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Thread: Sprawl: how do you stop it?

  1. #101
    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone View post
    If you read my earlier post in this thread, I am working from the assumption that there is a massive existing policy-based "infrastructure" of tax incentives, lending programs, mortgage guarantees, etc. which were designed post WWII to facilitate a necessary massive housing boom which was aimed at a demographic -- the single income nuclear family -- which was a relatively brief historical anomaly. Unless we suddenly reverse the 50% divorce rate (among other things) and also find a cheap, effective alternative to gasoline, America's current way of life will soon also go the way of the dinosaur. Being a die hard optimist, I would like to think that, sooner or later, someone will Get A Clue and begin dismantling the policy-based infrastructure which so strongly biases american housing choices, even in cases where it doesn't really work for them and they wish there were other viable options but there just aren't -- the operative word there being viable. I would not live the way I do now if it were currently within my means to do something else. Conventional housing isn't my cup of tea and doesn't really work for me for practical reasons which aren't going to simply go away.
    But once again, why would they do that? Because people are becoming poorer for it?

    As a counterexample, I give you San Juan, Puerto Rico. The poorest area in the United States and yet sprawls as much or more than anywhere else.

  2. #102
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    But once again, why would they do that? Because people are becoming poorer for it?
    Why would who do what?

    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    As a counterexample, I give you San Juan, Puerto Rico. The poorest area in the United States and yet sprawls as much or more than anywhere else.
    I am not familiar with San Juan, Puerto Rico. However, Puerto Rico is not really part of the United States. It does not have "state" status and many people there do not want it to acquire such status because its current status gives it privileges that no one else has. One example I know of is that Puerto Ricans are the only people who can take the standard American military entrance exam in Spanish instead of English. So I don't think it is valid to hold up Puerto Rico as an example of anything "american". They have a unique situation, with political and other influences which aren't found anywhere else in the U.S. and probably not anywhere else in the world.
    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    If you are working from the assumption that sprawl is wasteful and inefficient, then adding even greater economic waste to the problem, which is what the Hubbert Peak does, will not have any consequence over it. Simply put, sprawl does not respond to economic incentives. If politicians actually calculated the costs of their proposals, there would not be a waste problem in the first place.
    First off, while politicians and other people in charge are insulated from economic (and other) consequences, they are not exempt from them. It is possible for their bad decisions to so completely destroy things that it comes back to bite them. This is why the Soviet Union fell apart. This is why the american colonies revolted and fought for freedom from Great Britain to become the U.S.A. This is why the praetorian guard used to murder emperors and put someone new in their place. There isn't enough power to ensure that anyone is absolutely safe and beyond reach. Historical attempts to make sure the underclass could not fight back (by denying them weapons or the right to learn combat) is exactly what gave birth to some of the most effective styles of combat on the planet: Eastern Martial Arts.

    Second, there will always be "inefficiencies". And I am perfectly comfortable with that. I am much more comfortable with that then I am with pursuing some ideal of "perfection". Ideals of perfection inevitably are unrealistic, absolutist and draconian. And they are extremely destructive. Life on this planet is founded on the fact that one organism's waste is another's sustenance. What we breathe out as waste -- cabon dioxide -- plants breathe in. And what they breathe out -- oxygen -- we breathe in. Destroying diversity reduces the vibrancy of a system. Private property/business/consumerism has its place. So does not-for-profit/religion/spirituality. So does government/practical details of making a community work. Finding balance is neither easy nor something which can ever be achieved "once and for all". But the struggle for balance is healthier than letting any one of those things take over completely.

    As a courtesy to HeatlandCityBoy, I would appreciate it if the mods would split this dicussion off -- perhaps to the FAC. As long as no one is ugly about it, I rather enjoy having such "big picture/big question" discussions. But it really has nothing whatsoever to do with helping answer the question at hand: What are practical approaches for combatting sprawl at the "local" level. Thank you.
    Last edited by Michele Zone; 18 Feb 2007 at 12:01 PM.

  3. #103
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    i agree with Michele, would the mods mind splitting the discussion off?

  4. #104
    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone View post
    Why would who do what?
    The someone who is supposed to get a clue and abolish the governmental incentives of sprawl that you talked about.
    I am not familiar with San Juan, Puerto Rico. However, Puerto Rico is not really part of the United States. It does not have "state" status and many people there do not want it to acquire such status because its current status gives it privileges that no one else has. One example I know of is that Puerto Ricans are the only people who can take the standard American military entrance exam in Spanish instead of English. So I don't think it is valid to hold up Puerto Rico as an example of anything "american". They have a unique situation, with political and other influences which aren't found anywhere else in the U.S. and probably not anywhere else in the world.
    They are subject to U.S. laws. They are part of America. They have sprawl. They are poor. They suffer the sprawl worse than others. No one in government gets a clue.
    First off, while politicians and other people in charge are insulated from economic (and other) consequences, they are not exempt from them. It is possible for their bad decisions to so completely destroy things that it comes back to bite them. This is why the Soviet Union fell apart. This is why the american colonies revolted and fought for freedom from Great Britain to become the U.S.A.
    The Soviet Union fell apart, but the solution was not to create another Soviet Union to replace it. The solution was private property and free markets. The American colonies revolted against monarchy and created a short-lived aristocratic republic to replace it. They knew that a new system was necessary to fix the problems of the old one.

    If the politicians drag the country into ever increasing chaos, the solution is not to replace them with other politicians. It is to replace the system entirely.
    As a courtesy to HeatlandCityBoy, I would appreciate it if the mods would split this dicussion off -- perhaps to the FAC. As long as no one is ugly about it, I rather enjoy having such "big picture/big question" discussions. But it really has nothing whatsoever to do with helping answer the question at hand: What are practical approaches for combatting sprawl at the "local" level. Thank you.
    There are none. That's the point. Sprawl is not a local problem, it is an institutional problem.

  5. #105
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    Ok, I'm currently debating with this guy about combating sprawl, and he is telling me I cannot really combat sprawl without taking away people's rights to live where they want...

    Who ever said that stopping sprawl is preventing people from living where they want? Besides, we don't have 100% freedom in this country, and I don't think we need anything even close to 100% freedom.

  6. #106
    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Ok, I'm currently debating with this guy about combating sprawl, and he is telling me I cannot really combat sprawl without taking away people's rights to live where they want...

    Who ever said that stopping sprawl is preventing people from living where they want? Besides, we don't have 100% freedom in this country, and I don't think we need anything even close to 100% freedom.
    I think we need 100% freedom in order to end sprawl.

    People do not currently have the right to choose where they want to live:
    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...6&postcount=43
    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...4&postcount=39
    They only have the right to choose what the government chooses for them.
    Last edited by jaws; 18 Feb 2007 at 7:47 PM.

  7. #107
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    The someone who is supposed to get a clue and abolish the governmental incentives of sprawl that you talked about.
    People do things for all kinds of different motives. Some people like exercising power. Some people like being helpful. Some people take the duties of their office extremely seriously. Some people act out of enlightened self-interest, knowing that if they make the world around them a better place, then they themselves get to live in a better place. The "why" would depend a lot on the individual in question.
    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    They are subject to U.S. laws. They are part of America. They have sprawl. They are poor. They suffer the sprawl worse than others.
    I don't happen to agree. I don't think it makes a good example for the U.S. I think Puerto Rico's situation is too unique to be held up as comparable/representative for the U.S.
    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    No one in government gets a clue.
    If you believe this to be true, why spend so much time posting in a forum whose membership is dominated by government employees?

    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    The Soviet Union fell apart, but the solution was not to create another Soviet Union to replace it. The solution was private property and free markets. The American colonies revolted against monarchy and created a short-lived aristocratic republic to replace it. They knew that a new system was necessary to fix the problems of the old one.
    When the soviet union fell, private property and free markets became a part of the picture, but not completely in the absence of government. Also, it is my understanding that during the period when there was a significant power vacuum, organized crime stepped in to fill the void. As a general rule of thumb, I prefer the evils of government to the evils of organized crime. Nature abhors a vacuum. A power vacuum will inevitably be filled by something, and not necessarily something better than what was removed.

    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    If the politicians drag the country into ever increasing chaos, the solution is not to replace them with other politicians. It is to replace the system entirely.
    Sometimes, replacing them with other politicians works. Sometimes the system is not the biggest fly in the ointment. Sometimes it really is the people in charge. When Caligula and most of his relatives were murdered by the praetorian guard, he was replaced by his drooling "idiot" of an uncle, Claudius, who suddenly stopped drooling all over himself and proved to be a surprisingly good emperor. No matter what system is in place, the people running the show do make a difference.

    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    There are none. That's the point. Sprawl is not a local problem, it is an institutional problem.
    I happen to agree that it is institutional. I don't happen to agree that simply having a government in place causes it. I do believe that for it to be adequately redressed in the U.S.A., changes need to occur at the federal level. I don't believe that this means that locals cannot accomplish anything in the face of it.


    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Ok, I'm currently debating with this guy about combating sprawl, and he is telling me I cannot really combat sprawl without taking away people's rights to live where they want...

    Who ever said that stopping sprawl is preventing people from living where they want? Besides, we don't have 100% freedom in this country, and I don't think we need anything even close to 100% freedom.
    You are under no obligation to debate him. In fact, arguing with him just fuels the situation. I don't mind discussing it, assuming he minds his manners, but I feel no obligation to debate him and won't hesitate to stop replying if it turns ugly. I still hope a mod will split off the discussion so your thread is not hijacked yet again.

    Last, I don't believe there is any such thing as "100% freedom". That kind of freedom is usually described as "anarchy". See my remarks above about vacuums of power and organized crime.

  8. #108
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    I guess all the guy wants is a "real, concrete idea" from me about how to combat sprawl, saying I won't convince any1 to join my side without a realistic vision of how to accomplish it. But I believe I am idealistic as people tell me, and if I start looking at the realistic side of things, I'll lose that idealism, which is something I don't ever want to do.

    I also said this:
    "I don't think I'm saying that people cannot live where they want to. It's just that it would be best for bad planning to be stopped. I wouldn't agree with demolishing the current sprawl, but I would support eliminating/preventing further sprawl."
    And he responded by saying it is telling people where they can't live and it's a removal of choice. He says taking away their choice, takes away their, and societies ability to be prosperous.

    but then again, he is also a libertarian, which is a type of person i really don't get along with (being a communitarian).

  9. #109
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I guess all the guy wants is a "real, concrete idea" from me about how to combat sprawl, saying I won't convince any1 to join my side without a realistic vision of how to accomplish it. But I believe I am idealistic as people tell me, and if I start looking at the realistic side of things, I'll lose that idealism, which is something I don't ever want to do.

    I also said this:
    "I don't think I'm saying that people cannot live where they want to. It's just that it would be best for bad planning to be stopped. I wouldn't agree with demolishing the current sprawl, but I would support eliminating/preventing further sprawl."
    And he responded by saying it is telling people where they can't live and it's a removal of choice. He says taking away their choice, takes away their, and societies ability to be prosperous.

    but then again, he is also a libertarian, which is a type of person i really don't get along with (being a communitarian).
    I don't know how much you really read of what goes on here. Jaws has a habit of hijacking threads -- all kinds of threads, on the flimsiest excuse -- to promote his ideas. It isn't really anything you have done.

    As for idealism vs. realism, that is a whole other discussion. I don't think they are irreconcilable. I think idealism which cannot be reconciled to dirty, inconvenient reality is just a fantasy. Real idealism requires you get your hands dirty and very often involves getting your heart broken and certainly means having your ideas challenged. But you are under no obligation to agree with me. And you are certainly not required to defend your views or debate it with me.

  10. #110
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    Michele, I wasn't referring to Jaws, it's another website I'm talking about there.

    I personally would rather be idealistic without becoming dissapointed when things go bad or without giving into "reality". I know reality and I recognize it, but I also believe things can change, whereas many people focused on reality don't want to really take time to change things. Or, like the man whose a libertarian, he believes that stopping sprawl could mean hurting/stopping people's freedom/right of choice of where to live.

    I believe sprawl can be stopped, even all over the nation, but som realists may say that it either can't be, or that we shouldn't bother because in "reality", it exists and is expanding.

    Regarding KC, many realists look at it, and see a somewhat stagnant city in a growing metro, with growing sprawl, that is dominated by it's rich suburbs. They see most of the future as being in only certain parts of the urban core, and in most of the suburbs. They don't believe it could boom like west, east or even some gulf coast cities because it isn't near a huge lake, a mountainrange, it doesn't have big beaches, it's weather is more unnattractive compared to coastal cities, it's divided by a state border, it's history only goes back 150 years, it is just a fly-through city for travelling, it has no real ports (our section of the Missouri barely gets any traffic, as most of the Missouri doesn't), etc...
    I personally ignore all of those things and see what we could be, despite what other people say. I think focusing on the city itself, instead of attractions is what could put us above some regional cities.
    Last edited by HeartlandCityBoy; 18 Feb 2007 at 10:46 PM.

  11. #111
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Michele, I wasn't referring to Jaws, it's another website I'm talking about there.
    Oops.
    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I personally would rather be idealistic without becoming dissapointed when things go bad or without giving into "reality". I know reality and I recognize it, but I also believe things can change, whereas many people focused on reality don't want to really take time to change things.
    Reality not only can change, it changes constantly. The seeds we sow now become the "reality" of tomorrow. Presumably, planners are interested in figuring out what can be done now which makes for a better future reality. Otherwise, why bother?
    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Or, like the man whose a libertarian, he believes that stopping sprawl could mean hurting/stopping people's freedom/right of choice of where to live.
    Most Americans do not seem to understand that, currently, the mortgage industry, mortgage insurance, federal tax incentives, etc. already so strongly biases housing choices as to deny most people real freedom of choice. There used to be more varieties of housing available in this country, including SRO's, boarding houses, etc. Those are pretty rare these days. So instead, young people get roommates and several people live together in an apartment -- not much different from the practice of dividing up old mansions into smaller apartments in places like Manhattan, Kansas because the large Victorian homes no longer fit the current demographic.


    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I believe sprawl can be stopped, even all over the nation, but som realists may say that it either can't be, or that we shouldn't bother because in "reality", it exists and is expanding.
    At some point earlier in this discussion, I refrained from interjecting that this "suburb vs. city" argument is pretty recent. Before that, we had settled-peoples-vs-wanderers -- an issue which is still a common source of friction. I always wonder about larger ideas like that because my experience is that any "either/or" thought process tends to reinforce itself. I mean, if you have a black or white view, then you wind up categorizing "shades of gray" as either "black" or "white". If you have a technicolor view, the whole game changes.

    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Regarding KC, many realists look at it, and see a somewhat stagnant city in a growing metro, with growing sprawl, that is dominated by it's rich suburbs. They see most of the future as being in only certain parts of the urban core, and in most of the suburbs. They don't believe it could boom like west, east or even some gulf coast cities because it isn't near a huge lake, a mountainrange, it doesn't have big beaches, it's weather is more unnattractive compared to coastal cities, it has no real ports (our section of the Missouri barely gets any traffic, as most of the Missouri doesn't), etc...
    I personally ignore all of those things and see what we could be, despite what other people say. I think focusing on the city itself, instead of attractions is what could put us above some regional cities.
    "Attractions" -- sounds to me like superficial stuff which brings a lot of downside with it, the way beach towns are no longer affordable places to live because so much housing is owned by people who live elsewhere and only come on weekends in the summer. Superficial attractions always lead to a thing being "used". I believe that investing in something more substantial is more sustainable and healthier, with less downside.

  12. #112
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    I've got another question, why is land in an area like a city's Downtown so expensive? If it's taxes, could the city be made to lower those taxes, etc... So as to bring the price down so more affordable housing could be built, and more small businesses could locate there?

  13. #113
    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I've got another question, why is land in an area like a city's Downtown so expensive? If it's taxes, could the city be made to lower those taxes, etc... So as to bring the price down so more affordable housing could be built, and more small businesses could locate there?
    Things are expensive when they are in high demand. High taxes lower demand, therefore actually make things less expensive.

    http://www.mises.org/rothbard/mes/chap4a.asp

    Downtown land is in high demand because it's downtown, and thus the most accessible site from any point in the urban network.

  14. #114
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    Add to the list building regulations in urban areas that typically permit very high FARs and heights (meaning usually tall buildings). The potential of what the site could be is what helps drive the land up. That's why as you move farther from the downtown core, values typically begin to decline. The exception being very wealthy areas where land values are inflated to help keep out the riff raff.

  15. #115
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I've got another question, why is land in an area like a city's Downtown so expensive? If it's taxes, could the city be made to lower those taxes, etc... So as to bring the price down so more affordable housing could be built, and more small businesses could locate there?
    Study Von Tunen and Christaller and get back to me on that one will ya???

    http://lic.law.ufl.edu/~nicholas/URP6542/7Lrent.htm
    http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/67

  16. #116
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I've got another question, why is land in an area like a city's Downtown so expensive? If it's taxes, could the city be made to lower those taxes, etc...
    It's not a question. it's already a problem.

    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    So as to bring the price down so more affordable housing could be built, and more small businesses could locate there?
    That's the solution your City Council should work on. Tell them to include that in their plans.

  17. #117
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    If the politicians drag the country into ever increasing chaos, the solution is not to replace them with other politicians. It is to replace the system entirely.
    I actually agree with you, but I sincerely doubt we would agree on what it should be replaced with - however, since you do not seem inclined to state an opinion on that aspect of the matter, I cannot say for sure.

    I was trained as an anthropologist. Therefore, my ideas of why sprawl exists probably differ quite a bit from most of what you might see here.

    People are simply not meant to live in cities, stacked one upon the other like sardines in a can. Hence, when that situation begins to assert itself, they leave, finding areas with breathing room and a semblance of normalcy, creating sprawl.

    If the problem is altering the disgusting messes that are also known as inner cities, so that people will not be so inclined to flee from them in search of habitable living area, then raze them to the ground and start over. Create places that don't make people boxed in, that won't trap noise and stench. Make them livable, and people will live in them.

    Anthropological studies have shown that the incidence of violence increase in geometric proportion to increases in population density, and increases in ambient noise level - background noise, if you will. Those two factors exist only in cities and towns with high population densities, and those same two factors are also high on the list of reasons people flee inner cities and downtown areas.

    Sprawl isn't the problem.....it's a reaction to a problem. The problem is cities, not economics, communism, democracy, or whatever other convenient label someone seeks to slap onto it.

    Regards,
    Meyre
    Last edited by Meyre; 20 Feb 2007 at 6:22 PM. Reason: Didn't quote what I wanted quoted. :(

  18. #118
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    cities aren't bad, and cities are only a problem if they are unhealthy, when their crime rate is high and education is low, when their urban vitality and diversity is non-existent.

  19. #119
    Quote Originally posted by Meyre View post
    I actually agree with you, but I sincerely doubt we would agree on what it should be replaced with - however, since you do not seem inclined to state an opinion on that aspect of the matter, I cannot say for sure.

    I was trained as an anthropologist. Therefore, my ideas of why sprawl exists probably differ quite a bit from most of what you might see here.

    People are simply not meant to live in cities, stacked one upon the other like sardines in a can. Hence, when that situation begins to assert itself, they leave, finding areas with breathing room and a semblance of normalcy, creating sprawl.
    If by "not meant to" we mean the strictly naturalist, hunter-gatherer type of human life that the human body is adapted to, then cities are obviously unnatural from that point of view. However, whenever human cooperation achieves a level of civilization, cities become the anchor of that civilization. There are inescapable economic reasons for cities to exist. Advanced specialization of labor can only take place in cities. Human beings, simply by living in a city and being part of its labor market, are more productive than they would be on their own. The natural place for human beings is to be part of some group of human beings in order to improve his productivity. It takes a very unnatural development, permanent agriculture, in order to make it profitable to distance oneself from the tribe. Once human beings no longer directly depend on the land for their income they find it beneficial to return to the tribe for their welfare. That is why cities all over the world, rich and poor country alike, are gaining population while landed populations are falling. It takes fewer and fewer people to make land productive, freeing the rest to return to the tribe.

    Regardless, sprawl is an agglomeration of human beings. It is typologically a city and serves the same functions as a city, to create a highly differentiated labor market. It is a form of city growth but still a city. This form has demonstrated characteristics which make it appear grossly inefficient when compared to other forms. The question is, why has such an inefficient form been adopted to build cities?
    If the problem is altering the disgusting messes that are also known as inner cities, so that people will not be so inclined to flee from them in search of habitable living area, then raze them to the ground and start over. Create places that don't make people boxed in, that won't trap noise and stench. Make them livable, and people will live in them.
    This is not a problem. We have all the technical knowledge to accomplish this and have had this technical knowledge for a long time. That it has not been done is a problem of social organization.
    Anthropological studies have shown that the incidence of violence increase in geometric proportion to increases in population density, and increases in ambient noise level - background noise, if you will. Those two factors exist only in cities and towns with high population densities, and those same two factors are also high on the list of reasons people flee inner cities and downtown areas.
    This is meaningless. Zürich has at least 5 times the population density of Stockton, California, but the crime rates run the opposite way. Population density and feeling crowded have little in common.

    Noise is a factor that can be controlled if the city has enough will to act on the problem. For some reason, they don't. Why?
    Sprawl isn't the problem.....it's a reaction to a problem. The problem is cities, not economics, communism, democracy, or whatever other convenient label someone seeks to slap onto it.

    Regards,
    Meyre
    I agree that sprawl expands because the cities are out of control. But then you have to ask why that is. It is not the lack of technical knowledge. It is not that we do not know how to reduce noise levels or how to make density pleasant to live. We know these things. For some reason, they are not being done.

  20. #120
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    BTW, I'm sorry Meyer, but didn't ask for anti-city pro-sprawl comments on here. I was asking about how to stop sprawl, not encourage it.

  21. #121
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    Hullo, folks.

    Jaws, you wrote:

    However, whenever human cooperation achieves a level of civilization, cities become the anchor of that civilization. There are inescapable economic reasons for cities to exist. Advanced specialization of labor can only take place in cities.
    I understand quite clearly *why* cities come to exist, as well as the economics that fuel them to growth. However, justifying their existence really doesn't answer the question that was put forth.

    Some cities seem well able to control factors that encourage people to leave - sprawl, and others don't. Some cities feel like part of the landscape when you walk through them, others feel like a blight - out of place, as if they don't belong where they are, like a cancer spreading outwards. Something causes the two different dynamics to function. As Heartland City Boy says, he didn't want anti-city comments, but rather answers. However, I don't imagine you can find the answers if you don't know what the problems are. I've clearly stated two of what seem to be major problems with cities and downtown areas, causing people to leave; Jaws, you have stated that the technology and wherewithal exists to remedy the situation; in most places, those fixes have not been accomplished. Then, you obliquely asked why.

    I can think of several reasons why. Some are economic, some are cultural. The economic issues would, in my opinion, be more readily solved than the cultural ones. Many cities don't make improvements to downtown areas or attempt to resolve crowding or noise issues because they simply don't have the funding to do it. They may not have funds because money has been used in other areas, or because companies which once funded a chunk of their tax base have moved or closed. There are myriad financial reasons why these things haven't occurred.

    Culturally, things are a bit different. I'd ask that you bear with me a moment on this one - I may be way off base here but I don't think I am.

    Cities which tend to exhibit the most troubled inner city areas, and by extension, the most sprawl, are those cities which historically saw population booms linked to the major immigration periods in US history. People came in waves from Europe, and those waves tended to consist of distinct nationalities, each more or less separate from the others; the Italians migrated as a group, the Germans as another, and so forth.

    In Europe, these folks grew up surrounded by people who all spoke the same language - or a close dialectical variant; they were with others who shared the same cultural and national traditions, the same values. The places they lived in had been formed over centuries from those various factors. When the people emigrated, they tended to take their culture with them. While in earlier periods of immigration there was a distinct emphasis from the US government to deliberately integrate these people into the American ideology, this was only successful to a certain extent.

    Hence, in New York City we saw the development of a Sicilian mafia, the clustering of Irish in Hell's Kitchen, Eastern European Jews living in a small section of Brooklyn, and so forth. As an ethnic group moved into an area, other people would move out rather than deal with newcomers who dwelt outside a comfort zone. As immigrants, these people generally lacked financial resources, and tended to be limited in the availability of employment. Inevitably, those sections of the city began to run down, and no funds were available or were provided to fix the problems. The immigrants still tended to turn to "their own" when in need, strengthening the still-existent cultural ties they had brought with them. It took generations before those cultural ties began to loosen, and I do not believe they have ever completely let go. The US is filled with cities that are true melting pots, but because of that, they lack the cohesion that marks many cities in other countries which do not suffer the same kinds of issues - such as sprawl.

    While those early waves of immigration were a long time ago, and many of the descendants of those folks are now third and even fourth generation American citizens, we are seeing the pattern repeat with new influxes of immigration, mostly from Mexico, Central America, and so forth. However, unlike earlier times, the US government no longer so strongly encourages "assimilation" (like the Borg) into mainstream Americana; more and more of those people bring their entire culture with them, their language, their customs, even their flags, and show little desire to be American, except insofar as to gain the benefits of citizenship. This has further fractured many larger cities, where these immigrants tend to cluster in search of employment, and as before, other people flee, taking businesses and tax base with them. Again, there is no cohesion, no civic pride, no impetus to make positive changes. Instead, there is a clinging to imported traditions which clash with what is already in place. In addition, it has caused the issue of sprawl to expand to cities which historically didn't exhibit it.

    I am not certain how this can be overcome. Some places have tried to implement ordinances which disallow the use of any language but English - most of these have been overturned as being unconstitutional. They also are not efforts to bring people into communities, but rather to shunt them outside of it, even further than they already are. I do not know of any efforts currently being made to meld these fractured pieces of cities together into one.

    The comment was made that:

    cities aren't bad, and cities are only a problem if they are unhealthy, when their crime rate is high and education is low, when their urban vitality and diversity is non-existent.
    Wouldn't you think that splitting cities into multiple ethnic pockets contributes to these problems? There may be diversity, but the way that diversity exists tends to lead to the problems of high crime rates and poor educational standards, and those in turn sap vitality. How would you correct this problem?

    Regards,
    Meyre

  22. #122
    Quote Originally posted by Meyre View post
    I understand quite clearly *why* cities come to exist, as well as the economics that fuel them to growth. However, justifying their existence really doesn't answer the question that was put forth.

    Some cities seem well able to control factors that encourage people to leave - sprawl, and others don't. Some cities feel like part of the landscape when you walk through them, others feel like a blight - out of place, as if they don't belong where they are, like a cancer spreading outwards. Something causes the two different dynamics to function. As Heartland City Boy says, he didn't want anti-city comments, but rather answers. However, I don't imagine you can find the answers if you don't know what the problems are. I've clearly stated two of what seem to be major problems with cities and downtown areas, causing people to leave; Jaws, you have stated that the technology and wherewithal exists to remedy the situation; in most places, those fixes have not been accomplished. Then, you obliquely asked why.

    I can think of several reasons why. Some are economic, some are cultural. The economic issues would, in my opinion, be more readily solved than the cultural ones. Many cities don't make improvements to downtown areas or attempt to resolve crowding or noise issues because they simply don't have the funding to do it. They may not have funds because money has been used in other areas, or because companies which once funded a chunk of their tax base have moved or closed. There are myriad financial reasons why these things haven't occurred.
    That is a terrible excuse. Noise issues can be resolved with no money invested. It is only a regulatory switch that is necessary. Same thing for traffic congestion.

    Even if it did require a substantial investment to accomplish this, there is a gigantic financial industry who would like nothing more than to invest in a profitable venture. They will lend money to absolutely anybody.

    A private enterprise would have no difficulty resolving these problems. Cities have not been able to deal with them in a hundred years they have been a nuisance.
    Culturally, things are a bit different. I'd ask that you bear with me a moment on this one - I may be way off base here but I don't think I am.

    Cities which tend to exhibit the most troubled inner city areas, and by extension, the most sprawl, are those cities which historically saw population booms linked to the major immigration periods in US history. People came in waves from Europe, and those waves tended to consist of distinct nationalities, each more or less separate from the others; the Italians migrated as a group, the Germans as another, and so forth.

    In Europe, these folks grew up surrounded by people who all spoke the same language - or a close dialectical variant; they were with others who shared the same cultural and national traditions, the same values. The places they lived in had been formed over centuries from those various factors. When the people emigrated, they tended to take their culture with them. While in earlier periods of immigration there was a distinct emphasis from the US government to deliberately integrate these people into the American ideology, this was only successful to a certain extent.

    Hence, in New York City we saw the development of a Sicilian mafia, the clustering of Irish in Hell's Kitchen, Eastern European Jews living in a small section of Brooklyn, and so forth. As an ethnic group moved into an area, other people would move out rather than deal with newcomers who dwelt outside a comfort zone. As immigrants, these people generally lacked financial resources, and tended to be limited in the availability of employment. Inevitably, those sections of the city began to run down, and no funds were available or were provided to fix the problems. The immigrants still tended to turn to "their own" when in need, strengthening the still-existent cultural ties they had brought with them. It took generations before those cultural ties began to loosen, and I do not believe they have ever completely let go. The US is filled with cities that are true melting pots, but because of that, they lack the cohesion that marks many cities in other countries which do not suffer the same kinds of issues - such as sprawl.

    While those early waves of immigration were a long time ago, and many of the descendants of those folks are now third and even fourth generation American citizens, we are seeing the pattern repeat with new influxes of immigration, mostly from Mexico, Central America, and so forth. However, unlike earlier times, the US government no longer so strongly encourages "assimilation" (like the Borg) into mainstream Americana; more and more of those people bring their entire culture with them, their language, their customs, even their flags, and show little desire to be American, except insofar as to gain the benefits of citizenship. This has further fractured many larger cities, where these immigrants tend to cluster in search of employment, and as before, other people flee, taking businesses and tax base with them. Again, there is no cohesion, no civic pride, no impetus to make positive changes. Instead, there is a clinging to imported traditions which clash with what is already in place. In addition, it has caused the issue of sprawl to expand to cities which historically didn't exhibit it.

    I am not certain how this can be overcome. Some places have tried to implement ordinances which disallow the use of any language but English - most of these have been overturned as being unconstitutional. They also are not efforts to bring people into communities, but rather to shunt them outside of it, even further than they already are. I do not know of any efforts currently being made to meld these fractured pieces of cities together into one.

    The comment was made that:



    Wouldn't you think that splitting cities into multiple ethnic pockets contributes to these problems? There may be diversity, but the way that diversity exists tends to lead to the problems of high crime rates and poor educational standards, and those in turn sap vitality. How would you correct this problem?

    Regards,
    Meyre
    That is a non-problem. It is perfectly normal for an increase in population to cause an expansion of the city. One group of people move into a working class neighborhood, another group leaves for a better neighborhood as their wealth increases.

    The problem of sprawl is this: where do they leave to? They leave to another city, or another part of the city. But these new cities and new neighborhoods have a distinctly different morphology than the neighborhoods they left. It is this morphology that is sprawl. Of all the different morphological regulations that the city could have chosen, it chose one that generates sprawl. Why did it make this choice? What would the cost and benefits be of making a different morphological choice?

    The city is a corporate institution that makes choices. These choices determine how the city will grow and unfold. For some reason, cities make choices that are economically wasteful, sometimes self-destructive. The answer to this question is the answer to sprawl.

    Why would someone make a wasteful choice? You and I would not make a choice that is wasteful of our wealth. Neither would any individual human being. However, we would make a choice that is wasteful of other people's wealth, if given the right to. That is the simplest way to explain why democratic communism cannot succeed at creating wealth, and why democratic communism is responsible for sprawl.

  23. #123
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    That is a terrible excuse. Noise issues can be resolved with no money invested. It is only a regulatory switch that is necessary. Same thing for traffic congestion.
    You cannot seriously believe that regulatory changes do not incur costs?

    Suppose a regulatory change is made to relieve traffic congestion. The change means that a bunch of new traffic lights are needed, crosswalks changed, new lines painted, lanes re-oriented. There are no costs associated with those things?

    Even if it did require a substantial investment to accomplish this, there is a gigantic financial industry who would like nothing more than to invest in a profitable venture. They will lend money to absolutely anybody.
    Relieving traffic congestion isn't a profitable venture - it may be necessary, but it doesn't make any money, unless you charge toll at the street corners.

    A private enterprise would have no difficulty resolving these problems. Cities have not been able to deal with them in a hundred years they have been a nuisance.
    Private enterprise doesn't have to deal with things like traffic regulation, except in cases where they own large tracts of land and have put in their own roads. However, in those cases the costs still would not nearly approach the costs incurred by making changes to traffic patterns in a large city.

    That is a non-problem. It is perfectly normal for an increase in population to cause an expansion of the city. One group of people move into a working class neighborhood, another group leaves for a better neighborhood as their wealth increases.
    We will have to agree to disagree on that, I suppose.


    The problem of sprawl is this: where do they leave to? They leave to another city, or another part of the city. But these new cities and new neighborhoods have a distinctly different morphology than the neighborhoods they left. It is this morphology that is sprawl. Of all the different morphological regulations that the city could have chosen, it chose one that generates sprawl. Why did it make this choice? What would the cost and benefits be of making a different morphological choice?
    Perhaps the new neighborhoods are different, because the people moving to them didn't like the old ones? I have no clear ideas of cost versus benefits at this time, it's something I'd have to give more thought to before replying.

    The city is a corporate institution that makes choices. These choices determine how the city will grow and unfold. For some reason, cities make choices that are economically wasteful, sometimes self-destructive. The answer to this question is the answer to sprawl.
    Cities don't make choices, but the people in them do. If the wrong people are in place to make those decisions, then wrong choices follow.

    Why would someone make a wasteful choice? You and I would not make a choice that is wasteful of our wealth. Neither would any individual human being. However, we would make a choice that is wasteful of other people's wealth, if given the right to. That is the simplest way to explain why democratic communism cannot succeed at creating wealth, and why democratic communism is responsible for sprawl.
    I am puzzled. I have never heard of democratic communism. I have heard of social democracies, and socialist monarchies, and ....let's see. Communist totalitarianisms, bureaucratic socialism, fascism, militarianism, representative democracy, true democracy, bureaucracy, anarchy, theocracy.......erm, nope, there's no such thing as democratic communism far as I can tell. There IS a democratic socialism......but democracy and communism are definitely parted out as two very distinct and diametrically opposed forms of government. Might I ask where you came up with this remarkable hybrid? I can't possibly discern whether you have a valid point or not, unless I know what you are referring to, and the basis for this statement.

    Regards,
    Meyre

  24. #124
    Quote Originally posted by Meyre View post
    You cannot seriously believe that regulatory changes do not incur costs?

    Suppose a regulatory change is made to relieve traffic congestion. The change means that a bunch of new traffic lights are needed, crosswalks changed, new lines painted, lanes re-oriented. There are no costs associated with those things?
    These costs must be incurred no matter what regulatory choice the city makes.
    Relieving traffic congestion isn't a profitable venture - it may be necessary, but it doesn't make any money, unless you charge toll at the street corners.
    So then it is profitable. London's congestion charge has been quite profitable.
    Cities don't make choices, but the people in them do. If the wrong people are in place to make those decisions, then wrong choices follow.
    There are no right people or wrong people. There is only accountability. If we have votes over what is or isn't allowed to take place inside your house, will you say that the wrong people end up in charge when we vote to have parties with loud music every day?
    I am puzzled. I have never heard of democratic communism. I have heard of social democracies, and socialist monarchies, and ....let's see. Communist totalitarianisms, bureaucratic socialism, fascism, militarianism, representative democracy, true democracy, bureaucracy, anarchy, theocracy.......erm, nope, there's no such thing as democratic communism far as I can tell. There IS a democratic socialism......but democracy and communism are definitely parted out as two very distinct and diametrically opposed forms of government. Might I ask where you came up with this remarkable hybrid? I can't possibly discern whether you have a valid point or not, unless I know what you are referring to, and the basis for this statement.
    We're not discussing government here. We're discussing public enterprise with a democratic administration. Communism: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Handing over one vote to everyone, equally, regardless of what they contribute, is a form of communism.

  25. #125
    Member
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
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    Posts
    8
    There are no right people or wrong people. There is only accountability. If we have votes over what is or isn't allowed to take place inside your house, will you say that the wrong people end up in charge when we vote to have parties with loud music every day?
    Not at all. However, that can be discussed with my shotgun.

    We're not discussing government here. We're discussing public enterprise with a democratic administration. Communism: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Handing over one vote to everyone, equally, regardless of what they contribute, is a form of communism.
    Incorrect. Votes are not a tangible, produceable good or service. They are considered a privilege - not even a right, because it is something that can be taken away from someone. They are not merely handed out willy-nilly as you seem to be implying. Communism advocates equal distribution of hard goods and services, but it in no way construes rights or privileges associated with such.

    I did want to tell you that I did find one passing reference to democratic communism.

    http://www.geeman-headquarters.com/page455.html

    The part of interest is as follows:

    "Gene Roddenberry, in Star Trek, portrays a future where Democratic Communism has been instituted in order to ensure the survival of the Human race.
    Money does not exist and people work to improve themselves and their society."

    You a Trekkie, Jaws? I know I've been a Trekkie for 25 years, and *I* sure didn't know that's what they called the government in the 25th Century. My hat goes off to you.

    Regards,
    Meyre

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