Thursday, June 6, 2013

When bad reporting leads to confusing results. (Houston Parks edition)

First we're great.....(sorry for the link to the pathetic article FWIW)

How's about another heaping helping of Houston economy porn. Craig Hlavaty, The Texican at

Everybody loves parks. Houston’s got more of them than any other top 10 metropolitan area.
Come to Discovery Green, take off your shoes, and watch a free concert on a Thursday evening. Make a night of it and take a nap in a nearby bush.

And then we're not.....

Houston ranks near bottom of national list of park access. Carol Christian,

When it comes to parks, Houston ranks near the bottom of the 50 largest U.S. cities, according to a national conservation organization.
The Trust for Public Land's new report on urban park systems ranked Houston at No. 38 among the nation's 50 largest cities.

The problem lies in context, which (when reporting on studies where Houston ranks poorly) ChronBlog is notorious for leaving out, especially if that context would distract from the ideas fostered by the leadership of Houston's former news daily.

The idea being that Houston needs more parks.  Pocket parks, downtown parks, big parks, little parks, parks for things for the kiddies, parks for dogs, parks where people can lay out in the sun, parks where skateboarders can roll, all paid for by City Government and containing nice plaques containing the names of the current elected officials who oversaw their construction.  In short, legacy makers.  That's why parks are so popular with the elected set. Do you not think former Mayor Bill White and his wife Andrea still don't get a thrill out of the fact there's a walkway in Discovery Green that's named after them?

Never mind that the park access study was seriously flawed, failing to take into account geography etc.  It was negative toward Houston in a way that the Sardine Urbanists like to see so, ergo, it must be reported as fact.  The problem is....reality.  Which is often the problem when the sardine urbanists and Houtopians get together at their workshops and public forums.  The reality that yards substitute for the local park in many occasions, parks being more useful for those in multi-family establishments etc.

These things aren't mentioned, because it makes David Crossley and his acolytes angry when they are.  Their anger leads to silly little editorials and comments in comment sections of stories which cause normal Houstonians to want to pat them on the head and send them to bed with a cookie.  'Awwww....poor David, he's not getting his way again.  Time to stop telling us how stupid we all are Crossley and head off to bed."

This leads to more anger which leads to incivility which ultimately leads to somebody, somewhere deciding to take action in a marketable manner, which leads to the Ashby High-Rise situation.  All in the name of Sardine Urbanism when it should really be placed at the feet of a lack-luster media who refuse to admit to themselves that Houston is pretty good as it is.

If only the Astros would start winning.

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