2014 MN House Election

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FISHMANPET
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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby FISHMANPET » August 18th, 2014, 10:00 pm

Matt said nothing about dictating where people do and don't live, he merely wants to stop subsidizing low value land uses at the expense of high value land uses. People are free to live wherever they want, as long as they're willing to pay the full cost for that choice.

Somewhere in the middle of you two talking past each other is the notion that there should be a soft landing, a way to transition from our current system of subsidizing low value land use, to a system where infrastructure pays its own way. I don't know what the answer to that is on a large scale, but on a small scale I think it's pretty easy (stop making stupid infrastructure investments, Strong Towns has plenty of these examples).

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby David Greene » August 18th, 2014, 10:11 pm

^^^ Well, maybe. I never said "deserve the same level," either so I guess we're both putting words in each others' mouths.

To stop making "stupid" investments you don't go around telling people they're stupid. You can't just tell people, "you made a bad choice, tough." There absolutely has to be a gentle transition. You've got to get people bought in and feel ownership of the plan. That means talking about values and self-interest. Talking Strong Town gobbledygook is one of the best ways to turn people off. Technical arguments don't convince people. Appeals to the "greater good" don't convince people. Facts don't convince people.

Facts *do not* convince people.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby Nick » August 18th, 2014, 10:48 pm

Maybe I'm jaded, but when I hear the words "facts" in almost any context, I generally assume the person is bullshitting.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby FISHMANPET » August 18th, 2014, 11:12 pm

So instead of constantly talking past each other, let's have a conversation about how we get there.

But then again if someone's values is "preserve the suburbs at all costs" that's literally the opposite of mine and Matt's values and any other proponents of the Strong Towns message. So I don't even know.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby David Greene » August 18th, 2014, 11:36 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:But then again if someone's values is "preserve the suburbs at all costs" that's literally the opposite of mine and Matt's values and any other proponents of the Strong Towns message. So I don't even know.
If you can't have a conversation with a suburbanite that doesn't want their community to go away...well...good luck to you guys.

This is the problem with Strong Towns. There's no room for anything other than the pure ideology.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby ECtransplant » August 18th, 2014, 11:54 pm

David Greene wrote:
ECtransplant wrote:Let's also not pretend the party of "no" wants to be inclusive
You talk to voters, not party establishment...of either party.
Ok, let's not pretend the people who voted for Michelle Bachman want to be inclusive.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby FISHMANPET » August 19th, 2014, 12:08 am

David I don't think you understand Strong Towns at all. I won't even pretend to agree with everything Chuck says, but the core is about building communities that are financially sustainable. If you don't think that's a "shared value" then I'm not sure what you're expecting here. Should we just shovel billions after billions into unsustainable suburban highways in exchange for scraps for the central cities?

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby David Greene » August 19th, 2014, 5:12 am

FISHMANPET wrote:David I don't think you understand Strong Towns at all. I won't even pretend to agree with everything Chuck says, but the core is about building communities that are financially sustainable. If you don't think that's a "shared value" then I'm not sure what you're expecting here.
I'm not the one who said there aren't shared values. All I'm saying is that to win in politics, you need to connect to people and that happens through talking about values. Since the suburbs hold the political power, you've got to connect with suburbanites. People don't connect with policy and "smart growth" technobabble.

In 2008 we brought hundreds of suburbanites to the capitol who helped pass our first-ever regional sales tax dedicated to transit, over the veto of an actively transit-hostile governor, with key votes cast by suburban legislators from a party dedicated to the idea of cutting taxes whenever possible.

Contrast that to the more recent policy-focused efforts that couldn't even get a bill to the House floor, in a state government completely dominated by the supposedly transit-friendly party.

I mean, the results speak for themselves.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby mullen » August 19th, 2014, 9:05 am

you're speaking the truth there.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby FISHMANPET » August 19th, 2014, 9:32 am

So David, is your only solution to buy off the suburbs (aka subsidizing low value land uses) to get a meager pittance for the high value land uses?

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby MNdible » August 19th, 2014, 9:44 am

Here's a newsflash:

The suburbs are not going away. Full stop.

They will transition over time into a more efficient, more urban system -- they'll have to -- but if you think you can make that happen by trying to starve them out, you'll be put on the sidelines so fast your head will spin.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby FISHMANPET » August 19th, 2014, 9:49 am

For the love of God stop attacking strawmen and someone answer the fucking question HOW DO WE GET THERE

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby MNdible » August 19th, 2014, 9:52 am

Come on, I've read the comments that the Strong Towns Super Fans on here post. There's no strawman.

I've suggested before that there's real value to extending mass transit to the suburbs, but we all know what the reaction to that is.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby FISHMANPET » August 19th, 2014, 10:00 am

So, double down on bad investment in low value places?

I realize that politically and socially you can't just pull the rug out from under these places and screw over the people that have already invested there. But we can't indefinitely shovel money out there to low value places. Running transit to areas that can support it is fine, but running it into communities that exist to escape the built urban form isn't going to result in any kind of transformational change in those communities.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby mattaudio » August 19th, 2014, 10:09 am

So. I actually had this same discussion with another urbanist-who-is-skeptical-of-Strong-Towns on my patio last night. It was over beer, in person, so it was much more pleasant. We should try that again sometime, but I guess that's for the Happy Hour thread.

Anyways, I'm pretty well connected in Strong Towns, attending retreats and pursuing major projects for them and otherwise doing ninja duties - and this criticism, which I think stems from a misunderstanding, comes up again and again.

The misunderstanding is that StrongTowns-minded folks want to see some sort of massive devolution of the suburban landscape, and screw over the large share of society that has a large personal stake in that landscape. That couldn't be further from the truth.

The real point is that we may not have a choice, and that lack of choice may come sooner than we think. It's not a matter of if we prefer the suburbs or not, it's a matter of if we can afford them or not. They are collapsing under their own liabilities, and we keep sweeping the root causes under the rug through increasingly-exotic ways of propping them up. But at some point, there will either be a collapse - could be slow, could be catastrophic. There's really no other alternative when you look at the financial realities of it.

So, the StrongTowns message (and it's not just StrongTowns, it's other groups like UrbanThree's financial analysis, or Better Block's tactical urbanism, or CNU/Duany's Lean Urbanism, or all these other interrelated movements)... is actually about "where do we go from here." How can we soften this landing? How do we create places worth protecting? How do we deal with what we have (suburban style development) but make it more sustainable? How can we inform the narrative if such a collapse is fast or catastrophic? Without that narrative to explain what's happening, society could devolve very quickly by way of blaming scapegoats or people groups. Seriously, this message could be the difference between our society destroying itself or improving itself.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby MNdible » August 19th, 2014, 10:32 am

mattaudio wrote:...this criticism, which I think stems from a misunderstanding, comes up again and again.
If this keeps happening, you may want to look at what you're saying more closely -- it may be a sign that your rhetoric and your mission may not be aligned. You'll need to decide which you love more.
FISHMANPET wrote:I realize that politically and socially you can't just pull the rug out from under these places and screw over the people that have already invested there. But we can't indefinitely shovel money out there to low value places. Running transit to areas that can support it is fine, but running it into communities that exist to escape the built urban form isn't going to result in any kind of transformational change in those communities.
It’s been noted previously that downtown Minneapolis used to have single family homes. We probably shouldn’t have built that first bridge over the Mississippi, because it was infrastructure that the land use couldn’t support. My absurdist point here being that just because a given development pattern doesn't work at a given moment in time doesn't mean that you should (or can) abandon it.

Look, obviously some suburban development is less salvageable than others. Everything exists on a continuum, from suburban South Minneapolis, which apparently is criminally underserved by transit; to a location like Eden Prairie, which is higher density than you think, and has more jobs than you realize, and has some real impediments to ever being a truly walkable area but is worth investing in, to very exurban areas that I worry about greatly and don’t have any answers for.

There are a lot of people living in the suburbs. They’ve sunk their life savings into these homes. They’re not going to shrug, let their yards go fallow, and move into somebody’s Accessory Dwelling Unit. And even if they decided they wanted to do that, it wouldn’t be possible, at least not on any timeline that is feasible.

There are about 700,000 people living in the central cities. If we throw in the “good” suburbs too, you maybe get up to 1.5 million, depending on who's passing judgement – but that’s still only half of the metro population. Can you really conceive of a future where those 1.5 million people will move into the acceptably urban areas of the city, all while accommodating the growth that we’d expect to see over the next decades?

This isn't a flippant question. People who've looked at it seriously are scratching their heads as to how Minneapolis will increase their population to 500,000 over the next 15 years, an increase of just 25%, short of convincing everybody to have more babies.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby David Greene » August 19th, 2014, 10:40 am

FISHMANPET wrote:So David, is your only solution to buy off the suburbs (aka subsidizing low value land uses) to get a meager pittance for the high value land uses?
MNdible summed up my thinking quite well so I won't belabor that. However, I'll point out that this extremist rhetoric is exactly the kind of rhetoric-vs-mission stuff that undermines Strong Towns.

No one is talking about "buying off" the suburbs. We're talking about political reality and concrete things that get stuff done. I outlined what I've found to be effective, proven in the real world on a real campaign that delivered real results for transit in our region.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby mattaudio » August 19th, 2014, 10:44 am

MNdible wrote:It’s been noted previously that downtown Minneapolis used to have single family homes. We probably shouldn’t have built that first bridge over the Mississippi, because it was infrastructure that the land use couldn’t support. My absurdist point here being that just because a given development pattern doesn't work at a given moment in time doesn't mean that you should (or can) abandon it.
I think you're missing the point about what is a financially productive land use. It means that the public balance sheet makes sense, that the public liabilities are related to the public revenue generated by the assets supported by them. It's not a complex calculation, but we never do it.
MNdible wrote:Can you really conceive of a future where those 1.5 million people will move into the acceptably urban areas of the city, all while accommodating the growth that we’d expect to see over the next decades?
I think it's very doable. Part of it is making existing suburbs more urbanized in form. But Minneapolis has already seen unprecedented growth. We were a tiny tiny little down in 1870, but added over 100k in the 1890s. Added another 100k in the first decade of the twentieth century. And at that time we built in a way that was valuable, much of it lasting for over a century. If we could scale up that fast back then, we can do it now.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby MNdible » August 19th, 2014, 10:52 am

mattaudio wrote:I think you're missing the point about what is a financially productive land use. It means that the public balance sheet makes sense, that the public liabilities are related to the public revenue generated by the assets supported by them. It's not a complex calculation, but we never do it.


No, I'm aware of the math. And it's slippery.

But the question isn't, "Does it make sense, financially, to build the suburbs from scratch like they are now?" Because they're already built. They're there. There's a saying that the greenest building is the one that's already built. In other words, once you've sunk the energy into building something, it's sunk.
mattaudio wrote:We were a tiny tiny little down in 1870, but added over 100k in the 1890s. Added another 100k in the first decade of the twentieth century. And at that time we built in a way that was valuable, much of it lasting for over a century. If we could scale up that fast back then, we can do it now.
You understand that most of this growth was achieved by building new town on virgin land, right? The suburbs also grew that fast.

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Re: 2014 MN House Election

Postby mattaudio » August 19th, 2014, 10:59 am

MNdible wrote: But the question isn't, "Does it make sense, financially, to build the suburbs from scratch like they are now?" Because they're already built. They're there.
So now we triage. Some have great potential to valuable places, and we invest in them. Others do not, and we salvage them while softening the blow to people who have their lives invested in them. The only course of action that is not possible is to do what we're currently doing. That course of action is leading to collapse.

MNdible wrote: You understand that most of this growth was achieved by building new town on virgin land, right? The suburbs also grew that fast.
Growth isn't categorically bad. Unproductive growth is bad. It's not complicated.


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