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Thread: The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs

  1. #221
    923, you seen this "dark store" move that big box stores are pulling in Michigan (and elsewhere) to further lower their property taxes: http://www.freep.com/story/news/poli...ents/25649545/

  2. #222
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    923 may have been the one to first post it on these boards.

  3. #223
    Quote Originally Posted by JuiceCrewAllStar View Post
    Good post, Jane Jacobs. The counterpoint is Houston, which is zone-less and has turned into a sprawling mass of suburbia. And of course zoning can mandate that, say, coal plants can't be built next to schools.

    Re: the Vox article, my guess is that most of the zoning changes were made and almost all of the existing buildings were grandfathered. Future new construction would have to conform to zoning codes, but to call the existing buildings "illegal" is silly. The article references Manhattan, but Bloomberg re-zoned like half the city during his tenure to encourage development.

    The biggest problem is when it gets political and zoning is used as a power tool. I would agree that zoning as it is is often problematic, but it can be used for good purposes too.
    Meh. Houston might not have a zoning code but it has minimum lot sizes and parking reqs that do the same job regarding maximum allowable density. Townhouses were only recently made legal. Otherwise clear-eyed people get caught up in the zoning thing, but really Houston just allows porn shops near schools, it still controls the density allowed under law.

    Secondly of course zoning is going to be used for political power purposes; all politics is about determining which members of the public get which and how much stuff. Just gotta set the zoning power at a level where the interests of the rulemakers approximate the interests of the relevant public. Local authority means zoning will be used to extract rents from newcomers in any booming area. Do it like Oregon.

  4. #224
    Quote Originally Posted by JuiceCrewAllStar View Post
    Good post, Jane Jacobs. The counterpoint is Houston, which is zone-less and has turned into a sprawling mass of suburbia. And of course zoning can mandate that, say, coal plants can't be built next to schools.

    Re: the Vox article, my guess is that most of the zoning changes were made and almost all of the existing buildings were grandfathered. Future new construction would have to conform to zoning codes, but to call the existing buildings "illegal" is silly. The article references Manhattan, but Bloomberg re-zoned like half the city during his tenure to encourage development.

    The biggest problem is when it gets political and zoning is used as a power tool. I would agree that zoning as it is is often problematic, but it can be used for good purposes too.
    I agree with what you are saying about the vox article, but you know what they are saying. They are using "illegal" because it's a good headline and drives clicks. It effectively dramatizes the issue, which is that buildings and streetscapes that are well known, successful, and beloved cannot be replicated under current zoning codes. It gets people to think critically about whether this kind of zoning is positive or necessary as opposed to just accepting it as a given.

  5. #225
    Yeah, it's why mixed-used development is so much in favor, but I agree that outside of bare minimum land-use requirements and building in some protections around affordable housing and protecting public spaces that zoning does more harm than good.

    Do you work in land-use law?

  6. #226
    More of a hobby. It does come up in my day job from time to time, and I'm heavily involved in volunteer efforts on local historic preservation.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

  7. #227
    I disagree with you
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon923 View Post
    More of a hobby. It does come up in my day job from time to time, and I'm heavily involved in volunteer efforts on local historic preservation.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
    ITT: 923 needs new hobbies

  8. #228
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    The Atlantic live discussion: https://www.facebook.com/TheAtlantic...66612845790883

    Why are immigrants, young professionals, and minorities heading out of urban centers for the suburbs? Atlantic writers Gillian B. White, Alexia Fernandez Campbell, and CityLab's Tanvi Misra discuss.

  9. #229
    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon923 View Post
    yeah, a lot of Texas could be an exception to this kind of rule. nonetheless if you really dug into the numbers of your city I think you'd see some interesting things. one of the biggest issues, which has been alluded to several times on this thread, is the great divergence in property tax/acre for big box stores vs. more dense commercial districts. That may or may not be an issue in Plano, I don't know, but I bet Plano has a gazillion acres of big box retail. think about how much infrastructure is required to support that land use - the massive intersections, running the sewer and water out to each new giant site, perhaps adding police and fire stations to keep response times acceptable as the city expands. It's very expensive. Now look up how much property tax the Best Buy or Walmart pays divided by the acreage it occupies. Then do the same calculation for a more dense commercial use elsewhere in the city. Even in Plano, I bet you will find that the denser commercial use pays substantially more property tax/acre than Walmart, and also uses substantially less infrastructure. In that case, the dense commercial users are effectively subsidizing their competitors. But that's only part of it; it's also an issue of how cities should spend their money and what kind of development they should encourage/discourage through zoning. encouraging big box retail and sprawly single-family housing requires more investment of public dollars for substantially less return, and, in many cases, that kind of development will never pay enough in property tax during its life cycle to pay back the up front infrastructure cost plus the annual maintenance plus the major replacement (repaving, for example) of the infrastructure it uses.

    Actually a good example is Ferguson, MO. From what I have read, the entire place is one big sprawly suburb. It doesn't have any dense uses to pay the property taxes it needs to actually run itself, and so in the end they resorted to basically turning their cops and courts into a giant collections mill to balance the city budget. It's a case study in what eventually happens to a city that's nearly 100% sprawl.
    Good point on differences in commercial density, I was thinking primarily of residential, obviously.

  10. #230

  11. #231
    here's some suburban insanity in Orlando.

    http://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/a...ampaign=buffer

    If you throw a frisbee over your backyard fence, it's a 7 mile trip to retrieve it.


  12. #232
    Robert O'Kelley
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon923 View Post
    If you throw a frisbee over your backyard fence, it's a 7 mile trip to retrieve it.

  13. #233
    Quote Originally Posted by WFU Lurker View Post
    Good point on differences in commercial density, I was thinking primarily of residential, obviously.
    Lurker, you might be interested in this: it's Big Box Week on Strong Towns. http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2...ampaign=buffer This initial post lays out the basic case on how big box development is a dangerous gamble for cities and provides links to lots of other big box development posts.

  14. #234
    this is an even better summary of the Big Box issues. http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2...isk-and-reward

  15. #235

  16. #236
    Two related posts:

    https://granolashotgun.com/2016/09/0...ot-shall-lose/

    https://granolashotgun.com/2016/08/3...den-subsidies/

    Makes the case for how dense urban structures, largely populated by poor people, subsidize the massive infrastructure investments and maintenance needed to support exclusive gated communities on the edge of town. Also points out what an exclusive suburban enclave of rich people looks like without the government subsidies.

  17. #237
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    Those two articles are a good quick read. Thanks.

  18. #238
    I love this stuff. When you look at it like this it becomes so obvious.


  19. #239
    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon923 View Post
    I love this stuff. When you look at it like this it becomes so obvious.

    Yeah but millennials live in places like the one on the right

  20. #240
    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon923 View Post
    I love this stuff. When you look at it like this it becomes so obvious.

    Why is "per acre" the relevant measure? Actually seems quite irrelevant.

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