Big Rivers Waterpark Construction Kicks Off; Harvey’s Toll on Texas Prisons; A New Ice House for the Heights

Photo of downtown Houston from White Oak Bayou Greenway trail: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool


2 Comment

  • Re: “Houston Has Right Approach To Urban Development”. It’s not about abandoning growth, it’s about changing to a smarter, greener system of development. Houston needs to learn not every single parcel of open land/forest has to be razed and developed. “Houston as dense as Seattle”…that’s the laugh I needed today.

  • @ Ed: What about Houston or the Houston region implies to you that every single parcel of open land/forest has been, is being, or will be razed and developed?
    Regarding the comparative density of various metro areas…there does not exist any algorithm about how to measure regional density which is valid in the service of some normative objective at a regional scale. Validity means that the scores measure what they purport to measure. The biggest problem (and not the only problem) with talking about density is that the term is loaded with more meaning than simply population divided by land area. For example…Gulfton is very dense, but when we talk about dense development, we aren’t *really* talking about Gulfton. Where flood control is concerned, in particular, meeting stormwater detention goals almost certainly dictates developing at lower densities at a regional scale. It’s a matter of geometry.
    Other issues exist with defining relevant geographies, and to City Journal’s credit, they are relying on Urban Areas; this is the best of a lot of bad options where Census-defined areas are concerned, but it’s far from ideal because it stops where development stops, thus excluding large parks, recreational, and other open spaces that include floodways and wetlands, as well as exclusively industrial areas — and all of these are functioning parts of the city both as an economic entity and as part of a collection of 1000-year floodplains. However, to back out of that and go straight to MSA county-delineated definitions is waaaay too imprecise on the opposite end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, the MSA is the best most relevant way to study regional sociological and economic issues. To study density requires an intensive neighborhood-focused analysis, but then you get bogged down with every sort of frustrating confounded minutiae imaginable.
    Look, if we are going to plan Houston with flood control in mind, and we aren’t starting from scratch but actually dealing with a city that already exists on top of many watersheds, then we need to acknowledge that the framework for new development already exists quite well and simply needs to be calibrated according to our understanding of risk and our risk tolerance. However, for most of the relevant parts of the region, those that are already built-up, every solution for every watershed has been in recent history and will continue to be ad hoc.