Comment of the Day: Time and Space City

COMMENT OF THE DAY: TIME AND SPACE CITY Illustration of Houston as a City of Sand“. . . Houston is indeed one of the best cities around for middle class folks, but it all comes down to time management and space. Houston provides a convenient lifestyle that affords families much more time and space than they could claim in the hustle and bustle of larger cities like SF, LA, or NYC. however, let’s not sit back and pride ourselves as if this doesn’t pose serious drawbacks that we casually buy into and accept, whether absent-mindedly or begrudgingly. That same abundance of space and time means our city still isn’t cultured enough to be a mecca for the foreign investors and rich elite seeking out stability in world class cities with lots of amenities, nor is it hospitable for those growing up in low income communities where transportation and education costs all but ensure a lifetime of low-wage labor (for reals, just look at the statistics if you don’t believe me). But hey, i’m a glass half empty kind of guy and won’t be happy until more strides have been taken to make Houston even more hospitable to all and everyone. We may be alright, but we’re certainly not there yet and it remains to be seen what life would be like in this city in a free market that accurately priced energy, pollution and consumption. If you’re middle class, then yes, come to houston and bask in the glow. If you’re on the lower end of the economic spectrum, you should be fighting to get out and place your family in a better environment with greater probabilities for success.” [joel, commenting on Houston Is Hot and Sticky] Illustration: Lulu

9 Comment

  • If you’re a lower-class family willing and able enough to struggle to get out of Houston, then it’s really really super easy to make it work in Houston. Especially right now. That’s why people come to Houston (which tops the charts for domestic in-migration) is that they struggled to get away from all those other much crappier places.

  • While I agree with Joel that Houston’s come a long way (yet has a ways to go), I disagree that “our city still isn’t cultured enough to be a mecca for the foreign investors and rich elite seeking out stability…” Houston is not only stable, but roaring and booming…and it’s the #1 city visited by foreign investors in America, and one of the top 5 in America for foreign investment (see HBJ today’s edition). It’s very rich in culture, fortune 500 corporate elitism, and high-wattage high-society uber-riche. It is a world class city, but would have missed that mark had it not finally started mass transit/rail (which is growing but inadequate).

    Houston is a dynamic world class city, but would be a great world class city if:
    1. Houston needs more progressive leaders with excellent leadership ability, vision and passion. No more career politicians (Parker not included she’s been a winner) or old business farts. The next mayor should be 35-55, maybe Midway CEO John Brinsden, Ric Campo at Houston First, or GHP Chaiman Paul Hobby…with realistic plans in hand to turn the boom into a super-boom and build a mass transit (MetroRail/Commuter Rail) system, second to none.
    2. Houston needs to get rid of dumbass self-serving politicians who are in the way of progress.

    Ridiculous dumbass stances and their proponents (like John Culberson) eventually wither and die. For example, many ridiculous dumbasses (like Culberson) fought to keep women from voting, but sane people fought back and won the right for women to vote…many ridiculous dumbasses (like Culberson) fought to keep blacks from their Civil Rights, but sane people fought back and won Civil Rights for blacks. Today, a ridiculous dumbass named Culberson is fighting Houston and standing in the way of its right to 21st century mass transit; nasty belching buses and gigantic freeways are no longer enough for the soon to be 3rd largest city in America. SO FIGHT CULBERSON BACK HOUSTON!!!

    Houston, we have a big fat ridiculous dumbass problem: John Culberson!

    Solution(s): 1. Find a pro-rail republican in the 7th congressional to unseat Culberson and show him the door.

    2. Since Culberson says no to rail “on” Richmond/Post Oak Blvd, run the University Line “underground” as a subway.

    3. Build the University Line with a billion-dollar corporate or international entity without Fed funds…and name the line after Culberson.

    Culberson offers no mass transit solutions, just obstruction. No one is advocating for rail through pristine River Oaks or Tanglewood or Memorial, just the overdue and much needed University Line.

    Like a psychopath that would kill his own parents, Culberson (Tom DeLay, Jr.) is killing his own city just to give himself a cause and a soapbox. What a selfish coward. Houston, if you don’t get rid of John Culberson and get on with rail/mass transit…shame on you. I don’t know who’s worse or more reviled: Sheila Jackson Lee on one end of the spectrum or John Culberson on the other. Yea, damn right Houston: we’ve got problems…and it’s high time to solve them. Houston desperately needs to give John Culberson an ‘Eric Cantor-style’ f@#k you! These are Houston’s problems today.

  • So glad the people of Houston are intelligent enough to prevent to warped view that HTX things will “help” the city.

    Knew the comment was going off the rails as soon as the trope of needing rail transit to be ” World Class” was stated.

  • kjb434,
    I’m so glad that intelligent Houstonians prevailed against the forces of ignorance and finally got rail on track and is expanding it…it was long overdue and not having it really hindered the city and made it a laughing-stock around the country and the world. And having rail definitely “helps” Houston’s “world class” bona fides (not to mention strengthens its transit system). Can you name a world class city without rail? Exactly.
    Anyway, commuter rail is next for Houston, and compliments MetroRail. Commuter rail (connecting the outer suburbs to the CBD) is extremely overdue and a great necessity for the city: a top priority. Let’s tentatively call it the GHCRA (Greater Houston Commuter Rail Authority). GHCRA should have a board that votes, taxing ability and the ability to issue bonds. GHCRA should partner with federal leaders (for federal funds), and the private sector for greater financial support, as the price tag will be extraordinary; but Houston can’t afford to continue to overlook the need for action on this great public work any longer. As a matter of fact, the next mayor of Houston should have bringing commuter rail to the city as one of their signature goals.

    When operational, commuters will be able to board a GHCRA train near I-45 in The Woodlands, and be whisked within minutes to IAH/Bush (with 2 stops along the way at Spring Woods/ExxonMobil and FM 1960). Similarly, commuters will board a GHCRA train near I-59 in Kingwood, and be whisked within minutes to IAH (with a stop along the way at Humble/FM 1960). At IAH both lines (The Woodlands and Kingwood) would merge into one, and then glide/travel over to the Hardy Toll Road and follow along it (with stops about every 2-3miles) into Houston’s CBD. The stops along the way will ignite much needed development and redevelopment in those north Houston communities.

    A similar line should happen in Ft. Bend County, near I-59 in Richmond or Sugar Land as a GHCRA train whisks commuters from there into the CBD (stopping about every 2-3miles). Likewise, near the Harris/Galveston County line, commuters will board a GHCRA train near I-45 at Baybrook Mall or NASA Road 1, that whisks them to HOU (Hobby) within minutes before zooming into the CBD, after a few stops (in 2-3mile intervals). And, of course, the economic development and redevelopment at the stops/stations along all the lines would be astonishing. Transportation/commuter rail is the #1 issue facing an exploding booming Houston region.

    We’re talking about approx. $3 to 5 Billion, depending on the routes and technology used, so it won’t be cheap. But as a Houston lover, it pains me and it’s embarrassing to see that in 2014 commuter rail is not yet a reality in Greater Houston. As I’ve shown, it’s a simple concept to realize. It’s great to move the masses throughout the city/metro, while avoiding and lessening ridiculous traffic and congestion. And in NY, LA, Chicago, Miami, Philly, Boston, Atlanta, Washington, DC, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Madrid, Barcelona, Sydney, Milan, Rio, Rome, Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Toronto, Montreal, Berlin, etc, and (drum roll please) Dallas…all “world class”, I can arrive at the airport and be whisked downtown and throughout the region, by rail.
    So yea, Houston really “needs it”. We’re VERY late…tardy for the party…but on our way.

  • The fallacy of HTX’s thinking is sad and hilarious at the same time. We are a world class city where it counts, our real estate did not get hit during the financial crisis and is attracting a huge amount of foreign investment, our oil industry is the best in the world and will be for the foreseeable future since the world made peace with the fact that we will depend on carbon fuels for at least 80 years. We have plenty of art culture here for those who still care (newer generations value technology and information above silly painting and prancing fairies).
    Mass transit IS NOT a requirement to be a “World Class City”, we’re doing just fine without it. I am glad that Culberson is stifling any sort of rail which costs billions to transport a few peasants here and there.

  • Just for grins, why is it so important for our rail system to primarily serve a small radius within the loop when buses can easily navigate the same area without the exhorbitant cost, disruption to the existing street traffic and never ending political drama? Send the rails to far flung destinations like the airports, large employment sectors (Greenspoint, NASA and the Energy Corridor) and the outer suburbs. World Class is such a trite term. Yes, Paris is
    world class but take a ride in that godawful subway sometime–that isn’t what makes Paris world class.

  • We’ve been a world class city since Exxon built the refinery out in Baytown, so let’s just drop that pretense right now.

    That said, lack of mass transit in Houston is a serious problem that is about to hit a tipping point in Montrose/midtown, and will ultimately prevent population/job density from getting too high. Every week I see a new (wood-framed…) apartment building going up there and every time I think “how much worse is traffic going to get when these open”. There is simply a limit to how many people Shepherd or Kirby can support. I’m not saying that light rail is the only solution (I say build out 3rd/2nd/5th ward first), but if we want the kind of density that’s beginning to start in Montrose there really is no other way.

  • not sure why you’re talking shit about the paris subway. i was just there, and the subway was super easy to use (even with me not knowing any french), relatively clean, felt safe even at night, and i was able to get around pretty much anywhere i wanted in the middle of the city. what more do you want from mass transit? any city ive ever been to where ive used their rail to get around the city (st. louis, london, paris) has been a really nice experience. obviously its different as an out-of-towner vs the natives using it, but my experience with transportation as a visitor in those cities definitely impacts my opinion of those cities.

  • I take light rail often. Walked down and took it to Herman Park a few days ago. Took it downtown today.
    If it’s important to you, move to where it is or is coming.
    I’m a pretty free market guy, but I think rail should be expanded. One of the roles of government is infrastructure. Road and bridge type projects. Why does that have to be ONLY freeways? We need to do more to encourage people to not drive so much (but I am not going to support spending $$$ on light rail when we still have stupid rules about how much parking you must support. You’ll get my vote to spend on light rail when at the same time I can build something with green space in place of parking based on what I feel is right for my customers.