Re: I've got mail.

1

France? Russia more like. Damn commies.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 3:42 PM
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I think you mean the Dutch.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 3:42 PM
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2 to both 1 and the OP.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 3:43 PM
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At least Russia is the right orientation.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 3:46 PM
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Gee, what was wrong with the old bumper stickers?


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 4:02 PM
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Luxembourg. He is so weak that even an unpowerful principality can co-opt him.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 4:17 PM
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What do the Dutch want? Higher US consumption of stroopwafels?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 4:45 PM
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An Obama/NotBiden sticker would be a surprise at this point, I guess.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 5:17 PM
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OBAMA/BIDEN, BANNERS RAISED ALOFT


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 5:19 PM
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7: Ooh. I want higher oudemia consumption of stroopwafel.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 5:23 PM
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Oh, justice will be served and the battle will rage:
This wooden shoe'd miser will fight when you rattle his cage.
An' you'll be sorry that you messed with the boys of the Hague.
'Cos we've got hookers and weed, it's the Netherlands way.


Posted by: OPINIONATED TOOBY VAN DERKEETH (Courtesy of the Red White and Blue) | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 5:28 PM
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8:My question is about Obama, 2012 running mate, and 2016. Biden won't be running. I think we they/you need some excitement this year.

Two Obama Progressives Get Smashed in primaries. Not fucking good. Like leading 60-40 in pre-primary polls and getting beaten by ten. Turnout horrible.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 5:43 PM
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The OP's bumper sticker is clearly a matter of the US Postal Service sucking so damn much that it delivers things 4 years late (which, everybody knows it totally does suck that bad, and we should just privatize it because that way it will be run like Chipotle and every other proper business is, for cripe's sake).

I guess Biden is on the ticket again. Is that unusual?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 5:48 PM
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I was expecting a new veep, but what do I know.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 5:49 PM
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I was right about Romney wining the Rep nomination, I guess. It's in the archive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 5:52 PM
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The plan to demoralize everyone and end all hope has worked perfectly, Comrade Bob!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 5:59 PM
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The Altmier/Critz primary TV advertising consists entirely of each accusing the other of supporting Obama.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:05 PM
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12 - Garagiola got steamrollered in Maryland partially due to local factionalism (Rep. Donna Edwards, who's a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, backed the more conservative candidate as part of a state-level pissing fight over redistricting) and partially due to Bill Clinton's willingness to endorse anyone who backed HRC in 2008 (which John Delaney, the more conservative candidate did), but mostly due to the fact that Delaney outspent Garagiola by something like a million dollars.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:05 PM
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The sticking will continue until morale improves.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:06 PM
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Who did the Dutch? I can't guess.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:10 PM
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I honestly hadn't thought about a new veep or not. It strikes me that mixing things up now is a mistake. Obama is a known quantity: would a new VP running mate convince anyone of anything? Discuss.

Or not. I'd venture that it's all about him, and introducing a new element into the equation just invites more furrowed brows where none are needed.

Or: there are some younger (than Biden) political persons who might introduce more dynamism into the campaign and take some of the weight off Obama. On the other hand, Obama doesn't need a lot of help in the dynamism and charisma department.

Snarkout gets it right in 18 about Garagiola, by the way. G. is/was a totally excellent guy and candidate, but that area was recently redistricted, so there's inevitably a struggle about just how much it can swing liberal.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:16 PM
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That Illinois race certainly illustrates a timeless truth: if progressives won't fucking show up to vote, their candidates won't win.

As SO shows in 18, all politics is local, and all local politics is complicated.

The primary race for our open House seat is also complicated. The President won't be relevant.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:21 PM
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(Had a long chat about the House race the other day with a guy running for state senate, who came by to pitch for my vote. Fortunately, the candidates I don't already know in the statewide races people that I know and trust know personally. So I'm mostly good.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:26 PM
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14 -- Really? I thought only people trying to sell soap (or clicks, I guess, these days) would have bought into that kind of thing.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:28 PM
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At one point there was a rumor about switching Biden out for Hilary Clinton. I think that would be a good back-up plan if November starts to look a bit more iffy than it currently does. Otherwise, I think I'd prefer replacing Biden with someone who could run in 2012.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:30 PM
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I enjoy soap. It keeps me from smelling too bad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:31 PM
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I seem to remember hearing rumors about a one-term Biden vice presidency only around the time he was first named as Obama's running mate.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:37 PM
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25: You mean 2016, I assume. I don't know if it's necessary to have the 2016 candidate be a former VP. I'd just as soon leave Hilary aside: she looks really fucking tired, and says she is (and if she wants to run in 2016, I don't think she needs to be VP in order to do it). Otherwise, there are plenty of good people coming up who don't need to be VP in order to viably run in 2016.

Also, you don't always want to be tied to the former Pres. when you run for Pres.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:46 PM
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Also, you don't always want to be tied to the former Pres. when you run for Pres.

Yes, depending how they do it, shaking hands can be a bitch.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 6:49 PM
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29 was somewhat opaque to me, but I guess it's a play on the word "tied".

Re: Biden, I've gotten the idea that he's been doing good work in communicating with that other branch of government known as Congress. That's fairly valuable.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:00 PM
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You want a VP who'd be good in a three-legged race.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:04 PM
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I'd just as soon leave Hilary aside

I'd also prefer her not be VP, but she's probably the best option in terms of what could be done to strengthen the ticket.

Otherwise, there are plenty of good people coming up who don't need to be VP in order to viably run in 2016.

Maybe, but I'm concerned Obama doesn't have an obvious successor, whereas I think there are a lot of Republicans who sat out this year who will be pretty strong contenders in 2016.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:05 PM
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You want a VP who'd be good in a three-legged race.

Bob Kerrey's out.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:11 PM
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33: You kidding? He'd be awesome. Other dude gets to use both his legs and presumably Bob's really good at hopping.
Other than that though, I wouldn't vote for him for PTA president.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:13 PM
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May have been Bob Dole's problem in 1976.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:14 PM
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Other dude gets to use both his legs and presumably Bob's really good at hopping.

Well, he keeps veering towards the center.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:14 PM
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32--If by "strengthen the ticket" you mean "cause at least 27% of all registered Republicans to die instantly of apoplexy upon the announcement," then yes.


Posted by: Ubu Imperator | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:14 PM
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||

McMegan's writing a book? Which is not really called "Permission to Suck", I assume, but it sure as hell would be awesome if it were.

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:17 PM
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"cause at least 27% of all registered Republicans to die instantly of apoplexy upon the announcement,"

Yeah, that would be worth it right there.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:20 PM
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Can't Obama find another crucially important Democratic governor of a Republican state to promote to another powerless position? This time VP and heir apparent.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:23 PM
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Can't Obama find another crucially important Democratic governor of a Republican state

Are there any left? Between Obama's dumb cabinet picks and the 2010 elections, I thought they were all wiped out.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:28 PM
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Let's see, there's Arkansas, Montana, and a placeholder guy in West Virginia who seems to have been transported here from the politics of the 1950s.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:32 PM
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BS will not strengthen the ticket.

No one would -- it looks like a ploy, and would be a ploy. Whoever wants to run in '16 will be better served spending the next two years on resume improvement, then start lining people up and fundraising. The VP job is a hindrance to running a campaign.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:36 PM
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(Although having BS replace Max in '14 wouldn't be the end of the world).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 7:37 PM
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I suspect Kathleen Sibelius and Andrew Cuomo are both looking seriously at 2016.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 8:49 PM
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And Cory Booker.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 8:56 PM
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47

46: He might be too busy rescuing people from fires.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 9:00 PM
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48

Wow, I hadn't seen that story.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 9:14 PM
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2: There are two things I can't stand: people who are intolerant of other people's cultures... and the Dutch.


Posted by: Nigel Powers | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 9:17 PM
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There's a plausible chance that this could be our next First Lady.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-12 9:24 PM
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47. What does it say that when I heard that story my initial reaction was, "Awesome campaigning!"?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:36 AM
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I am in Dutchia, right now. They are tall.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:03 AM
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47: RTFA.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:07 AM
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They are tall.

True thing. They always have been, too. The Batavians scared the shit out of the Romans, who were little Italian runts, by their sheer size.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:08 AM
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They're not tall they just made the ground lower.

(ok this joke doesn't actually work.)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:14 AM
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I figure it's fair game to add 'The" and 'di' to almost any of these (removing the possessive when needed). The Ping-pong Dilemma, for instance.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:47 AM
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Oops.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:48 AM
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48 proves there is no God. My last belief was that apo read the entire Internet. Now I believe in nothing.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:57 AM
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13 is fucking funny. The idea of holding up Chipotle as the acme of American capitalism is hilarious. Somebody should troll Yglesias with daily "the government should be run more like Chipotle" comments.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 5:05 AM
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59: I learned only recently that you don't actually have to choose just one kind of salsa on your Chipotle burrito. They'll give you a little bit of each one if you ask nicely, which is just like how the government should be.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 5:26 AM
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45:Yeccch


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 5:28 AM
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I like my government in a bowl to save hundreds of calories.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 5:35 AM
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The clear future in economic growth is services. Take a service that has been much in the news lately -- policing. Our current police officers are custom-made. If we could bring the techniques invented by Chipotle to mass produce police officers, we could see a startling jump in the productivity of the police-services sector. Now a mass produced police officer won't be as good as a really excellent custom-made police officer, like our own gswift, but police services are services, and economic growth is economic growth.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 5:36 AM
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Plus, a paper bowl tastes better than a flour tortilla.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 5:39 AM
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63: The real problem is government licensing requirements. Why should someone who wants to be a police officer have to jump through a bunch of bureaucratic hoops to start working in his chosen field? The licensing rules purport to protect the public interest, but in fact are just a way to protect incumbent police officers from competition.

Also, if police precinct buildings could be built higher, there would be all kinds of benefits for the local economy.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 5:45 AM
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Guess who is getting married today, according to a tweet some guy I never heard of. I wonder if they registered for guac?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 6:01 AM
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65 is excellent.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 8:10 AM
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Not enough typos.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 8:13 AM
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If you really wanted an example of the best of US industry, it would surely be Apple. But then "try really hard to make one standardised product in each category absolutely excellent" wouldn't fit the narrative.

Or Applied Materials, but "concentrate on making a bunch of brain-meltingly technocratic stuff the end-user doesn't see or think about in 10 years" wouldn't either...


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 8:24 AM
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Also, if police precinct buildings could be built higher, there would be all kinds of benefits for the local economy.

Built higher, on the site of a former parking garage next to a train station.

Also it may make sense to require that cops be under 400 pounds, but some of these regulations are silly. Do they really need to be able to climb a rope ladder or shoot a target ten times in ten seconds? Studies show that the average cop never fires a shot in anger. The ideal situation is platonically unknowable, but we know it is somewhere between the status quo and complete deregulation.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 8:27 AM
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We should be paying George Zimmerman not prosecuting him.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 8:34 AM
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Do they really need to be able to climb a rope ladder or shoot a target ten times in ten seconds?

If they can't climb a rope ladder, the criminals will just escape into tree houses.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 8:42 AM
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Studies show that the average cop never fires a shot in anger.

Yes, but what do they do in Scandinavia?



Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 8:50 AM
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And Cory Booker.

That would certainly calm the nerves of the Tea Partiers.

True fact: when AB & I were married by the youngest mayor in the country, back in 2001, he told us about going to mayors' conferences and meeting Cory Booker. Even though he was a Republican, he was really impressed, and assured us that Booker would get really big someday. Don't recall if he predicted the presidency for him.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:14 AM
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65
Also, if police precinct buildings could be built higher, there would be all kinds of benefits for the local economy.

I get that this is a hobby-horse for Yglesias and he handles it in his usual glib way, but out of curiosity, does anyone have an opinion about whether or not he's right about it? I have a similar opinion, but I'm probably even less informed about it than he is.

So I'll crowdsource my opinions. This can't possibly go wrong. Especially with this crowd.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:21 AM
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I have an opinion -- I live in the one place in America that's built like Yggles would like, I like living here, the real estate prices suggest that there are more people who would like living in this sort of place than people who can afford to, the reason why there aren't more places like this is largely that they're prohibited by law almost everywhere, Q.E.D. Yggles is right in broad outline. (And of course increasing the supply of places like Manhattan has very little effect on the supply of places not like Manhattan, because the thing about places like Manhattan is that they're geographically tiny. So they're not going to crowd out the nice suburbs.)

Getting from here to there is complicated, because I do think zoning is broadly necessary, it's just that actual local zoning boards tend to suck. So I don't have a solution, but I agree that he's got a good diagnosis.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:30 AM
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I want to turn my street into a woonerf, probably by unilateral action. I don't know if he'd like that or not.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:35 AM
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I'm certainly less informed, but my guess is that the benefits are real but overstated. I think urbanites outsource a significant fraction of their carbon emissions, and their relatively high productivity is in part the result of inequality and a false equation of income and economic value (this is a complete guess).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:36 AM
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Manhattan is denser than where I would personally prefer to live, nonetheless I think Yglesias is totally right. We need to find a way to get more people into the bay area, Boston, DC, etc. and to lower the rent in those cities.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:37 AM
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This chart suggests to me that the effect of density on some measures of inefficiency is minor compared to other policy choices.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:37 AM
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Yeah, I don't really need to get past the real estate prices to see that there's unmet demand for something that there's no good reason not to be available in more places.

(I don't really get the 'outsourcing carbon'. I mean, lots of the carbon emissions I'm responsible for are outsourced, in that they take place geographically far away from me. But it's not clear to me that an urbanite systematically outsources more carbon than a suburbanite. Maybe we do, the argument just isn't self-evident to me.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:39 AM
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Yglesias's argument isn't really one about driving, but rather about jobs and rent.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:39 AM
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80: That chart actually looks like a strong argument for density.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:42 AM
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But while we're on carbon, don't forget the importance of heating in total carbon footprint. Big buildings packed closely together have lower heating costs for simple scaling reasons (volume grows faster than surface area). So there's a very very strong reason to expect that people in Manhattan genuinely have a smaller carbon footprint.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:42 AM
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In basic terms, MY is absolutely right that greater density is good for cities and good for the larger environment.

However, like most libertarian thought, it's entirely divorced from realities. He completely fails to recognize that tall buildings are more expensive, per square foot, than short ones. This leads him to conclude - incorrectly - that the only reason developers fail to build skyscrapers is zoning restrictions. But in fact, except when land prices are extraordinarily high, it's rarely cost effective to build more than a dozen or so stories anyway.

He also fails to understand that historic preservation, rather than being exclusively a tool for protecting incumbent rights, is itself an economic development tool, and that there are countless examples of neighborhoods saved by preservation (that is, blighted blocks that are revived by preservation-driven investment), and pretty much zero of neighborhoods being saved by highrises. You can't build a skyscraper in a slum and expect it to somehow generate economic activity.

He's very prone to handwaving about externalities in the way that neoliberal economists are - "sure, free trade will destroy your job, but on average, we all benefit, so you should be in favor of free trade." So, although once in awhile he acknowledges that dropping a skyscraper in a neighborhood of brownstones might have a negative impact on the people who live there, he basically doesn't give a shit because mumblemumbleeconomicefficiencymumble. Which is awesome if you're Robert Moses or Albert Speer, but less so if you're supposedly a liberal and/or humanist.

Finally, he's so in thrall to his own experiences (Manhattan=skyscrapers=teh awesome, DC=height limits=teh lame) that he utterly fails to comprehend that you can have significant density without skyscrapers. The vast majority of dense urban neighborhoods, here and abroad, consist of a blend of mid-height (say 10-20 stories) apartment buildings, small apartment buildings, and tightly packed houses. He treats such neighborhoods as anti-dense abominations, because they're not mostly 35 story towers.

I might add that I pointed out all these things to him dozens of times while he was at Think Progress, and it made not the least impression on him. There were specific mistakes that he would make repeatedly, which told me that he really didn't give a shit about the facts (it would suggest that he ignores his commenters, but I actually don't think he does; he makes enough reference to what's in the comment threads that I think he reads a lot of them, if not all or even most). The way he elides the difference between interior designers (licensed, lay out occupancies in ways that have life safety impacts) and interior designers (unlicensed, choose curtains) also leads me to believe that he's happy to be dishonest about his hobby horses.

Last thing: he's joined in the density obsession with Ryan Avent, whom I find to be a fairly mendacious writer for a lot of the same reasons, but with even worse libertarian tendencies. Specifically, in the matter of the auto industry, Avent displayed an incredible combination of A. ignorance about the actual industry, B. ignorance about automotive technology, C. ignorance about what really happens in postindustrial communities, and D. a depraved indifference to the fates of those who live in such communities. He was appalling on the subject and also, you know, completely fucking wrong. Not surprisingly, he denies that he is wrong about pretty much every word he wrote on the subject, and hasn't seen refit to reconsider a single opinion he holds.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:43 AM
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And of course Manhattan is an extreme case -- I like it, but it's a taste. The sort of thing that you'd expect to see more of in Yggles' dream world is Queens: development that's a combination of singlefamily houses on small plots and larger buildings, with intermingled commercial. Not necessarily just skyscrapers, but some tall buildings where they make sense, and no prohibitions on high-density/multifamily buildings.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:44 AM
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I don't disagree that mroe density would be good, just that it is being oversold.
83: Efficiency is relatively constant within country.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:45 AM
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85.5 is abundantly false. MY often discusses how Paris is much denser than non-Manhattan US cities, despite not having skyscrapers, and how Somerville is way denser than you think it is.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:45 AM
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Crossed with JRoth, who I don't mean to disagree with -- he looks right to me about everything substantive. I hadn't really picked up the details of where Yggles went silly on this one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:45 AM
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The vast majority of dense urban neighborhoods, here and abroad, consist of a blend of mid-height (say 10-20 stories) apartment buildings, small apartment buildings, and tightly packed houses.

Where would you ever find something like that?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:46 AM
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The explanation for 85.4 (I suspect) is that he read some paper or book by Ed Glaeser, who hates Greenwich Village and thinks it should be knocked down for skyscrapers.

I've seen him concede 85.5 in reference to Europe, which doesn't have all that many skyscrapers.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:46 AM
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87: Excepting Australia (and treating Europe as a combined thing), it really isn't that constant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:48 AM
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Huh, the chart in 80 is really counterintuitive, if New Yorkers use more gas per person than Angelenos. I'll believe I know nothing about LA, but I would not have guessed that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:49 AM
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Yeah, I don't really need to get past the real estate prices to see that there's unmet demand for something that there's no good reason not to be available in more places.

I think you're mistaking unmet demand for Manhattan living rather than unmet demand for living in places with streets capes like Manhattan's. When AB & I were in NYC a couple weeks ago, walking the Highline, eating fabulously, going to the American Museum of Natural History, strolling the Ramble, she came down with a case of lifestyle envy. However, this did not make us think, "we should move to the parts of Pittsburgh that are denser than ours."

NYC is a global city. The US is big and important, but we're only going to have a few of those (we may only have 1, really). Building more skyscrapers in Dubuque will not make it into a global city where people will pay $2,000/month for a studio apartment.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:49 AM
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I wonder who is moving to downtown Pittsburgh. People clearly are in greater numbers than before. Maybe they read MY.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:52 AM
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I want to turn my street into a woonerf, probably by unilateral action

I really want to say "woonerf" as often as I can. Woonerf woonerf woonerf.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:52 AM
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88, 91.2: Yet his arguments are always about height limits, not side yard setbacks. Believe me, I've commented about his ignorance of skyscraper construction costs often enough to know that his primary definition of "dense" is "tall." He may be aware of counterexamples, but he doesn't integrate them into his overall argument.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:52 AM
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"My setback brings all the boys to the sideyard.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:53 AM
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And 85.2 is somewhat ambiguous. If the externality argument for agglomeration economies is correct, then you would expect to see density itself cause higher costs of rent.

Though the real secret of Manhattan is that is has the highest density of Chipotles per mile.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:53 AM
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94: But you already live in a city that I would call dense enough -- the kind of density that's not permitted in new development most places. There are differences between Pittsburgh and NY, but you're already reaping most of the benefits of density.

The problem as I understand it is that for someone who wants to work in or around NY or DC or whatever, once you get out of the grandfathered-in dense center city, you get legally enforced low density.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:54 AM
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The way he elides the difference between interior designers (licensed, lay out occupancies in ways that have life safety impacts) and interior designers (unlicensed, choose curtains) also leads me to believe that he's happy to be dishonest about his hobby horses.

To be fair, "interior designers" and "interior designers" are quite similar terms.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:54 AM
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Yglesias's arguments seemed to mostly be aimed at Seattle, DC, Boston, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, etc. Places where people really do want to move, just like they want to move to NYC. It's not about Dubuque. It's about making it so that people who want opportunity move to San Bruno instead of Dallas.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:54 AM
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Additional to 87. Maybe I was implicitly counting Toronto in kind of a North America combo platter because the dot was the same color.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:55 AM
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I really want to say "woonerf" as often as I can. Woonerf woonerf woonerf.

Why can't we all fartlek in our woonerfs, like in enlightened topless Europe?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:55 AM
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97: Part of that is that he lives in DC which has a particularly draconian height law.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:55 AM
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Further: he freaks out every time people living in a dense neighborhood are unhappy about efforts to build giant buildings within them. Which tells me that he doesn't accept "density" unless it includes skyscrapers.

BTW, and I want to be super-clear on this point: I have no problem with tall apartment buildings, and I certainly agree that they're very appropriate in transit-dense areas. I'm hoping that one gets built down the block from me. But MY's approach to them is divorced from any real understanding of the economics or the urban planning effects of them.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:56 AM
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92 is begging the questionassuming the conclusion.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:56 AM
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100: Part of it are very depopulated. The city holds about half its peak population.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:56 AM
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107: See 103 also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:57 AM
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101: dammit. "decorators", obvs.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:58 AM
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101: On this one, there are going to be state by state differences in what required licensing. In NY, I don't know much about the relevant law, but I've defended an interior decorator on administrative charges of unlicensed curtain-choosing: I think you do need a license here to sell advice on paint colors and picking out accent pillows.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:58 AM
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There's two good explanations for LA vs. NY density surprises. One is that LA outside the central core is denser because of the hills. You can't just sprawl the way you can in Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut, and Westchester. This is why the metro area in LA is denser than in New York. The other reason is Statan Island, which has a very large area and is not dense, and not particularly near New York. (Contrast to say Hoboken, which is very dense and closer to midtown, but not part of New York.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 9:58 AM
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Yglesias thinks that central business districts of major cities should have actual skyscrapers, that the area around expensive transit infrastructure should be tall apartment buildings, and that residential buildings in cities should fill most of their lots (in particular, that space between buildings and in front of buildings are wasted). I'm really not sure where JRoth is getting the argument that he's all about skyscrapers, as I think what I learned most about reading about this topic on Yglesias's old blog was that density is not just about Manhattan-like skyscrapers, but more about the difference between 2 story buildings and 5 story buildings, and about setbacks.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:00 AM
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104 is wonderful.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:00 AM
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Cory Booker for VP! Cory Booker: He'll run into a burning building to save America!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:00 AM
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Oh, I'd believe anything about NY if the metro area is big enough -- I was thinking the 5 boroughs. (I don't think S.I. affects things much, though -- geographically big, but a small population, so they shouldn't be using that much gas.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:00 AM
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100: absolutely. But I was responding to your specific comment about real estate prices suggesting that the demand for Manhattan-like density (which Pgh absolutely does not have, not even really Downtown) could be met by building more skyscrapers elsewhere. But lots of places with urban density have low rents, because they're not in Manhattan.

And yes, building my street is illegal in the vast majority of American municipalities; it's only barely legal here (some of that is building codes, not zoning). But as I say, that's setbacks, not height. If he only ever talked about setbacks and parking, I wouldn't have nearly the disagreement with him.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:01 AM
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Why are woonerfs suddenly coming back up after three years or whatever? Fartleks I get, but where'd the renewed woonerf interest come from?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:01 AM
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111: pretty shocked by that, TBH.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:02 AM
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...but I've defended an interior decorator on administrative charges of unlicensed curtain-choosing

In theory, everybody deserves representation, but some crimes are so extreme that it must be hard on a lawyer's conscience to serve in that capacity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:02 AM
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118: It came up earlier in the week and I've taken to the idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:04 AM
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My impression was that the rent in Pittsburgh is not too damn high.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:04 AM
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113: I don't know what to tell you. It's been half a year since I've read his blog, and there's no way I can find examples now (actually, what happened to his TP archives?). But I wouldn't have written a 500 word comment about the economies of scale in constructing skyscrapers if he was talking about rowhouses.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:04 AM
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But lots of places with urban density have low rents, because they're not in Manhattan.

There, don't you need to put in a factor for economically healthy/unhealthy cities, or whatever you call it? Detroit has low rents (I assume) but that's not about density, so much as about the fact that the industry that supported the city went away.

For dense and less-dense areas that are in the same employment/economic region, I think (could be wrong if you've got contrary data) that real estate values are consistently higher in the denser parts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:05 AM
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The plural of woonerf is woonerven.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:05 AM
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122: Rent can be high in the nice areas. It's really cheaper to buy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:05 AM
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122: It certainly isn't, although property values have been rising steadily through the recession, and we've seen more appreciation in the last decade than we had in the previous 40 years.

And people are responding by building nice, mid-density developments.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:07 AM
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I mean, woonerfs are awesome. I like me a woonerf.

Fartleks seem good, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:08 AM
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My impression was that when he talks about skyscrapers it's in the context of central business districts or near transit hubs (and in the latter I thought things were more about 10-15 story buildings than actual skyscrapers anyway).

Do you actually disagree about whether DC should have more skyscrapers in its central business district?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:09 AM
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124: Right; there is unmet demand, nationwide, for nice urban neighborhoods with walkable business districts and good schools and low crime and lots of jobs. But you don't need to build particularly tall to meet it.

An example of his height obsession: he once talked about Camden, NJ as a place that was hurting itself by having a height restriction (at something like 20 stories IIRC). The last time a private developer built a structure more than 10 stories high was 1903. Think about how caught up in your own argument you have to be to think that a height restriction that has never been applied is what has caused all of Camden's problems.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:12 AM
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119: I actually don't remember the details -- it wasn't my case, I was covering for a sick colleague. Definitely curtain-choosing rather than construction, but it's possible there was some issue beyond the mere fact that he was unlicensed. Here's the statute defining interior design:

ยง8303 Definition of practice of interior design.

For the purposes of this article, the practice of interior design is defined as rendering or offering to render services for a fee or other valuable consideration, in the preparation and administration of interior design documents (including drawings, schedules and specifications) which pertain to the planning and design of interior spaces including furnishings, layouts, fixtures, cabinetry, lighting, finishes, materials, and interior construction not materially related to or materially affecting the building systems, all of which shall comply with applicable laws, codes, regulations, and standards. The scope of work described herein shall not be construed as authorizing the planning and design of engineering and architectural interior construction as related to the building systems, including structural, electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilating, air conditioning or mechanical systems and shall not be construed as authorizing the practice of engineering or architecture as described in article one hundred forty-five or one hundred forty-seven of this title. The interior design plans as described above are not to be construed as those required to be filed with local municipalities or building departments as required by the state education law regulating the practices of architecture or engineering.

I bolded the bit that seems to me to be broad enough to regulate cushions and paint colors.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:13 AM
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I think that I would miss the ocean too much to move to Detroit, but I really wish that some gentrifiers would move in. I keep wondering what sorts employment might be able to go there.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:14 AM
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Here it was. Trenton, not Camden.

In Trenton's relatively small downtown zoning district, for example, no building may be more than 210 feet tall. That's more than we allow here in DC, and amidst a serious recession, it's probably not having a discernable impact, but over the long run there's a cost here.
This is simply delusional. See my comments there for more detail.

So no, MY is not simply in favor of density in whatever flavor it comes. He has a childlike faith that the solution to all of our problems is more skyscrapers, everywhere.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:16 AM
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132: There's a lake that is on the biggish side of things, as far as lakes go.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:18 AM
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If the ocean were the only problem, I think the Great Lakes would keep you happy. I get nervous and unhappy too far from a big body of water (just like it sounds like you do), but Lake Michigan was perfectly adequate for my orientation needs.

But of course not moving to Detroit is overdetermined.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:18 AM
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Do you actually disagree about whether DC should have more skyscrapers in its central business district?

No. But as 133 shows, MY's obsession extends far, far beyond DC's CBD.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:18 AM
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DC's height law is objectively awesome. Now, I'll go back and read the comments on that.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:25 AM
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I read 133 as talking about the cost to DC's central business district of having a lower maximum height than Trenton does, but maybe I'm missing context.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:25 AM
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133 is the sort of poorly thought-through throwaway comment that you expect with MY, along with the typos. But it's worth pointing out that he explicitly says it's not likely to be important for a while. Furthermore, it's not really the main point of that post (which is that there's more demand near transit hubs and that this means you should have denser building near transit hubs). Yes it's a stupid example, but it's just as likely that he did the math wrong on how many stories are in 200 feet as that he was actually wrong on the merits.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:30 AM
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I'm glad to see that there's so much support here for the MY take on density, which I also agree with. A lot of my recent frustration with how dumb his recent blogging has been is because I think this is a really important issue on which he has the potential to be a prominent voice, but he's squandering that opportunity by not doing a good job advocating his ideas.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:32 AM
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I actually bought his little booky-thing. Eh, nothing I disagreed with, but also nothing I hadn't read in his blog. Anyone else think much of it, or am I the only sucker who bought it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:34 AM
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I'm also glad people are pushing back on JRoth's weird and inaccurate characterizations of Yglesias so I don't have to.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:36 AM
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93 wounds me deeply. I point out that factoid constantly, and remember mentioning it at least three times here, clearly to no avail. Hath not an Angeleno have eyes?

JRoth is doing yeoman's work here. Another thing about MY is that, while I'm not a planner, my impression is that his kind of unuanced planning libertarianism is about 30 years out of date, so he's basically taking the bold ideas of 1982 and putting them in a stupider, more typo-filled format.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:37 AM
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141: I haven't read it yet, but I probably should. I suspect it's aimed mostly at people who don't read his blog, although of course he's been promoting it there.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:37 AM
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Another thing about MY is that, while I'm not a planner, my impression is that his kind of unuanced planning libertarianism is about 30 years out of date, so he's basically taking the bold ideas of 1982 and putting them in a stupider, more typo-filled format.

I don't think that's the case at all. AFAICT he has had virtually no contact with ideas coming out of the planning profession and relies mostly on research by economists.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:40 AM
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138: I don't read it like that at all. His entire final paragraph is about NJ real estate and the Trenton market, and whether offices will be built in downtown Trenton or suburban office parks near Trenton.

No offense, but I don't see anything in 139 but special pleading. The math on stories is easy - 10' per story. If you can't do it in your head, you should go back to school.

Further, read my second comment there. It is amazingly unlikely that it will be profitable in the near or distant future to exceed 20 stories in Trenton. It's certainly true that, in a green fantasyland, the sprawling suburbs will empty out and that there will be so much need for Trenton real estate that 25+ story skyscrapers will be in great demand. But we're very, very far away from that, and if that time comes, I'm not especially concerned that developers - who have the most pull in local politics (another fact MY willfully ignores*) - will find themselves stymied by that restriction. When Philly was growing enough to make skyscrapers profitable, its 100-yr. old limit on building taller than the Franklin statue went away pretty quietly.

* which is a very libertarian blindspot, I might add. Oh, poor Koch Industries, helpless under the thumb of mighty regulators with their untrammeled power and limitless budgets!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:41 AM
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143: Just as dense, you've said, and counterintuitive though it may be, I'll buy it. No more gas consumed per person in LA than NY? That contradicts a lot of my sense of how Angelenos get around -- maybe the percentage that drives everywhere is small but conspicuous, but I was surprised.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:41 AM
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142: What do you disagree with in 133 and my comments at the linked post? Do you think that it shows MY understanding the economics of highrises? Do you think that it shows him making judicious arguments about the role of regulation in how cities get built? Do you think it shows him advocating Haussmann-like density for American cities?

I think it shows someone with a hammer, seeing nails everywhere.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:44 AM
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I have recently been presented with some very in-my-face challenges to my general support of density. My street, nice and transit-accessable (7 minute walk to the subway) is one- and two-family houses with (small) back yards. My neighbor to the north wants to double the size of his one-family, making it cover most of his yard to turn it into two largish units for his descendants. Two parcels to the south, a developer wants to replace a derelict one-story factory building with a 3-3.5 story expensive condo development. All of a sudden our back yard is going to feel a lot more boxed in, and we could lose something like a quarter of our summer sunlight. It makes me defensive, and I start to say "well, this is plenty dense already" (and it's Somerville, so that might even be true).

Regarding zoning and setbacks, it boggles me how many dense older cities have adopted zoning rules straight from the suburbs, such that almost everything already existing is nonconforming. I have to think there was some era of Peak Suburb Envy that caused us to get stuck with these.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:45 AM
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I mean, I took the time to look up the height of a floor, but I would have guessed 15 feet, not 10. Don't you have to put pipes and shit between the floors? Anyway my point was that I agree it's stupid but expect its "didn't think it through" stupid.

Are height laws ever a good idea? If th answer is no thn it's harder for me to fault someone for glibly opposing them everywhere.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:48 AM
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Nathan, I know how you feel. My house is half a block from the light rail stop. Diagonally across the street, a big faux-Mediterranean multi-unit monstrosity went in. In my defense, I don't mind the density so much as the ugliness, but it sure was an unpleasant addition to the block. The multi-unit part is exactly what should be in my neighborhood, but the glaring ugliness is hard to explain or defend.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:52 AM
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I might add here that Atrios, who broadly agrees with MY on these issues and links to these posts frequently (that's actually the main reason I see his Slate stuff), will often point out, mildly, that MY has misunderstood the dynamics of a given situation, for example that parking minimums are imposed on unwilling developers, whereas, in reality, most developers want to exceed parking minimums, and when they don't, they get the city to back down on them. Doesn't always happen that way, of course (and I'm opposed to them completely in many, if not all, areas), but that's a better description than MY's lazy, ignorant characterization that zoning zealots are forcing helpless private developers to provide parking that they otherwise wouldn't.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:52 AM
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What do you disagree with in 133 and my comments at the linked post?

I was talking mostly about 85. I don't care about your 133; he's had lots of individual posts that are dumb, and there's no way in hell I'm reading the comments. I'm also pretty sure he doesn't read them either.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:53 AM
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150.2 -- My comment about the height limits in DC was serious. I love the open feel of downtown DC, and how the cityscape appears either from the Mall, the river, the Capitol, or the roof of my former office. 'Efficiency' is overrrated. Character is what's important. (And if you want to work in a tall building, take a job in Virginia.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:54 AM
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147 -- It's mostly driven by heating fuel sources, along with the longstanding LA area smog restrictions, which have incidental benefits for greenhouse gasses. Angelenos do drive substantially more. But note also that LA also has substantially more light industry. I think the lesson is that the ecological benefits of transit-heavy urbanism are real, but potentially oversold -- the main route to cleaner air is direct, and it involves regulating or pricing pollution.

I take JRoth as saying that Yglesias knows something about economic theory but very little about how planning actually works in the real world (where things like side-yard space are more important) and also underplays what factors drive denisty (Houston has no public zoning, but does have zoning by private covenant -- if you wanted to make Houston denser and more transit friendly, you'd want an overrarching state, not more libertarianism). The oh woe are the skyscraper developers in local politics part is particularly detached from reality. Which is why I think he is saying the kind of things that urban economists used to say 30 years ago, before they realized they needed to learn more before just publishing papers.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:54 AM
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I have to think there was some era of Peak Suburb Envy that caused us to get stuck with these.

There was. City planning as a profession doesn't have a good track record in a wide variety of ways.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:55 AM
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155.1: I misread the chart, then, I thought it was literally gasoline, which would cut out heating and such.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:55 AM
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135: I'd have to carry some salt around with me. Also, I'm a New Englander in my soul.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:57 AM
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I want my neighbor to get the stupid Pod storage thing out of his driveway. It starts to look redneck after about three months. Can MY help me?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 10:58 AM
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150: Ceiling heights are 8' standard. 4" concrete slab, 18" open web joists, mechanicals run among the webbing of the joists, the ceiling hangs down a few inches. Different building types have different ceiling heights (luxury condos and hospitals are the tallest), but as a rule of thumb, 10' is close enough, and anyone interested in writing for pay about skyscrapers should know that (note, I don't actually think 133 hinges on story height).

Are height laws ever a good idea? If th answer is no thn it's harder for me to fault someone for glibly opposing them everywhere.

But they are appropriate in places. Neighborhoods are completely changed by the heights of their street walls, and allowing any height of building in any neighborhood is unnecessarily disruptive. Among other things, traditional building height is often related to street width and general neighborhood capacity: dropping a 200' building onto a 60' wide street is a radically different act from dropping one on a 30' wide street.

That said, I don't actually see a reason for having height limits in CBDs, although in practice, in most places, those limits are about providing a brake, not a lock, on such developments. They let the city say to the developer, OK, you're building a massive structure that will impact (note that access to light and air are well-established rights in US law) the area massively; what are you going to do to ameliorate that? Take away the height limit, and it's not clear what leverage the city has.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:01 AM
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154 -- I'd like some more actual detail about the effect of the height restriction in DC, which I certainly agree makes that city more pleasant and beautiful, not just ideology and hand-waving. I'm sure the height restrictions do drive up housing costs in the nicer parts of central DC (although, this was really really really not a problem until about 15 years ago) but the entire city is an easy Metro stop away from Maryland and Virginia areas without height restrictions, so I'm not sure that the overall density of the area suffers much from the DC law. So I'm not sure that the costs of maintaining the character of the District are that severe. Moreover, there are huge swaths of the District that remain completely ungentrified, if not abandoned, so you'd expect some lateral movement to those areas before the height restrictions became your number one target for an urban development problem.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:02 AM
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So I'm pretty sure it's actually insanely, bafflingly, unbelievably hard to get a skyscraper built in a central city. I mean, as it should be, really, but I am reasonably anecdotally confident that, say, 90% of the time that a politically well-connected developer wants to put together a deal to do a large, tall new construction development in a city, they fail. Not necessarily because of regulation, but just because it's an astoundingly hard business task with a zillion moving parts, not the least of which are political in nature.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:04 AM
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there's no way in hell I'm reading the comments.

My comments are the first 2 there, and are directly germane.

133 is important because the response to my 85 has been claims that he's not actually skyscraper obsessed. Unless you want to say that 133 is the only time he's done that, I think it shows quite clearly that MY is someone who doesn't think about these matters deeply. Yes, he's glib and fast, but that's hardly an excuse for getting things wrong. It is, in fact, an indictment of his work on the subject.

Mind you, as I said in my first words of 85: I basically agree with MY on urban planning matters, especially parking and density. Yet I find his writing so persistently ignorant and misguided on the subject that I'm writing hundreds of words, when I'm on a freaking tax deadline, about how wrongheaded I think he is.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:04 AM
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157 -- oh huh, I misread the chart, not you. I thought (without looking) that Eggplant was referring to the chart that says that LA has substantially lower per-capita greenhouse gas emissions than New York (which is true) but it turns out the chart actually refers to gasoline consumption, and is a new factoid for my arsenal. I guess that really is directly related to transportation, and reflects the overall greater density here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:05 AM
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Interestingly, local opposition to the condo development has focused on parking, which I think is asinine, but the position of the players is more like JRoth describes. The developers originally designed in 2 spaces per unit, the city talked them down to something like 1.2, and the neighbors have gone batshit insane over the fear that any more cars might ever end up parking on the street (which is not actually tight for parking on, by local standards). They seem to be working from the assumption that there will always and forever be two cars per unit, and they'll just spill over if there isn't on-site parking; I tend to think that if you make units with only one space, you'll tend to get residents who only have one car. At this point I think the developers are trying to leverage the neighbors into bullying the city back up to two per unit.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:06 AM
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I am reasonably anecdotally confident that, say, 90% of the time that a politically well-connected developer wants to put together a deal to do a large, tall new construction development in a city, they fail. Not necessarily because of regulation, but just because it's an astoundingly hard business task with a zillion moving parts, not the least of which are political in nature.

I agree with this, but it's also true that absolutely, positively, definitely the people with the biggest pull in local government are the big local developers, so the idea that it's the crippling hand of the state stomping down free skyscraper enterprise needs, at a minimum, to be substantially nuanced.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:07 AM
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the chart actually refers to gasoline consumption, and is a new factoid for my arsenal.

I don't really see where the data for it comes from, and it is awfully counterintuitive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:08 AM
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Maybe the subway cars are actually pulled by a fleet of F-250s?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:10 AM
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Yet I find his writing so persistently ignorant and misguided on the subject that I'm writing hundreds of words, when I'm on a freaking tax deadline, about how wrongheaded I think he is.

This convinced me that JRoth has to be right. There's no way he'd be putting off doing his taxes unless someone was very very wrong on the internet.



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:10 AM
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162: I'd disagree about 90% (probably depends on the city and on exactly how you count), but this is basically right. Politics would have a weaker role if developers didn't usually ask for public financial support for the projects. IME, public opposition (in CBDs, set aside residential neighborhoods where residents do and should have more clout) has less impact than the request for TIFs or eminent domain to assemble parcels or what have you.

But yeah, even when the politics are lined up, finances and timing often fall apart. Monday they had a groundbreaking for the apartment conversion of a landmark skyscraper in my neighborhood (I can se it from my desk) that's sat empty for 20+ years. It wasn't politics that got in the way (although parking has been a sticking point; but again, I never heard of any of the potential developers begging to do the project without any parking).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:10 AM
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I mean, it could be true. But the chart shows LA as just slightly denser than NY, and also using slightly less gasoline per person. I'll believe the denser, depending on where you draw the line. But we really do have an awful lot more mass transit than you do, and that chart would suggest that it's not doing anything in terms of crowding out driving. Which makes me skeptical about the data.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:11 AM
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I heard the basement was an unintentional swimming pool, if I'm thinking of the right building.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:12 AM
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172 to 170.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:12 AM
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166: well, sure, but the other way to spin that is that the amount of political pull required to be a developer is in part a product of a regulatory environment that makes it so that you can't build anything without having an extraordinary, even unhealthy ability to bend the corridors of power to your will. That is, when something with a potentially huge payoff impossible to accomplish within the framework of state authority, you find people trying to subvert or capture authority in order to accomplish it. If what they're trying to accomplish is per se bad, well, you just have to deal with that. But if what they're trying to accomplish is actually, construed broadly, often beneficial to a city, then maybe there's a problem.

N.B. I'm not really sure on what level I buy this, but that, I would think, is the counter-argument.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:15 AM
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The journal article that that petrol use vs. density chart is derived from was published in 1989; reading the paper, its data was from a survey conducted between 1983 and 1988. So it's not terribly up-to-date, at best.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:22 AM
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174 -- I think the better story for density is that this kind of regulatory mess makes it harder for the little guys (e.g., renting out your garage, turning the space over your storefront into a few apartments, etc.). Which is absolutely true and I'm all in favor of streamliining that kind of development if done in a good way. But the main story is almost never bold skyscraper visionary developer being stymied by brutal regulation.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:23 AM
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They're going to take their skyscrapers and withdraw from society one day. Then you'll see.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:23 AM
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175 -- although, you'd expect that to cut the other way in a NY/LA comparison, since this city has gotten more dense and transit oriented since then.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:24 AM
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178: depends on the relative timing of adoption of fuel economy/anti-smog measures; wasn't California way ahead of the rest of the country on that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:25 AM
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|| Reading about what is required to set up a dog park in my city, I suddenly understand the appeal of libertarianism.
|>


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:25 AM
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Also, it's using statistical MSAs, which for NY is pretty large. The figure in the paper for NYC specifically is about half the MSA number, and for Manhattan alone is about 1/3 the MSA number.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:27 AM
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If dogs just played in the park, it would be easier. It turns out, they mostly go there to shit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:27 AM
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174: IME not really how it works, any more than that Lockheed Martin became politically influential just so that it could sell all these jets it had built.

IOW, the causation goes the other way, in large part because big developers start as small developers, and small developments don't require huge amounts of pull. But they do require dealing with politicians, and greasing the odd palm, and so on. By the time a developer hits the big time, he's vacationing with the Head of Planning and donating the legal max to the mayor and every other relevant elected official.

This is based, btw, on watching the rise of one of the city's now-largest developers (who is, in fact, doing the skyscraper I mentioned*) from a couple of callow jerks investing money their parents had given them. Their first projects only needed political pull insofar as they wanted to cut corners. I'm sure they'd frame it as fighting a big, mean bureaucracy, but it was more a matter of following the law like everybody else that they didn't want to do.

* it's a Burnham


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:31 AM
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182: The real problems are the required water source, and a $1,000,000 insurance policy (which I have yet to price, but seriously?).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:34 AM
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All the big developers I know (about) got their start by working in government or, failing, that, working in a closely government-adjacent environment where they gained a strong sense of the regulatory environment and what could and couldn't be done with it. But I'm willing to believe I don't know a representative sample of developers (because that would be super weird if I did, wouldn't it).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:34 AM
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184: Have you tried dowsing?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:36 AM
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Although now I'm confused why NY is listed with higher consumption per capita than LA at all; that's not what the data in the paper actually says. Also, the paper only gives the per-city data for the non-north-america cities in a bad graph, not a table with numbers. I don't think I trust that graph on wikipedia at all.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:38 AM
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Here's what may be more recent data on gasoline consumption per city, which suggests that there's less in NY than LA now, but more in Chicago and substantially more in DC than either and that Boston and LA are roughly the same. I don't know how intuitive that is either.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:39 AM
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substantially more in DC than either

I bet I know why this is!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:40 AM
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||
I got a new shipment of injectable medication yesterday. When I went to grab a dose this morning, I noticed that the tamper seal on the packaging was broken.

I called the mail-order pharmacy and they're sending me a new shipment, but the pharmacist wanted to let me know not to use the doses I'd already received. YEAH THANKS I ALREADY FIGURED THAT OUT.
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:41 AM
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Boston being relatively high doesn't surprise me; transit (and density) in most of the MSA is actually pretty shitty. The parts that are easily walkable/transit accessible are actually fairly limited (partly because the central city is so small). And of course a lot of the economic activity shifted out to the 128 corridor in the early '80s, and to some degree that situation still obtains.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:43 AM
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190: maybe somebody modified it to make it better? Like overclocked it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:43 AM
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I like that dude's blog. Here's a weighting of major metro areas by "perceived" or census track density. We're number 3!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:45 AM
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191 cont'd: also, the T has essentially been in statis or worse (certainly, it hasn't expanded train service) for a good 25 years.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:48 AM
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The silver line is a nontrivial improvement, as is nextbus.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:52 AM
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193: Ah, I like that chart. I do look at it and realize that I don't know shit about LA -- weighted density seems like a much better measure than standard density, and it puts NYC where I think it belongs, but LA is still really really dense. Come to think, you know why I don't know shit about LA? Movies about people living in LA are all about people with mansions in the hills, or about ghettoes. I don't have any sense of where I'd live in LA: house, apartment, what size plot of land if it's a house?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:52 AM
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Have they kept up the funiculars?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:52 AM
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197 to 194.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:53 AM
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195: oh, I suppose. I'm pissed they didn't do rail for the silver line, but I suppose I can understand why they didn't.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 11:55 AM
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196: the bulk of LA city is multi-family. My friends who live in Hollywood or the valley or the westside live in three to five story garden apartment-ish developments with maybe 20 to 150 units. Most new residential development (maybe all new residential development in LA city) is multi-family. There are still a lot of single-family houses around, particularly in rich areas or the hills, but they tend (especially in the hills) to be extremely tightly packed. There are a number of new residential developments around that are high-rise, like 18 stories or more, and there are several substantial neighborhoods (downtown, the wiltshire corridor) where the existing housing/converted commercial stock runs to around 20 stories.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:00 PM
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I should try to develop a privately-run funicular.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:00 PM
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Also, there are poor (or historically poor but gentrifying) neighborhoods that have a lot of single-family, but the houses are extremely tiny.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:01 PM
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What is a "five story garden apartment"? I thought a garden apartment was an apartment on the ground floor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:01 PM
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If Halford lives where I think he does he's in pretty much the only neighborhood in LA proper where you can find large, old houses on full lots on level ground.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:02 PM
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My 11-year old seriously loves funiculars. He volunteers to manage the contractors for the project, will ride them mercilessly to get it built.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:04 PM
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203: like melrose place; low-rise apartments with exterior walkways surrounding a central courtyard/garden/pool.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:04 PM
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196: One of the salient aspects f LA (and almost all the California metro areas) is that even in the single-family suburbs you tend to have relatively small lots by US suburban standards--1/8 acre, some areas up to 1/4, but anything beyond is generally either extremely wealthy or in the (narrow or in many places non-existent) exurban fringe (and a relatively small percentage of the population).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:04 PM
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204 should be amended with "... that don't cost eight million dollars."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:05 PM
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The housing boom development patterns in the shitty eastern exurbs were really fascinating; lots of gated communities full of giant (like, six or seven-thousand square feet, at least) McMansions packed incredibly tightly, with maybe five feet between buildings, and no yards whatsoever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:06 PM
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206: Wikipedia says you're right and my definition is mentioned only in passing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:07 PM
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For now, at least.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:09 PM
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207 is true for most of the interior West as well.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:11 PM
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210: Although I'm glad you clarified, because I was confused along the exact same lines. (Come to think, I'm familiar with those from TV, but I always kind of wonder "Why do all these characters live in a motel?")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:11 PM
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21: Yes. In my experience the pattern is a bit more extreme in the expensive parts of California where land prices are so high. For instance, I had friend who had a 1/2 acre place in an old part of Corrales, NM and it was semi-affordable.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:19 PM
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I don't think the average lot in my neighborhood is much over 1/8th of an acre. According to the internet, 1/8th acre is 5,445 square feet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:24 PM
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200: Man does that ever not sound right to this Valley girl who grew up on an acre. But we never went over the hill, so I don't claim to know much about L.A..


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:25 PM
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207 is true for most of the interior West as well.

Certainly the norm up here unless you're way out from the city.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:25 PM
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Where I grew up (lot sizes of an acre) was once the exurban fringe, with remnant orange and walnut trees. Then the Valley filled in to join us.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:28 PM
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It occurs to me that I actually do know a few people who live in (small) single family houses (on small lots) in the valley. But they're a bit further out; all my friends who live in North Hollywood are in multi-family developments.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:30 PM
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Are height laws ever a good idea? If th answer is no thn it's harder for me to fault someone for glibly opposing them everywhere.

It's about priorities. Is there any reason to ever discuss the 20-story height limit in Trenton? No. It's like the people who were put in charge of the university system of newly conquered Iraq, were confronted with looted buildings and 90% absenteeism among the faculty and said "OK, well the first thing we have to do here is figure out which American university are going to partner with which Iraqi university for faculty and student exchange programs in each discipline". No, that's the 5,000th thing you have to do here. In fact you will never get a chance to do that.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:32 PM
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215: yes, that is the way in large cities everywhere. Newer suburbs of Pittsburgh are quite different. 1/4 acre typical Ryan home plan, 1/2 to 1 in the upscale ones. Plus a good chunk of space within and between "plans" due to steepness.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:33 PM
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My 1/11th acre lot (3750 square feet) snickers at 207.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:34 PM
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220: as far as I know he isn't in charge of anything.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:36 PM
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I do think that single family houses on a small enough plot that you can have a little garden, but not really a yard, make a charming streetscape -- prettier than front lawns.

This is in my neighborhood, and while it doesn't really give you a sense of the street, it's very pleasant. The houses are a little twee-Tudor, but I can live with that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:39 PM
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220, 223: Right, talking about Trenton wasn't so much setting his priorities wrong as picking a bad example to support what he wanted to argue anyway. Picking an example that bad may mean it's a bad argument, but it's really not related to setting priorities for taking action.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:41 PM
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218: I wonder what one of those lots go for today? The few acre remnants in my part of Orange County were hard to get for under a million back in the mid-80s.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:41 PM
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This is based, btw, on watching the rise of one of the city's now-largest developers (who is, in fact, doing the skyscraper I mentioned*) from a couple of callow jerks investing money their parents had given them. Their first projects only needed political pull insofar as they wanted to cut corners. I'm sure they'd frame it as fighting a big, mean bureaucracy, but it was more a matter of following the law like everybody else that they didn't want to do.

Are those the jerks who knew they could get away with ignoring all the rules and putting up 5,000,000,000-watt LED billboards in prominent locations?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:42 PM
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If Halford lives where I think he does he's in pretty much the only neighborhood in LA proper where you can find large, old houses on full lots on level ground.

Not the only one, but yes, but also with lots and lots of multi-family infill. Also the side lots are very small by east coast standards (and my neighborhood was built as a streetcar suburb originally); parts look like an old eastern streetcar suburb but the houses are much closer together. Local busybodies often claim things like "most racially and economically diverse neighborhood in America" which is probably bullshit but is at least semi-plausible. Fewer murders would be nice, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:43 PM
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225: wait, you live in a single family house? I completely had not envisioned that at all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:43 PM
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222: I should have distinguished that pre-automobile inner east coast suburbs are yet another category and tend to be "lotted" more like central cities.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:45 PM
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229: No, no, I'm in an apartment. There's one block of little houses like the one I linked nearby, though.

(In theory, I'd love one of them. In practice, I don't like sleeping at ground level. Anything below the third floor feels unsafe.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:45 PM
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The houses were pretty close together in the streetcar suburb where I grew up. Maybe not as close as LA? Pretty close, though.

Fewer murders would be nice, though.
If the victims had been a bit less iconically harmless would it have even made the news?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:47 PM
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218: I wonder what one of those lots go for today?

My parents had around 2/3 in Arcadia, 100x280 I think. When they retired a couple years ago they got 1.4 mil without a lot of hassle. If it hasn't been dozed I'm pretty sure that's the long term plan. Everybody, go buy a little house on a big lot in a nice LA suburb in the 70's, it's a hell of a retirement fund.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:48 PM
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228, 230: Halford's 'streetcar suburb' is a better term.

On the changing density thing, the small river town at the base of the bluff I live on is barely 1/3rd the population at its peak (and I bet for the youth population it is more like 1/5th.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:50 PM
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226: Maybe not over a million since the real estate crash, but up there. The area has become richer than it felt when we were kids (and my siblings had way more Persian kids in their classes than I remember).

In practice, I don't like sleeping at ground level. Anything below the third floor feels unsafe.)

I believe I would love sleeping on a second floor, especially with a window that looks out into a tree. But I've never lived in a place that gave me the opportunity for an upstairs bedroom.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:51 PM
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Lots of places have lot sizes like the ones JP is talking about for various reasons, but I think the contrast he's drawing is with typical outer suburban/exurban areas in the east (broadly defined) where lots can be up to an acre or even more. I don't think many commenters here live in places like that, but they're not rare.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:51 PM
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Anyhow, Tweety gets it totally right on what LA housing stock is like. The only thing I'd add is that it's extraordinarily diverse: you can easily live in a (somewhat crappy) simulacrum of Manhattan if you want and survive on public transit, or in a pretty isolated country shack, or almost anything in between within the city limits. And very diverse in terms of the age and style of residences, too.

I like this picture which is about right for a (commercial, nonresidential) streetscape.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:51 PM
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go buy a little house on a big lot in a nice LA suburb in the 70's, it's a hell of a retirement fund.

Word.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:51 PM
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Everybody, go buy a little house on a big lot in a nice LA suburb in the 70's, it's a hell of a retirement fund.

I suppose I should now be buying real estate in Stormcrow's "small river town" because it will actually be inhabitable when it comes time to retire, instead of being desertified or underwater.

Glassport will rise again!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:53 PM
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237.2: Funny -- I'm sure if I were there, the difference would be obvious, but that picture itself could totally be in my neighborhood somewhere. The signage on the bodega is a little bit off, stylistically, but close.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:55 PM
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Some of the houses up off of Mulholland and over west of Topanga are the most mind-bogglingly non-urban residences I've ever seen in within the limits of a city. Like, modernist castles suspended on 70 degree slopes five thousand feet up in perpetual fog.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:56 PM
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If the victims had been a bit less iconically harmless would it have even made the news?

Hah, no it would not have. Dead bangers and even most of their victims (exception for children, the extraordinarily innocent, and rich white people) haven't made even the furthest back section of the LA Times for years.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:57 PM
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Haven't read through all the comments yet, but adding my two cents nonetheless. My biggest problem with the people agitating against high rise developments in affluent or gentrifying as fast as possible areas is that they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the costs of that position. Namely, that the trade off is more rapid gentrification - i.e. a reduction in urban area lower and middle class housing supply, and an increase in the rate of exurban sprawl. Instead they argue with a straight face that it is the reverse, that every new housing unit attracts more than one new wealthy or upper middle class household to NYC and thus increases housing costs, ditto for gentrification.

I've had plenty of conversations with liberal activists in my section of Brooklyn where the Atlantic Yards development is a major issue. When I tell them I support the development they first look at me like I just sprouted a second head, then they seem confused, and then angry. I get called anti-American (them: 'the project will reduce the amount of per capita street parking, making it more difficult for people to own cars' me: 'that's a feature not a bug') capitalist shill ('wealthy developers are just doing this to make a profit' me: 'we live in a capitalist system, any new infrastructure project means wealthy people make more money') commie radical ('these projects often involve eminent domain, violating private property rights' me: 'fuck private property rights when they conflict with the greater social good') They also make it clear that I'm not welcome to join the local Dem club since opposition to development is a requirement.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:58 PM
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I would argue that this picture is a bit more characteristic than Halford's, which is really only typical of an admittedly large region between, oh, Vine and downtown.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:59 PM
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241: Those are wildly overrepresented in my image of LA.

Actually, one of the writers who works for Buck lives in a little middleclass version of one of those in San Diego: this adorable little bungalow with a pool out back stuck to the side of a really steep hill. The whole thing is ridiculously my-stereotype-of-California. Their neighbors across the street have an emu.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 12:59 PM
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Do they have a lemon tree or an orange tree. I bet I could guess the variety if you tell me lemon or orange.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:06 PM
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I don't remember. I remember the jasmine all over everything, but if there was a citrus tree, it was the wrong time of year for fruit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:09 PM
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245: I mean, there are lots of hillsides and lots of lovely houses on the hillsides, but some of the ones I'm thinking of are both incredibly high up and not surrounded by any neighbors, so they feel more like the lonely castle of an evil wizard than a rich person's house. But yes, there are a ton of houses that are built on hills that are by any rational measure much too steep to build on.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:09 PM
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Any MSA, based comparison of density between NYC and LA is apples and oranges. If you look at what the MSA's cover, for LA it is just LA and Orange counties, i.e. missing most of the exurbs. In NYC's case it includes things like Pike County PA and Putnam County and Ocean County. A more accurate comparison to the LA MSA would be to just include the NY-White Plains-Wayne Metropolitan District and the Nassau-Suffolk one. A CSA based comparison also wouldn't work since the eastern parts of Riverside and San Bernardino aren't really part of greater LA.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:13 PM
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In NYC's case it includes things like Pike County PA and Putnam County and Ocean County.

Wait, I hadn't looked at the definition. Our MSA goes out to Pennsylvania? There are places between here and there where you can't get a radio station in the car.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:16 PM
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Everybody, go buy a little house on a big lot in a nice LA suburb in the 70's, it's a hell of a retirement fund.

My paternal grandparents (both now deceased) were both the children of eastern European immigrants who started out on the East Coast and moved west (I remember that my grandmother was born in Bayonne New Jersey).

My grandmother would occasionally mention that the family had owned a California beach house and sold too soon (I want to say in the 50s) because that property was now extremely expensive and, a bit of celebrity name-dropping, had been bought by Warren Christopher.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:16 PM
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Do they have a lemon tree or an orange tree. I bet I could guess the variety if you tell me lemon or orange.

My grandparent's house in Ventura had lemon trees and the neighbor had an avocado tree (which, conveniently enough, had branches extending over the fence).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:18 PM
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Buck's family can be traced back to a guy who got a land grant for his service in the Revolutionary War. He sold it for fifty bucks, bought a canoe, and canoed down the Delaware until he found a nice place for a farm. The land grant he sold is now downtown Scarsdale. (This story guaranteed 100% family folklore. It could be true, but it's not my family, so I'm not vouching for it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:18 PM
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Wait, I hadn't looked at the definition. Our MSA goes out to Pennsylvania? There are places between here and there where you can't get a radio station in the car.

The MSAs are based on a complicated calculation that heavily weights commuting, which leads to a lot of weirdness in the results. And yes, there are indeed people who commute to NYC from Pennsylvania.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:20 PM
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My family history (well, on one side) is absolutely full of mis-timed real estate decisions.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:21 PM
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254: there are indeed people who commute to NYC from Pennsylvania
There are people who commute to DC from Pennsylvania. Conclusion: Pennsylvanians be crazy.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:21 PM
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248: My parents lived in one of those houses for a couple years before I was born. They moved because they didn't want us wandering off the elevated deck. During the San Fernando 1971 quake, my Dad was so excited for a real earthquake that he ran out of bed and hung from the deck so he could watch the pilings undulate.

Looking up the year of the quake just now, I saw that its biggest casualty was the Olive View Medical Center, and am fondly remembering my seismic engineering teacher starting a rant about the hospital design by calling it an abomination.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:22 PM
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But, you know, gotta pay to house the schizophrenic siblings somehow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:22 PM
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This is a metropolitan area? Buck grew up not even at the edge of this thing, and he was so far out in the woods that he made extra money as a teenager with a trap-line. I mean, I'm sure they have some reason for defining it like that, but good lord.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:23 PM
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THe ones in purple are not part of the MSA, but are part of the CSA. (Yes, that means that Fairfield Co. is not part of the NY MSA, but Pike and Sussex are.)


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:26 PM
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"Urbanized Area" is a different and somewhat more reasonable thing than MSA. Anyhow, 249 is wrong in detail (plenty of exurbs in both LA and Orange County) but not a bad point, but see the link above on perceived or weighted density.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:26 PM
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The current standards are here, if you feel like wading through Federal Register verbiage. I'll try to find the relevant parts to quote.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:26 PM
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Everybody, go buy a little house on a big lot in a nice LA suburb in the 70's, it's a hell of a retirement fund.

When I was 3 years old, my parents bought a house in a neighborhood in a city, both of which have since slipped down the old hell-no-I-won't-live-there scale, reducing the house's relative value substantially. This is why I don't take real estate investment advice from the Flip-Pater.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:28 PM
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260:Okay, I missed that. So he was right on the edge of the MSA. Still inside it though, and still had a trap-line.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:28 PM
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And yes, there are indeed people who commute to NYC from Pennsylvania.

I met a few of those people. You can tell them by their belief that the phrase "The Poconos" describes a region comprising about fifteen counties, as opposed to the real definition of "the northern half of Monroe County". Also their amazement that a road going for 50 miles through largely uninhabited forest with a speed limit of 45 could be only two lanes wide.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:28 PM
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Here's the key part:

A county qualifies as an outlying county of a CBSA if it meets the following commuting requirements:
(a) At least 25 percent of the workers living in the county work in the central county or counties of the CBSA; or
(b) At least 25 percent of the employment in the county is accounted for by workers who reside in the central county or counties of the CBSA.

CBSA = Core-Based Statistical Area, which may be either a Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Area depending on the size of the core community.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:30 PM
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I submit that if LB lived in LA she would live in Atwater Village between Los Feliz and Glendale. Sound about right? The square side of the hip side of town. Single-family homes on lots 1/8-1/10 of an acre.

Or maybe Eagle Rock. Or maybe I'm prejudiced because I don't understand what guides anyone to live west of Western, aside from young aspiring Hollywooders who all crowd around Melrose.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:31 PM
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My formative years were spent on the third floor of one of these Chicago regional specialties. Street parking in front, an alley in the back with 8 rentable garages for the 30 apartments in the building. Radiator heat, built in the 20s.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:34 PM
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For the sake of data points, I live in a 1-BR standalone house, 1918-vintage, set on .15 acres and shared with a granny flat. For ten years I lived in a Silver Lake apartment (not sure if any of you were ever there -- maybe jms) set around a courtyard, two matching two-story four-unit buildings in front and two matching one-story duplex buildings in back. Sweet digs, kind of just a notch better than stereotypical.

Sifu: really, five-story buildings? I'm thinking of two-story dingbats plus pool, or the kind of double-loaded Koreatown-style apartments that go up to five or six -- are you talking about the classic Hollywood apartments, like the one in Sunset Boulevard?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:37 PM
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"Urbanized Area" is a different and somewhat more reasonable thing than MSA.

Yeah, the urban/rural classification is based on the actual land use, whereas the statistical areas are based on economic relationships among places. They're both useful for certain purposes, but neither is a good general way to define a given city.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:37 PM
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254: I grew up in a northern Philly burb -- plenty of people drove to Princeton Junction and took NJT into the city.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:38 PM
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There are people who commute to DC from Pennsylvania. Conclusion: Pennsylvanians be crazy. is a much cheaper place to live than either New York or DC.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:41 PM
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272: And why is that? All together now, because

THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH!!!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:43 PM
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269.2: I was actually thinking of the recent-ish condo-ish complexes my friends in North Hollywood live in, plus the kind of townhouse-y things you see sort of near the Grove. But 3 story is probably more like the normal max, isn't it. Okay, 3 story!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:45 PM
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There are people who commute to DC from Pennsylvania. Conclusion: Pennsylvanians be crazy.

I've never met any of those. From York County to Baltimore, certainly.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:46 PM
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My understanding is that's driven by PA having lower taxes than MD. So the area right on the PA side of the border is growing gangbusters. It's like NH and Boston. One of the stupid parts about having 300 year old state boundaries that don't make sense.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:53 PM
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I have to imagine that the people who commute to DC from Waynesboro, PA, or Martinsburg, WV, is some sort of anti-tax zealot. It's not like the real estate market in, say, New Market, Maryland is all that exorbitant. You'd rather live in a place where you don't want to be, and waste an extra 90 minutes of every single day in your car, and buy all that extra gas, then go ahead, I guess.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:55 PM
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I've been quite surprised at how expensive Baltimore is relative to my previous midwestern city.

Come on folks, this is the home of The Wire and Homicide: life on the street! You're all supposed to be too scared to live here so the rents will be cheap!


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:56 PM
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I'm always astounded at how many people commute to Boston from New Hampshire. What a damned pain in the ass!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:57 PM
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The paper that Halford's link in 188 cites is by the economist that I suspect Yglesias is getting his ideas from.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 1:59 PM
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We had a few people who commuted from places like Thurmont over the years. They didn't move there because they couldn't afford to live on the near side of Frederick, or Poolesville, or something, but because of something else. Lifestyle related.

People can way overstate the extent to which economics drive human decisions of this kind. There are broad bands in any decision range (there must be actual terms of art for this stuff) where the economics are comparable enough that they no longer drive the decision.

I certainly understand people objecting to a neighborhood-altering development. You want to build a high rise in Spring Valley that will kill my (old me) commute, screw up traffic, add measurably to the stress of living in an urban area, and all you can tell me about the benefit is that the people who are going to live in it won't have to commute all the way from Rockville. Color me unmoved.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:02 PM
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I do think that single family houses on a small enough plot that you can have a little garden, but not really a yard, make a charming streetscape -- prettier than front lawns.

I agree, and am irritated that our new place is in the land of lawns. A substantial back garden is lovely; what's the point of a large front lawn?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:05 PM
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We had a few people who commuted from places like Thurmont over the years. They didn't move there because they couldn't afford to live on the near side of Frederick, or Poolesville, or something, but because of something else. Lifestyle related.

I get it, they just love the Catoctin Zoo. I once saw a zebra wandering around a field with some cows near there.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:05 PM
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They grew up there. Or in-laws live near there.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:07 PM
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Or they don't want their kids in school in more "urban" schools.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:08 PM
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Don't commute from Rockville, and waste another year.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:08 PM
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If there were lots of job opportunities in Gettysburg, they'd be happy never to drive on 270 again.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:08 PM
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Job opportunities as lawyers? Why not live on the low-tax side of the border and commute to Harrisburg?

(note: supposes bygone world where there are jobs for lawyers)


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:12 PM
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You want to build a high rise in Spring Valley that will kill my (old me) commute, screw up traffic, add measurably to the stress of living in an urban area, and all you can tell me about the benefit is that the people who are going to live in it won't have to commute all the way from Rockville. Color me unmoved.

Thank you Mr. NIMBY. The question is: if it makes them happier, and you less happy, how come the fact that you bought first gives you a veto?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:13 PM
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288: Harrisburg is bankrupt. Cannibalism starts in 2014.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:18 PM
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People can way overstate the extent to which economics drive human decisions of this kind.

Hate to be all Freakonimicon here, but I think it's quite the reverse. In every individual decision, there will always be factors that militate away from the most straightforwardly rational decision. But if you create the houses where the jobs are, you'll make saner traffic patterns.

Traffic actually flows away from downtown L.A. in the morning and back in at night (at least on an east-west axis). A huge number of companies moved to Santa Monica over the last couple of decades, the city created virtually no new housing, and the traffic pattern up and flipped.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:23 PM
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288 -- I'm thinking of staff.

289 -- That's the way the world works. When it works that way.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:27 PM
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250
There are places between here and there where you can't get a radio station in the car.

The tunnels are still part of the metropolitan area, LB.

Re: commuting to DC from Pennsylvania, I looked it up and it's about 90 miles from the southern border of Pennsylvania to the middle of DC, about 1.75 hours, assuming no traffic. Obviously traffic exists, and few such people live on the exact border of Pennsylvania, but my dad had a commute almost that long (half as many miles, but on country roads, so almost as much time) for several years, and he didn't even get the benefit of different tax regimes. People do weird things for the right job.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:34 PM
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Thanks for the assist in 236, teo, that was exactly what I meant. But I do realize that my default view of this is irreversibly biased by growing up in a small midwestern city with modest suburbs with biggish lots which just tailed off into farms, fields and woods*. And event there that pattern has changed to the "self-contained" (except for any service a human might need) housing plans--although still with 1/4 to 1/2 to 1-acre lots.

*In W.V. Quine's autobiography he writes of his happy youthful days tramping through the area (inside the city limits) where my neighborhood grew up.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 2:41 PM
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Been at meetings.

All the big developers I know (about) got their start by working in government or, failing, that, working in a closely government-adjacent environment where they gained a strong sense of the regulatory environment and what could and couldn't be done with it. But I'm willing to believe I don't know a representative sample of developers

And that doesn't describe a single developer I know. Several of them employ former Planning Dept. employees, but that's about skill set, not connections. And I presume that some of the developers have politicos on board as VPs or whatever for clout (basically the way ex-Congressmen work for defense firms), but I'm not aware of a single developer in Pgh who got started the way you describe. Who knows why.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:00 PM
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293.last: It's interesting how the area beyond the north and west Philly suburbs out to the I-81/I-78 corridor has sort of become one exurb to the multiple small cities and on the edges Philly/NY/Baltimore-DC.

Actually most far-flung commuters are commuting to various ring suburbs rather than central cities. So commute to Rockville.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:02 PM
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one of these Chicago regional specialties.

Wow, those are great. I don't think I ever noticed those being a specialty of Chicago. Pittsburgh has a wonderful history of what we call terraces, groupings of semi-detached houses facing each other across a green perpendicular to the street. I'd like to credit them to the influence of Chatham Village, but many of them actually precede it (although CV inspired a wave of terraces that are more CV-like than their predecessors).

Indeed, the callow developers I mentioned before got their start ruining* a couple of those.

* OK, harming the character while increasing the rents


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:15 PM
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So commute to Rockville.

But don't go back there.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:18 PM
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I have to imagine that the people who commute to DC from Waynesboro, PA, or Martinsburg, WV, is some sort of anti-tax zealot.

This really is a widespread trend. Construction has boomed in Butler County, 30ish minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. The ostensible reason is taxes, but, if your house costs less than half a million*, the annual savings are piddling (a local writer ran the numbers; it was a few hundred bucks a year, tops). But people react irrationally to taxes, and so they take on dozens of hours a year of commuting and hundreds of dollars a year in gas, to save hundreds of dollars.

At this point it's self-sustaining, though, as a lot of business (good restaurants, better retail, a few major employers) has moved up there. But 10 years ago, when the trend was really kicking in, there was no draw except lower taxes.

* up until a couple years ago, everyone in greater Pittsburgh lived in houses that cost less than half a million


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:21 PM
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A lot of those courtyard apartments in Cleveland, too.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:24 PM
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||

For my superhero screenplay, I need a new name for a prized comic-storage cabinet. I was going with Codex, after this, which was perfect -- sounds erudite yet familiar, alludes to literature -- but it sounds too much like my villain's name, and I'd rather change the name of a thing than a person.

Any suggestions?

|>


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:28 PM
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I know someone in Pittsburgh in a building that looks incredibly similar to the one in 268.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:30 PM
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There are broad bands in any decision range (there must be actual terms of art for this stuff) where the economics are comparable enough that they no longer drive the decision.

Not quite satisfying, but that concept covers some of it.

Hate to be all Freakonimicon here, but I think it's quite the reverse.

I'm not sure your evidence backs up your argument. Shouldn't people be moving to Santa Monica if that's where the jobs are? Perhaps I've misunderstood the geography.

In politics, we've come to understand/accept that the median voter (and most of her peers as well) use incredibly loose heuristics to make voting decisions. Why would we think that people are much more finely tuned in economic decisions that also have lifestyle components?

To wit, if a person is looking at 2 suburbs with roughly comparable school systems and roughly comparable tax rates/property values, do we think that people will choose one over the other based on the last mil of taxation, or do we think they'll choose the one with the reputation as being more desirable? I'm not making up this comparison; there was precious little daylight between test results and academics at my HS and my HS GF's HS, but hers had (for whatever reason - both were pretty generically suburban NJ) a better rep, and so hers was the hotter real estate market. In terms of bang for buck, my town was clearly a better value: same housing stock, slightly lower prices (but still perfectly desirable; we weren't downtrodden), equal amenities, equal school. But people weren't maximizing economic utility; they were making lifestyle choices and following social cues, ultimately overspending.

Note that such a cycle can self-perpetuate; at some point, you'd be a fool to invest in the lesser community, because of resale. But that's not based on amenity or planning, it's based on a presumption that current social preferences will persist.

DeLong today very usefully pointed to a crucial distinction between 2 versions of the EMH: 1 says that Efficient Markets know the correct price of everything, the other says that you can't ever know with certainty that you know the correct price better than the markets (in a way that lets you profit). The former theory says that RE prices accurately reflect the relative benefits of every housing unit in America; the latter says that you might get screwed maximizing your own personal utility.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:34 PM
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302: Been past there a million times; don't know if I ever realized there was a back end to that courtyard.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:35 PM
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Some of the richer towns here have minimum lot size to make them look sort of pastoral. Plus, you know, to keep lower-income ( less than $200k and that number is probably right for the 80's) people out. I'm looking at you, Lincoln.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:35 PM
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Any suggestions?

From the same website there's, "the curator." (which sounds like it was names by somebody even geekier than somebody who would name their cabinet the "codex")

Also "codex" is the name of the Felecia Day character on "The Guild" which seems like another reason to avoid it as another potential unnecessary association.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:37 PM
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Scolex.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:38 PM
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A substantial back garden is lovely; what's the point of a large front lawn?

I agree with this, but I will put in a word for modest (perhaps 10') front yards: we dine on our front porch all summer long, and we have a very nice relationship with the street, across our 10' front yard (maybe 15'?). Strangers come and go without intruding in any way, yet friends and neighbors who pass are easily hailed and even feel welcome to pipe up to say hello. If our porch were right on the sidewalk, I think it would be harder to eat out there without feeling like we were of the street.

I think rfts was complaining about deeper front yards (which are bad for neighborhoods), but I just want to put in a word against porches without buffer from the sidewalk. They have their merits, but I also think they limit their own utility.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:39 PM
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301: The Stacks


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:41 PM
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299: One of the better arguments against viewing people has homo economicus is the irrationality in which people make purely economic decisions. People get fixated on certain kinds of spending, and expend huge amounts of money to reduce spending in that category. People in my wife's family will drive an hour to save 3 cents a gallon on gas. My father in law used to run all around the house turning off everything that uses electricity in an attempt to get the meter to stop spinning.

The standard argument against the economic model of people is that there are some things you can't quantify. But even when you have situations that are 100% quantifiable, and people claim to be making judgments purely on economic self interest, you see systematically irrational decisions.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:44 PM
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Ten to fifteen feet of buffer sounds swell. Ours has no front porch and something like thirty feet of yard (broken up by a couple of lovely big trees, at least). To which I say BAH HUMBUG, but not enough humbug not to buy it, evidently.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:47 PM
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Oh man, don't even get me started on front lawns.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:48 PM
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Shouldn't people be moving to Santa Monica if that's where the jobs are?

If they could afford the housing, they would. Since there's no new housing, they don't, and traffic flips as people live where there's housing and work where there's jobs.

From a narrow, parochial policy perspective, it makes sense to add jobs without housing -- you get tax revenue without having residents whose services cost money. From a regional transportation policy perspective, it's terrible.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:51 PM
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Stacks & Curator are both v. good. Curator might be confusing because one of the characters is a gallerist (because all women in movies are) but I might be able to make it a profitable mislead. thanks.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:54 PM
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The Fucking Archive might be good.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 3:54 PM
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I don't think I've ever agreed with rob more than in 310.

313: Gotcha. That's why you need regional planning.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:00 PM
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But even when you have situations that are 100% quantifiable, and people claim to be making judgments purely on economic self interest, you see systematically irrational decisions.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:28 PM
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312: Teo shares a trait with my car, according to the neighbors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:29 PM
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You should really only be storing your car on your own lawn, Moby.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:32 PM
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I agree that for the citizens of Santa Monica the incentives are misaligned: they're happy to have additional businesses locating there, and not too excited to have additional housing built. It would be nice if you could tie the decisions together a little better. Maybe if paying costs of impacts to Santa Monica housing could have been internalized, companies that relocated there might have stayed in LA proper. I am certainly sympathetic with the homeowner who paid $1 million for a house with a view, only to find that some years later someone wants a zoning variance and various other permits (which require an act of discretion by local authorities -- who represent the homeowner and do not represent potential future residents of the city) so they can block that view.

(I'm looking for a house right now. View is a way bigger consideration than commute time. Within the range of commute times we're looking at.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:32 PM
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317: good edit


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:33 PM
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||

What could the Nazis want to lobby the Congress about? "Political Rights and ballot access laws," according to the registration form, which also lists lists accounting, agriculture, clean air and water, civil rights, health issues, the Constitution, immigration, manufacturing, and retirement as "general lobbying issue areas." Who knew the Nazis had strong views on agriculture?

Umm, everybody?

I think Robert Schlesinger needs to quit playing Castle Wolfenstein and actually read a book about Nazis. Jackass.

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:33 PM
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313: at least they're super interested in extending transit service out there!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:39 PM
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Interesting data from the census bureau on average lot sizes of new detached single-family homes by region (sq. ft.--an acre is 43000 sq ft):

Northeast 16,803
Midwest 10,822
South 10,058
West 7,018

The ranking and relative sizes look to have been generally stable over the last 15 years. The Northeast surprised me, but I suspect it is due to almost all new detached family housing being in relatively upscale suburban areas. I only found a spreadsheet via search, so do not have any context or methodology.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:42 PM
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an acre is 43000 sq ft

43,560.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:44 PM
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The Northeast surprised me, but I suspect it is due to almost all new detached family housing being in relatively upscale suburban areas.

Why did it surprise you? It looks pretty much what I would have expected, although I don't know enough about the Midwest and South to guess why they would be lower.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:46 PM
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325. Yes.

326: Yeah, it was the amount greater than the Midwest in particular that surprised me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:50 PM
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Here in Dallas suburb, streetcar like without streetcars, 1/8 acre sounds right oh Idontknow, 20 feet front, 50 feet back, the kids from three houses play in the fronts. Trees! Save! Energy! Sky kami have favored us this year, no water worries, lost a big tree last year. Dallas drought! need lawn for roots which crawl along surface in dry conditions and eat foundation.

Also. Driveways. We're modest, but many of our neighbours have 4-5 vehicles. Park in the streets? Little kids (and puppies and kittys) run out between and get smushed. Will no one think of the children?

Glad could contribute.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 4:53 PM
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Yeah, it was the amount greater than the Midwest in particular that surprised me.

Maybe just better economic conditions in recent years? That wouldn't necessarily explain the South, but something else might be going on there.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 5:01 PM
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I am certainly sympathetic with the homeowner who paid $1 million for a house with a view, only to find that some years later someone wants a zoning variance and various other permits (which require an act of discretion by local authorities -- who represent the homeowner and do not represent potential future residents of the city) so they can block that view.

Why? Or rather why any more than raising their taxes or the enactment of zoning regs that limit developmet thus reducing the value of the land, or environmental regs that affect them. Most of us here, including I believe yourself, support single payer. That's going to kill a lot of existing jobs and reduce the incomes of many others. Yet we support it because it is overall of great benefit to society. The cost of policy changes has to be considered, but why should those who suffer a negative impact get a veto?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 6:09 PM
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I am not, personally, particularly sympathetic to complaints of any sort from someone who can afford a million-dollar house.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 6:35 PM
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I'm sympathetic to view-protection for people who bought a house costing from $50k to $250k or from $375k to $750k or over $2 million but less than $7 million. No unimodal function can capture my sympathies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 6:55 PM
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Here's one in Georgetown, DC. A developer has bought a gas station and is going to build condos. It is a by right development. But the abutters up the hill are furious. Their great view is getting blocked. It is a great view.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 7:47 PM
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Also, Charley, at the rate the Corps of Engineers is ripping up Spring Valley (DC) lot by lot over the last 20+ years it would almost be easier to have a large project there and get the job done with.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 7:49 PM
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301:

The Hollinger Box

The Clamshell [box]

The Solander


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 8:06 PM
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I don't know what houses with a nice view in Santa Monica cost, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was an awful lot.

Zoning or environmental regs that affect value are paper losses. Blocking the view is quality of life.

I'm sympathetic regarding the people who lose their jobs as a result of real health insurance reform. I'll listen closely to proposals to mitigate the harms to them.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-12 8:52 PM
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322: I have absolutely no idea of what the Nazi views on agriculture were.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 12:01 AM
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337: I presume they were in favor of it, at least on some level.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 12:15 AM
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It's hard to run a country if you have a principled objection to agriculture. Monaco maybe, but not anything larger.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 5:55 AM
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180: We're in a historic district and so the dog park has to have a wrought iron fence around it, which I think has been bargained down to a fence that looks like wrought iron but is still going to be ridiculously expensive.

Our old house had only gardens, no yard proper. The porch was set back maybe six feet from the sidewalk. In our new house, which features only the overgrown yews in front of the porch and plastic flowers in the porch boxes to break up the monotony of grass, we're on a hill above the sidewalk and have just planted that hill to try to keep Mara from running down it. (Actually I'm being mean about the grass. It's full of violets and clover, which is actually quite nice. Also dandelions and those tiny strawberry plants, which are Mara's favorite thing to pick.)

It might be ten feet to the top of the hill and it's been a wonderful space for Mara and the boys next door to play ball and for various dogs to run around (with permission) and we talk to our neighbors all the time because everyone's out on the porches. I think we're about five feet from the neighbors on each side and the back yards are big enough that the people who've built garages still have a tiny bit of lawn left, but not much. We're on a one-way street with parking on both sides.

Lee and I both drive to work, though if either of us were downtown it would be feasible to walk/bike or take the bus.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 6:17 AM
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Agriculture is what they needed eastern europe for. All those people had to go so good german folk could have the rural farms that were their birthright.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 6:17 AM
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341

Agriculture is what they needed eastern europe for. All those people had to go so good german folk could have the rural farms that were their birthright.

Yes, they had a version of the small family farm mythology you see in the US. And I believe some of the people were to be kept around as serfs.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 6:53 AM
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340: I fully approve of wrought iron. Wood is also ok. People who are not poor and put up chain link fences are bad people.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 9:34 AM
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Barbed wire in the city is even worse.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 9:43 AM
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Barbed wire in the city
Barbed wire in the city
Set out just to snag the unwary
Barbed wire in the city


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 10:13 AM
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Ten to fifteen feet of buffer sounds
swell.

I am having my urbanist convictions put to the sincerity test this week. The town informed us that they will be installing a sidewalk in front of our house in our otherwise eminently walkable neighborhood (yay!). It turns out that the small, fenced in front yard in front of the Villa Ruprecht encroaches on the town right-of-way. So instead of narrowing the street (which I would love), they will be taking down my fence and building a sidewalk through my front yard. When it's done, the sidewalk will pass about 10 feet from our front window.

Fleur and I are actually OK with it on balance. But I definitely felt pangs of resistance that are hard to square with my professed beliefs. (And, as if the regulatory taking weren't enough, I learned the next day that we owe a four digit sum of Alternative Minimum Tax. If I start agreeing with Shearer about stuff, you'll know it's all starting to get to me.)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 12:06 PM
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346.1: In similar circumstances, an rather eccentric Aunt of mine erected a "statue" in her front yard of the remains of bushes that had to be removed, and put a sign on it saying "Murdered by the XYZ Public Works Department". My impression was that she was militantly "pro-life" construed in any way imaginable: bushes, fetuses (strongly anti-abortion) and PETA (not sure if she actually threw paint on fur coats, but she was in groups that did).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 12:17 PM
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If it helps any, sounds like it's not a regulatory taking at all -- you just had your fence built on someone else's property. But that probably doesn't help.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 12:35 PM
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348: I think it really is our deeded property, but there is a public right of way that extends X feet from the center of the street and overrides private property. The fence has been there for ages, in any event, as has our front walk, which extends to the street, and will be abbreviated where it intersects the new pedestrian sidewalk.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-14-12 12:48 PM
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Agriculture is what they needed eastern europe for. All those people had to go so good german folk could have the rural farms that were their birthright.

Have just finished a book on the subject (Edgerton, "Britain's War Machine", great beach reading) and he makes the point that German agriculture was staggeringly inefficient, especially compared to British agriculture: the Brits were much more modern, used more machinery and so on, and so had far fewer people employed in farming. Farming used 30% of the German male workforce. (Pretty much everyone was less efficient in manpower terms than British farmers, but the Germans were especially bad.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-16-12 3:48 AM
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I guess if Natilo meant lebensraum, then it's fair to say that everyone has heard of it.

I had a friend who would sing the Schoolhouse Rock song about "elbow room", but with "lebensraum" in its place.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-16-12 4:07 AM
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346, 347, 348, 349

You might look into the adverse possession rules. According to wikipedia .

If a property owner interferes with an easement upon his property in a manner that satisfies the requirements for adverse prescription (e.g. locking the gates to a commonly used area, and nobody does anything about it), he will successfully extinguish the easement. ...

but

Adverse possession does not typically work against property owned by the public.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-16-12 4:40 AM
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