COMMENT OF THE DAY: TURNING HOUSTON INSIDE OUT “It might be that the best outcome for Houston is for the Inner Loop to have an exurban quality of life. Send commuter rail out to the suburbs — not for the suburbanites to commute to downtown — but for the Inner Loopers to commute outbound in the mornings to densely clustered (out of necessity) suburban tall office towers surrounding the stations, and then back into town in the evenings. This is more viable than the traditional idea of New Urbanist suburbs with transit connecting them to a downtown core since politically none of Houston’s suburbs are on board with cultivating a small town ambience, but are ok with letting office builders do their thing. To be sure, suburbanites would still commute to downtown but it will be seen as an aberration. Downtown will still have things to do after dark, but other areas of the Inner Loop, connected by LRT/buses/cars/bikes/sidewalks, will do a much better job of providing the QOL aspiring exurbanites may crave. Suburbanites will, of course, still commute to a large extent to the office towers in their suburb. But they will do so by car, and won’t care about the urbanist quality of life (in other words, nothing will change for them).” [anon22, commenting on Here’s the Freshest Satellite Photo of Downtown Houston You’ll See All Day] Illustration: Lulu
As to: “politically none of Houston’s suburbs are on board with cultivating a small town ambience, but are ok with letting office builders do their thing.”
Believe me, suburbanites are not ok with letting office builders do their thing. These developers are building office buildings in suburban neighborhoods (Memorial City TIRZ 17) with assistance from the City PW&E and Mayor and Council. Property tax dollars are diverted from the City Treasury into the TIRZ. The TIRZ Board Members are appointed by the City. In West Memorial the TIRZ Board Members are attempting to annex portions of deed restricted subdivisions and cram high density, high rise, mixed to the max commercial buildings onto Memorial Drive in proximity to homes, schools and churches. What the TIRZ is not doing is fulfilling the contract with the city to improve drainage. Instead, they are channeling storm water into the streets and yards and homes of the residents. All this as the TIRZ continues to pour millions of square yards of concrete into that concrete jungle and carbon monoxide factory they have created at I-10 and the Beltway 8.
This idea makes no sense. Before long, the suburban office towers will be separate urban areas, with the same problems as any urban area… yet spread out. Then, instead of building one line to serve the masses (our current red line) you’d have to repeat that to multiple places spread out at a cost of billions of billions. The cost alone would make it impossible. The best solution is what every other city in the world has done out of necessity, build up within a center area so police, utilities, transportation, and QOL gives you a bigger bang for your tax bucks.
No more golden trains.
We’ve got to suck it up and build a heavy rail transit system above or below grade. Light rail, especially the way Metro does it, isn’t going to address the needs of a city this size.