California: Smart Growth & Broke

The state of California has a $41 billion budget deficit. This is even worse when you realize its total budget is $143 billion, so the deficit is is 29 percent of the budget.

The planning advocates who frequent this blog will deny it, but it is no coincidence that California has the strongest smart-growth laws in the nation and the worst deficit of any state in the nation.

Land-use restrictions that crammed 94.5 percent of the state’s residents into just 5.1 percent of the state’s land also made the state’s housing the least-affordable in the nation — and some California cities the least-affordable in the world. This led to an exodus of people and jobs. The bursting of the housing bubble devastated many recent homebuyers and took the state’s (and world’s) economy with them.

Meanwhile, the state has overspent on high-cost transportation systems in five major urban areas, while stinting on the forms of transportation that people actually use. (Californians travel more than 400 billion passenger miles by auto in urban areas and take transit only 7 billion passenger miles.) This did little to relieve the traffic that makes Los Angeles and San Francisco-Oakland the worst-congested urban areas in the nation while it added to the state’s deficits.

Smart growth by itself probably wouldn’t have destroyed California’s economy and budget. But it is a symptom of a state that has its priorities all wrong.

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50 thoughts on “California: Smart Growth & Broke

  1. D4P

    Land-use restrictions that crammed 94.5 percent of the state’s residents into just 5.1 percent of the state’s land

    Can the Antiplanner provide an inventory of the lands in California where people are not being allowed to live? We’re given the impression that there are large quantities of developable land with sufficient water, infrastructure, etc. etc. etc. just sitting there waiting for people to move in, but the State won’t let them.

    But the Antiplanner doesn’t give us any information that would allow us to test this claim. He just wants us to subtract 5.1 from 100 and conclude that 94.9% of California’s land could and would be easily lived on if only California would get rid of its land-use restrictions.

  2. craig

    Or the Antiplanner is saying California only uses 5.1% of California and that can’t be the only developable land in the state.

    Even if there was only 5.1% more land to build on, in California, that would be a 100% increase.

  3. D4P

    The point is that the Antiplanner doesn’t really tell us either way, which means that he’s really not making much of a point. Saying that there is between 0 and 94.9% developable land left isn’t particularly meaningful. We’re also not told anything about the character of remaining developable land. The fact that it hasn’t been developed yet leads me to believe that it’s probably (for example) hazardous/environmentally sensitive/farmland/etc./etc./etc. But the Antiplanner makes no effort to provide such information.

  4. Dan

    Why should he have to?

    To show the gullible rubes who eat up this malarkey that he isn’t making sh*t up.

    But it is a symptom of a state that has its priorities all wrong.

    ‘Smart Growth’ wasn’t even a term in 1978.

    Nonetheless, I was happy to leave Gullyvornia – too many people, too much air pollution from cars, unable to govern because of conflicting Proposition mandates, unable to collect property tax so mall after cr*ppy mall was allowed to be built to chase sales tax on trinkets…

    It was dumb growth that got them into this mess.

    DS

  5. t g

    The budget is not alone as a consequence to planning. Look at the density in California of this map. Will land regulators never learn. What next? Locusts? Drought? Gays marrying? Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! California! Uber alles!! Stop the planning!!!!!!

  6. Dan

    How do we know you are not just making Stuff up and only come here to stir the pot?

    As much as I dislike binary argumentation, the overarching issue is such that we either understand the context of what is happening in CA historically, or we believe the words of an ideologue because they are what we want to hear.

    DS

  7. Dan

    t g:

    Indeedy!

    If you zoom in on that map, it depicts the Mad R-Sacto R system as this massive happy blue flood, spilling happy clean water over the land for all to love and splish-splash about in!!!! *heart!!!!*

    Sadly, the sheer number of ppl in CA is stressing the ability of the state and US to deliver water to patriotic, gun lovin’, property lovin’ rugged individuals. And other ecossytem services as well. But I guess we can just build more houses on the hillsides above, say, Santa Cruz. Why not? That will solve all our problems! Hillslope stability? What’s that? Wildfire? Huh?

    DS

  8. craig

    Sadly, the sheer number of ppl in CA is stressing the ability of the state and US to deliver water to patriotic, gun lovin’, property lovin’ rugged individuals. And other ecossytem services as well. But I guess we can just build more houses on the hillsides above, say, Santa Cruz. Why not? That will solve all our problems! Hillslope stability? What’s that? Wildfire? Huh?

    DS

    This is the kind of argument we should expect form someone that is not a ideologue?

  9. MJ

    Land-use restrictions that crammed 94.5 percent of the state’s residents into just 5.1 percent of the state’s land also made the state’s housing the least-affordable in the nation — and some California cities the least-affordable in the world. This led to an exodus of people and jobs.

    Oh well, these things happen. At least they’ll soon have a $3 billion maglev line to expedite their movement out of California and into Las Vegas.

  10. Owen McShane

    Smart Growth may not have been a term in 1978 but Zero Growth and Growth Management certainly were.

    Remember when the Civil Rights Legislation prohibited zoning Blacks and Hispanics our of white enclaves.

    It did not take long for some of the white Enclaves in California to figure that the new moral panics from the Club of Rome to implement Zero growth policies which would price them out instead.

  11. lgrattan

    San Jose (D4P) to the south and adjacent is the flat Coyote Valley of 7,500 acres which most was purchased by builders 25 years ago. They have just spent 16 million over 20 years on an EIR which has just been declared incomplete. South East adjacent is the Richmond Ranch 4,500 acres that has wanted to develop for many years. This is a Smart Growth city where it is now being planned for most new residents to live down town in a transit corridors.
    80% of transportation funds go to transit which provides one percent of trips. Light-rail provides 1/5th of one percent of trips and proposed to be the center of most new residential.

  12. ws

    California (and other “smart growth”, liberal, “anti-freedom” states) should stop donating money to poor states:

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/1397.html

    Oregon, Washington, NY, and Illinois are all donor states, meaning they give more in tax dollars to the feds than they get back. Often times, the states with supposed “good budgets in the black” receive a lot of federal assistance.

    This post is probably as political as I want to get, but overwhelmingly traditional blue states give more and traditional red states get more in regards to money. This would not fix Cali’s budget, but getting .21 cents more on the dollar would definitely help their budget woes considerably.

  13. Rivlin

    ws,

    California (and other “smart growth”, liberal, “anti-freedom” states) should stop donating money to poor states: http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/1397.html

    They don’t “donate” it. It’s a consequence of federal taxation and spending policies. If you want to make federal tax and spending policies more regressive (more money for richer states, less money for poorer ones), you’re probably not going to get much support from transit proponents, who tend to think policies are already much too regressive.

  14. ws

    Rivlin: “They don’t “donate” it. It’s a consequence of federal taxation and spending policies. If you want to make federal tax and spending policies more regressive (more money for richer states, less money for poorer ones), you’re probably not going to get much support from transit proponents, who tend to think policies are already much too regressive.”

    ws: I don’t think that any state should get more or give more in regards to federal dollars. There may be cases where disproportionate funding for state projects may be necessary for the good of a state or the nation. I feel that it should be as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible.

    I’d like to see all modes of transportation reflect their true market cost of operation including externalities. Clearly the automobile has received an ample leg up, that is why pro-transit people clamor for money so transit can at least compete in the market.

  15. C. P. Zilliacus

    ws wrote:

    > I don’t think that any state should get more or give more in regards to
    > federal dollars. There may be cases where disproportionate funding for
    > state projects may be necessary for the good of a state or the nation.
    > I feel that it should be as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible.

    Why should federal dollars be spent for projects that are intrastate
    in nature?

    > I’d like to see all modes of transportation reflect their true market
    > cost of operation including externalities. Clearly the automobile has
    > received an ample leg up, that is why pro-transit people clamor for
    > money so transit can at least compete in the market.

    Using [subsidy] “money so transit can at least compete” is an oxomoron.

    I suggest you give some thought to what the words competition and
    compete mean before you make additional statements such as the
    one above.

  16. Dan

    Can any of the ideologues here tell me why the disabled prefer RTD over freedom-loving private transportation? Plz bee specific with your policy assertions/reasons and how a particular subsidy-policy-socialist plot prevents the property-lovers from transporting our disabled.

    DS

  17. C. P. Zilliacus

    Dan asked:

    > Can any of the ideologues here tell me why the disabled prefer RTD
    > over freedom-loving private transportation? Plz bee specific with
    > your policy assertions/reasons and how a particular subsidy-policy-socialist
    > plot prevents the property-lovers from transporting our disabled.

    I do not consider myself an ideologue, and for what it’s worth my Mother and
    her Dad were dyed-in-the-wool [Swedish] Socialists – that would be the very
    same Swedish Social Democratic Party that led the way for most of the 1990’s
    and the first part of this decade in privatizing all sorts of government
    functions (including all urban transit), and in deregulating a massive part
    of the Swedish economy.

    Now that we have that out of the way, I will offer a very simple answer to
    the question posed above.

    Quoting from the link posted by Dan:

    With about 70 people, most of them blind or wheelchair users,
    crammed into a small hearing room, representatives of the Colorado
    Division of Labor heard public pleas to deny the workers their right
    to strike if contract talks between Amalgamated Transit Union Local
    1001 and the Regional Transportation District reach an impasse.

    [emphasis added above]

    I presume that most of these 70 individuals are transit-dependent
    adults, who have no other reasonable way of getting around, quite
    possibly because they do not have driving privileges.

    So I suspect that it’s not a matter of preference or
    choice of mode of transport. It’s the only one available
    to these persons.

  18. ws

    C. P. Zilliacus: So I suspect that it’s not a matter of preference orchoice of mode of transport. It’s the only one available to these persons.

    ws: They could get a relative or friend to drive them. Point being (at leas that I am making) is mass transit does not get enough credit for the “social justice” that it performs. In fact, paratransit constitutes large portions of many transit authorities’ budgets.

    WMATA’s paratransit servive, MertoAccess, serves 1% of the transit ridership, but constitutes 5% of its total operational budget:

    http://www.mwcog.org/uploads/committee-documents/ol1WX1020041130073035.pdf

    From the document:

    “An average paratransit trip costs over $30, but WMATA only charges $2.50 per trip

  19. Rivlin

    ws,

    I’d like to see all modes of transportation reflect their true market cost of operation including externalities. Clearly the automobile has received an ample leg up, that is why pro-transit people clamor for money so transit can at least compete in the market.

    If you think you have a serious quantitative study showing that transit subsidies are justified by externalities, I’d love to see it.

  20. the highwayman

    WS Says:
    I’d like to see all modes of transportation reflect their true market cost of operation including externalities. Clearly the automobile has received an ample leg up, that is why pro-transit people clamor for money so transit can at least compete in the market.

    THWM: Well then the question would also be where you draw the line, do you want to have toll side walks?

    Yes, the road infront of your home is not being ran on a profit or loss basis, so it makes no sense to judge transit operations along profit or basis as well.

  21. ws

    Rivlin: “If you think you have a serious quantitative study showing that transit subsidies are justified by externalities, I’d love to see it.”

    ws: I never stated that transit subsidies are justified by externalities of the automobile. I gave a reason why many pro-transit people don’t shun them completely, and that is because automobiles are not paying their actual costs, making mass transit not compete well enough in the market.

    Including all costs associated with the automobile will result in less use (and more prudent use of the car) and increase mass transit numbers (and ultimately a reduction in subsidies for transit). Nobody is going to depend on their automobile for most of their trips if they see that it costs $10-$12 for a gallon of gas. I don’t think that it is unreasonable to increase fares for transit either.

    It is assumed that once such a plan were implemented, that a reduction in income/property tax occur.

    http://www.moderntransit.org/index.html

  22. ws

    the highwayman: “Well then the question would also be where you draw the line, do you want to have toll side walks?

    Yes, the road infront of your home is not being ran on a profit or loss basis, so it makes no sense to judge transit operations along profit or basis as well.”

    ws: Sidewalks are not exactly a high expense endeavor. So no, I don’t think tolling would be needed for sidewalks. I think new developments should pay for the road and sidewalks in front of their home (which many do nowadays), which is a positive for everyone. Walking is the most basic level of transportation, being punitive for something that is generally speaking free (and healthy) does not seem just or fair.

    For instance, it’s not fair that a new road could come in and reduce the viability of walking in an area. It is assumed that they (the road) pay for sidewalks and crosswalks without tolling pedestrians.

  23. Rivlin

    ws,

    I never stated that transit subsidies are justified by externalities of the automobile.

    Then what you do you think justifies them? And I didn’t say “externalities of the automobile.” I said “externalities,” period.

    Including all costs associated with the automobile will result in less use (and more prudent use of the car) and increase mass transit numbers (and ultimately a reduction in subsidies for transit).

    Huh? Fares cover only about 28% of the costs of transit services. The rest is funded through public subsidies. A reduction in subsidies for transit would mean either cuts in transit services or higher transit fares or both. Either of those changes would likely reduce mass transit numbers.

    I think you’d have a hard time showing that car users pay a smaller share of the total costs of their car travel than transit users pay of their transit travel, but if you think you can show that, go ahead.

  24. ws

    Rivlin: “Huh? Fares cover only about 28% of the costs of transit services. The rest is funded through public subsidies. A reduction in subsidies for transit would mean either cuts in transit services or higher transit fares or both. Either of those changes would likely reduce mass transit numbers.”

    ws: Who cares what fares cover under our current system? If automobile ridership cost more, people would take more mass transit. People taking more mass transit means more money to the transit authority. We saw a huge increase in the US in mass transit usage when gas was only $4 a gallon. Imagine if the cost was more like $10-$12 a gallon (and you saw that cost everyday). I can’t say that this would get rid of transit subsidies completely in every area, but you would definitely see an increase in funds to transit agencies and hopefully a reduction of subsidies.

    Rivlin: I think you’d have a hard time showing that car users pay a smaller share of the total costs of their car travel than transit users pay of their transit travel, but if you think you can show that, go ahead.

    ws: I’m not even making an assertion or cost comparison between mass transit and automobiles. I think both modes need to be reworked.

    All I am stating is that the cost of the automobile is not completely reflected when you fire up your engine. Users fees do not cover fire, police, and ambulance costs (in some cases), and court hearings. User fees do not pay for environmental degradation of air and water (and ultimately mitigation which, is costly).

    There are less concrete externalities such as defense costs in the Middle East to keep oil flowing and in the “right” hands (Gulf War comes to mind). These services are all subsidies that prop up automobile use in America. If the average consumer were faced with the actual costs and not costs that are hidden behind their income or property taxes; prudent decisions in regards to where one lives and what form of transportation would occur.

    An audit of Pasadena police department revealed that 40% of the Police costs were to auto-related incidents:

    http://www.moderntransit.org/fmt/fmt11.html

    More work definitely needs to be done in regards to actual numbers, but there is no doubt that user fees do not pay completely for all of the externalities of cars. Simply dismissing externalities of cars is omission that one is not faced with the truth that the automobile is not operating in a free-market system.

  25. Rivlin

    ws,

    Who cares what fares cover under our current system?

    Everyone who has to pay the 72% of transit costs that fares don’t cover. Why should transit users pay only 28% of the costs of providing the service to them?

    If automobile ridership cost more, people would take more mass transit.

    So you keep saying. And if transit fares were higher, or transit subsidies were reduced, people would take less mass transit.

    We saw a huge increase in the US in mass transit usage when gas was only $4 a gallon.

    No, we saw only a small increase in transit usage. And since transit provides only a tiny share of total transportation, that small increase in transit usage was only a minuscule increase in transit’s share of the transportation market.

  26. ws

    Rivlin:“Everyone who has to pay the 72% of transit costs that fares don’t cover. Why should transit users pay only 28% of the costs of providing the service to them?”

    ws: I meant “who cares” because you keep bringing up cost of servicing mass transit which is not crucial to my argument.

    Rivlin: “So you keep saying. And if transit fares were higher, or transit subsidies were reduced, people would take less mass transit.”

    ws: That is your contention. I think if there were drastically higher transparent cost(s) associated with the automobile coupled with an increase in transit fares, you’d still see people going to mass transit or moving to more compact neighborhoods.

    Suppose mass transit increased 2 dollars a ride and the automobile cost increased from $2 a gallon to $10 a gallon. What would you choose? (These are hypothetical numbers, by the way).

    Rivlin“No, we saw only a small increase in transit usage. And since transit provides only a tiny share of total transportation, that small increase in transit usage was only a minuscule increase in transit’s share of the transportation market.”

    ws:We saw a 5% increase in mass transit in 2008 over the same period in 2007. That is substantial for such a short period of time. Assuming mass transit’s infrastructure were good enough to service far-flung neighborhoods, that number would be greater:

    http://www.salon.com/env/feature/2008/10/23/mass_transit_america/

    Likewise, Americans drove 100 billion fewer miles between Nov. 2007 and Oct. 2008 than the same time frame a year earlier:

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/fhwa0826.htm

    This is over a one year period with gas only $4 a gallon for a few months. I think it is a misguided mindset to think that people would drive nearly as much should the costs be higher. Would people take mass transit more than driving should transparent prices be implemented? Maybe, maybe not – but I am sure that most Americans would not drive as much as we do now and would be relying on mass transit more as well biking, walking, and mixed-use neighborhoods.

  27. C. P. Zilliacus

    ws wrote:

    > An audit of Pasadena police department revealed that 40% of the Police costs were to auto-related incidents:

    Are you, by chance, aware of any audits of police departments showing how much time they spend responding to
    crime in high-density transit-oriented developments? Or maybe Fire/EMS calls in such places?

    You can read here what a local volunteer fire department’s experiences with such developments is (location below in Google Maps).

    http://tinyurl.com/bsqum7

  28. ws

    C. P. Zilliacus:“Are you, by chance, aware of any audits of police departments showing how much time they spend responding to crime in high-density transit-oriented developments? Or maybe Fire/EMS calls in such places?

    You can read here what a local volunteer fire department’s experiences with such developments is (location below in Google Maps).”

    ws: You simply pointed to a story where a worker fell off a roof of a higher density development. This is not an externality. It’s called an accident, they happen all the time on construction sites – big and small. I’m sure more people die building a highway bridge across a river, but I’d hardly consider that an externality:

    http://economics.about.com/cs/economicsglossary/g/externality.htm

    There is no positive correlation that high-density developments near transit bodies cause crime. If so, I’d like to see the stats. Is Manhattan a crime haven? I’d say no. Is putting a bunch of low income section 8 HUD tenants into one building going to increase crime rates? You bet. Poverty does not breed crime, but concentrating many poor people into one area certainly has shown to have more police responses and crime. It’s socioeconomics at work, not density or transit. If so, Tokyo must be one of the most crime-filled areas in the world?:

    http://gis.esri.com/library/userconf/proc00/professional/papers/pap508/p508.htm

    (this spatial analysis showed more crime in lower-density, single-family housing areas of the city, which happen to be poor areas).

    Police and fire that need to respond to the 40,000 deaths, 500,000+ serious injuries, and police patrols to catch speeders and patrol roads (and waste gas) is clearly an externality. as everyone pays for it – drivers and non-drivers alike. Pollution from cars is an externality as well.

    I’d disagree with more extreme examples that police having to respond to auto-theft cases is an externality; this is merely a theft, and not a product or unintended consequence of automobiles. A fire or a robbery of your home is not an externality of homeownership. (I’d also state that externalities aren’t always black and white, and clearly there are unintended consequences of many aspects of life).

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/32825

  29. Rivlin

    ws,

    I meant “who cares” because you keep bringing up cost of servicing mass transit which is not crucial to my argument.

    That’s nice, but it doesn’t address the question I asked you: Why should transit users pay only 28% of the costs of providing the service to them?

  30. Dan

    Zillacus, IIRC I already showed you or someone similar here that high density as higher crime is a fallacy. You need to stop reading ideological sites that seek to dupe you with such misinformation.

    DS

  31. ws

    Rivlin: “That’s nice, but it doesn’t address the question I asked you: Why should transit users pay only 28% of the costs of providing the service to them?”

    ws: They shouldn’t. Did I state otherwise? You simply can’t expect transit to do well in our distorted transportation market. Reduce the distortion and along with it comes a decrease in transit subsidies. That is the crux of my argument.

  32. C. P. Zilliacus

    Dan asserted:

    > Zillacus, IIRC I already showed you or someone similar
    > here that high density as higher crime is a fallacy.
    > You need to stop reading ideological sites that seek
    > to dupe you with such misinformation.

    If you are going to use my name, please spell it correctly.

    Regarding crime and high-density development, I don’t need to read
    any ideological sites to reach such conclusions. My own
    experiences in my own and nearby neighborhoods will suffice.

    I will assist you by providing a link to the local newspaper in
    my community, the Burtonsville Gazette with a query in that
    paper for Castle Boulevard, in the middle of an area targeted by
    the county for high-density apartments in a bid to increase transit
    ridership – way back in 1981. Back then it was called a Concept
    of Transit Serviceability
    , but in any case, it didn’t work, and
    the master plan that replaced the one imposed on the area in a bid
    to increase transit ridership disavowed such schemes.

    Gazette Link: http://tinyurl.com/bppato

  33. ws

    C. P. Zilliacus: Regarding crime and high-density development, I don’t need to read any ideological sites to reach such conclusions. My own experiences in my own and nearby neighborhoods will suffice.

    ws: There’s nothing wrong with observation, as some things can’t always be quantified. I’m a big believer in this. But this has got to be one of the most unscientific responses (your own “experiences in your neighborhood”) I’ve seen on this site. I’ll give you credit, you’re keeping it “real” and you didn’t cherry pick data, which really irks me.

    That being said density and crime isn’t an ideological opinion, and is clearly backed by data. Just to add to this discussion, New York City has one of the lower crime rates of cities above 100,000 people and is in comparison with Boise, ID in regards to crime rates.

    Density does not equal crime. If anything, I’d make a conjecture that density increases the chance of getting caught for a crime.

  34. C. P. Zilliacus

    ws asserted:

    > You simply pointed to a story where a worker fell off a roof of a higher density development.

    I will repeat, for your benefit, what the Kentland VFD (Prince George’s County Fire Station 33) Web site entry said, with some relevant portions highlighted and emphasized.

    Engine 331 responded to the first of what will surely be many calls at the Overland Apartments at 75th Ave and Landover Road. The complex was named by a construction worker who won a contest to name the complex (get it, it’s Landover backwards!). The “Overland” Apartments is a “new” HUD project being built on the grounds of the infamous 75th Avenue Apartments, which provided 33 with much excitement for years. On arrival it was discovered that a roofing worker had fallen 60 feet from the roof of one of the buildings under construction. The worker had sustained trauma to his chest and face and was packaged by the crew of E331 and transfered to the ambulance for transport to PG Trauma. OSHA is investigating…

  35. C. P. Zilliacus

    ws said:

    > There’s nothing wrong with observation, as some things can’t always be quantified.
    > I’m a big believer in this. But this has got to be one of the most unscientific
    > responses (your own “experiences in your neighborhood”) I’ve seen on this site.
    > I’ll give you credit, you’re keeping it “real” and you didn’t cherry pick data,
    > which really irks me.
    >
    > That being said density and crime isn’t an ideological opinion, and is clearly
    > backed by data. Just to add to this discussion, New York City has one of the
    > lower crime rates of cities above 100,000 people and is in comparison with
    > Boise, ID in regards to crime rates.
    >
    > Density does not equal crime. If anything, I’d make a conjecture that density
    > increases the chance of getting caught for a crime.

    Do a Google search sometime on “garden apartment” or even better
    “garden apartment Prince George’s County” and see what kind of results you get.

    Even better, zero-in on one massive garden apartment complex in the county,
    in one of the more prosperous (and historic) municipalities in Prince George’s
    County, the City of Greenbelt, (walking distance to a Metrorail station),
    “Spring Hill Lake Greenbelt” and let us know what kind of results you get.

  36. ws

    C. P. Zilliacus, your non-scientific method for making a scientific analysis regarding crime and density is not convincing me or anyone on here, only yourself. There are dense and non-dense areas that have large crime rates. It is not a correlation. It probably happens to be that people with low incomes live in denser housing in your neighborhoods.

    Would you like to pay for low-density (and more expensive) section 8 housing units instead? Thought not, so stop making asinine points.

  37. prk166

    “An audit of Pasadena police department revealed that 40% of the Police costs were to auto-related incidents” –ws

    So what exactly is an auto related incident? One of my favorite experiences with the po-po was a night I was going to do a “ride-a-long” with my sister during the last half of her shift. It turned into a stand a long but it started out with an auto-related incident. The “auto-related incident as a guy who literally ran into the local shopping center. Essentially what happened was he was on a meth binge, up for days, and fell asleep while at the wheel and the automatic hit the mall wall (well, more like came to a rest; cars without a foot on the accelerator don’t go fast).

    What was interesting but sad was the spiral of events that surrounded this guy. A few other local departments wanted him for mail theft and check fraud but since it was a saturday night and no detective was around they weren’t going to come pick him up that night. His trunk had a few hundred pounds of meat purchased with a stolen check. Etc, etc etc. The most entertaining moment was witnessing him getting a lawyer. My sis and the other officer were doing there best to A not tell him what to do but also B to not be a dumbass and get a lawyer. Eventually he started calling around, found one, and when describing the situation claimed that the mall wall ended up leaning on his car (like his car was just there & it’s the wall’s fault). Classic!

    Anyway, the problem with an audit like that is how it gets classified. Is it auto related? Sure, it involves a car. But it also involves meth, a lack of sleep, stolen checks, and a slew of other things. It’s hard to say exactly how this audit was done as you do not cite a source but merely someone else who mentions the report. It could be a sophisticated audit done to account for actual resources spent responding to traffic accidents, auto theft and such. More likely though is that the audit itself categorized certain incidents and resources. Then someone came along, branded some things as auto related, and had their numbers. If that’s the case then you’re running into the issue of the above story. That is the involvement of the car isn’t the cause, it’s just a way of labeling the incident.

    It’s funny to see some people trying to blame density for crime. The causes of crime are more complex than that. So it shouldn’t be surprising that NYC has a crime rate on part with Boise. But that’s one way of measuring crime, by crimes actually reported. ONe has to wonder what else is going on when NYC’s rate of violent crime is nearly twice that of Boise.

    So it’s understandable as to why people would associate the two. NYC seems to be an exception rather than the rule. North Dakota’s rate of violent crime is a third of the US’ as a whole. Detroit’s rate of violent crime is about 5 times greater the the US average and a whopping 20 times greater than North Dakota’s. Fargo, ND’s rate of violent crime is one sixth of that of murderapolis… I mean, Hippy-apolis… I mean, Minneapolis (sorry, had to poke fun at my old home). While there’s more to crime than just violent crime, it definitely gets our attention. So we end up equating all those murders in Philly or St. Louis with density and the lack of those murders in Fargo or in North Dakota in general with a lack of density rather than digging in deeper to learn what’s causing the situation.

  38. ws

    I agree with your sentiments regarding what is an auto-related incident and what is not. I mentioned this in post #34 in regards to externalities. It is certainly not a black and white issue, but it’s hard to not notice the large amount of resources that go into auto-related externalities for police, fire, and ambulance services.

    I’d argue that a person riding their car into a wall would be an auto-related incident if the guy faced charges for something related to the car (vehicular negligence or whatever the charge would be).

    For instance, if someone gets pulled over for drinking and driving, is the automobile not at fault in some way (knowing that driving related fatalities, accidents, DUIs are substantial in the US)? Larger alcohol taxes should be issued to deal with alcohol related externalities as well. My opinion is to reduce general taxes and increase consumption and “behavior” taxes (as long as they are fair and consistent are are not taken to an extreme degree).

    Once again, there is a large degree of ambiguity on this subject, but I feel it is worthy of discussion and implementation in the US.

  39. C. P. Zilliacus

    ws posted:

    > I agree with your sentiments regarding what is an auto-related incident and what
    > is not. I mentioned this in post #34 in regards to externalities. It is certainly
    > not a black and white issue, but it’s hard to not notice the large amount of
    > resources that go into auto-related externalities for police, fire, and
    > ambulance services.

    How about transit-related criminal activity?

    For example, this recent incident on a Maryland Transit Administration bus in
    Baltimore, Maryland: Boy stabbed after dispute on city bus

  40. ws

    I think you need to make a case that crime is a product of mass transit. I would disagree. However, accidents (and a large number of them) are products of the automobile. Crime, such as the link you posted, either on the road or in mass transit is not the result of the mode of transportation; rather the product of human behavior. Safety service response to car accidents is a clear externality of the automobile. I don’t think road rage (which is quite large in the US) is an externality of car driving, just idiotic people behind the wheel (as shown by something that happened in my area):

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/salem_man_sics_pit_bull_on_dri.html

  41. Dan

    Somewhere on this site is a post or two with several of us ridiculing the notion that transit attracts crime, with much more compelling stats that seem to show that Wal-Mart attracts crime. Which points out that all these fear-based assertions deserve ridicule. There’s a monster under your bed CP…boo!

    DS

  42. C. P. Zilliacus

    Dan wrote:

    > Somewhere on this site is a post or two with several of us ridiculing the notion
    > that transit attracts crime, with much more compelling stats that seem to show
    > that Wal-Mart attracts crime. Which points out that all these fear-based
    > assertions deserve ridicule. There’s a monster under your bed CP…boo!

    Transit does not usually attract crime (in and of itself). But a mindless
    obsession with increasing transit ridership through densification of
    residential land uses frequently can
    (and does).

    Quoting myself from above:

    > I will assist you by providing a link to the local newspaper in
    > my community, the Burtonsville Gazette with a query in that
    > paper for Castle Boulevard, in the middle of an area targeted by
    > the county for high-density apartments in a bid to increase transit
    > ridership – way back in 1981. Back then it was called a Concept
    > of Transit Serviceability, but in any case, it didn’t work, and
    > the master plan that replaced the one imposed on the area in a bid
    > to increase transit ridership disavowed such schemes.

    Latest from Castle Boulevard (in the Washington Post):

    Montgomery County Police Search for Driver

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