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Mini Rant

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
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[Disclaimer] This post is not meant to address a particular thread, post or Cyburbia member. Please do not take it as such, it is merely an attempt to stimulate some discussion. [/Disclaimer]


I thought as planners, that we were moving away from the “top down” approach to planning. We are supposed to be in this touchy feely, consensus achieving system. Then I read posts regarding keeping WalMart out of low income areas. (re-read disclaimer) I am not just talking about posts in this site but national movements by various groups with this common goal. In many cases these folks do not live in the area of the proposal. To me, this is getting back to the “we are with the government and know what is best for you” approach. I have read stories where the local people welcome the jobs and shopping opportunity that a large store would provide. Are we not supposed to go to these neighborhoods and ask folks what they want?

We do the same sort of thing with SUV driving, Suburban living, Big Box shopping, and probably other things that I can’t recall at the moment. Who are we to say what is best for folks? So what if soccer mom Buffy wants to drive a Suburban. If she can afford it, what is the big deal? If lawyer Jim Bob Esquire wants 3 acres in the country, is he evil? If so, what about our ancestors that participated in the western expansion?

Will we achieve nirvana when we all live in down town big city USA, sell our cars, and shop at the local mom and pop? What’s the deal folks?
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
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25
giff57 said:
In many cases these folks do not live in the area of the proposal. To me, this is getting back to the “we are with the government and know what is best for you” approach. I have read stories where the local people welcome the jobs and shopping opportunity that a large store would provide. Are we not supposed to go to these neighborhoods and ask folks what they want?
This isn't limited just to the anti big box movement. Government from all levels try to shove projects and laws down the peoples throats in the area being affected. Here they are trying to shove a casino down the city's and county residents throat, even though more than 63% of the residents oppose it.

Recently, the indians decided that they were done looking at the city and were choosing a suburban site out by the airport at Cheaptovegas, due to the cold reception given to the idea in the city. Still our idiot elected mayor continues to argue and try to get it in the city, saying what they are doing is illegal, EVEN though the whole agreement and compact is illegal. If the mayor sues and uses taxpayers money to go to court, I think a lot of residents are going to flip their lids.

Recently, the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership went on the record of opposing any casino in the county, siting that revenue sources would primarily be local dollars and not much outside dollars from tourists. Still the retarded mayor and even some developer are calling the Partnerships stance retarded and unfounded. Truth is the Partnership did its homework, while these clowns and other elected officials haven't. Then you have people who either don't live in the city or who live in the effected suburb crying foul and saying it should be put in the city even though the MAJORITY of the city's residents OPPOSE it, along with a majority of county residents. Most people say that we need the jobs, even though casinos are shown to result in a loss of other jobs which are typically higher paying. For ever casino job created, 2 to 3 other jobs are lost.

Still, the whole point of my rant is the same as yours, nobody is listening to what the people want.

giff57 said:
If lawyer Jim Bob Esquire wants 3 acres in the country, is he evil?
I thought it was agreed apon that all lawyers are evil;).
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
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34
Its the Bush administration causing it. The last President was very touchy feely and.... oh crap never mind.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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29
Well, there is nothing wrong with using Cyburbia to express presonal prejudices. And, that's what a lot of these are. jordanb is working with a community group, not as a government regulator. Those three acre lots and 10 mpg SUVs, and Wal-Marts do impose costs on the rest of society, and there is nothing worng with complaining about them. Heck, the subjects of disdain spend THEIR time complaining about college educated yuppies, pointy-headed planners, and "liberals" (read Free Republic or any other libertarian/conservative discussion board. We are very, very mild here.)

I'm not sure I always like the use of government to impose things like "historic district purity" on a community. And, there is always a danger that "we" impose our opinions on things. That's why community involvement is so important, but even with such involvement, someone is often going to feel oppressed or left-out.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,720
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46
In some cases I agree with you. When I was living in Reading, I would look at the downtown, and lack of. Yet the surrounding communities where thriving. One day I sat down on a park bench overlooking the main street, and I asked my self why I bother even trying? Why should we have any regulations? What do I know about what people want? What makes a good planner? Although I moved to a nice suburb, outside of Kalamazoo, I still ask my self these questions.

Then I remembered, we as planners, work to find the "highest and best use" for the property, as well has protect the "health, safety, and welfare" of the citizens of the communities we work in.

I realize as humans we will never have all the answers, but we look at what provides the best for the community as a whole. I know that there are things that I support such as Smart Growth and the Creative Class because I genuinely believe that for where I am at in my life, and the direction that I would like to go, it is an important aspect of my career as well as my life style. I am opposed to some of the big box retailers because I have worked for Wal-Mart, and I know how they treat their employees, I have seen a Wal-Mart show up, and many, MANY shops and stores in a downtown shut down. And because those shops shut down, it caused less traffic in that area, and that caused other shops to shut down.

As for the SUV’s I think that they are good vehicles. I just don’t think that it is such a great thing then people are required to rely on there cars in general to get anywhere. Right now, I live in a community that is wonder if it will ever be pedestrian friendly, and slowly I am realizing that it is not what this community wants. There for, I know that I will not be here for a long time.

But then again, that is just me.
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
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9,329
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A non-planner who has been around a long-long time speaks out.....

In the 1950's our family lived about three (3) miles from downtown Toledo. My mother would bundle-up her three (3) boys (me included) and hop the bus for downtown. Downtown Toledo was the only real place to shop back then. About six (6) major multi-story department stores and lots of smaller stores filled the DT.

In the 1960's the shopping centers started to arrive. DT started its' death march and families who could afford it moved away from the central city. The shopping centers were close, convienent. The traffic and sprawl followed.

Downtown Toledo was dead (as far as shopping goes) by the 1970's. Enclosed malls and the first SUV's (I had a red 1971 Jeep CJ5) were everywhere.

My first SUV was bought because of the "image thing". Those who sell cars have used that "image thing" for years. I was "cool", driving around T-Town with the top down, the doors off (they slid off in about a second), the windshield down. And, in the winter the 4-wheel drive helped me get thru the occasional Toledo snowstorm.

I graduated to bigger SUV-type vehicles. I now drive a Toyota 4WD Pick-Up. It's my sixth straight Toy. Dependable SUV's, they are. Mrs. Bear drives a 4WD Blazer. BUT....WE ARE NOT YUPPIES. (heh heh heh...)

We now live twenty (20) miles from Toledo. We shop in big box stores BUT we also patronize the local mom and pop hardware.....competitive prices, friendly service. In my heart I know that their business is dead if a Wally or a Lowes opens up this far out. (Toledo's growth is stagnant, so unlikely.)

Most of T-Town's indoor malls closed or are near death. A huge mall, built in the 1970's.....redone in the 1990's....being added-to now.....is the only regional mall in the area. It is vibrant.....big boxes are close-by.

This non-planner believes that the marketplace dictates. Most folks want big boxes, regional malls (for "event" shopping), strip centers so they can pull their SUV's right up to the door and grab a quick pizza or a six-pack, and SUV's so they weather the weather and remain cool.....even as they amble toward 60 years of age.

Bear In The Cool SUV
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
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24
I am all about planning from the ‘bottom up’. I have a community meeting tomorrow with a group about the direction their gated community is going. A few leaders have already expressed their ideas about the ‘commercial’ district suggesting strip center use oriented facing away from the neighborhood and would require curb cuts and possible traffic lights on a main thorough fare. The “people” want this, [infamous planner “but”] but most planners will discourage this (I wont go into the why at the moment) [/infamous planner “but”].

Most planners have professional training and many have master’s degrees. This expertise should be utilized so mistakes are not continually made and repeated from the ‘bottom up’.

There is a balance that needs to be achieved between input and implementation. :)
 
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Cardinal

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10,080
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Bear Up North said:
This non-planner believes that the marketplace dictates. Most folks want big boxes, regional malls (for "event" shopping), strip centers so they can pull their SUV's right up to the door and grab a quick pizza or a six-pack, and SUV's so they weather the weather and remain cool.....even as they amble toward 60 years of age.

Bear In The Cool SUV
This planner agrees. Our role is not to fight retail trends, but to shape them in a way that is the most beneficial to the community. Poll people on whether they want a Wal-Mart and maybe they may lean toward "no." (Actually, I doubt that would be the case in most communities.) On the other hand, ask them if they would like to pay 10-20% less for retail goods and I can safely say the answer will be yes. Sorry, but that does not happen without the Wal-Mart's, Menards' and other big boxes. The question is, how do we best integrate those uses into the community?
 

Wulf9

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I am strongly in favor of a controlled free market.

It seems strange, but control is necessary to achieve a free market. The free market, left unchecked will trend towards un-freeness. The usual sources of un-freeness are monopoly/oligopoly, government regulation, or government subsidies. A tremendous amount of government regulation is done at the request of business -- in order to gain a monopoly advantage.

My concern about Wal Mart is that it usually locates with a government subsidy (cash, free land, reduced infrastructure costs, etc.). It has deliberately structured the workforce to hire workers with some form of government subsidy (food stamps, social security, subsidized housing, health care programs). It is such a large purchaser that it can force suppliers to sell below the "market wholesale" cost of goods, so other businesses paying the market wholesale price are actually paying for a part of the goods sold to Wal Mart. In many instances, classes of goods are sold as loss leaders (essentially an advertising cost) so that no retailer in that class of goods can match the price. There is no way a toy store can compete with Wal Mart's loss leader approach to toys. In a controlled free market, the monopoly power and subsidies would be removed, sales taxes would not be funneled into one jurisdiction and costs to service the balance of impacts assigned to another jurisdiction. Under those circumstances, I have no problem with Wal Mart.

On SUV's, my main concern is gas mileage. If we are somewhere near "peak oil," it would be prudent to move toward higher mileage -- using a controlled free market mechanism like the CAFE. Auto makers can make the kind of cars they want, but they have to take the engineering and technical steps to do it with much higher gas mileage. CAFE also allows a manufacturer to make some V-12 vanity cars if they want. As long as they balance that with high mileage in the rest of the fleet.

I don't see these as top down controls. I see them as an intelligent use of the education and experience we are supposed to have as planners in order to create and maintain workable communities.
 

Michele Zone

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My guntoting, psycho husband who laments our touchy-feely culture and how it has done away with Nature's Law and "survival of the fittest" (hmmm, does it dawn on him that this includes his genetically defective wife's survival??? 8-! ) has made some very good points to me. So, although I think the world would be a better place if he dropped dead and took his inhumane views with him, I will now give his version of a few things:

People buy SUV's because attempts to meet the strict requirements to increase miles per gallons for cars have largely been met by making cars lighter -- mostly by making them smaller and less safe. When I was growing up, we had a 1964 Chevy nicknamed "The Tank". And there were no seat belt laws. The entire neighborhood would pile into the backseat like a pack of sardines and go to the pool together. No one worried about what would happen if you bumped something. Now, a 5 or 10 mile per hour crash requires that you replace the "bumper". Excuse me? What in heck was the bumper put there for??? I thought the idea was that the bumper got scratched and prevented other consequences. No, bumpers now are sort of a nod to historical form with no real purpose. They are there because bumpers USED to have purpose and we kept them even after we made them worthless.

I have two teenaged sons. When we climb into our "5 seater" Corsica, their knees are up around their ears. And my kids are not that big. It is not like they are 200 pounds and 6 foot tall. So families buy SUV's so they can fit children over the age of 7 into the back seat and so they don't have to lose sleep worrying that said child will end up a Vegetable if they wind up in what SHOULD be "a fender-bender" (which is an antiquated term -- if you bend the fender in a newer car, you probably have to replace the whole front end). The control freaks who dictated that we SHOULD force cars to have higher gas mileage because of the oil crisis CREATED the need and demand for SUV's.

Furthermore, the many regulations which try to make cars more environmentally friendly push car prices up. It is a well-documented fact that the majority of air pollution caused by cars today are caused by a relatively small percentage of older cars that pollute heavily. Making the newer cars more expensive actually keeps more of these smog-belching monstrosities on the road. They had enormous success in reducing air pollution in the L.A. area with a program that sought to buy and trash older vehicles that were belching fumes. If government would Butt Out a smidgeon and let folks be all materialistic and selfish and wallow in our materialism, there would be more new cars on the road -- which innately are more environmentally friendly than most older cars. It is highly likely that "mobile source air pollutants" would then diminish.

Yes, regulation has its social value. I certainly do not want to do away with the Food and Drug Administration and go back to "the good ole days" when folks got away with selling tape worm eggs as "diet pills". Yes, you most certainly lost weight if you swallowed a few of them. Thanks but no thanks. I will happily keep my well-padded rear and plan to date Men Of Color who appreciate such fine ASSets (sorry, I couldn't resist) when my hyper-critical white husband becomes my hypercritical EX-husband. And "Long Live the FDA!!!"

However, I have noted that our evil monopolistic tycoon Bill Gates (who couldn't possibly have any redeeming value) has been performing a form of "regulation" and standardization by greedily dominating the market with his compatible products that all work together. When it gets to the point where it is really a problem, yes, let's go ahead and create the Federal Board of Computer Standardization. In the mean time, I will happily continue to line the pockets of that greedy S.O.B and joke that I "joined the communist country of Microsoft" when I bought my laptop with XP. God forbid that we should NEED a Federal Board of Computer Standardization. Education has gone completely to hell since they stupidly created a federal department of education. When the FBCS does get created, prepare to have to illegally buy on the black market computers that actually work at all. And good luck, buddy. "All hail that tyrant, Bill Gates." And don't forget to donate to his "save Bill Gates from poverty" fund the next time you are at Best Buy or some such.

Okay, the "guest speaker" is now finished. This Moniker shall now return to the control of that Commie Planner, MZ.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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Wulf9 said:
My concern about Wal Mart is that it usually locates with a government subsidy (cash, free land, reduced infrastructure costs, etc.).
Where does this statistic come from? My experience has been the opposite.

It has deliberately structured the workforce to hire workers with some form of government subsidy (food stamps, social security, subsidized housing, health care programs).
Because it pays some of its workers, mostly the part-time one, wages from $6-8 an hour? I could point to any retailer and say the same, including the independent retailers the anti-Wal-Mart crowd seems to love so much. I might even include a large number of the unskilled manufacturing jobs, or for that matter, many jobs in government. Let's be fair. Wal-Mart's full-time employees are paid a wage very comparable to most other workplaces offering jobs with a similar skill set. Wal-Mart also offers its employees a comparable benefit plan. On top of that, they offer the opportunity for advancement that many of these other "better" employers do not.
 

boiker

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Cardinal said:
Where does this statistic come from? My experience has been the opposite.

Because it pays some of its workers, mostly the part-time one, wages from $6-8 an hour? I could point to any retailer and say the same, including the independent retailers the anti-Wal-Mart crowd seems to love so much. I might even include a large number of the unskilled manufacturing jobs, or for that matter, many jobs in government. Let's be fair. Wal-Mart's full-time employees are paid a wage very comparable to most other workplaces offering jobs with a similar skill set. Wal-Mart also offers its employees a comparable benefit plan. On top of that, they offer the opportunity for advancement that many of these other "better" employers do not.
Cardinal, I know it may have been discussed in brief before, but you are aware that some states, like Illinois, don't believe businesses will locate without massive giveaways. For instance, East Peoria just dontated land, gave a 10 year city sales tax abatement and $6 million to a KOHLS to locate there. They will not see one drop of benefit from this development for 10 years. Wal-Mart has followed this process as well in Illinois in at least 4 different cities that I'm somewhat familiar with. Mendelman may know more about it than I do, but I believe Wal-mart was only interested in locating in Hoffman Estates if TIF monies were made available. This is an semi-affluent subrub with great market demographics for any retail.

Always low wages, always:

Wal-mart, because of it's dominance in the "new american labor market" gets singled out as being the biggest criminal of all these retail businesses. Unfortunately, these retail employees will not recieve living wages and benefits until they unionize. If my partial understanding of manufacturing history and the evolution of unions serves me well, this is history repeating itself. Wal-mart has no more duty than Kmart or McDonalds to provide higher wages and benefits. However, they will consider it when the employees organize and demand it.
 

GeogPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,433
Points
25
speaking of Mal*Wart...I was please by this move in my hometown...
County Rejects Wal-Mart Gift
Albany County, NY rejects an immunization grant from Wal-Mart in rebuke of retail giant's policies.

Mar 13, 2004, 01:00 pm PST

Contributed by Sam Gold

"The Albany County Legislature threw back a $1,000 health care grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation on Monday, citing the discount retailer's widely criticized treatment of its workers." "'We should send that $1,000 back to Wal-Mart, back to Arkansas, and tell them to give it to their employees for health insurance,' said Legislator Gary Domalewicz, D-Albany. 'We shouldn't help them enhance their corporate image.'" "Legislator Allen Maikels, D-Guilderland, said a state survey of Georgia's public health insurance program for children, released just last month, found that more than 10,000 of the children enrolled in the program had a parent working at Wal-Mart." "Though Wal-Mart is the largest employer in Georgia, the number of its workers' children enrolled in the program was far more, per employee, than other large employers in the state, the survey found."
County rolls back Wal-Mart gift
 

Bangorian

Member
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198
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7
Michele Zone said:
attempts to meet the strict requirements to increase miles per gallons for cars have largely been met by making cars lighter -- mostly by making them smaller and less safe.
MYTH!

Small cars are extremely safe, and you'll rarely see one rolled over and crushed flat on the side of the expressway. The only thing that hurts the safety ratings on smaller cars is that when you get t-boned by an SUV or large truck, the bumper of siad large vehicle hits the driver right in the head (maybe that's the purpose of a bumper, kill all those small-car-driving treehuggers!). This was never an issue before the birth of the SUV, when your chances of being T-boned by a car of its height were quite limited (trucks were for utility and generally stayed in the country and out of traffic, SUVs are passenger cars and are generally seen in the highest traffic areas).

So now we are on the march to have the biggest and most invincible vehicles, as can be seen by the increase in size of SUVs (Navigator, anyone?) and the addition of Hummers (i.e. military vehicles!!!) to the passenger fleet. What's next, a tractor treailer rig with a spacious backseat and plenty of cargo room for every family? If everyone else is driving an SUV, then common sense would tell you that you need to be in a bigger car than the rest of them so that you don't get hurt in a crash, right? How far does this trend go? And what of the folks that can't afford a $60,000 hummer? Do they deserve to be killed in a minor crash because they can't afford to buy, insure, and fuel up a hummer??


Michele Zone said:
When we climb into our "5 seater" Corsica, their knees are up around their ears. And my kids are not that big. It is not like they are 200 pounds and 6 foot tall. So families buy SUV's so they can fit children over the age of 7 into the back seat and so they don't have to lose sleep worrying that said child will end up a Vegetable if they wind up in what SHOULD be "a fender-bender".
I am 6' , 190# and I fit very nicely into my tiny Golf. So does anyone I know, even my friend who is 6'4" and my dad who is pushing 300#. Its been pointed out that most standard-sized SUVs have no more passenger or cargo room than a standard 4-door car - it just looks that way because they're tall and boxy. And they feel roomier only because it is generally easier to get in and out of them because of their height (you don't plop down into them and climb out as you do a car, you do it the other way around - climb in, where there is more room for climbing, and hop out). Sure, the Tahoes, navigators, hummers, etc. are GIANT and as such must be a bit more accommodating, but have you ever been in one of the mini-suvs? Talk about your knees up to your ears!

Corsicas are, in my opinion, one of the most poorly designed cars from the past 10-15 years. My wife drives one and it is awful to drive, ride in, and transport anything bigger than a breadbasket. Its falling apart, despite being very well-maintained over the years. Perhaps your experience of cars being so inferior has more to do with comparison of an SUV to a bad model of car than anything else...?
 

Michele Zone

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MaineMan said:
Perhaps your experience of cars being so inferior has more to do with comparison of an SUV to a bad model of car than anything else...?
lol. Those are my husband's rantings on cars. He would like to own an SUV. I have no such desire. Thanks for the reply. I may have to revisit it the next time he begins ranting on that topic. I haven't done any particular research on it. My world view ... means that my priorities lie elsewhere.
 

giff57

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Opps, sorry Yaff, I killed your post by mistake...... :-$


yaff said:
it is also important to point out that the types of choices that you note above do have externalities associated with them that the rest of us bear (i.e. increased infrastrucure costs to provide the roads and services demanded by the country estate, traffic impacts, impacts on environment and watersheds, increased fuel costs and increased dependence on foreign energy sources, etc) Do we have the "right" to impose these costs on our neighbors and on our children and future generations unilaterally?
You could use that argument to ban smoking, drinking, or unprotected sex. ;-)

Really though, I don't have a problem with some regulation, or making Jim Bob pay a premium tax bill to pay for infrastructure.

I also agree that we have knowlage and training that can be of some use. The problem I see is some of us may use that knowlage to push a personal agenda. Some of the stuff I hear is almost like "I know you say you would like a big box xyx store in your neighborhood, but you don't understand that xyz kills downtowns, pays low wages, and is a bad corporate citizen, so really you do not want them here"
 

BKM

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I would add to Maine Man's comments: SUVs safety is also illusory because, from my personal experience, they handle, brake, steer, and accelerate more sluggishly than a well-designed car (i.e., not a Corsica. Does anyone else agree with me that General Motors should just give up-sell the car division to Toyota and become another shell corporation like General Electric-not really making anything but profits from arcane financial speculation and loans)

Since avoidance of problems is the first rule of safety, A lincoln Navigator and the like is inherently dangerous-to the driver and everyone around him.
 
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