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Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib?

Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib?

This photo isn't a prison camp; it's a school in California.

Granola Shotgun gives a fascinating account of suburban schools outfitted with 'glue boxes' (portable classrooms) and solar panels that have proliferated in the region. A commenter made this insightful observation:

The standard answer for the use of portables in Texas public schools is the demographic life cycle of schools. When a neighborhood and its school are new, young families are predominant, and the portables are needed to supplement the school space for the ten years or so that the school age population is larger than the long term outlook, for as neighborhoods age the school age population is projected to shrink.

Some portables at some schools do get removed, but that is increasingly the exception. For many neighborhoods that age, the original property owners are replaced these days by Hispanic owners and tenants, with much larger families, so the school population goes up rather than down and the portables stay and often grow in number.

In Iowa, raising the gas tax is touted as a success and an example of bipartisanship, but is really the path of least resistance that leads to yet more road-building. Bruce Nesmith of the blog Holy Mountain:  " ...[Adam] Smith cautions us that, while public officials can address problems that markets ignore (or even create), political processes lack the discipline the market imposes. Iowa's politicians now have $200 million more dollars a year, and constituents that seem (to them, anyway) to expect to receive all good things for free. So there's an undeniable temptation to spend the windfall on flashy new construction projects instead of maintaining the infrastructure we're having trouble keeping up with."

Palm Beach County recently adopted regulations to allow Uber to operate legally for an interim period through September. In "The Face of Uber",  Walkable West Palm Beach argues that far from a millennial fad, Uber is an invaluable resource for those who can't drive or choose not to drive in Palm Beach County. A retiree had this to say about the service at a recent County Commission meeting:

“If you cut Uber, I don’t know what I’ll do because I depend on them,” retiree Nancy Gregory of West Palm Beach told commissioners as tears came to her eyes. She said the application on her smart phone lets her see a picture of the driver and follow the progress of the vehicle and typically she has to wait only three to five minutes for a ride, and she feels more comfortable with Uber than with ordinary cabs.

At what point does shadow cast over a city park become justification for stopping development? Dave Alden explores this question in his recent post "Casting Shadows on Urbanism"

Two posts ago, I introduced an argument put forth by renowned baseball analyst Bill James, who also comments with acuity and insight on any other subject that interests him.  In his non-baseball role, he contended in his book “Solid Fool’s Gold” that if infinite value is assigned to any single element of a complex decision, the resulting decision will be distorted.

In a brilliant piece titled "Big Box Urbanism", Granola Shotgun dissects the lifecycle of growth and decline in two California cities that have gone all in on the Ponzi scheme. 

Here’s what that same Walmart looks like today – just twenty five years later. In theory a new big box retailer would have opened up in the old Walmart building, but instead it has remained empty since 2006. There’s simply no market demand for these hulking ruins.

Old and busted

Old and busted

The laws of economics are not suspended, no matter how much local economic development officials sacrifice on the altar of growth.

Also on the network:

  • "Downward Mobility" tells the story of a suburb in decline, with residents saddled with debt, too many cars, and the realization that they aren't a Whole Foods demographic anymore.
  • Great reminder from PEDS that pedestrians need to be accommodated during construction projects, just as we accommodate drivers.

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