Thursday, May 5, 2011

This story brought to you by.....

.....the Houston Downtown Management District.


Never mind the faulty leaps of logic, the burying of an alternative opinion (Bill King given a small blurb 1/2-way through the story), or the too-rosy depiction of downtown living with no mention of the drawbacks (lack of access to necessities such as groceries, etc. Noise, child-unfriendly environment) what really struck me was how ChronBlog continues to blur the line between hard journalism and newsish opinion:

(Efforts to turn Downtown into a residential haven prove elusive. Jeannie Kever, ChronBlog)
But downtown remains the major nexus of commerce, housing and entertainment, and with rising gasoline prices and aging baby boomers ready to abandon their suburban yards, it will continue to grow.

Will it? Because, in the beginning of the same story, Kever has to admit that "growth" has been moving along at a snail's pace for oh...the last decade or so. (A snail's pace being approx 130 residents per YEAR in growth. Many subdivisions see that in a month or less.)

What all of the downtown urban planners miss in their analysis is that, unlike New York City, Houston is not constricted by geography. In Manhattan, there was nowhere to go but up, in Houston, the path of least resistance is OUT. That's why groups like Houston Tomorrow are never taken seriously (well, one of the reasons anyway, the other being just general moon-battery at times) except by the non-serious thinkers in the Apple Dumpling Gang.

What smart dumb-growth* proponents always forget to take into consideration is the primary function of Houston's downtown. It's not a "residential haven" (although there are certainly people who do live there, and who enjoy it -as is their right) but a place where, historically, business gets done. People come to downtown Houston primarily to work. They then might hang around to play, a little, but the late-night scene that cropped up for a little bit post Super Bowl has now gone the way of the Dodo. Workers work, head over to a trendy bar for happy hour drinks, an insanely expensive snack which probably came from a pig who's entirely against the whole urban-living concept, some light flirting, and then drive home, wherever home may be.

Increasingly 'home' is somewhere up on the far Northwest 290 corridor, or (to a lessor extent) in the Heights or MidTown, good choices all. Except to nanny-state urban planners who think that those of you choosing to live outside the Beltway are singlehandedly responsible for global warming, world pollution, autism, the general lack of creativity in Hollywood thse days, and pretty much every other calamity known to man. The great evil of our day is not, as some believe, extremist terrorists, instead it is the private automobile and those who have the audacity to drive one not powered by either flatulence or french fry grease.

Despite all of this the downtown residential movement plods ever forward, driven by well-meaning mostly wealthy, Caucasian progressives who have a pretty good idea what's best for all of us, this probably due to a degree attained years ago at some University where they spent half their time protesting the man or curled up in a corner on the wrong side of a bender. In most cases, they choose to live outside of downtown themselves, in River Oaks, Mid Town or somewhere else. Meanwhile they continue to be amazed that more of you aren't making the choices they think you should. And they're very angry about that.

*The idea being that putting "smart" in front of something makes it so. What's known now is that pretty much anything with that prefix is actually the opposite, pretty dumb when you get right down to the final analysis.

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