The Antiplanner will be in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho today speaking at a conference that seeks to find a balance between property rights and clean water. Golf courses, waterfront homes, and other developments along Lake Coeur d’Alene spill nitrogen, phosphorous, and other nutrients into the lake, leading to algal blooms that can cause serious problems.
For sale: four bedrooms, two baths, comes complete with tradable pollution permit.
To prevent this, some propose that the county regulate or limit new development. But the Antiplanner argues that any regulations should apply equally to existing developments. Instead of regulation, I propose a system of tradable pollution rights, in which every waterfront property owner starts out with a right to a tiny amount of pollution. Those who don’t pollute could sell to those who do, and those who pollute in excess of their rights would be severely fined.
The Antiplanner is suffering a week-long visit to Hawaii (or perhaps Hawaii is suffering a visit from the Antiplanner. Posts may be thin depending on whether I can find time in my busy schedule of two speaking engagements and lots of cycling; also on whether I can find free wifi at the low-cost hotels I am staying at.
The Antiplanner is going to Indianapolis this week to talk to people about a proposed transit plan. The plan, which was written by the Chamber of Commerce rather than Indy’s transit agency, calls for creating a regional transit district (IndyGo, the city’s transit agency, only covers one county) and running several “rapid transit” lines that are billed mainly as bus-rapid transit but that might use light rail on one route where a rail right-of-way is owned by local governments.
The plan is expected to require more than $1.3 billion in capital investments, and the transit system will then require more than triple the operating subsidies–from $43 million in 2011 to $140 million when the plan is fully implemented. Of course, if they actually build a light-rail line, the total costs are likely to go much higher.
In reading through a PDF version of the plan, I was struck by a one-sentence summary of the basic justification for the plan: “A robust regional transit system is necessary to spur our region’s continued economic growth, to preserve our ability to compete for jobs and talent, and to address growing challenges with congestion and air quality compliance” (page 5).
Today the Antiplanner is in Milwaukee to try to help persuade the city not to build a streetcar line. It is notable that many of the places that want streetcars–Cincinnati, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Orange County, to name a few–originally had light-rail plans that never happened. It is almost as if streetcars are seen as a consolation prize for failing to sucker the locals into funding light rail.
Yet cities were right not to build light rail, and streetcars would be an even bigger waste of money. The least-expensive streetcar lines being planned today are more expensive than the first light-rail lines. Both San Diego’s and Portland’s first light-rail lines cost less than $15 million per route mile, and even after adjusting for inflation that’s less than $30 million per mile today. Yet most streetcar lines being planned today are expected to cost $30 million or more per track mile, which is $60 million per route mile.
The problem with light rail is that it is expensive, low-capacity transit that doesn’t go very fast–most light-rail schedules average only about 20 to 22 mph. Streetcars are worse, having much lower capacities and speeds of only about 6 to 10 mph.
Fever, headache, sore throat, congestion (of the nasal not the traffic kind)–it all sounds so easy. Having experienced the early symptoms of the flu when the Antiplanner was still in St. Louis on Saturday, then getting hit particularly hard on Sunday, I can testify that the flu is no picnic. So I have to wonder: should I have gotten a flu vaccine earlier this season?
If the vaccine were certain to have prevented this bout of sickness, the answer is most likely “yes.” But the vaccine doesn’t protect against all strains of the flu–the chances of still getting the flu after getting the vaccine may be as high as 40 percent.
On the other hand, the vaccine has enough mercury in it that the State of Washington has had to suspend its legal limits in order to make the vaccine available. A 40 percent chance of still getting sick but a 100 percent chance of having a toxic chemical injected into your bloodstream doesn’t sound good.
The Antiplanner is flying to St. Louis today to speak tomorrow at a conference about the Constitution. I am not a Constitutional expert, but they asked me to speak about mobility. If you are in the St. Louis area, I hope to see you there.
Have a Happy Hanukkah, Wonderful Winter Solstice, thrilling Kwanzaa, Festive Festivus, glorious Gurnenthar’s Ascendance, or whatever holiday you celebrate.
From the Antiplanner dogs, Smokey & Buffy.
It took several days to transfer all the files, but the Antiplanner has a new web host and it seems to be working fine. I lost the last post and I think some of the comments on the next-to-last post, but I’ll live with that rather than try to recover them. I’ll be playing with the appearance for a while, so expect a few minor changes. Overall, I want it to be simpler than the previous multi-themed set up. New posts start on Monday, December 17.
Today the Antiplanner is flying to Oakland to speak about Gridlock at CSU East Bay. The event is sponsored by the Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies.
Tonight, I’ll be speaking in Pleasant Hill to a Contra Costa County citizens’ group about Best-Laid Plans in in particular about problems with urban planning as it is practiced in the Bay Area.
Tomorrow night, I’ll be in Sunnyvale speaking to the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association about American Nightmare. As far as I know, these events are all open to the public, though it may be too late to make reservations for dinner at the Pleasant Hill event.
On Friday I’ll fly from San Jose to Helena, Montana, where I’ll participate in a Montana Policy Institute Legislative Forum. My presentation will focus on the effects of land-use regulation on housing and businesses. If you are in any of those cities, I hope to see you there.