Checking the Mayor’s Pothole Math; Shipping Out of the Pasadena Cruise Ship Terminal


Photo of La Carafe: Brandi Lynn via Swamplot Flickr Pool


11 Comment

  • Zillow can’t do math, plus they’re leaving out a ton of real world costs, it more like 7 years in today’s low rates, and 10 years in higher interest rates. This has been calculated and debated ad nauseum here and many other places.

  • The mayor’s promise checks out: roads aren’t getting fixed, just a new spackling.

  • Is that Brazos Towers link supposed to be an article? Looks like a press release. Hell, it doesn’t even say where the development is. I knew the Chronicle had gone down the shitter, but that’s abysmal reporting if it’s not outright (and unlabeled) paid placement. Given the lack of a byline, I’m guessing the latter.

  • Re: Pothole Promises
    While I’m hoping that Mayor Turner will succeed in the epic “Battle of Pothole Paradise”, I think it is soon to pat themselves on the back. Once the afterglow of the inauguration is over, let’s see how much has been fixed in a year – or, heck, by the wilting heat of summer.
    Though, the Mayor may find fixing potholes an easier thing than the larger issue of pension reform, which is practically an iceberg to the City’s Titanic. And, we know how that turned out.

  • @commonsense It’s such a ridiculously absurd calculation to make. There are so many variables at play with major effects, all it takes is mistreating 1 of those and the results will be wrong. Most of these variables simply can’t be calculated either and are at best wild guesses. In this case they used “home appreciation rates” and “rent growth”. If I knew someone that could even remotely accurately guess those for Houston for the next 5 years I would hand them every penny I had so that they could invest it. Any variation in either of those variables will result in HUGE swings in your results.
    The only way to deal with that is to guess at a distribution of possible future values and then select some cutoff point in that distrubtion (an alpha value) that allows it to be a conservative enough investment from a risk perspective. This is directly analogous to a process done all the time in operations research in the form of a “Qr” model. And guess what, those models are effectively impossible to solve directly. You have to do these insane iterative things and for the most part people just make massive assumptions to keep it solvable. In this case the situation is far worse because they have no real idea what the distrubtion of future values for home or rent appreciation will actually be. On average over the course of 10 years it will probably be greater than zero and less than 10%. Whoopee.
    Anyways long story short I actually agree with you and it feels weird.

  • Nice photo of La Carafe :)

  • @MrEction, don’t get too excited there, we’re all talking in generalities and rules of thumb. You can’t predict the future, and for all the proprietary algorithms and statistical analyses, financial planners don’t do any better than monkeys pulling cards out of a box at random.

  • I can think of at least three corridors off the top of my head where the City did full panel replacement and the new concrete actually rides rougher than the 40-year-old stuff. Until our low-bid contractors can figure out how to use a trowel and a roller properly, I’m more than fine with little asphalt patches that get replaced 3 times a year.

  • I love the buy vs rent stories from the Barnacle and HBJ. Neither of these outfits seems to be capable of doing any independent analysis on what it actually costs to own a Houston area home. Both the Chronicle real estate desk and HBJ have regurgitated this drivel from Zillow passing as research, but here’s the truth of how they arrive at their calculations…
    1) Assume all home buyers are putting 20% down.
    2) “Estimate” property taxes at roughly half of the real tax obligation here in the Houston area.

    Our property tax fiasco (CAD’s maxing out residential assessments at or above market value) makes Zillow’s rent-vs-buy calculations a comical farce. Our local newspapers have ads to sell, so some are apparently happy to keep printing misinformation and outright lies.

  • Buying is great until your roof starts leaking, your water heater burns out, your foundation cracks, your fence falls down and your homeowner’s association levies a special assessment. Oh and you get to mow the grass weekly during the summer. I’d like to see Zillow’s model incorporate that.

  • Re: potholes

    Yes, the mayor can proudly proclaim that there are now crews of city employees shoveling wet asphalt into holes. It’s an easy win when the expectation is that there will be no open holes in the road. Unfortunately, roads also have other features that are just as important – drainage, traffic markings/signs, smoothness, access to underground utilities, etc. If our political discourse were more rational, Houstonians would realize that all those other things are now being neglected by a re-purposing of limited resources to shovel crews.