.

    At least five analysts believe that JB Hunt and Norfolk Southern are in discussions for a longer-term deal that would benefit the former in terms of pricing and fuel costs.

    JB Hunt, primarily a trucking company, started offering intermodal services in 1989. Intermodal involves the use of multiple modes of transportation, such as trucks, rail and ships, for transferring freight.

    A JB Hunt spokesperson said the company does not have a comment at this time.

  22. I read a study by the University of North Carolina. It suggested that growth restrictions and impact fees generally lowered the price of undeveloped land more than they increased the price of new development. I would suppose that there are exceptions in some markets.

    TMT

  23. in the end for a lot of people, what they do care about is if the place they live maintains it's quality of life.

    and many do not care if their own house increases in value and, in fact, would prefer to keep their quality of life – and keep their taxes from escalating.

    and this is what motivates them to get involved with development proposals and down where I live – I've seen strong support for some development proposals – especially commercial retail because it provides them with more shopping options and they know that in our county commercial retail improves the infrastructure and brings in additional taxes.

    I've seen people support assisted living and nursing home projects because the financials show that they contribute more taxes than they use in services, the don't generate huge additional traffic, and .. many folks are in need of assisted care type housing for themselves or relatives so they see it as a way to stay in the community they are used to – and have access to medical care and elderly mobility options.

    Our community was IN FAVOR of public funds spent to help a YMCA get built – because it was proposed to be built next to an elementary school and would provide swimming classes for elementary kids during the weekdays.

    Al of these projects that had strong support rewarded the owners of that property bringing them a handsome return on their investments – and the developers made a point of showing how much local businesses would benefit from the construction.

    I'm not going to slather it on but suffice to say – in my years here, I have seen strong opposition to some kinds of proposals, BOS thrown out of office for approving projects but not also requiring transportation mitigation –

    but then I've also seen citizens support other kinds of development that was perceived to bring benefits to go with their impacts.

  24. FINALLY, SOME PROGRESS

    FINALLY, Dr. Risse has clearly outlined the territory ahead.

    FINALLY, Anon RH has shown some humility and admits he does not understand:

    “I'm just not smart enough to make any sense out of what he is saying.”

    But then he proves he IS smart enough:

    “What I see is him saying there are three scenarios and all three of them lead to some kind of disaster, that disastere (sic) will always be mitigated by more compact living and doing without more stuff, which will make us all better off to the extent that none of the predicted disaters (sic) will matter.”

    Well, the disasters will “matter,” they will just not be ongoing disasters because they will be cut short by evolving functional settlement patterns.

    “Sorry, I don't get it.”

    It sounds like Anon RH really does get it but will not admit it.

    Anon RH spells out what he does not understand and why:

    “But there is no competing transportation option that offers similar results at lower cost.”

    This is true ONLY if there is cheap fuel AND what Bacon calls Autocentric settlement patterns.

    Of course there is no better way to serve Autocentric settlement patterns other than with what Risse calls Autonomobiles (Large, Private vehicles).

    THAT is the problem.

    Autocentric settlement patterns are COMPLETELY untransportable unless one uses Autonomobiles.

    Autonomobiles are being priced out of the market AND they never supported a majority of the citizens. Most important they never served most of the demand for Mobility and Access in the patterns and densities of land use that are most favored by the majority of the market.

    “And there is no land use option being presently pursued that offers different but economically equivalent results.”

    This is just worng and there is a new book “Green Metropolis: Why living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability” – great subtitle! – that spells out why it is wrong in nice easy to understand stories.

    We hesitated to mention the book because it will drive Risse crazy.

    Actually it proves EMR’s premise that citizens must embrace a new and comprehensive Conceptual Framework AND adopt a robust, functional Vocabulary.

    And FINALLY, Larry is getting it too:

    Intelligent use of natural gas IS part of the solution.

    But Larry is not quite home free.

    “Looks like EMR might have to delay the schedule for the end of the world as we know it…”

    Irrational use of natural gas to perpetuated dysfunctional settlement patterns will only put off the day of reckoning a few decades at most. (Natural gas, along other forms of natural capital is finite — only stupidity and hubris are infinite.)

    Providing sort-of-cheap natural gas to drivers of Large, Private vehicles is not a windfall. It is just a drunk who finds the two cases of scotch his wife hid in basement before she left him.

    Someone needs to tell the drunk again what he already should know: he must go sober up.

    Citizens can be as green as over-fertilized grass or they can let the lawn renaturalize and only turn on one light bulb at a time.

    It will not matter. It is the human settlement pattern (in which Larry has invested and tries to defend) that is the problem.

    Larry needs to read “Green Metropolis.” He will learn a lot.

    Give up dysfunctional settlement patterns soon or your great grandchildren will freeze in the dark.

    Maximizing all the alternative sources to maintain dysfunctional settlement patterns will mean it may be your great, great grandchildren that freeze in the dark if something bad does not happen in the meantime.

    Anon Z

    (Yes, I am back and I STILL think Dr. Risse is on the right track.)

  25. Off topic, but…..

    RICHMOND, Oct. 13 — A scathing legislative audit released Tuesday shows Virginia's outsourcing of a massive $2 billion computer upgrade has been so troubled that core government services have been disrupted but that canceling the contract could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

    WaPo

    RH

  26. " in the end for a lot of people, what they do care about is if the place they live maintains it's quality of life."

    I don't have any problem with that. I have a problem if the way they maintain it is by claiming new proerty rights that they never paid for, and that they do not pay others for.

    That, regardless of how you try to butter it, is stolen toast.

    They bought and developed property, or bought already developed property in a pleasant location. At the time they bought the property they KNEW there was other undeveloped property around them: it is one of the things that made the place pleasant. They could have BOUGHT the undeveloped property and preserved it, but they didn't.

    Then they go to the public hearings on new development, and utterly without shame stand there and say "Well, when I moved here two years agoe it was very nice here, but now we have all those new people coming in, ruining things, clooging the roads, and raising my taxes…."

    Every time I hear it, I just want to throw up.

    But, why SHOULD they buy it, if all they have to do is increase the setbacks, and eliminate two thirds of the remaining buildable lots? It's Free–No cost.

    Except for the fact that it is stealing.

    And don't even try to tell me it is about infrastructure, because it isn't. If that is all it was, you could just set a standard, and eliminate the public hearings: meet the standard and get administrative approval.

    The first time that happens, you let me know.

    RH

  27. "…and many do not care if their own house increases in value and, in fact, would prefer to keep their quality of life – and keep their taxes from escalating."

    Nonsense.

    Show me ANYONE who dislikes it when their home value goes up.

    If their house increases in value and no new services are provided their tax rate will go down, they will pay the same dollar amount of tax, and they will be 8% better off on their home value.

    It isn't an issue of taxes escalating, it is a matter of wishing to have privacy that they don;t have to pay for. And if their home is worth more in the process, so much the better.

    Now explain to me why it is that PW and some other counties are bemoaning the lack of new revenue that comes from adding new assessments because of the slowdwon in building.

    RH

  28. "..and this is what motivates them to get involved with development proposals …"

    that fundamentally ARE NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. thier rights stop at the other guys proeprty line, or else,they have no right to claim that the other guy's rights stop at theirs. And since they have already developed and staked out their turf, "getting involved with developemt proposals" is just a polite way of describing gang warfare over turf.

    RH

  29. "..I've seen people support assisted living and nursing home projects because the financials show that they contribute more taxes than they use in services,…."

    Which is the same reason they support farms: they pay more than they cost.

    In other words they are being cheated. Stolen from. Those entities are paying for other people's services.

    You don't hear ANYONE other than me and maybe EMR suggesting that people be charged what they cost. If you did that then people wouldn't be in favor of old folks homes either. The difference between me and EMR is that I think they should be charged fairly, and he thinks they should be charged according to HIS schedule of costs, with the goal of herding them into highrises.

    Certainly, with the demographics being what they are we need more old foks homes, but that is not a sufficient plan for keeping the county financially stable, vibrant, and pleasant.

    But, you will ALWAYS see people supporting farms and nursing homes because the alternative is that their taxes will go up – even without ANY new infrastructure – just to correct the current imbalance. The way you correct that imbalnce is to see to it that eeryone's property is protected EQUALLY.

    Or, you can come out and just amit that you are in favor of gang-based turf wars.

    RH

  30. FINALLY, Anon RH has shown some humility and admits he does not understand:

    “I'm just not smart enough to make any sense out of what he is saying.”

    —————-

    If you think that is humility, then it is no wonder you are so misguided.

    RH

  31. “But there is no competing transportation option that offers similar results at lower cost.”

    This is true ONLY if there is cheap fuel AND what Bacon calls Autocentric settlement patterns.

    ———————

    Wrong.

    Even with high fuel prices and any settlement pattern you choose there is no other transportation option that offers similar results at lower cost.

    The reason we use so much of what we have is becasue it is the best there is, despite all its problems.

    Other transportation options have different problems and lesser levels of service.

    Put a fair price on ALL of the features of each transprotation option and most of the time, and in most places, autos come out way ahead. Then do a sensitivity analysis on fuel costs, and they still come out ahead.

    For example you claim that Autocentric settlement patterns amount to a subsidy to auto use. (alternatively the cost of providing that pattern is a cost of auto usage). EQUALLY if we have to rebuild all of the settlement pattern to support rail travel, then that is a cost that you should count against rail.

    Instead, in your usual manner you are supporting discriminatory accounting to support your goals instead of supporting nondiscriminatory accounting so that we can reach the BEST goals.

    Whether they turn out to match your preferences or mine or anybody else's is beside the point, as long as we make a reasonable effort to get the best result.

    Obvously, at some point accounting for the transactions costs more than the tranactions, so there will be some uncertainty which we can quibble about. but if we can put together the best composite transportation system we can figure out how to do, plus or minus 5%, then the rest isn't worth arguing about, and anyway, it is going to change over time: METRO was supposed to be the answer, and now we are junking some of it in favor of light rail.

    RH

  32. FINALLY, SOME PROGRESS

    FINALLY, Dr. Risse has clearly outlined the territory ahead.

    —————-

    A prime example of what's wrong.

    Declare vicory and move on, never mind the facts.

    You are more intersted in winning, in being right, than you are in an intellectual serach for the best answer, whether it is yours or not.

    RH

  33. "Autocentric settlement patterns are COMPLETELY untransportable unless one uses Autonomobiles. "

    ——————-

    So here is an example.

    TOD settlement patterns STILL require the substantial use of autos. You can meet SOME of their transport needs with bus and rail, but at truly enormous ADDITIONAL costs. Not only that, but one way that is usually proposed to get to TOD is to increase the cost of auto use – by increasing parking fees, taxes, and tolls – all to help support rail.

    Autos are still necessary for TOD development so increasing the cost of auto use counts AGAINST the viability of such a settlement pattern.

    Looking at the accounting dispassionately and equally shows how faulty Risse's logic is. The goal must be to reduce TOTAL costs (with a comparable lifeestyle), not just the cost of SOME forms of transportation, having previously decided that they are subjectively superior.

    If Risse really believed what he says, he would live in Ballston, Tokyo, New York, or Paris. If I really beleived that recycling is ALWAYS cost effective, then I would ALWAYS recycle.

    RH

  34. “And there is no land use option being presently pursued that offers different but economically equivalent results.”

    This is just worng and there is a new book “Green Metropolis: Why living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability”

    It is Risse that is wrong here. The green metropolis idea is a hoax, if all costs are taken into account. Metropolises run on energy. They suck down government resources like drunks. They are expensive to live in, and not all that pleasant or safe, and they depend on improperly priced imports and exports: they have HUGE externalities.

    Just shut down the garbage and sewage exports for a week and see how sustainable the metropolis is.

    When Risse stops drinking his own kool-aid and wants to be cult leader in charge of seeking real answers, then I'm there. But arguing that people should pay their own full locational costs and then coming to the green sustainable metropolis conclusion is delusional megalomania.

    RH

  35. "Irrational use of natural gas to perpetuated dysfunctional settlement patterns will only put off the day of reckoning a few decades at most. "

    ————————-

    Here is the petri dish argument.

    We are running out of resources and we will die when we do. Therefore we have to stop using them now. That means some of us will do without an die sooner, but conservation is the only way.

    It is the wrong answer to the wrong problem, folks.

    RH

  36. It will not matter. It is the human settlement pattern (in which Larry has invested and tries to defend) that is the problem.

    —————

    How is that different from the one where Risse has chosen to speculate?

    RH

  37. "Give up dysfunctional settlement patterns soon or your great grandchildren will freeze in the dark."

    ——————-

    Here is a statement which I know for a fact is wrong, and I can easily prove it.

    RH

  38. Anon Z:

    EMR thought you agreed to not stir up the self-serving 12.5 Percenters?

    EMR will give you this, you listened well in class and are picking up the emerging techniques in typography, Vocabulary and spelling.

    You are right about “Green Metropolis.” It is maddening. One sentence is right on, the next is wildly incorrect because of sloppy Vocabulary or a failure to understand A=pi R sq or one of the other Natural Laws.

    Larry:

    EMR downloaded the report and will give you a report on what he learns.

    TMT:

    Unless there is a requirement for and appropriate Balance of J / H / S / R / A at every scale from Cluster to Community, then ‘deevelopers’ will build what brings the most short term profit.

    That is what they do.

    There are some governance practioners who are trying to create a new set of guidelines on achieving Balance. None in Fairfax County as far as I know.

    EMR

  39. "Unless there is a requirement for appropriate Balance of J / H / S / R / A at every scale from Cluster to Community, then ‘deevelopers’ will build what brings the most short term profit.

    That is what they do."

    —————————–

    OK, now we are getting somewhere.

    How do you enforce that balance, and at whose expense? by bringing up developers and short term profit, I assume you think it should be the developers problem.

    Let's assume that "balance" is a asset that benefits everyone. There is a disconnect between what is needed for balance and what makes the most profit. What is needed for balance isn't what teh market will pay the most money for, and yet balance is waht maximizes the overall value of the community.

    If the community wants something that benefits them, then they should expect to pay for it. If the community wants something that benefits the ommunity as a whole, but damages a minority group within the community, then the community should expect to use part of their benefit to pay damages to the minority, in this case developers who work for less profit.

    This is a case where the community has an obligation to pay its own full locational costs, if it expects to reapp the full benefits and do it ethically.

    What your statement suggests is that the community get balance at the expense of the builders who develop that balance. I can't agree withthat approach because it amounts to stealing.

    You seem to hae a problem with that, because you previously suggested that we fund educaton out of the profits of the advertising and enetertainment industry. All I can figure is that Montana still has a legacy of rustling.

    RH

  40. Ray – people DO have a right – through their govt (which has been granted land-use authority) to participate in decisions about prospective land use.

    and the "mob rule" you talk about is exactly the way we also elect BOS, Gov, Congress, and the President – and you have yet to offer a superior system for governance but instead complain incessantly about a kind of governance that is pretty much proven itself to other systems.

  41. re: Green Metropolis

    I'm not opposed to " Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability "

    in fact, I think it is vital that we move in that direction.

    but right now "Green Metropolis" is an oxymoron and I think supporters of it need to do two important thing:

    1. – acknowledge the current environmental harm done by dense settlement patterns..

    2. – promote what a true Green Metropolis has to do to be truly "green".

    Here's the problems:

    1. – cities need great gobs of electricity – which they do not produce within the clear edge and great damage is done to the environment by our current methods of producing electricity for urbanized areas.

    a. – mountaintop destruction – devastating vast lands and turning them into moonscapes with serious water quality problems.

    b. – spewing mercury across the landscape – embedding itself in fish and other critters – ruining a potential food supply and threatening the health of pregnant women and kids.

    c. – spewing nitrous oxides across the landscape – causing heavy nutrient concentrations in rivers and water bodies and directly contributing to the demise of places like the Chesapeake Bay

    2. – stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces.

    rain in cities results in enormous slugs of ultra-polluted water that adds to the destruction of our rivers.

    3. – cities dump hormones and antibiotics and other prescription and OTC drugs into the waterways by not filtering them out at the sewage treatment plans.

    So the folks who are so worried about the large private automobile and it's harm to "green" have a huge blind eye to very serious collateral damage caused by dense settlement patterns.

    and they ignore it…

    they don't acknowledge it

    and they don't present a vision equivalently similar for dealing with that problem on the same level that they do for ridding us of the private automobile.

    In other words – they use a double standard and basically in the whole have ignored the significant "Browning" of the environment that urbanized areas also cause.

    so using the phrase "Green Metropolis" without dealing with the issues – undermines and undercuts the advocates credibility.

    If you want to attack the car as evil – at the least use a consistent approach to the other environmental harming aspect of dense settlement areas.

    Otherwise I have to seriously question the real motives become selective treatment of these issues.

    Now I'm expecting a response here as I have on prior discussions along these lines and with the exception of one flabby response form EMR on the issue – usually the supporters of EMR and his vision run off and hide when asked to comment on this.

    so.. here's another chance for you urban density cheerleaders.

    what about these problems?

    How can you advocate increasing our urbanized areas without dealing with these issues?

    without solutions – advocating more density is a de facto support or more environmental damage while at the same time asserting that you have "green" credentials.

    NOT!

    What say you pro-dense settlement pattern types?

  42. What we say is that Larry walked right into this one right up to his neck.

    When he reads "Green Metropolis" he will find that the author, David Owen, may not have choosen a good title (he did a good job on the subtitle) but he wrote a book to put an end to just the arguments Larry raises.

    He is focuses on per capita consumption. Gasoline, energy, resources of all forms.

    Read the book and then get a big bib to keep the crow from spilling all over your psudo green shirt.

    The Friends of Density

  43. nice try – but it's running away and hiding …

    first you need to prove the per capita claim – which you're going to have trouble doing because the electrical needs of a city include both private and public use – per capita whereas out in the boondocks… not much in the way of public use of electricity.

    but even if that were true – you claiming that more dense is LESS POLLUTING when you still are blowing off mountain-tops and spewing mercury/nitrates over the landscape – which is, in fact, resulting in serious environmental impacts – is a weak .. no a lame defense typical of the cheerleaders who refuse to deal with the realities.

    septic tanks do not put drugs and hormones in the rivers (as far as I know).

    stormwater runoff is not near the same per capita problem in areas with less impervious surfaces.

    More important – ALL of these things are addressable.

    urbanized usage of electricity CAN be much more efficient.

    urbanized areas can – not put drugs and hormones in the rivers.

    urbanized areas can build so that stormwater is mitigated properly.

    these are 3 things that are at least as important as dealing with the evil automobile but the density cheerleaders just try to hand wave this away – which in the end – seriously undermines the credibility of your basic philosophy.

    It's really hard to claim that you are "green" when it is clear that you are not and that, indeed, density essentially trades these other harmful thing for less automobile travel..

    Out in the hinterlands, we do not put drugs and hormones in the rivers – we put them in septic tanks where they decompose over time – as opposed to being flushed into the river within 24 hrs of going down a toilet.

    Out in the hinterlands, we do not need metro escalators running continuously nor 3/4 empty buses and metro running every 15 minutes

    Out in the hinterlands, we do not have the concrete and asphalt impervious surfaces…

    but yes.. we do have cars…

    I said before, I support density but it can't be on the cheap which is how it is done right now and on balance – if you tally up the pluses and the minuses – environmentally- I'm a skeptic.

    Like many other advocates of many other causes, the pro-density folks are more into their philosophy than they are into metrics.

    If they were into metrics, then they could rank urban areas according to how green they really might be – as opposed to claiming that all and each and every one are such – as most of us know that's not true.

    so ..let's see some data.. prove your points …

    let's start with per capita electricity consumption.

    will you engage this issue are will you run off and hide – once again?

  44. Just read the book.

    The longer you rant the deeper the hole you did for yourself.

    TFD

  45. no need. we now know the motives.

  46. Yes, we elect our officials through some kind of a majority vote.

    But I will say it again, ad again, and again, that once elected, the repreresent EVERYONE whether they voted or not. Whether they are in a minority or not.

    Yes, we have given our governmen the authority to manage land use, but in doing so we did NOT take away governments responsibility to protect EVRYONE's PROPERTY EQUALLY.

    Just because you get a majority of the vote DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO STEAL.

    RH

  47. "So the folks who are so worried about the large private automobile and it's harm to "green" have a huge blind eye to very serious collateral damage caused by dense settlement patterns.

    and they ignore it…

    they don't acknowledge it…"

    ——————————–

    Wow.

    Larry has seen the light.

    When I first came here, EMR crapped all over my hat, saying I was "almost alone" in thinking such thoughts.

    All I'm suggesting is that we measure damage (and benefits) on an equal basis, whheter it is urban or rural, rail or auto, concrete or flora.

    It is the only way we ever get to the point of protecting people's property equally.

    RH

  48. "urbanized areas can – not put drugs and hormones in the rivers."

    Wrong. You will always have some pollution: you cannot afford to prevent it all.

    RH

  49. "Out in the hinterlands, we do not put drugs and hormones in the rivers – we put them in septic tanks where they decompose over time – as opposed to being flushed into the river within 24 hrs of going down a toilet."

    Nice try. Some things decompose into less harmful things, others into more harmful things, and some things are bioaccumulators.

    Where does your septic tank go when it is pumped out?

    RH

  50. re: pumping septics

    nice try but read on

    remember why the septic systems are pumped – how long between pumping – and what happen in the meantime.

    you don't "fill up" a septic tank and then call someone to come and empty it.

    that's not the purpose of pumping it which is required in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to be one every 5 years.

    If you had to have a tank that would hold 5 years worth of sewage from an average sized home – you'd probably need a tank that would be on the order of a 100 foot cube.

    Septic systems instead empty into a drainfield – and it's the solids in the bottom of it that are the reason for the pump out.

    the vast majority of water soluble substances end up – in the soil – an engineered filter rather than at the bottom of the tank itself –

    but when it is pumped – it is taken to a sewage treatment plant usually but like I said what gets hauled is about 2000 gallons – not a half million which is what the urban dwelling would be sending – at 200-300 gallons per day (100 per person on average).

    The septic tank/drainfield function to sequester waste until it breaks down whereas in a city sanitary sewer system – all waste is routed to the treatment plant in a matter of hours.

    those same substances spend days, weeks, years breaking down in the tank and in the soil layers.

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