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Thread: Another O'Toole rant

  1. #1
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Another O'Toole rant

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...DGDOIJI2L1.DTL

    Here he blames land use planning for high housing costs in SF, arguing that the disparity in affordability between SF and Houston is solely attributable to growth controls. He even goes as far to suggest that open space preservation is a worthless endeavor.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by O'Toole
    What happened in the 1970s to make Bay Area housing so unaffordable? In a nutshell: land-use planning.
    What nutshell, you ask? His cranium.

  3. #3
    He's right about open space (there's no such thing) but he makes two important errors of omission. Land use regulation is not the only thing that changed the San Francisco bay in the 70's, there was also this little known place called Silicon Valley that became the economic engine of the world and attracted a torrent of wealth to the region. This will certainly have an impact on home prices.

    There is also the fact that open space restrictions are not the only thing driving development outwards, but also the regulations forcing low-density sprawl in the established regions. But I don't suppose someone who runs the "American Dream Coalition" will be opposed to that.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    He's right about open space (there's no such thing) but he makes two important errors of omission. Land use regulation is not the only thing that changed the San Francisco bay in the 70's, there was also this little known place called Silicon Valley that became the economic engine of the world and attracted a torrent of wealth to the region. This will certainly have an impact on home prices.

    There is also the fact that open space restrictions are not the only thing driving development outwards, but also the regulations forcing low-density sprawl in the established regions. But I don't suppose someone who runs the "American Dream Coalition" will be opposed to that.
    I disagree withy you vis a vis the value of open space (there are regional ecological reasons for it) but I hate the term and the concept as it sometimes used.

    I still disagree that it is regulations alone that are driving sprawl. They certainly help, but economics, risk, and the prefereecne for single family homes on cul-de-sacs are a big factor, too.

  5. #5

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    O'Toole seemed like a reasonable, but conservative guy back in the '70's, but living in Oregon has really warped his perspective and sense of balance. He needs to move to Houston.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    I disagree withy you vis a vis the value of open space (there are regional ecological reasons for it) but I hate the term and the concept as it sometimes used.

    I still disagree that it is regulations alone that are driving sprawl. They certainly help, but economics, risk, and the prefereecne for single family homes on cul-de-sacs are a big factor, too.
    Demanders' preferences alone are irrelevant. What establishes production is the interaction between the demanders' preferences and the suppliers'. For a private producer the preference is clearly towards higher density, but the regulations force them to limit their product to sprawl.

    I'd really like to have a solid gold castle, but unless someone is willing to supply me with one at a low low price then I have to settle for something more reasonable. If sprawl is really as inefficient as we all claim, then there's someone not doing the numbers.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Demanders' preferences alone are irrelevant. What establishes production is the interaction between the demanders' preferences and the suppliers'. For a private producer the preference is clearly towards higher density, but the regulations force them to limit their product to sprawl.


    Developers may have a preference for higher density, at least to the extent that higher density development tends to maximize their profit. However, higher density alone is not necessarily at odds with sprawl. An urban, pedestrian-scaled built environment by definition involves mixed use, and most developers these days are not keen on doing that sort of development. My impression is that this has changed a bit (I am not a planner or a developer), at least in jurisdictions where the rules have been rewritten to permit mixed use. But again we come back to regulation, what government allows, and what developers have been conditioned to build in order to maximize profit.

    However, before you place the blame for sprawl and/or the high cost of housing reflexively on government, it would be useful to explore how sprawl started, which is not after World War II, but rather in the early 20th century, and how the "American Dream" came to be defined as the large, single family home, preferably on a generous lot. Developers were pushing this at least as far back as in the early days of the private automobile. For a number of reasons, nowhere in the world did the private automobile become as universal as in the United States (not least of which was a higher standard of living, as well as abundant cheap land virtually everywhere in the country)...An economy increasing reliant on the private automobile for transportation grew in productivity, as it better allowed for economies of scale. In retrospect it is not surprising that a built environment was created in order the better to accomodate for the automobile. This built environment was characterized by segregated use, large regional shopping centers, industrial zone (later office pods for white collar workers), and single family homes, all of which were completely auto-dependent. Governments saw what they had created, thought that it was good, and encoded it in law (zoning, etc.).

    So, no, it wasn't exactly "zeitgeist" that created sprawl, as jaws once derisively suggested. But sprawl, it seems to me, was completely entertwined with the development of the American economy, along with all of it concomitant features. It's why the United States has experienced such extensive urban decay, and this decay is also a sign of the vitality of the American economy (i.e. its destructive dynamism). And among the foremost features of the American economy and American way of life became the private automobile, which remains the biggest culprit in the demise of the American city, though its defenders may claim with some justification that it has played an instrumental role in the rise of the American economy. Anyway, this is, provisionally, how I have come to read the story of America's urban/economic history.

  8. #8
    New study says sprawl: local governments are the culprits.
    "This was a tool that was designed with the hope that development would not get out ahead of the infrastructure needed to support it. It was designed as sort of a test," said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, executive director of 1000 Friends of Maryland, a group that supports managed growth.
    [...]
    As much as 10 percent of new housing contemplated in high-priority growth areas in those counties simply moved elsewhere because of the APFOs. As a result, the available housing stock was reduced and home prices were pushed up.

    "In short, APFOs appear to be fueling the same pattern of development the state's Smart Growth policy is intended to curtail," the study says.
    Public sector can't keep up with development, bans development, development moves farther away and makes problem worse.

    edit: there wasn't supposed to be a smiley face at the top, don't think this is some kind of gloating.

  9. #9
         
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    Oh I'm so glad to see that this man is hated all around. He was part of a round table at my school with Author Joel Kotkin, fmr. Gov. Parris Glendering of Maryland and a mayor of a local town. Basically he said all of what he says here. He then insulted all planners on an almost personal level. When questions came around and he was the only one people were being critical of and he continued to be a moron. Afterwards I talked to him about how 'neighborhood covenents' (i know i butchered that spelling) cause can quickly lead to legal racism in that it's the people who already live there and have thier set lifestyle that decide when things get sold to who. He denied this completely and almost said a regional authorities would handle it. It was great. But that man is still a moron

  10. #10
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    New study says sprawl: local governments are the culprits.

    Public sector can't keep up with development, bans development, development moves farther away and makes problem worse.

    edit: there wasn't supposed to be a smiley face at the top, don't think this is some kind of gloating.
    Interesting study on APFOs. Florida has mandated APFOs (concurrency) since 1985. Some have argued that the same effect has occurred, as this is an easy conclusion to make given the state's built environment. Unlike Maryland however, Florida's growth management situation is more dire and many local governments don't have the schools, roads, or water to support new development. Hence the broad political support for concurrency laws.

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