Monthly Archives: September 2007

Transit’s Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases: No Big Deal

Today we have a guest post from the Antiplanner’s faithful ally, Wendell Cox. You can read more of Wendell’s work on his twin web sites, Public Purpose and Demographia.

To Capitol Hill fanfare, the American Public Transportation Association released its new study, Public Transit’s Contribution to U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions on September 26. The report is full of the usual big numbers for transit’s role in reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs). As is typical for reports covering the insignificant, the big numbers are never related to the much larger base of GHGs from personal transportation. If one believes the APTA numbers (which one does not, see below), transit use saves approximately 0.5 percent of GHGs attributable to personal transportation (cars, personal trucks or SUVs and transit).

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Coos Bay: Still Living in the 1950s

Thirty to one hundred years ago, Coos Bay was a thriving port, shipping coal, timber, fish, dairy products, and other natural resources to Asia and other seaports all over the world. Today, most of those resources are gone or are no longer being mined or harvested.

The most valuable resource in Coos County now is the scenic beauty of its coastline, forests, rivers, and mountains. This beauty attracts vacationers, retirees, and long-distance telecommuters (like the Antiplanner). But the Port of Coos Bay, which exists for shipping, doesn’t want to accept this.

Is Coos County’s best hope for the future as a scenic wonderland. . .

If Coos County becomes a vacation/retirement/knowledge worker paradise, there isn’t any reason for the Port of Coos Bay to exist. So the Port has come up with one crazy scheme after another to spend other people’s money to try to restore its former glory.

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Portland vs. Seattle

Last week, a Seattle blog invited some of its contributors to debate whether Seattle or Portland were better cities to live in. (You can read the rebuttals here.)

The Portland argument came down to: Portland was the first to build light rail, which isn’t much of an argument. The Seattle view was much more along the lines of what I have been saying: Portland’s much-praised land-use planning has “radically accelerated . . . gentrification, rising home prices, the destruction of more traditional communities, the loss of economic and ethnic diversity.”

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Only in Portland

Portland was the first major American city to elect a woman mayor. Now Portland may become the first American city to elect a mayor who is gay and who has been accused of having an affair with a minor.

Moreover, the person who made the accusation, who is also running for mayor, is also gay and has also been rumored to have had an affair with a minor (though in this instance it clearly seems a case of mistaken identity). Is this a great country or what?

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More on Light-Rail Transit Crime

A brawl involving 100 to 150 people shut down Portland’s eastside light-rail line last Friday night. This naturally raises the question, “What is the relationship between light rail and crime?” Portlanders are beginning to wonder as one part of the city, informally known as Felony Flats, is suffering a crime wave.

Felony Flats is in southeast Portland near the 162nd Avenue Station on the Gresham-to-Portland light-rail line. It is reputed to have the city’s “highest density of drug labs and ex-convict residents.”

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The New Godfather

Looks like Portland’s light-rail mafia has a new godfather. However, now they are calling it the “transportation mafia” because this godfather’s specialty is streetcars, not light rail.

But transportation mafia is wrong too, because it implies that the goal is transportation. That’s about as accurate as saying that the goal of the Sicilian mafia was better quality olive oil.

So what should it be? The TOD mafia? The immobility mafia? The dense-thinkers mafia? Any of these names would be more accurate. But perhaps some of our noble commenters can think of even better names.

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A Day to Remember

September 18 turned out to be a pretty auspicious day. First of all, publishers released a new book by some libertarian nut who criticizes the government. And my book came out too.

Also, the Texas Transportation Institute published its latest annual report on urban traffic congestion. They must have had to deal with a lot of congestion, because the report is a full year late (the last one having come out in 2005).

It is a good thing the report finally came out because otherwise nobody might have known that, hey, congestion is a lot worse than it was two years ago. “We’ve used up the capacity that had been bequeathed to us by a previous generation, and we haven’t replaced it,” one news article quotes commuting expert Alan Pisarski as saying.

The Antiplanner hopes to have a detailed analysis of the new congestion report for you soon. Until then, if you are in Portland, I hope to see you today at the Spring Creek Coffeehouse, 10600 SE McLoughlin in Milwaukie at 3 pm or at Powell’s on Hawthorne at 7 pm.

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Celebrating Car-Free Day

Yesterday was car-free day. Or maybe it is this Saturday. Or maybe it is tomorrow. I don’t know; I guess the auto-haters couldn’t acheive a consensus on this one.

Car-free in Crater Lake National Park.

In any case, the Antiplanner is celebrating at least some of these car-free days by going for a bike ride. Of course, I celebrate every day that I can by going for a bike ride. (At least, every day when it is not raining too hard — on rainy days I go for long walks with the dogs instead.)

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The Ultimate Antiplanning Book Is Out!

The Best-Laid Plans is officially being released today. If you didn’t stand in line at your bookstore until midnight last night to be the first to get your copy, there are probably still a few copies available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, or whatever your favorite bookstore is. (Powell’s is already offering used copies — they must be review copies sent out by the publisher.)

Readers of the Washington Post know that it was reviewed in last Sunday’s edition. I’m not sure the reviewers actually read the book, as the two paragraphs they wrote ask a couple of questions that were answered in the introduction. But I’m told it is rare for the Post to review a book published by Cato, so anything is better than nothing.

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About Parking

Loyal opponent MSetty made some points about parking in comments to last week’s post about subsidies to the automobile. As MSetty indicated, it has become an article of faith among planning advocates that parking is a huge subsidy to auto drivers, particularly because most city zoning codes impose minimum parking requirements on all development.

UCLA economist and planning Professor Donald Shoup is behind many of these claims. Shoup makes a cogent argument against minimum parking requirements, saying that “when considered an impact fee, minimum parking requirements can increase development costs by more than 10 times the impact fee for all other public purposes combined.”

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