RED HERRINGS

It is hard to have a rational dialogue on all important human settlement pattern issues when persistent commenters keep dumping rotten Red Herrings and irrelevant confusion on the thread.

Last year we published a column titled “Antidotes,” 9 May 2005 but that anti-virus has not helped as documented by posts to CAUSE AND EFFECT, HOODWINKED and VIRUS ALERT.

Let us look closely at the second comment posted on VIRUS ALERT. The comment cites a “Brookings Institute” (sic) study. The work was supported by The Brookings Institution and can be found on their web site but is a 1999 study by the Urban Institute. The report was written for a specific audience with a specific goal in mind. It is based on data (Bureau of Labor Statistics and a one year snapshot from D&B) that has since been proven not to provide reliable or comprehensive place-of-employment information.

There is useful information in the report but the study mixed up “inner suburbs” with “inside the Beltway.” Since Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties fall inside and outside the Beltway and are considered to be “outer suburbs” the some of the numbers make little sense.

This is a common problem with MSM coverage of job location data. Data confusion is exacerbated by the macro aggregation of data into large geographic areas (Counties). In some cases this distortion appears to be intentional for reasons noted below. S/PI relies on small scale data aggregated into radial bands which is how the private sector views spacial (sic) information.
The Red Herring post takes the outdated report and somehow finds a basis for stating that “as of 1998 two thirds (66.66%) of the jobs were located outside the Beltway.” In fact, based on much better data in 2000 close to 70% of the jobs were inside R=10 which is approximately at the Beltway. Over 90% of the jobs were within R=20. Further, future projections in 2002 have these ratios changing little over the next 25 years. We summarize all this in “Where the Jobs Are,” 24 May 2004.

Of course there are new jobs in R=20 to R=30 and the percentage of change seems high but that is because there were few jobs there in 2000. Between 2000 and 2025 the most jobs were projected to be added inside R=10 and almost all within R=20. Citing “declines” in the Federal District is a Red, Red Herring.

“Ok” you say, that was way back in 2004, what is happening right now in 2006? Here is a paraphrase of an e-mail sent by S/PI last week on the topic of future jobs locations in the Virginia Subregion:

“The 1 February 2006 VA Newswire item on Morgan Franklin caught my eye: “… the Herndon Location is simply too far outside the Beltway (aka, R=10) to offer convenience …” A general job boom suggesting a major Subregion shift to eastern Loudoun and western Prince William is a pipedream, a gross myth.

“Those who want to be where the action is in the National Capital Subregion find that R=20 + “is simply too far out…” Those that are looking for cheap space and those who think they are big enough fish to live in a remote pond do not achieve the critical mass needed to establish a freestanding subregional market.

“AOL may have survived if it could have attracted smarter folks to West Nowhere. There was a brain drain when AOL left Tysons Corner (within R=10) and moved to R=25. They also hatched an ill conceived scheme to make real estate speculation a profit center using their own office demand as the “market.”

“It was a sign of World Com’s core-rot that management ever thought the remote site up the road from Wal*Mar-in-the-Weeds which they acquired via the UUNet acquisition was a viable place to have a major employment facility.

“AOL and World Com / UUNet were / are the only really big non-Dulles-related, non-residential service and / or non-subsidized job generators outside the R=20 in the northern part of the R=20 to R=30 radius band. As Morgan Franklin noted in their press release, Herndon (which is inside R=20) is “too far out.”

Of course there are new jobs in West Prince William (the southern part of R=20 to R=30 radius band) but not many that are not subsidized by Prince William / GMU.

If one consults a map that portrays the value per square foot of employment space (published on a regular basis in the WaPo Business Section) they will see where the market wants to go. The amazing thing is that in spite of all the subsidies, that is where most of the jobs are in fact: Within R=10. See “Where the Jobs Are” 24 May 2004, “The Commuting Problem” 17 January 2005 and “Antidotes,” 5 September 2005 as well as the data in “Five Critical Realities That Shape the Future.”

If one doubts our portrayal of trends in subregional job location, or thinks that in spite of (or because of) the highest rents in the Subregion that jobs are fleeing the Federal District take a look at last Monday’s (13 February 2006) WaPo Business section. There is new / under construction / planned in NoMa (North of Massachusetts in the Federal District) almost exactly 1/2 as much office space as there has been constructed in Tysons Corner over the last 36 years.

Why has this area not been developed before? Municipal controls, no METRO station until the New York Ave Red Line station opened but mainly it is because of dog-in-the-manger land speculation. See our blog “ON TAKINGS AND OVERARCHING SOLUTIONS.”

Then there is the largely vacant and underutilized South Capitol Corridor plan which is much more that just the Stadium site and adjacent area. As I recall the NCPC Year 2050 Plan documents there is capacity for 136 million sq ft of new space there within existing height limitations. If one third was office space that would make it almost twice the size of Tysons Corner and with a balance of J / H / S / R / A.

Where the job market wants to go is inside, not outside and there are vast amounts of land waiting to be redeveloped. That is where we need to evolve Balanced Communities.
The Balanced Community that could evolve in the South Capital area would have the pattern and density (aka, human settlement pattern) that the market documents is in the most demand in contemporary urban agglomerations and New Urban Regions.

Back to the question of job location. S/PI’s analysis of job location is based on up to date, complete and comprehensive data published in May 2002 by the Council of Governments. “Where The Jobs Are,” 24 May 2004 provides all the details, sources and background on job locations as of that date. It also includes information on the level and location of projected employment.

The facts are not really in question. The data in “Where the Jobs Are” has been published for four years and no one has challenged it. Graphics and data are included in a PowerPoint that is on the new The Shape of the Future CD which will be available at Bacons Rebellion soon.

As Jim Bacon likes to ask: If those are the facts why is there so much confusion?

The answer lies in understanding who besides those who want to develop land in the Countryside and the Loudoun and Prince William County “economic development interests” have a stake in confusing the issue of job location?

Apparently this group includes the MSM business interests because they parrot the land speculator / developer line on the “news” pages and in editorials in spite of the fact that the data in the Business Section tells a different story.

Another question is why do the inner jurisdictions were the jobs are (Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax) do not take action to make sure the facts are clear to everyone? The only reason we can discern is that if it was general knowledge what a huge imbalance of jobs existed, the pressure would rise to balance those jobs with housing and services in those jurisdictions. They are very content to have the misunderstands exist.

This misconception has the indirect impact of forcing houses to the fringes. Therein lies a root cause of the shelter crisis and the mobility and access crisis.

Now back to the Red Herring Post:

After citing the “Brookings Institute” study, the remainder of the second comment posted on VIRUS ALERT contains statements and conclusions with no more basis in fact. Some of which Jim challenged in a later comment. (We return to this in a moment.)

This brings up the question of what to do with Red Herring posts.

The most common advice is to just ignore them because no one bothers to read them and if they did they would find out they are unfounded. The post about the “Brookings Institute” study was wrong (VIRUS ALERT), the TAMU reference (as well as Bob Cervero’s quote) was wrong (HOODWINKED) and as someone e-mailed “When you do not know what you are taking about it is hard to know if someone you are trying to discredit changed topics” (CAUSE AND EFFECT).

There is a larger problem and that is highlighted by the supporting comments from other readers that the poster added to his Red Herring comment on VIRUS ALERT. These Red Herring posters support conventional wisdom and thus “Business-As-Usual.” There is no doubt this how these folks “feel” given what they understand of the dynamics of human settlement pattern and given that they do not have to pay (yet) for the location decisions that create dysfunctional human settlement patterns.

In a democracy with a market economy the only path to Funamental Change is citizens making better decisions in the voting booth and in the market place.

In addition, there is a compounding problem in the context of blogging. This particular poster got “atta boys” from other bloggers in the “any enemy of my enemy is a friend” tactic of political discourse. This makes creating citizen understanding ever more difficult.

This raises the question of whether Blogs are a contributor of beneficial Fundamental Change or just reinforce “Business-As-Usual.”

EMR


Share this article



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)


Comments

21 responses to “RED HERRINGS”

  1. If you want citizen understanding, quit writing in jargon. Every article you post should be written so that the vocabulary is clear.

    Everything you post assumes that all the readers are familiar with your basic vocab. R=10, R=20 and so on…sure, one can assume R means radius, and thus a 10 or 20 mile radius from the center…but what center? The geographic/gemometric center? Or, as in the case of Richmond, the obelisk on the capitol grounds from which all highway distances to Richmond are measured?

    If one third was office space that would make it almost twice the size of Tysons Corner and with a balance of J / H / S / R / A.

    Huh? If you don’t understand that some readers don’t grasp your jargon, or that you don’t seem to care, then you will never convince anyone in the mainstream. For the sake of clarity, post a link to a glossary of terms with every article…or follow good expository writing practice and style.

    Last week Slate ran an excellent story on the problems of measurement and how measurement can vary. Unfortunately, it begins as a story on penis measurement that probably turns some readers off.

  2. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    EMR: Re “In a democracy with a market economy the only path to Fundamental Change is citizens making better decisions in the voting booth and in the market place.”

    In a market economy the Deus Ex Machina of the market will rule.

    Your whole post, if I understand it, says real estate will be very expensive on Manhattan Island, downtown Boston/SF/LA/Chicago/ Philly/Dallas/Atlanta/Miami/Seattle/…London,Tokyo,Paris, Berlin…

    Okay.

    So, why should voters tell their politicians, who can’t grasp basic economics let alone patterns of human development, to intervene? How will the result be better – has this ever happened anywhere?

    The politicians should legislate, zone and build public transportation (and allow for private and private/public partnerships) by the basic principles that honor property rights and provide for the commonweal – there will be plenty of disagreement over that – and let the market do what it is going to do.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I agree with Terry M. I don’t understand half of what you say because I get lost in the jargon.

    Anyway, so most of the jobs are located inside the beltway? What’s new? I have always maintained that a lot of the job numbers were, and still are inflated for the outer ‘burbs because they include the construction workers, electricians, landscapers, etc. Not to mention the folks that commute across the river to MD.

    Also, are you saying the new Ballpark/Waterfront/Govn’t Office Complex is going to make Tyson’s obsolete?

    Perhaps the powers that be realize this and that’s why they want to get Metro out to Tyson’s.

  4. E M Risse Avatar

    Good feedback, thank you all.

    Terry M.

    Good point re centroid. We use the Va end of the Memorial Bridge for our calculations. That puts R=10 outside the Beltway and puts Beltway related development (e.g. Tysons Corner, Merrifield, Springfield, New Carrolton in the R=10 core of the National Capital Subregion.

    Sorry about J / H / S / R / A. That was pasted from an e-mail to a colleague who knows that it stands for Jobs / Housing / Services / Recreation / Ameinty , the elements of a Balanced Community. For more information see our column titled “Balanced Communities,” 23 August 2005.

    More on Vocabulary below.

    JAB:

    Good to hear from you. You did not understand what I was trying to convey. You raised a different point and here is how I would state our view on value of settlement patters that evolve to become Balanced Communities:

    If we build more of what is most highly valued by the market then the best places will be less expensive for all of us because there will be more of them.

    On the other point: Letting the government legislate, zone and build the transport system is what got us into this problem in the first place. The crux of the land use / transport connection is that without evolving them together we get the mess we have now.

    The alternative to citizens knowing as much about human settlement patterns as they do about, for instance, human heath and anatomy, is unsustainable. We might as well let Iran wipe out civilization as we know it and hope the next society to emerge has the capacity to do a better job.

    Anon 4:46

    Sorry you got lost.

    Every word and phrase that you take to be “jargon” is a well considered alternative to words and phrases which have widely and wildly different meanings to different citizens. The use of these Core Confusing Words leads to profound confusion about human settlement patterns.

    We deal with Vocabulary in three columns (“The Foundation of Babble,” Deconstructing the Tower of Babel” and “Babble Postscript” that ran from 28 Nov 2005 to 3 Jan 2006 in Bacons Rebellion.

    If Greater Tysons Corner and and Greater South Capital both evolve to become Balanced Communites they will both be fine places to live, work and play. The problem is that Tysons Corner (and most other “places” that have evolved in the last 50 years) have been “obsolete” ever since they started to build them.

    That is why other places are values much more highly by the market.

    Keep up the good work…

    EMR

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar

    The difficulty of carrying on a dialogue on a blog is that a blog, by its nature, employs short posts and comments. The medium does not lend itself to discursions on the meaning of words.

    That makes life particularly difficult for Ed because he has developed a vocabulary with precise definitions, which one can acccess if one cares to read his columns. The alternative, as Ed points out, is to use vague terms like “city” and “rural” and “sprawl,” which convey mean meanings things to different people and obscure understanding. That’s one reason why we spend so much time talking past each other.

    I know from my own blogging experience that after explaining something for the third or fourth time, I assume that readers are tired of reading the explanation. But there are always new readers haven’t see the explanations, so they come up with the same “old” questions and objections.

    I don’t know of a way around the problem. It’s an inherent drawback of the blogging medium.

  6. Jim, the way around it is what I suggested in my response to EMR – have a web page of glossary terms and include a link to it at the end of each initial article that is rather technical in nature.

    I say this not only for my own benefit, but for the opportunity to bring other people into the discussion.

    EMR, I do appreciate your response to me. I think the ideas you are bringing here are good, but they can be hard to follow – especially when the topic is one I and others don’t deal with every day, or even every week.

  7. “For decades, center cities of metropolitan areas were regarded as the growth engines of their suburbs. However, this paradigm has been shifting in the past twenty years in Virginia, where suburbs have been growing faster than center cities. Consequently, there is a need in economic development communities to re-evaluate the economic relationship between center cities and their suburbs…….Virginia’s cities are no longer the growth engines of their suburbs. The opposite is almost true: suburbs are on the verge of becoming the leaders for city economic growth. …………
    Take eleven Virginia metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) as an example. From 1990 to 2004, the average annual employment growth rate for center cities was 0.21 percent, while that of suburbs was 1.76 percent (BLS, 2005).”

    Business Economics, Oct 2005.

    To follow up on your flu analogy, It must be nice to be totally immune to facts: that way you don’t have to worry about catching knowledge.

    I would love to be able to run my business according to what I would like to believe, but when I want to succeed I put those beliefs behind me and look around at what is actually happening.

    Historically, jobs follow housing. You can say that the growth rate is high in PW because the raw numbers are small, but historically we also find that once job migration starts, it tends to continue (Carrington, 1996).

    If PW is accelerating faster then the inner areas, how long can it be before the speed catches up? I don’t know when the last time you went to Manassas was, but the place is an ocean of dump trucks.

    Now, George Mason has an incubator but it is not in the business of subsidizing businesses, not on the scale of what is happening there. You can fuzzyfy the facts or restate them to suit yourself, but believe it or not, there is life outside the beltway.

    The area from r-20 to r-30 is more than twice the area from r-0 to r-20. Even if the initial job density is low, it won’t take long at the present rates before the absolute number of jobs outranks that in the core areas.

    In fact, job increases have declined even in Fairfax, because employers are having a hard time getting employees who will endure the high housing prices or (alternatively) the long commutes. That is one reason why jobs follow the housing.

    The best things cities have got going for them now is the suburbs. That is why they insist on all this radial transit capacity: so they can bring in the people who keep them alive. Those roads don’t subsidize far flung housing, they subsidize the businesses at the core. You and I both believe that those who benefit should pay, so let the center city pay for the roads, after all, that is where the roads go.

    If and when the circumferential roads that link the edge cities ever get built, then you will have job growth out there. Oh, that’s right we already knew that, which is why we call all those beltway jobs Beltway Bandits. We don’t call them center city bandits.

    In Fauquier county, the government has long actively discourged new business, because they fear it will bring employment and (ugh) housing, which leads to schools and disappearing horses.

    Accordingly they hired a economic development director who declared as recently as two years ago that it would be decades before Fauquier saw significant job growth.

    Today Fauquier has embarked on a new program to make it easier for business to locate there. Part of the reason is that Fauquier residents have insisted on it, because they see themselves increasingly isolated from the closer in job centers by rings of congestion in Haymarket, Manassas, Centreville, and Merrifield.

    What we see is pretty much what JAB said. Economics wins out. When people can’t afford to live in town, the government is snotty, and the schools are bad, they move out. When employers can’t get the employees they need, they move out, too.

    The idea that jobs are and will remain in the city is central to your other arguments, but that idea is brain dead. Sure, DC and the beltway areas have had a nice boom due to the Homeland Security bubble, but the current level of federal deficit spending can’t continue. Sooner or later they will have to actually go out and defend the Homeland and not just the Home Office.

    When they do, they will discover that the Homeland is mostly in the suburbs.

    By the way, you did it again. Ignored the facts, declared them invalid, anecdotal, and prepared by people who don’t know anything, least of all English vocabulary, and who have nasty ulterior motives like earning money.

    If you think no one is reading this stuff, check out the Blog post at Commonwealth Conservative entitled, the Hatfields and McCoys.

  8. I’m sure yo will say the quote I posted above is “wrong” too. But these are not my ideas, they come from other seasoned and experienced authors with good credentials. It is starting to look like everybody else is wrong, clueless, illiterate, and confused.

    You don’t see me quoting nut cases like Wendell Cox: I have an aversion to paid flacks who work for policy promoting think tanks and I try to use relevant material. But by your standards I’m either out of context, anecdotal, or if I make some attempt at completeness, then I’m filibustering.

    You can turn the comments field back on over at Bacon’s Rebellion, and I’ll go back to a paragraph by paragraph rebuttal, if anybody is interested in a civilized debate.

    I want the same things you and Jim Bacon want. But as a practicing environmentalist, a trained environmental scientist, with graduate study in environmental and energy economics, I don’t think your arguments make the slightest sense. I’m offended by them because I think you are doing the environmental cause more damage than good: you are painting real efforts at accomplishing anything worthwhile with the same tar that covers Wendell Cox. I don’t have any other ulterior motive. That’s my opinion, take it or leave it.

    By the way, is some of that development in NOMA (your invented phrase for north of Massachustetts avenue, designed to enhance public understanding, I’m sure) is that the same development going up on green space near the Old soldiers home that local residents are opposed to?

  9. E M Risse Avatar

    Terry M:

    Your Glossary idea is a good one with many potentially useful ramifications. Jim and I are working on it.

    BTW, I recall you hail from Greater Richmond (aka, the Richmond New Urban Region) you may be interested in our column on your home territory, “The Shape of Richmonds Future,” 16 February 2004. Not much has changed and it will give you insight into what we mean by “Fundamental Change.”

    Back to Vocabulary, there is no better testimonial for the need for a useful vocabulary than the post that follows your 9:33 comment.

    “Central Cities” had lost its meaning by 1960. That is why we use R=X, Radial Analysis. We go into why the use of “city” in general and “central city” in particular is not useful in the columns on Vocabulary noted in our earlier comment post in this thread.

    It is beyond my comprehension why that commentor continues to post material that he must know can be shown to be irrellavent, misinformed or confusing.

    EMR

  10. What is irrelevant or misinformed about current BLS statistics? I just put the stuff out there, readers can draw their own conclusions. Right or wrong is not the issue.

    I’m not foolish enough to take on the task of educating everybody to my own personalized opinion and vocabulary. Nor do I believe that everything we do is necessarily a failure until that happens.

    I think most people understand city, central city, town, village better than say segregated alpha scale urban agglomeration in the countryside beyond the logical location of the clear edge. Some descriptions are more fuzzy than others, and sometimes deliberately so: we do not yet have a clearly accepted definition of sprawl or how to measure it.

    I’d be perfectly happy if you spend your time writing a glossary of your own invented and otherwise meaningless terms rather than vituperously spreading information that is unsubstantiated or imputing false motives and name calling. But I’ll save you the time and suggest that you use one that is already available and widely accepted: the Economic Geography Glossary at Washington University.

    http://faculty.washington.edu/krumme/gloss/a.html

    Of course if you limit yourself only to words that are commonly used and described, we might actually have a rational conversation.

  11. Ray – a minor point – the url is for a site at the “University of Washington,” not “Washington University” which is in St. Louis.

    I only bring it up in that I was kind of excited for a moment since St. Louis is the only independent city in Missouri, thus it it has more in common with Richmond than it does Kansas City to mind. It seems to me, that even though this blog is about Virginia..perhaps a case study of KC and St Louis might shed light on some of what you and EMR are debating.

    St. Louis is forever landlocked to 61 square miles. Kansas City can expand and grow along radial lines like other major cities. Or perhaps governance and land-mass have nothing to do with the discussion…please feel free (both of you) to tell me so.

  12. I apologize for my shorthand, you are correct, of course. I’m a Goerge Washington guy, so all those others are, well, others.

    While I’m at it, my spelling too. I do know how to spell actually, but when I was in school typing was restricted to women. That, voice activated software, and handhelds at odd moments, make for some strange errors from time to time.

    I don’t yet believe my comments and references about jobs are wrong, necessarily.

    Cheers, to all.

  13. Ray, no apologies necessary. And I am not sure I disagree with you about jobs…I am just trying to understand both of you.

  14. E M Risse Avatar

    Terry M:

    Re St. Louis and KC:

    There is a group of observers (most extensively articulated by David Rusk the former mayor of Albuquerque and son of Dean Rusk) in his book “Cities Without Suburbs” that explores the topic you raise.

    This view is undermined by the new work by Brookings on “America’s First Suburbs.”

    As you might guess, I beleive both schools of thought miss the mark for reasons I will address in a review of another book that is just out. This book will be the subject of a column after the legislature goes home.

    You are on to something but a full exploration is beyond the capacity of blogging. It is not, however, beyond what citizens need to understand about human settlement patterns.

    I just saw (in a catalogue of all places) the following that is etched on the Boylston Stree facade of the Boston Public Library:

    “The Commonwealth (it is as true for the Commonwealth of Virginia as it is for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty.”

    A new theme for Bacons Rebellion?

    Keep up the good work…

    EMR

  15. Uhh…thanks. Don’t know if there was any work involved…I just know about where I have lived which ranges from VA to AK.

    What I do know, is that the most functional places I have lived were in the midwest and laid out on a nice orderly grid and that the major avenues were all about exactly a mile apart. They even had names like Rangeline Rd.

    The most dysfunctional places I have lived were radially spread out from a city center.

    By functional, I mean that in normal traffic patterns, I could easily move from point A to B to C and overall travel times were almost never greater than slightly over 2 minutes/mile. Further, with the exceptions of hospitals at one corner and a mall at the diagonal opposite, most anything I needed was to be found in a variety of places throuhout.

    However, I do realize that the space requirements compared to what you are talking are huge. But I also think most Americans, if not most people, are conditioned to want property of their own…beyond a box that is merely one of a dozen or a hundred inside another box. They want their own little micro-farm and the feeling that they have their own space in the sun.

    Thus, I don’t know how you get to fundamental change of settlement patterns without changing both the the underlying wants/desires of people and the behaviors the derive from those.

  16. Terry M.

    Thanks for digging through all this, Ed and both had stuff that was wasy off topic here. We agree that preserving open space is important enough for government to be involved. From time to time we even find facts that we can agree on.

    Beyond that, the methods we think will work, and the desired end result, are like night and day. I think we can make modest incremental improvements and start today. Jitney service is an example, costs almost nothing to simply allow it, and it could be implemented mostly through small businesses, with government doing some coordination. Ed thinks we have to change everything before we can start.

    It seems clear to me that work related traffic is only 20% of traffic volume, yet it is responsible for most of our periodic, predictable congestion.
    As long as everyone wants to go to work in the same place at the same time, we will continue to have that periodic congestion.

    Detroit and Pittsburgh had real reason to be compact work centers: they moved vast quantities of material, and Norfolk is in the same boat on account of the shipyards.

    But the product of the Feds and much of NOVA is thoughts, electrons, and paper. Even legislators mostly speak to an empty floor, so there is little real reason for the concentration of jobs we see here: it is just an accident of history.

    Your midwest case is a good example. We could look up the densities of those areas and compare them to here. But if we do that we will get right back into the problem of what we are measuring. Cities, suburbs, MSA’s, counties, etc. It would be nice if we had a grid system of measurement, but we don’t. Another simple thing we could go do, starting today.

    I have advocated more circumferential roads to connect the edge cities. How different is a spider’s web from the grid system you describe? What scale are we talking about? Your 25 mph figure is about right, people can live with that, but yesterdy my travel experience was close to half of that.

    You also mention that most anything you wanted could be found in a variety of places, whichis what I have suggested: we need more places, especially for jobs.

    If you are just talking about sleeping, eating, washing, and watching the tube, then it is possible to live in a cubicle. But what if you want to practice the Tuba? Now you have to go someplace. Same goes for any of the other millions of activities that don’t involve work. I’m not convinced that more density equals less travel or that halfway decent sized lots are such a bad thing, or even that some people don’t want apartment living. Given that, what is an acceptable density level that works without infringing on their desires?

    Should they pay for their desires, sure, and I’m convinced that they will, one way or another. What we are really arguing about is the allocation and what is fair. Ed is willing to go much farther than I am in reducing freedom and confiscating property.

    A grid system might be better in some places and for some purposes. But people also want cul-de-sacs and freeways, too.

    I don’t thinke we can save all the open space. But where the open space that most peole can use is in town, so we need more open space in town, and we should plan for it. At the same time there are truly critical open space resources that are not in town, and we should protect those first. Instead, we see plans to put greenbelts around the towns, not to protect the greenpace or make it useful, but to constrain the town and increase the density.

    We should do what we can, and do it fairly, and preferably soon. We can’t afford to wait for fundamental change.

  17. Should they pay for their desires, sure, and I’m convinced that they will, one way or another. What we are really arguing about is the allocation and what is fair.

    Exactly.

    I like science fiction…I especially like WIlliam Gibson. In Virtual Light he describes how the Golden Gate bridge has been taken over completely by squatters. It is an amazing vision of a dystopic future….one I wish to avoid.

    I agree with EMR that some kind of fundamental change is necessary, but I don’t know what it is. I also agree with many of the points you have made about distribution and options.

    I fear though the reality is that nothing will work without the recognition that you have to have options along the continuum since it seems highly unlikely to me people are willng to change enough that one size will fit all.

    Finally, it does seem clearest to me, that some part of the working population follows the jobs and that in order to change settlement patterns, one has to start with employers…but that isn’t really how business decisions are made, is it?

  18. I don’t know, and I don’t think anybody does. One of the main arguments that the TAMU people make is that they don’t have enough data to show what is really happening. I think that is most of the problem we face with social issues: either not enough metrics or if we have some, they are dismissed as wrong or inadequate. that’s the same as saying we don’t have enough. We keep finding more evidence to support Darwin’s theories, but not enough for some people.

    I think employers do follow the population: they need markets and workers. To suggest that they will go only to one place, regardless of changing conditions, seems unlikely to me.

    Part of the dysfunctionality we see is temporal, primarily along the edges where change is abrupt and obvious. Eventually some of that will work itself out. Rosslyn was a suburb once. So was Ballston and Tyson’s, which some now call the second largest city in Virginia. We all live short lives compared to how long it takes to develop a city, so the question seems to be how can we speed up the balancing process?

    One argument is that Employers are the one that benefit from our massive invstment in Metro and roads, maybe they should pay more. It would incentivize them to locate in a more balanced way.

    Your options along the continuum argument seems to support a free market idea. What works best for everyone turns out to be the sum of what works best for each individual: that is what Adam Smith would say. But that is an idea that I suspect Ed would reject in favor of a master planning solution.

  19. Here is the latest evidence that jobs are not moving out of the core area. From the Gainesville Times. Nah, it’s a myth that jobs are spreading out from the core. This isn’t really happening.

    “The deal is still in its early stages, but it’s a very big deal. On Tuesday, a new firm called Next Tier Equities announced that it plans to buy about 20 acres at Innovation to build an $80 million building that is expected to house high-tech firms or even secure government agencies.

    Jim Coakley, the company president, said Tuesday evening that the building itself will cost about $80 million and the high-tech infrastructure will end up costing another $80 to $90 million.

    That kind of price tag — $1,200 to $1,300 per square foot — means the firms that move into the building will be big names, according to county officials.”

  20. Terry M. Avatar
    Terry M.

    Ray, I’m not following.

    This is one example, a big example, but just one. But would this type of complex have ever been in the core area in the first place?

    What I am saying is that there are new economies and business models emerging all the time and I am not sure this would have ever been developed in an “old” model of business as a downtown/uptown location.

    So are the jobs really moving?

  21. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    I think the evidence is clear, EMR notwithstanding. A lot of stuff is anecdotal, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. Here is a quote from a comment on Assymetric information.

    “The point they made about businees following tracks for what I know from three rather large ($10+Billion) sized companies. They are all moving opperations out of the ‘bubble’ housing area. They can pay their engineers a lot less for the same standard of living in Texas and Georgia. In SoCal the idea is to leave by attrition. My company (and the others) can’t keep our young engineers there. When they are single they love the 500 sq ft apartment living. They get married and look around for somewhere to raise a family. And leave. So the decision is just not to hire into the bubble areas (we try to hire from the bubble areas – especially good people from other companies willing to move and double there takehome (after taxes and mortgage) without a gross change in pay.

    I did it and I’m in the process of cherry picking the best of my old company to join me. The numbers don’t lie.”

Leave a Reply