All built up with nowhere to go: Transportation funding and the link between housing and mobility

Playground in Terrace Glen apartments on SW Greenburg Rd, in Tigard. (Photos: Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

The push to encourage residential building is not very tightly joined to the moral imperative of making our region a safe place to get around on foot, bike — or while waiting for a bus. Our governments offer financial incentives to build the buildings, but you are too often on your own once you leave the property.

What good is new housing if it’s too dangerous to leave in anything other than a car — the most expensive transportation option available?

I was reminded of how transportation funding is a weak link in our system when I filled out my Portland Bureau of Transportation budget and revenue survey. It read like a push poll. Money is short, there isn’t anything you want to cut, and PBOT is mostly funded with gas taxes and parking fees — the survey made sure you didn’t leave without understanding those things.

But transportation in the region as a whole is in the midst of a funding reckoning, not just in Portland. Stepping away from Portland politics might make the big picture easier to see, and that’s where Tigard and Washington County come in.

Bus stop on SW Greenburg Rd, with the Terrace Glen apartments in background. Looking north, from SW Lehman St.
Source: City of Tigard

Earlier this year, BikePortland reported that Washington County had decided to close its budget gap with general fund money historically reserved for transportation. The loss of MSTIP (Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program) funding immediately jeopardized the 25 large capital projects which area transportation agencies had submitted for the current funding cycle, and even imperiled shovel-ready projects which had already been approved in previous cycles.

Tigard’s planned Complete Street overhaul of SW Greenburg Rd was one of those affected projects. Greenburg runs just east of Washington Square Mall and borders the western edge of the Metzger neighborhood, whose residents would be vulnerable to displacement with gentrification. Greenburg doesn’t have bike lanes or continuous sidewalks, it is difficult to cross, and the volume and speed of car traffic make it an autocentric barrier dividing Metzger from the mall. The Complete Street project would have transformed the road with crossings, protected bike lanes and continuous sidewalks.

Greenburg also happens to be the site of a newly completed Metro-supported subsidized housing development. Officials cut the ribbon on Terrace Glen just last month. It has 144 affordable apartments and boasts that it is adjacent to,

retail, grocery, rapid public transit and entertainment … Retail amenities include Washington Square Mall with its entertainment and recreation hub, directly across the street from the site. TriMet stops across the street provide direct access to Beaverton Transit Center and other destinations.

Here’s the thing though, you can’t safely cross Greenburg from Terrace Glen to reach all that retail and public transit. And the bus stop mentioned in the quote above (and pictured in photo above) doesn’t have a sidewalk anywhere near it and is only a couple of feet, and one shallow curb, away from a stroad with a posted speed of 35 mph.

So the affordable housing got built, but with the Tigard’s Greenburg complete street project on indefinite hold, it is unfortunately not safe to leave Terrace Glen except by car.

The total development cost of Terrace Glen was $51.2 million, $17.5 million came from the Metro Affordable Housing Bond. And here’s what caught my eye, Terrace Glen also received a half a million dollars in TOD funds (Transit-Oriented Development) which are specifically targeted to “stimulate private sector investment” and “increase opportunities for people live, work and shop in neighborhoods with easy access to high-quality transit.” Without the Greenburg Complete Street improvements, however, Terrace Glen does not have “easy access” to transit, it is just another apartment building on an unsafe road. Albeit one that is affordable.

TOD money is a carrot to get developers to build affordable housing in transit-rich and walkable areas, but it is not meant for actually building anything. Half a million seems like a puny carrot for a $51.2 million project, but it would pay for a crosswalk and flashing beacon.

But there is not a bad guy here, and I’m not pointing a finger. This disconnect between development and transportation infrastructure is the result of piecemeal and inadequate transportation funding. Executing everything according to plan with Terrace Glen would have required glitchless coordination between Metro, the City of Tigard, Washington County and the developer — and more money for transportation. We need to do better and get both the housing and the transportation pieces right.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero is on the board of SWTrails PDX, and was the chair of her neighborhood association's transportation committee. A proud graduate of the PBOT/PSU transportation class, she got interested in local transportation issues because of service cuts to her bus, the 51. Lisa has lived in Portland for 23 years and can be reached at lisacaballero853@gmail.com.

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blumdrew
11 months ago

Thanks for this Lisa. I always find TOD criteria to be interesting. 1/4 mile or less is not a very long distance at all – someone living on the corner of SE Harrison and 27th is more than a quarter mile from both the 14 and FX2, but surely we could agree that’s a pretty transit-oriented part of the region to live in. I also am somewhat skeptical of TriMet/Metro’s definition of “Frequent Bus”. The 76 has 60 buses per day, with 15 minute service on the entire route only from ~6:45 AM to 6:45 PM (on weekdays). That might be technically 15 minutes or better most of the day, but it’s a stretch to me – and this sort of quasi-frequent service is the norm in my experience (just check out the new schedule on the “frequent service” 17, or on the 15).

The larger point here is that no amount of schedule shenanigans or technical criteria will make this development a pleasant, walkable, urban place to live. It’s a car-oriented suburban apartment complex – there is no mention of transit in the “Community Amenities”, but assigned resident car parking gets one. And honestly, even if Greenburg were to get the prescribed safety upgrades, would it be enough for this apartment to be “transit oriented”? I doubt it. I have a hard time imagining an apartment complex advertising proximity to TriMet route #76 as an amenity.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
11 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I can’t remember when I saw it, I think it was on BP, but there was a Seattle study that found that many transit users were willing to walk up to a full mile to catch public transit, as long as the walk was safe, interesting, and pleasant, plus the transit service was “frequent” and reliable. I certainly saw that in Atlanta for folks catching the MARTA subway, far more pedestrians than I ever expected, even when it was 95 degrees outside, as well as in DC.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago

‘murrican-style transportation-oriented development and corridor-centric zoning is not only another form of preservationist zoning* but one designed to make lower-income renters ill and die early.

Prominent local YIMBYs, who pushed for and celebrated BDS/PBOT’s classist and racist coridor zoning reforms (polluted traffic sewers are where renters are allowed to live) are up to their same tricks by pushing for upzoning along the very next polluted block (as if this were some revolutionary reform that would solve the low-income housing shortage).

How about we upzone every single bougie residential lot (including the lots near sightline and P:NW member owned housing) to allow for 30 FAR# subsidized/social housing and 3 FAR market-rate housing.

*They preserve resource-rich residential areas for the rich ownership class.

# Floor area ratio, with zero setbacks allowed preferably.

Will
Will
11 months ago

The issue with corridor zoning as it’s currently practiced is that it concentrates people on what are largely the most polluted, loudest, and most dangerous streets in the city. While it’s good to be nearer to transit, that shouldn’t come with increased exposure to air/noise pollution or to traffic violence.

blumdrew
11 months ago

I think it’s more useful to refute corridor-focused zoning by considering transit rich areas. Consider SE Harrison between 20th and 30th. It’s more than 1/4 mile to both Hawthorne and Division, but less than 1/2 mile, so would likely not qualify for hypothetical TOD $ from Metro. But of course, anyone who is familiar with the area would definitely say that its transit oriented. You don’t need to live directly on the road a bus runs on to benefit from the bus! And by only allowing denser housing directly on corridors – which are typically louder and less safe for pedestrians, it implicitly forces those with fewer housing options (renters) into less desirable places to live.

Here is an interesting read from Streetsblog Chicago about how “station areas” around L stops are really more like a mile radius rather than the half mile that generally is allowed.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I think it’s more useful to refute corridor-focused zoning by considering transit rich areas.

I just want to note that I would support TOD that included a half mile >5 FAR upzone — and especially if the planning included substantial below market housing greater than 500 feet from a freeway or arterial. Unfortunately, there is a big difference between TOD in the USA and developed nations with housing safety nets.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Exactly. Living *near* transit and another amenities doesn’t mean living right on top of them.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

one designed to make lower-income renters ill and die early.

Indeed — how else will we keep the Soylent plants running?

If you’re worried about pollution, maybe we should address pollution.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Good idea. In the meantime, we can stop forcing renters to live on top of the most polluted streets. Like Will said, the problem is that corridor zoning also concentrates low-income people on the loudest and most dangerous streets. Even if zoning reform wouldn’t fix these problems by itself, maintaining current zoning restrictions in light of the multiple public health hazards they contribute to is perverse.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago

The pollution/noise issue is on track to solve itself (or at least get much better) even if the only action we take is to convince TriMet to abandon diesel sooner than it plans to. Their 2040 timeline is disgraceful.

I am curious what you would do with the land you deem too dangerous to live on if we can’t use it for housing.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The *most optimistic* forecast for EV adoption is that they could make up 70% of cars on the road *by 2050*. I hardly call that a swift answer to pollution:

https://www.reuters.com/graphics/AUTOS-ELECTRIC/USA/mopanyqxwva/

Even if *all* cars on the road were electric tomorrow, that still wouldn’t solve the noise problem, since car tires rolling on pavement also make a lot of noise, even more so with heavier vehicles (like EVs):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roadway_noise

The answer of to what to do with land facing commercial corridors is to allow it to remain mostly low-rise commercial land, and build the densest housing a block or two farther away:

https://alfredtwu.medium.com/second-street-housing-living-next-to-but-not-on-top-of-main-street-e39306b82d72

F0UrFUBaEAA9Dob.jpeg
The Clear-Eyed Realist™
The Clear-Eyed Realist™
11 months ago

From your Wikipedia link:

if the trend in hybrid vehicle use continues, substantial noise reduction will occur, especially in the regime of traffic flow below 35 miles per hour.

This is exactly the regime present along arterials streets like Powell.

Your first links states that Biden’s program is intended to electrify 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050… that’s a very fast change. Can we move just 10% of people away from vehicle corridors by 2030 or even 2050? With such a rapid and significant reduction in transportation pollution, it’s hard to argue for solving it via slower and more politically difficult landuse changes.

This very much looks like a problem that’s going to cure itself through technology long before we can change the landuse.

I think we should all regard that as great news.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago

50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050 refer to *new car sales*, not all cars on the road. It will take decades before they replace the current generation of petrol cars. And that’s assuming some future administration doesn’t just reverse Biden’s changes.

Streets like Powell may get quieter (hopefully even more so with traffic calming), but we are still building dense housing right next to highways like I-405 downtown and I-5 in North Portland. EVs won’t fix noise pollution here.

J1mb0
J1mb0
11 months ago

Thank you for this. I did not realize that the Greenburg project got the axe. I was very skeptical of that project at first given that its cost would be worth two or more pedestrian bridges across 217. When I last weighed projects in the Tigard area based on how much of an improvement to our transportation system they would have, the Greenburg project got low scores for me. I would have much preferred the planned 95th pedestrian bridge because it would provide a crossing that would open up access from Tigard to the Metzger area that more people would feel comfortable using.
If ODOT had decided to close the Greenburg interchange instead of widening 217, it would have scored higher. I just don’t believe that active transportation and freeway onramps can ever co-exist in a low stress, safe, and efficient fashion.

Complete Streets typically gets this criticism a lot from me – these are the most expensive projects on our plate because they usually involve repaving car lanes and have massive ROW issues. I don’t see them being that impactful since most people would still find it too unpleasant to use due to the sheer amount of conflict points with driveways and gobs of loud unpleasant and fast car traffic. If we focused on separated networks and greenways, we could expand access in a low stress manner for much cheaper.

However, even a pedestrian bridge across 217 in Tigard would be impossible without funding from Wash Co, ODOT, or Federal sources. Almost all of those sources will not allocate funding unless it improves the car network. Worst of all, when we do get funding for active transportation the number of complete street applications flood the application. The result I am seeing is the majority of those limited active transportation funds get used to repave decaying lanes for cars. Desperate car focused officials and planners utilizing any tool they can to address their horrible maintenance backlog. Compromise is politics and momentum has value, so if the Greenburg project can get built I won’t oppose it.

Even with all my settling the project still can’t happen because we’ve built ourselves into a financial corner with car infrastructure. See Strong Towns for an explanation of why car dependent infrastructure has been investments that have not and cannot pay for themselves. Freeways like 217 cutting through our urban areas literally means we are too poor to even walk. For those in affordable housing like this one, many probably struggle with affording a reliable car. I think statistics have shown that nearly half of these kind of household budgets get allocated to transportation because cars are *gasp* an expensive way to get around. So they are too poor to drive and we are too poor to let them walk. It’s going to be like 10-20 years before those living in that project see any meaningful improvements to their quality of life. It’s so frustrating.

Ruben
Ruben
11 months ago

Our dependence on cars and the amount of money that has been spent on car infrastructure over the last 70 years is a classic case of the sunk-cost fallacy. People might agree that it would be nice to have better buses, trains, sidewalks and bike lanes, but then we have spent so much to make our cities look like they do, so the thinking goes, that we must keep going and make the car infrastructure marginally better. To reverse direction now seems so costly and so hard and it will require massive numbers of people to develop new habits that they are not predisposed to develop.

Changing from our current urban form to a more walkable, rideable and transit friendly form will require huge investments and huge disinvestment in car infrastructure. They are currently widening 217 so that it can induce more people to drive and will soon be just as clogged as always. I doubt there was any serious discussion of not doing that project and instead improving transit in rapidly urbanizing Beaverton and Tigard, or taking that money and completing every single sidewalk and bike project in the plans.

Societies vote with their wallets and we are all in on continuing to build bigger, wider and faster roads. It’s tragic, given the damage that cars have done and continue to do.

aquaticko
aquaticko
11 months ago
Reply to  Ruben

That’s what’s so frustrating about the situation. At this point, it seems so far out of the realm of possibility that people could live in most of the metro (or the country) without a car that it’s not really even a discussion. The question isn’t a neutral and rational one: “what’s the most resource-efficient means to provide the most transportation to the most people”; it’s “how do we make it easier for people to drive everywhere”.

I don’t really blame average people at this point because for most, transportation is just a means to the end, and the less it can be specifically thought about, the better in their minds. It’s city/state/national entities that do have a responsibility to ask and answer that first question, yet for the past 100 years or so only asked the second question, who should be held accountable for their failure and negligence.

Ruben
Ruben
11 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

you are right. Given our current situation it almost seems crazy not to drive if you have access. I started mostly working from home in 2020 and we got rid of one car in 2021. When I do have to go into work I try to take transit. It’s 2 buses and about 50 minutes. I don’t mind the bus, but I do mind the stress of knowing it only comes every 15-30 minutes and if I get delayed at work I am SOL. I also hate that so many bus stops are pathetic and impossible to walk to safely. My experience is that both the MAX and the buses are actually pretty pleasant. Most people are friendly. It’s not nearly the hellhole that people scream about. I just wish it was more reliable and the stops were a little nicer – good stops with shelter and sidewalks to every stop would be a start. We won’t and can’t in good conscience, ask people to try an option if the option isn’t well developed, reliable and at least somewhat close in total time.

aquaticko
aquaticko
11 months ago
Reply to  Ruben

It’s cheap-and-quick things like providing bus shelters at every stop that end up paying huge dividends in transit ridership.

It’s important to increase frequency of services, but that’s obviously not the easiest thing to do, considering how it can necessitate buying more buses, hiring more drivers, changing routes, etc. That being said, making the experience of waiting for as long as one must for a bus that doesn’t come frequently enough is a really easy way to make a wait seem shorter. This is an excellent piece by transit planner Alon Levy on how important shelter can be and how much it improves the transit user experience to not have to wait for a bus in hot sun or cold rain: Little Things That Matter: Bus Shelter | Pedestrian Observations

Ruben
Ruben
11 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

My favorite bus stops are on Canyon Rd. Where would you go after getting off bus?

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Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Ruben

at least somewhat close in total time.

This point is the kicker; any trip that involves a transfer makes it an automatic loser, and our hub model gives huge priority to some destinations (e.g. downtown) over others that may not well reflect your needs.

The fixed route, fixed schedule transit model TriMet is based on is fundamentally ill-suited for a city that is not oriented around rush hour trips to and from downtown. It worked well enough for many years, but is not a great fit for our current era.

blumdrew
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

fixed route fixed schedule transit works fine in London, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, New York, Seoul, Moscow, Guangzhou, Madrid, Delhi, Berlin, Mexico City, Istanbul, Tehran, Milan, Rome, and many more cities which are far more polycentric than Portland. You’re kidding yourself if you think that there’s something fundamentally wrong with classical public transit, rather than something wrong with our transit providers and funders.

aquaticko
aquaticko
11 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Like the rest of the west coast (and much of America), the problem isn’t the way transit fundamentally MUST work; precise and predictable scheduling and routing is what makes e.g., transfers work.

The thing is that not all those big world cities really are polycentric. Tokyo and NYC have some of the densest CBDs in the world. However, what they do have in common is that they do have at least ONE central, densest area, and even the areas around and between those areas are also quite transit-oriented. The only west coast city with a healthy center is Seattle. SF and Portland’s downtown isn’t especially healthy right now, and LA has no singular hub of density strong enough to be a transportation center. And there is no meaningful quantity of TOD in any west coast city.

What all these de-centered, suburb-ensconced cities need is TOD along their existent transit hubs. People talk like the MAX’s downtown-centric nature is a weakness, but the solution to that problem (“not everyone wants to go downtown”) is fixed by a.) making downtown stronger and denser of both residents and jobs so more people DO want to go downtown, and b.) making the MAX faster THROUGH downtown so people going to e.g. Gresham from Beaverton or Clackamas from the NE will take it as opposed to driving.

I don’t know why this is so difficult for people to grasp. You can’t have good transit with the kind of auto-dependent sprawl that is everywhere over here. We need to develop the land we’re already on for transit. It’s that simple.

blumdrew
11 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

San Francisco has tons of TOD, just not all big sexy new build glass tower Vancouverism TOD. The densest older parts of the city are clustered around Mission and Geary, plus places like Rincon Hill if you do want newer build stuff. And Seattle’s downtown is the fastest growing part of the city, and is definitely transit oriented.

Portland can zone transit centers to infinity, but it won’t change the fact that most of the transit centers are directly adjacent to freeways and not very desirable places to live. Would you live at a Sunset Transit center development? I wouldn’t, even if the MAX came every 2 minutes. It’s more practical (and better for livability) to do dense infill in places that have reasonably good transit access within a half mile (as in multiple buses coming every 15 minutes and/or trains).

I agree that a grade separation project through downtown is extremely important for regional mobility though. It’s insane to me that it’s not the #1 priority for every transit planning agency in the region. Just an obvious slam dunk. Travel times between Lloyd and Goose Hollow could be reduced by like 80%

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The Clear-Eyed Realist™ has entered the chat. Why use a proven technology refined over a century when you can experiment with filling the streets with unpredictable robotaxis? I’m sure pedestrians and cyclists will feel totally safe in such a scenario.

Well-designed fixed-route transit works because it takes people *near* the places they want to go, which should be located in high-density mixed-use zones with a variety of types of destinations in them – housing, dining, shopping, parks, etc. A short walk from a transit stop to any of these destinations should be a pleasant part of everyday life – unless you’re one of those eccentric billionaires who are allergic to being around other people.

The Clear-Eyed Realist™
The Clear-Eyed Realist™
11 months ago

Why use a proven technology refined over a century

Because it doesn’t actually serve us that well, and new alternatives are on the horizon.

Well-designed fixed-route transit works because it takes people *near* the places they want to go

Is this a description of the past, of current conditions, or an aspirational statement about the future? I am not convinced that a hub-and-spoke model works very well for those of us whose lives are not oriented around downtown. I am not convinced that a critical mass of people are willing to dedicate a larger portion of their day to transportation than they do now.

Maybe I’m wrong. One way we’ll know is if more people start using transit as their primary form of transportation. If that happens, that will be great. As you say, it’s a proven technology. It’s currently available, and cheaper than driving, so all that needs to happen is for people to come up with the incredibly awkward $2.80 (coming soon!), and step on board.

But what’s even better is that if I’m wrong, no problem. I’m not proposing any particular course of action, so it costs us nothing to find out. If automation turns out to be a techno-fantasy, no worries; our proven, well refined bus system will still be here for those of us who want to use it.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago

The thing about something being “on the horizon” is that the horizon never actually gets any closer.

No one here is saying we need transit based on a hub-and-spoke model. No one is saying that public transportation in Portland *as it exists now* is a viable alternative to driving.

Neither the present transit system nor our present car dependency are natural or inevitable. Whether they work for most people or not is a policy choice.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago

*never actually gets any closer

The Clear-Eyed Realist™
The Clear-Eyed Realist™
11 months ago

No one here is saying we need transit based on a hub-and-spoke model. No one is saying that public transportation in Portland *as it exists now* is a viable alternative to driving.

On that we agree. If a redesigned TriMet system map can make our current model of transit viable, then there’s no need to wait. If robot cars are forever on the horizon (as human-like AI was, until suddenly it wasn’t) then there’s no harm done.

Car dependency may not be “natural”, but it is our non-negotiable starting point. If a different transit system works better than the current one, people will use it, and car dependency might ease up. If robot cars supplant it, the dependency might remain, but without the biggest negatives.

That, again, would be a big win, and the city doesn’t have to do much to make it happen.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago

The city won’t have to do much…except continue to maintain a sprawling network of roads that it is already stretched too thin to accomplish. That’s assuming the robocars stop crashing into things.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

The question isn’t a neutral and rational one: “what’s the most resource-efficient means to provide the most transportation to the most people”

Your neutral question probably needs to include some reference to cost, political and physical feasibility, and second-order environmental effects such as demolishing and rebuilding large areas, if that’s part of the answer (as it is for folks like pierre delecto).

aquaticko
aquaticko
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Cost and physical feasibility are included in “resource efficient”. Insofar as political feasibility conflicts with resource efficiency, the political actors in the way need to step aside; genuine equity means assuring that the distribution of resources is done as efficiently as possible for everyone until basic needs are met.

The “second-order effects” are both the desired outcome–demolishing and rebuilding large areas is called development in normal circumstances (not just demolishing, as we did for highways)–and a necessary prerequisite for transit to work, as I stated in one of my comments above.

Guy
Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  Ruben

Look on the bright side: soon enough, we are not going to be given any choice as to whether we scrap most existing infrastructure and restart from scratch, thanks to the merciless laws of atmospheric physics and chemistry, and the impending several meter sea level rise it implies.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  Guy

The vast majority of material consequences will be felt by the global south instead of by pathologically-rich nations like the USA.

comment image

I hate the USA, Oregon, and Portland.

cct
cct
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

So, move. Cuz that affected 60 percent will have to go SOMEWHERE, and they can take your place.

aquaticko
aquaticko
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I can’t help but sympathize. The issue is that most people haven’t actively chosen to live in such a resource-intensive manner as is kind of the baseline for the U.S. middle class (to say nothing of the excesses of the classes above).

The problem that grows out of that is that most middle class people compare themselves upward (“temporarily embarrassed millionaires”), and taking the global perspective of “there are literal billions of people who live worse than I do, and I should be willing to moderate my consumption if it might help them” is not reflexive to our culture.

THAT is what makes me hate this country: the lifestyle and culture most people here are born into is selfish, and questioning it is “UnAmerican”, so people are unwittingly crueler than (I think) they otherwise would be tend to be by default.

Guy
Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

I don’t think anybody is really buying into planetary incineration when they buy most products, at least not wittingly. But the trouble is, you can vote for against this or that elected official, but you can’t vote out capitalism itself. Apparently it’s enshrined next to Jesus, Moses, and the prophets somewhere.

I actually agree with the minor premise Mitt Romney declared during a speech at a private fundraiser once in 2012 that he got a lot of flack for: at least about half the population “can’t hack capitalism”. And because capitalism, in his view, is perfect, whereas mere mortal human beings are highly imperfect, it’s clear who has to shape up or ship out.

Whereas in the case of ordinary products for sale in the marketplace, if it turned out that any product, however ingenious its design, was not usable or fit for purpose for half or more of Its potential customers, that product would come in for heavy revision or even scrapping altogether, it’s a very peculiar feature of capitalism ITSELF that the ordinary rules of “consumer choice” don’t apply to it.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
11 months ago

Lisa, subsidized housing in the USA is required to follow federal rules and guidelines even if the federal subsidies are minimal or even nonexistent, and their rules require local governments to build on the cheapest land possible, which unfortunately tends to be land that is notoriously far from public services. This is a regular and long-standing criticism of the public housing model in the USA.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

the public housing model in the USA

It’s privately-owned subsidized housing, not public housing. The Faircloth amendment, essentially, made public housing illegal.

https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/FRCLTH-LMT.PDF

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Interesting. I assume PHA refers to public housing authorities. Since public housing is regularly condemned and taken out of use in most jurisdictions, usually from underfunding for maintenance, rat and mold infestations, and the usual wear and tear, the net balance is likely maintained as new units are constructed. But you are right of course, most of what we call “public housing” is actually private housing put in by nonprofits and community development corporations like Rose CDC or Human Solutions – however, they too have to follow the same federal rules and guidelines – but not the Faircloth amendment – presumably that’s why so many of the builders of subsidized housing are now not government agencies, at least since 1999.

cct
cct
11 months ago

Those of us in SW carping about PBOT’s hostility to sidewalks and transit have to frequently scream this: the increasing density and infrastructure need ISN’T going to Snootville and its foofydog owners, it’s these clusters that are then almost completely isolated from safe access to transit options. Residents of the new SW Gibbs units must walk in the road for at least one block before reaching a bus stop. And that’s the least-bad case for a number of these.

Have to throw this on here, because it is hilarious. And still there, 3 years later (as of a few weeks ago). Talk about uncoordinated bureaus.

ooops.jpg
Steph
Steph
11 months ago
Reply to  cct

I was actually going to comment about exactly this same place, so thanks for posting that photo! The high density development with a sidewalk that doesn’t even connect to the bus stop is infuriating. Plus, what you can’t see in the photo is that they’ve closed the crosswalk across BHH at that corner so you have to cross three times to get to the opposite side of the intersection, and if you want to get to the bus stop going the other direction and the light’s not initially in your favor, you are guaranteed to wait through two long light cycles before you can cross.