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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: Americans want to live in big homes in the exurbs?!

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  • Jym Dyer
    ... =v= We re subsidizing the suburbs. ... =v= They would clamor for subsidy. The real question is, what if the subsidy were optimized economically and
    Message 1 of 16 , Jun 8, 2002
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      > "What makes central city areas so friggin' expensive?"

      =v= We're subsidizing the suburbs.

      > "How would people in American urban areas change their
      > behaviors and lifestyles if transportation was unsubsidized?"

      =v= They would clamor for subsidy. The real question is, what
      if the subsidy were optimized economically and ecologically?
      <_Jym_>
    • mdh6214
      I m still trying to figure out a way to get it through to Americans that money to build roads is not pulled out of a hat. Since Americans hate taxes so much,
      Message 2 of 16 , Jun 9, 2002
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        I'm still trying to figure out a way to get it through to Americans
        that money to build roads is not pulled out of a hat. Since Americans
        hate taxes so much, all we need is a way to explain what roads do to,
        say, property taxes. Unfortunately, no elected official--or the media-
        -want to explain the truth.

        --- In carfree_cities@y..., Jym Dyer <jym@e...> wrote:
        > > "What makes central city areas so friggin' expensive?"
        >
        > =v= We're subsidizing the suburbs.
        >
        > > "How would people in American urban areas change their
        > > behaviors and lifestyles if transportation was unsubsidized?"
        >
        > =v= They would clamor for subsidy. The real question is, what
        > if the subsidy were optimized economically and ecologically?
        > <_Jym_>
      • dubluth
        Thanks for bringing this article to our attention. The features that people want from their homes are surely a central issue in implementing car free cities.
        Message 3 of 16 , Jun 9, 2002
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          Thanks for bringing this article to our attention. The features that
          people want from their homes are surely a central issue in
          implementing car free cities.

          Surveys respondents, only 5% of whom said they would like to live in
          the central city, were in all likelihood thinking of cities as they
          know them with the noise and pollution of cars and the physical
          imposition of vehicles' hazardous spaces slicing through the city. A
          car-free city would be a very different creature -- full of people,
          but not congested with automobiles.

          Joel Crawford's reference design includes interior courtyards that
          include green space, though not necessarily trees, outside the
          windows of most buildings. Trees were an essential feature for 1/3
          of respondents' homes according the survey. Living area may fall
          short in the reference design as compared to respondent's desired and
          actual homes. The single family occupying a small narrow building
          described on page 169 will have floor space of 1,560 to 2,400 square
          feet if the home consists of all four floors. A family occupying
          only the upper three floors will have 1,040 to 1,800 square feet.
          This compares to the median respondent's home size of 1,700 square
          feet and desired home size of 2,071 square feet. As I understand it,
          the effect of increasing home size is reduced density and less
          effective transportation (slower transportation for a given
          population served, because of the need for more stops along a longer
          route or longer walks to reach the station)

          The floor area a home contains is one of the things that go into a
          lifestyle. By focusing in on home size, I don't mean to imply that a
          home in a car-free city would necessarily have to have the same floor
          area as a home in an auto-centric culture if both were providing the
          optimal level of service to the occupants in their respective
          environments. Home size is an important consideration because it
          influences density, and is therefore is an important feature of city
          design.

          Of course, price is a limiting factor in purchases. While that might
          seem to constrain families in the square footage they acquire, a more
          efficient transportation system that excludes cars would free up a
          tremendous amount of income, as well as time. Therefore, even in an
          urban area, the homes people could afford may be larger with the
          result that the system less dense and not as efficient, if efficiency
          is measured as passengers moved by transit in a given amount of
          time. In the auto-centric mode in which we operate, people tolerate
          significant commute times. I like the idea of making foot travel the
          source of any necessary increases in travel time that is associated
          with lower density. The rail system retains most of its efficiency
          and people get more exercise, which may not be such a bad thing.

          Bill
          >
          > http://www.austin360.com/statesman/editions/saturday/business_1.html
        • turpin
          ... My own belief is that city homes and country homes cannot be compared with regard to size. People in the exurbs -- and to some extent, the suburbs -- try
          Message 4 of 16 , Jun 10, 2002
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            --- "dubluth" <dubluth@y...> wrote:
            > .. A family occupying only the upper three
            > floors will have 1,040 to 1,800 square feet.
            > This compares to the median respondent's
            > home size of 1,700 square feet and desired
            > home size of 2,071 square feet.

            My own belief is that city homes and country
            homes cannot be compared with regard to size.
            People in the exurbs -- and to some extent,
            the suburbs -- try to make their homes fully
            self sufficient. The reason for this is that
            any lapse requires them to do without or to
            make a long drive into town. In the city,
            you're surrounded by services that make this
            unnecessary.

            We have a small pantry. To cook a significant
            meal, we first visit the local grocery, which
            is five minutes to walk. They're open every
            day of the year, from 9am to 8pm. One
            Thanksgiving, Carolyn sent me three times, as
            she remembered one thing after another.

            Our house lacks picnic benches or a pool or
            tennis court. Across the block is a public
            park, whose use is free, with plenty of
            benches, a wading pool, and a regular pool
            with lap lanes. So we don't need a closet to
            store the equipment for maintenance of those.
            Public tennis courts are north of the park.
            A sculptor's museum is east of the park.

            Our dining room is too small to host more
            than six people. But if we want to throw
            a large party, there are several good
            restaurants in the neighborhood that would
            host it for us. We could then walk en masse
            back to our house, for drinks and company.
            Of course, we don't have a wet bar, so it
            might be more fun to walk to the outside
            dessert bar, two blocks south of the
            museum.

            We have no place for a video library, but
            -- you guessed it -- a video store is a
            five minute walk. The post office is a
            block away. The credit union, a ten minute
            walk.

            Maintaining a house that supplied all the
            goods and services as our neighborhood
            would require several thousand square feet,
            and a handful of servants. Maybe that makes
            sense if you're an English lord. Otherwise,
            a convenient neighborhood is the next best
            alternative. Most people have never lived
            that way, so they are not familiar with it.
          • Doug Salzmann
            In a message sent Today, turpin wrote: - - My own belief is that city homes and country - homes cannot be compared with regard to size. - People in the
            Message 5 of 16 , Jun 10, 2002
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              In a message sent Today, turpin wrote:

              ->
              -> My own belief is that city homes and country
              -> homes cannot be compared with regard to size.
              -> People in the exurbs -- and to some extent,
              -> the suburbs -- try to make their homes fully
              -> self sufficient. The reason for this is that
              -> any lapse requires them to do without or to
              -> make a long drive into town. In the city,
              -> you're surrounded by services that make this
              -> unnecessary.

              Exactly. Nailed it. Right on.

              -Doug
            • Richard Risemberg
              ... When i was recently in Manhattan, I read or heard a story about a family who wanted to biuld a three-story addition to their house in their portion of the
              Message 6 of 16 , Jun 10, 2002
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                dubluth wrote:
                >
                > Living area may fall
                > short in the reference design as compared to respondent's desired and
                > actual homes. The single family occupying a small narrow building
                > described on page 169 will have floor space of 1,560 to 2,400 square
                > feet if the home consists of all four floors.

                When i was recently in Manhattan, I read or heard a story about a family
                who wanted to biuld a three-story addition to their house in their
                portion of the interior courtyard, which most Manhattan four-stroy
                blocks have. His neighbors were irritated, as it would block off light
                and air and reduce teh parklike feeling of the courtyard. One neighbor,
                who lived in a house of the same plan, commented, "He's got 14 rooms and
                six bathrooms just like me...why does he need a three-story addition?"

                High density housing need not be cramped.

                Of course these are expensive digs, but the FAR and density are much
                higher than in neighborhoods of similar economic level in Beverly
                Hills. And there are trees and greenery.

                Rick
                --
                Richard Risemberg
                http://www.living-room.org
                http://www.newcolonist.com

                "Hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist. It is
                just like the roads across the earth. For actually there were no roads
                to begin with, but when many people pass one way a road is made."

                Lu Hsun
              • Karen Sandness
                For a partial answer to the question in the title, take a look at the following article from the Real Estate section of the Sunday Oregonian. For those of you
                Message 7 of 16 , Jun 10, 2002
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                  For a partial answer to the question in the title, take a look at the
                  following article from the Real Estate section of the Sunday Oregonian. For
                  those of you who don't know Portland, the article describes the neighborhood
                  quite accurately. The streetcar is only part of the transit picture,
                  however, because three buslines (#15, #17, and #77) also run through the
                  area, and residents are within easy walking distance of a car sharing
                  outpost.

                  http://www.oregonlive.com/realestate/oregonian/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html
                  _standard.xsl?/base/homes_real_estate/1023537421278111.xml

                  Take particular note of the prices for these developments.

                  The issue of affordable housing is intimately connected with the issue of
                  building livable cities.

                  In transit,
                  Karen Sandness
                • justinemarysmith
                  ... small grocery store on the corner but video store, park, restaurants etc are quite a ways away. I really can t think of one neighborhood in my city that
                  Message 8 of 16 , Jul 16, 2002
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                    --- You make a really good point. I live in a city neighborhood with a
                    small grocery store on the corner but video store, park, restaurants
                    etc are quite a ways away. I really can't think of one neighborhood
                    in my city that comes close to what you describe. In United States
                    perhaps a small handful of cities have neighborhoods as you describe.
                    Do you live in Europe or Canada? Which city are you referring to.
                  • Richard Risemberg
                    Believe it or not, my neighborhood in Los Angeles is nearly ideal in many ways. I have, within a two-minute walk of my spacious apartment, a major grocery
                    Message 9 of 16 , Jul 16, 2002
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                      Believe it or not, my neighborhood in Los Angeles is nearly ideal in many
                      ways. I have, within a two-minute walk of my spacious apartment, a major
                      grocery store, three drugstores, a commercial food-service supplier, a
                      bakery/deli, a video store, an office-supply store, a custom shoemaker, and a
                      number of small restaurants; expand the walk to five minutes and you add
                      corner grocery, another shoemaker, another video store, another office supply
                      store, barbershops, more delis, more restaurants, as well as numerous office
                      buildings; make it ten minutes, and you add electronic supply stores, a
                      newsstand, banks, coffeehouses, more restaurants; make it twenty minutes and
                      you add specialty grocers, and the permanent farmer's market on Third and
                      Fairfax, which includes yet more restaurants, plus a few more banks.

                      The only thing we don't have here in what's called the Miracle Mile is, oddly
                      enough, a hardware store.

                      Great transit too, at least for LA.

                      Richard

                      On Tue, 16 Jul 2002 12:20:21 -0000 justinemarysmith
                      <justinemarysmith@...> wrote:

                      --- You make a really good point. I live in a city neighborhood with a
                      small grocery store on the corner but video store, park, restaurants
                      etc are quite a ways away. I really can't think of one neighborhood
                      in my city that comes close to what you describe. In United States
                      perhaps a small handful of cities have neighborhoods as you describe.
                      Do you live in Europe or Canada? Which city are you referring to.
                    • Karen Sandness
                      on 02.7.17 4:52 AM, carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com at ... I live in Portland, Oregon, just outside of a neighborhood commonly referred to as Northwest.
                      Message 10 of 16 , Jul 17, 2002
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                        on 02.7.17 4:52 AM, carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com at
                        carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com wrote:

                        > ________________________________________________________________________
                        > ________________________________________________________________________
                        >
                        > Message: 1
                        > Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2002 12:20:21 -0000
                        > From: "justinemarysmith" <justinemarysmith@...>
                        > Subject: Re: You need less space living in a good neighborhood
                        >
                        > --- You make a really good point. I live in a city neighborhood with a
                        > small grocery store on the corner but video store, park, restaurants
                        > etc are quite a ways away. I really can't think of one neighborhood
                        > in my city that comes close to what you describe. In United States
                        > perhaps a small handful of cities have neighborhoods as you describe.
                        > Do you live in Europe or Canada? Which city are you referring to.
                        >
                        >
                        I live in Portland, Oregon, just outside of a neighborhood commonly referred
                        to as "Northwest." Within walking distance I have two full-service grocery
                        stores, four or five dry cleaners, two hair salons, a ski shop (I don't ski,
                        but it's nice to know that it's there), three drugstores, an art house movie
                        theater, three specialty grocery stores, four banks, an independent
                        bookstore, a funky shoe store, a large independent record store, an
                        elementary school, a high school, and more restaurants of every description
                        than I can begin to count. I'm also five minutes away from four bus lines
                        and ten minutes away from light rail.

                        Not all Portland neighborhoods are like this, but I can think of at least
                        two others (Hawthorne and the Lloyd District) that come pretty close.

                        By the way, I was in Los Angeles last November, and Richard kindly took me
                        on a walking tour of his neighborhood, which is indeed as he describes.
                        Riding around the city on the bus, I was pleasantly surprised to find that
                        L.A. and its surroundings are more than a huge strip mall hell.

                        Maybe there's an urban neighborhood in your city that is just waiting to be
                        discovered.

                        In transit,
                        Karen Sandness
                      • Jym Dyer
                        =v= At one point in my life I lived so close to a good grocery store that I simply unplugged my fridge. I figured they were chilling stuff a few blocks away
                        Message 11 of 16 , Jul 17, 2002
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                          =v= At one point in my life I lived so close to a good grocery
                          store that I simply unplugged my fridge. I figured they were
                          chilling stuff a few blocks away anyhow, so why waste energy?
                          I'd pick up perishables on the way home and make dinner.
                          <_Jym_>
                        • turpin
                          ... Hardly. I live in Austin, Texas, in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Much of Austin has become the typically sprawled city. But there are a handful of
                          Message 12 of 16 , Aug 6, 2002
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                            --- In carfree_cities@y..., "justinemarysmith"
                            <justinemarysmith@h...> wrote:
                            > In United States perhaps a small handful of
                            > cities have neighborhoods as you describe.
                            > Do you live in Europe or Canada?

                            Hardly. I live in Austin, Texas, in the Hyde
                            Park neighborhood. Much of Austin has become the
                            typically sprawled city. But there are a handful
                            of neighborhoods that are pretty convenient. I
                            suspect the majority of people, in major cities
                            throughout the US, (a) don't know that their
                            cities contain such neighborhoods, and (b) are
                            unaware of how much difference it makes, compared
                            to living in the typical suburb.
                          • Chris Bradshaw
                            ... I live in Canada, specifically, Ottawa, the national capital and fourth largest. I live in the Glebe (the name refers to the status of the lands before
                            Message 13 of 16 , Aug 7, 2002
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                              > Do you live in Europe or Canada?

                              I live in Canada, specifically, Ottawa, the national capital and fourth
                              largest.

                              I live in "the Glebe" (the name refers to the status of the lands before
                              development, as lands belonging to a downtown church, used to rent to
                              farmers, giving the church extra income). It is about a square mile,
                              with a population of about 12,000 in about 8,000 households, half of
                              which are rented. We are served by two north-south and two east-west
                              bus routes.

                              We have about 100 retail outlets, which are less neighbourhood-oriented
                              than before the car became ubiquitous. But we do have the following:

                              2 grocery stores, plus about 20 other food stores (including 3 bakeries)
                              2 liquor stores and 2 beer stores (they are government monopolies in
                              Ontario)
                              38 restaurants and take-outs, including 7 pubs (they stay open until 2
                              a.m.)
                              1 laundromat (two closed in the last two years)
                              3 pharmacies
                              1 hardware store
                              2 video outlets (plus a few videos avail. at 3 remaining corners stores)
                              1 pet-supply store, plus three vets
                              2 gas stations and one repair garage
                              10 bookstores (there were 15 ten years ago)
                              2 community centres (one for seniors)
                              3 elementary schools, 1 high school, 1 montessori school
                              5 coffee shops (our tea house closed about 4 years ago)

                              Thanks to high property values and slow driving speeds on our main
                              street (Bank Street), very few chains have moved in: Body Shop,
                              Pizza-Pizza and Pizza hut, and McDonalds (not on the main street,
                              though). A good sign of commercial health is the growing number of new
                              businesses that locate around the corner, in basements, and on second
                              floors (there are also a number of apartments above stores).

                              And, yes, these amenities translate into needing less space to live in.
                              And, with 1) transit, 2) a high likelihood of flagging down a taxi on an
                              arterial, and 3) two car-sharing vehicles (provided by my company,
                              Vrtucar), there is little reason to own a car (a major exception is poor
                              transit service for "reverse commutes" to the suburban business parks,
                              which means that street parking is tight overnight).

                              I have often thought of developing a "neighbourhood integrity" index to
                              find the most self-sufficient neighbourhood in North America. I would
                              think ours (which my wife and I "discovered" in 1981, although we lived
                              in it when we were married in 1969 before moving to the burbs where our
                              parents urged us to live) would be among the top "scorers."

                              In general, Canadian cities have a number of "advantages" over American
                              cities. With the climate, we have smaller yards, emphasizing indoor
                              space. With more unified municipal government, we have more compact new
                              development and few "poor neighbourhoods." With more racial integration
                              (and a smaller population of "blacks"), we never experienced
                              neighbourhood upheavals. With no federal powers over urban affairs, we
                              don't have the downside of strings-attached grants to build urban
                              freeways and clear, wholesale, older urban areas. I also think (I was
                              raised in a Canadian-American family, living the last half of childhood
                              in Ohio and Denver, and attending a U.S. college) that Canadians are
                              less gung-ho consumers, having a more cynical view of advertising (e.g.,
                              I think there are more Canadian top comics in our common entertainment
                              market than there are Americans).

                              Chris Bradshaw
                            • turpin
                              ... Hopefully, we would not all move to that one. But there IS a tremendous difference between neighborhoods, in the same city. Even cities that suffer sprawl
                              Message 14 of 16 , Aug 7, 2002
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                                --- In carfree_cities@y..., Chris Bradshaw <chris@t...> wrote:
                                > I have often thought of developing a "neighbourhood
                                > integrity" index to find the most self-sufficient
                                > neighbourhood in North America.

                                Hopefully, we would not all move to that one. But
                                there IS a tremendous difference between neighborhoods,
                                in the same city. Even cities that suffer sprawl and
                                other problems sometimes contain neighborhoods that are
                                quite convenient. And the identity of these
                                neighborhoods now seems almost a secret. Sometimes not
                                even the local real estate agents know and appreciate
                                the difference -- they just remark in surprise that
                                "those small houses sure maintain their value."

                                I think a catalog of good neighborhoods would attract
                                a lot of attention to the qualities we're discussing,
                                and might even make a successful book. I'm not sure
                                how to put it together. I don't think it is enough to
                                develop a numerical metric and then score neighborhoods,
                                even if one could get the raw data for the score. How
                                many restaurants, banks, groceries, bars, video stores,
                                etc. are within a mile of my house? So many, it would
                                take quite some work to count. More important than
                                their distance "as the crow flies" is that they are on
                                good walking routes. Now: Where do you get *that* kind
                                of data?

                                It seems to me that such a catalog almost has to be
                                compiled by someone who investigates such things in a
                                more direct fashion than running city directories
                                through a computer program, though that might be a
                                good start.
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