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Toronto Urban Sprawl Compared to Other Cities

W. K. Lis

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In Monday's remarks by Trump (see link), there was buried his remarks on infrastructure that could expand sprawl in the States.

...It took 11 months to build the Empire State Building. But today, it can take as long as a decade and much more than that. Many, many stories where it takes 20 and 25 years just to get approvals to start construction of a fairly routine highway. Highway builders must get up to 16 different approvals involving 9 different federal agencies governed by 29 different statutes. One agency alone can stall a project for many, many years and even decades.

Not only does this cost our economy billions of dollars but it also denies our citizens the safe and modern infrastructure they deserve. This overregulated permitting process is a massive, self- inflicted wound on our country. It’s disgraceful. Denying our people much-needed investments in their community and I just want to show you this because it was just shown me and I think I’m going to show it to the media.

Both real and fake media, by the way. This is what it takes to get something approved today.

Elaine, you see that?

So this is what it takes. Permitting process flow chart, that’s a flow chart. So that can go out to 20 years, this shows about 10. But that can go out to about 20 years to get something approved. This is for a highway. I’ve seen a highway recently in a certain state, I won’t mention its name, it’s 17 years.

I could have built it for $4 million or $5 million without the permitting process. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars but it took 17 years to get it approved and many, many — many, many pages of environmental impact studies. This is what we will bring it down to. This is less than two years. This is going to happen quickly, that’s what I’m signing today.

This will be less than two years for a highway. So it’s going to be quick, it’s going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it. Very simple. We’re not going to approve it. So this is — maybe this one, we’ll say “let’s throw the other one away.” Would anybody like it from the media? Would anybody like that long, beautiful chart? You can have it.

So my executive order also requires agencies to work together efficiently by requiring one lead agency for each major infrastructure project. It also holds agencies accountable if they fail to streamline their review process. So each agency is accountable. We’re going to get infrastructure built quickly; inexpensively, relatively speaking; and the permitting process will go very, very quickly.

No longer will we tolerate one job-killing delay after another. No longer will we accept a broken system that benefits consultants and lobbyists at the expense of hardworking Americans. Now, I knew the process very well, probably better than anybody. I had to get permits for this building and many of the buildings I built -- all of the buildings I built in Manhattan and many other places.

And I will tell you that the consultants are rich people. They go around making it very difficult, they lobby Congress, they lobby state governments, city governments to make it very difficult so that you have to hire consultants and that you have to take years and pay them a fortune. So we’re streamlining the process and we won’t be having so much of that any more.

No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay. While protecting the environment, we will build gleaming new roads, bridges, railways, waterways, tunnels and highways. We will rebuild our country with American workers, American iron, American aluminum, American steel. We will create millions of new jobs and make millions of American dreams come true.

Our infrastructure will again be the best in the world. We used to have the greatest infrastructure anywhere in the world. And today we’re like a third world country. We’re literally like a third world country. Our infrastructure will again be the best and we will restore the pride in our communities, our nation and all over the United States, we’ll be proud again...
 

Johnny Au

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Soon enough, Trump would construct an interstate across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, allowing for faster commutes between the Twin Cities of Minnesota and Sault Ste. Marie.

Oh, and it would cut through environmentally sensitive land.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan should not have an interstate along it (the I-75 along the eastern edge of the peninsula is enough).
 

TOareaFan

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Well we certainly did not get the amount of new built rental post the 1991 rule change that we were expecting but we did get an ever so slight increase. The problem with this policy (and most policies I guess) is that they never happen in a vacuum. What we saw post 1991 was the start of the our biggest ever condo boom (maybe the largest in North American history....but that is just a "feel").....and anyone looking to build purpose built rental found themselves competing for sites with condo developers....and given the near immediate profits available to condo developers and the ever growing nature of those the much slower profit model for purpose built rental made it impossible to compete for sites.....stated another way, rents had to catch up and condo profit models had to slow down for there to be much building of purpose built rental.

Ben Myers created and tweeted this graph which confirmed what many of my clients were telling me......development yields on purpose built rental buildings had finally reached the point where a) they were better off building rather than buying existing stock and b) they could put a land price into their models that allowed them to be competitive with the condo guys. Many have told me since the rent control announcement they are "revisiting" their models.....that does not mean they will definitely slow/stop their plans to build...but they are looking at things like...building smaller units (they turn over faster and, therefore, are freer from rent contols) and starting with "much higher" day one rents.....both are things that the government may call "unintended consequences" and may regret.

View attachment 108114
Update.....report says 1,000 planned purpose built rental units have converted to condo since rent controls were strengthened.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/report-finds-1000-planned-rental-units-convert-to-condos-in-wake-of-ontario-rent-control-expansion/article36382681/
 

W. K. Lis

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Suburban Offices Are Cool Again
Companies don’t have to head downtown to woo millennials anymore.

See link.

First you leave the city for a kid, a garage, and a backyard. Then you get a job in an office park—only maybe it’s an office park with yoga and food trucks.

For millennials, the suburbs are the new city, and employers chasing young talent are starting to look at them anew.

For years companies like Twitter, Salesforce, and GE have headed downtown, framing their urban offices as recruiting tools for young talent. After opening a new headquarters in downtown Chicago last year, Motorola Solutions bragged that it got five times the job applicants it had in the suburbs. Suburban landlords like Charles Lamphere kept hearing a common refrain from tenants: “We need to go to the city to get millennials.”

Fresh college graduates might be attracted to downtown bars and carless commutes, but these days, for older millennials starting families and taking out mortgages, a job in the suburbs has its own appeal. “What people find is that the city offers a high quality of life at the income extremes,” says Lamphere, who is chief executiveof Van Vlissingen & Co., a real-estate developer based in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnshire, Ill. “The city is a difficult place for the average working family.”

Many employers, hoping to attract millennials as they age, are trying to marry the best of urban and suburban life, choosing sites near public transit and walkable suburban main streets. “What’s desired downtown is being transferred to suburban environments to attract a suburban workforce,” says Scott Marshall, an executive managing director for investor leasing at CBRE Group.

Marriott International’s recent search for a site to replace its old office park in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Md., led it not into Washington but just across town, into Bethesda’s more transit-accessible downtown. (Jim Young, Marriott’s vice president of corporate facilities, cites access to “some of the nation’s top public schools”—something more millennials will care more about as their kids get older.) When Caterpillar Inc. announced its move from Peoria, Ill., to the Chicago suburbs earlier this year, CEO Jim Umpleby bragged that the new site “gives employees many options to live in either an urban or suburban environment.”

Suburban landlords are upgrading office parks with amenities to mimic urban life, too. At Van Vlissingen’s properties, that’s meant fitness centers, food-truck Fridays, beach volleyball courts, and a fire pit and amphitheater where monthly concerts are staged. Origin Investments, a real-estate investment firm, recently spruced up a dated office building outside Denver with a 4,000-square-foot fitness center and a “barista-driven” coffee lounge and stationed a rotating cast of food trucks outside a building it owns near Charlotte.

Suburban office parks appeal because they’re cheap compared to downtown buildings, says Dave Welk, a managing director at Origin, which is based in Chicago. But his firm’s suburban thesis builds on the belief that city-loving millennials will eventually opt for suburban accoutrements.

“The thinking has been, ‘We’re in a 20- to 30-year supercycle of urbanization,’” Welk says. “I believed that five years ago. I don’t believe it anymore.”

None of this means the suburbs are going to supplant central cities as job hubs. After all, jobs traditionally based in cities—jobs in professional industries as well as the service jobs that support them—are growing faster than those typically based outside of them, according to Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed.

At the same time, Americans are more likely to live in the suburbs today than they were in 2000, and even the young, affluent ones drawn to cities tend to move once their kids reach school age, Kolko’s research shows. Many of those workers will suffer long commutes into the city center. Others will opt for jobs closer to their suburban homes.

Jack Danilkowicz, 29, moved to Chicago in 2012 for a job at a financial job downtown, but within a few years, he got married and started plotting his move to the suburbs. He landed a jobat Horizon Pharma, a drugmaker with offices in the northern suburb of Lake Forest, and moved with his wife to nearby Libertyville, trading city nightlife for the good public schools their newborn son will one day attend. “I grew up in the suburbs,” he says. “Probably in the back of mind, I always thought the suburbs would be the place to raise a family.”
 

W. K. Lis

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How Highways Squeezed Taxable Land Out of Cities



See link.

When transportation planners gouged interstate highways through urban areas in the 20th century, they damaged some cities irreparably. One under-appreciated effect was the removal of central city land from the tax roles.

Thanks to the work of Kristin Floberg, an engineering master’s student at UConn, we can see just how much was lost in Bridgeport, Connecticut [PDF]. Floberg used historical fire insurance maps to inventory every building in downtown Bridgeport before cars came on the scene in 1913. She then compared the land uses to maps of 2013.

Bridgeport, like many cities in Connecticut, is fiscally distressed. The city attempted to declare municipal bankruptcy in 1991, an effort that was blocked by a federal judge.

In retrospect, the decision to ram I-95 and Route 8 right through downtown Bridgeport must be a factor in those troubles, when you look at the enormous amount of taxable land value the downtown area lost to highway infrastructure...








 

TOareaFan

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W. K. Lis

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Duplexes Approved for 99 Percent of Vancouver Single-Family Neighborhoods
The city of Vancouver's new density regulations will be the envy of many a YIMBY.

From link.

"Vancouver city council has voted 7-4 in favour to allow duplexes in 99 per cent of the city’s low-density, single-family areas," reports Joanne Lee-Young and Massey Padgham.

The move, which would be considered ambitious beyond the realm of political possibility in most cities in the United States, is considered an interim step in Vancouver,"because allowing for duplexes is seen as a nod to a 'quick-start action' that will pave the way for later allowing triplexes and multi-unit buildings in single-family neighbourhoods and is part of a broader program to increase housing options across the city," according to Lee-Young and Padgham.​
 

W. K. Lis

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Detroit Metro Area May Finally Get Better Transit

From link.

The death of a high-profile transit foe may finally free the Detroit metro area to establish a regional bus system — which could help break down the racial segregation that for decades has undermined social and economic progress in the region.

L. Brooks Patterson, the long-time executive of Oakland County, died earlier this month of colon cancer.

Patterson, a proponent of suburban sprawl, for years stymied efforts to levy funds for a bus system, preventing a new referendum after a ballot measure seeking $4.6 billion failed by only 1 percent in 2016.

A divisive politician, Patterson trafficked in segregationist dog whistles as he sought to keep majority-black Detroit separate from the wealthy, majority-white northern suburbs.

“The only thing holding this back for the past few years was Brooks,” said Kevin McCoy, a transportation expert based in the region. “The region needs regional transit investment — big time.”

It now has a proponent of such investment.

Patterson’s replacement, Dave Coulter, the first Democrat to lead Oakland County in 27 years, told Detroit’s NPR station this week that he would support a ballot measure next year in order to expand transit across the four-county metro region.

The Detroit metro area has struggled for decades to establish a seamless regional transit system serving both its city and suburbs — leaving city residents without a car at an enormous disadvantage in seeking employment in the suburbs. Detroit’s suburbs operate a separate transit system from the city, SMART, creating all kinds of headaches for riders.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation prevailed on regional leaders to establish a united regional system, and local advocates were able to win state approval to build a four-county transit authority with taxing power. But funding was missing — until now.

“There are people that would like to get another ballot proposal on the ballot next year and that strikes me as a reasonable goal to try and shoot for,” Coulter said in an interview with NPR this week.

Republicans have said they will seek to challenge his appointment.
 

doady

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There's sprawl and then there's sprawl. If you don't know about the state of transit in Detroit, just think about the fact that MiWay in Mississauga has twice the ridership of the entire Detroit metropolitan area (56 million boardings annually vs. 28 million). So good riddance to L. Brooks Patterson. That's one of the main differences between US and other western countries. The Republicans are anti-transit, Democrats are pro-transit, but in Canada and other countries there is no such division. Transit is viewed here as a normal part of transportation infrastructure, not just as a form of welfare like in the US.

That said, the situation in Detroit, suburban transit separated and divided from city transit, is not much different from Toronto. Of course, the situation is reversed in Detroit because it's the suburbs who are trying to put up the barriers, while in the GTA it's Toronto that's putting up the barriers.
 

BhadPetrov

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in defence of poor ol' Detroit is that MiWay serves a bigger population and it's not (under)funded by a bankrupt municipality
 

doady

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in defence of poor ol' Detroit is that MiWay serves a bigger population and it's not (under)funded by a bankrupt municipality
I was comparing MiWay to the combined ridership of DDOT and SMART. But I made a mistake, SMART ridership is actually around 8.2 million boardings annually, so total for the metro area was actually around 31.4 million in 2018 compared to Mississauga's 55.8 million.

The transit ridership is also very low in other nearby metropolitan areas like Indianapolis (8.8 million), Columbus (18.9 million), Cincinnati (13.8 million), Louisville (11.6 million), Nashville (9.9 million). Detroit is very typical for the region, maybe even above average.

It's exciting to see Detroit possibly reviving, but even in Mississauga they cannot redevelop the parking lots in the City Centre because the transit ridership is too low, so the lack of transit could also hold back Detroit.
 
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