Comment 116456

By Haveacow (registered) | Posted February 08, 2016 at 12:23:58

The big problem/opportunity here is the one staring you all in the face. It's numbered as #4 but should be numbered #1 and immediately addressed before anything else because the reasons and decisions behind it are the main things blocking the development of better transit in your city. Your area rating system has to go! Nothing else you do will work really effectively until it is dealt with.

Instead of making it an argument of fairness, or good city building forcing a change in behavior, an argument of pure economics must be made. Every politician wants to keep taxes down as much as possible and that is a political reality however, a good dose of economic reality given to them in the form of a business opportunity is an easier way to do change the stance on the issue. The current political approach has always been that, transit is the future and car driving is tied to over suburbanization and its built in hidden as well as its massively subsidized costs, which are bad.

Most of the people against this are unfortunately, are not overly effected by this argument. You often here very nice normal people say in response, "My house in the burbs is nice and so is my neighborhood, I'm not hurting anyone, why are you downtown hippies so against me! You can ride this great public transit of the future, I want my car. I don't want anything to change why should I pay more taxes for something I don't use, something I will never use unless you take my drivers license from me! Why does helping the environment mean, I have to suffer and pay for it." The argument goes on from there and divides up into the normal camps. Certain local politicians totally agree to this mindset and all the convincing by well meaning people on the other side using logic that, in anyway leads to a change in lifestyle, is immediately fought just on principle alone.

I often lead in meetings behind the scenes with the point that, "you can build all the office parks you want, it just won't attract the big companies you are really looking for and want to locate there. You get many start ups sure, but increasingly you are not getting the big companies there. The reason why is that they want a single large complex not 5 or 6 small suburban offices all in different locations. To build a complex like this using the classic office park model, forces the developer to build highly land intensive "massive footprint" structures to meet bank and financial loan regulations and requirements. Meaning, unless there are very deep pockets involved and the overall economy and building development market is really good, it won't get built".

I also say that, "its the old underdeveloped downtown locations that are in already built up neighborhoods that have the size and transport friendly locations you need, that are what you want especially, cheap locations."

When Dallas area officials asked why a certain Fortune 500 company whom had decided to locate their new worldwide headoffice in a core area location right beside one of DART's (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) LRT Stations, without even having to suggest it. The company answered that, good higher order Rapid Transit was the key ingredient. The central location meant, they could build a big structure for all their employees and not have to shuttle around during the day between locations. Annoying as well as increasingly expensive and often unreliable online video meetings, with employees in many different locations could also be avoided. LRT station access guaranteed that, all their employees could get there most of the time, very easily, regardless the time of the business day. Highways just get too crowded and have to be worked on constantly. It was getting too expensive to force some senior manager into his car on a Saturday to drive to some far off suburban location, for an emergency must attend meeting, than telling him/her to park your car at the closest LRT station and take the Train here. If food had to be brought in at the company's expense for a meeting or celebration with clients, it was cheaper to have it delivered downtown than always paying an extra distance charge added for delivery to service suburban locations. Employees, especially hard to get/control, younger workers, often felt that work could be like a jail during the business day. Having to be trapped in some far off suburban office that, requires that employees must stay close by, when there was nowhere or very few choices of where to go to at lunch or when on break. Employees who take transit or bike don't need as much, very expensive to build and maintain parking lots and structures.

One other fact is that many industries have the tendency to bunch in close by their competition. High tech, Bio Tech, and higher end business service companies have historically, done this and the trend is increasing. High Tech "techno-poles" were originally mainly suburban but this is quickly changing. Younger tech or high knowledge workers often want to be in locations that provide a "connected" environment. When they mean connected, its not just with free WiFi (although that probably helps too), they mean lots of choices to go for lunches, places with parks, good shopping locals. Any place that provides some place to go to whatever the need or interest of the worker. In some cases, just a place where you can see and talk to people who you don't necessarily work with. How many people do you see walking along the sidewalk in a suburban office park? Is there even a sidewalk at all?

Good transit is the key for all this. It doesn't mean everything must be downtown but this is where transit has the biggest impact. The impact is biggest there because of the supportive built environment. You can by the way, redevelop the suburbs, so they feel more like downtown and that is occurring inside many former office suburban office parks. The big change required is that it must be connected to rapid transit, on top og good planning and lots of awareness. Tysons Corners in suburban Washington DC and its new connection to the Silver Line of Washington's Metrorail System (The marketing name of the area's Heavy rail/Subway/Metro system) is one of the most famous examples of this phenomena.

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