The Netherlands feels more like India, in that everything is under a state of continual improvement all the time. The Netherlands is fantastically futuristic, though, and super nice (much more developed than most of America). That's because they don't think they are "done".
Here is a map of the parts of the Netherlands that are under water. https://images.app.goo.gl/c5E11LJfLETAFFBy9
Where I lived in Italy, I could walk to:
* My kids' schools
* A small grocery store
* A cafe
* A takeout pizza place
* Our doctor
* A tram stop
* A small park
With a bike, many more places were within easy reach. How many places in the US allow so many different things so close together?
Its a big part of racial politics in the US - and now as all the current tech workers move back into the cities, there's a problem of gentrification where minorities are being pushed out of their neighborhoods due to cost increases.
Affordable, with a nice walkable downtown, low crime, and access to well paying jobs is the holy grail for almost any town - there are very few that achieve it. Generally as downtown gets nicer it gets less affordable. If we had a good way to actually spread out wealth and jobs, the smaller towns could improve and there would be many desirable local places to live. Until then, people will enclave themselves away in their suburbs. There will also always be those who want to live in more rural, large spaces.
I now live in Berlin, which is incredibly walkable, prioritises bicycles over cars (except on the autobahns), and has I think four different train systems (u-banh, s-banh, trams and intercity), plus a great bus service. Oh, and now about half a dozen scooter and bike hire apps, plus Uber (and clones), and at least 3 short-term car hire apps.
I lived in Perth for ~10 years without a car, and it was painful. The contrast is incredible.
Given that Berlin was completely rebuilt in the same timescale that Perth was built, it's got nothing to do with history. It's about attitude. Everyone has to expect to live in an apartment (or townhouse), without a car, near their work, and demand adequate public transport (and use it when it arrives).
It is the Holy Grail, but it's not some mythical artifact unobtainable by a rational set of people working towards the common good.
Also, where I lived in Italy was a suburban area and it still managed to have all those amenities.
That's a political choice. I mean, yes, the US has a lot of land and fewer people, but there are plenty of places that might be more compact if it were legal.
Well, yes, in that, among other things, many European towns and cities are shaped by political choices made when population to length of enclosing wall ratio was an important political consideration.
The former essentially didn’t exist before automobiles.
The latter was laid out for pedestrian travel.
So, I don’t get your point... why would you expect to find anything comparable between a city in Italy and Houston?
Are there towns in the US where everything is within biking distance? Of course. Hundreds — maybe thousands — of such towns and villages; indeed, far more in the US than in Italy.
>Like, there is nothing left to do.
Nope. That's not it.
More like: There is nothing you're allowed to do.
In my town, we tried to get a town only beach, since most of the beaches in town are owned and controlled by CCNS and fill up with tourists in the summer.
But our town owned undeveloped beach-front land, so we tried to get a parking lot approved. Sounds easy right?
Environmental impact study, traffic study, land use issues, etc... The final reason why we couldn't make this happen was a MOTH...an insect. That is why we don't do much any more. They want you to spend $50K on studies...just so they can tell you no.
I doubt too many people became engineers or entrepreneurs because they were pessimistic luddites.
I don't see a lot of people here poo-pooing public space programs or other truly horizon expanding projects.
If I recall correctly, during the "Big Dig" work they had to jump through all sorts of hoops to run the new harbor tunnel road under the channel and deal with the water, and mud, etc. The entire South Bay has already been almost entirely filled in as can be seen on the map at the top of the linked article. Why not just finish it off entirely? Does it serve any actual purpose at this point?
I always feel like a bit of a wet blanket when it comes to the Seaport. Sure, it's nice to see the development happening, but it still feels very car-centric and cut off from the rest of the city. Just looking at a satellite image shows that there's a lot more roads and parking than actual buildings. It also feels very disconnected from the city center. Getting into town requires a fairly long walk across one of several windy, car-filled bridges.
At the end of the linked post I reference an earlier post of mine where I propose filling in the channel: https://www.jefftk.com/p/fill-in-fort-point-channel
It reminds me of the small vestigial canal in Cambridge, the Broad Canal, that is one of the last remnants of a much larger canal network that ran through East Cambridge. I've always wondered why that last bit hasn't been filled in. It's a man-made canal, so if anything, filling it in would restore the original land. There's an old steel draw bridge spanning the canal that I don't think has actually been opened in 20 years. The bridge is actually a bit of a burden: the state recently did a good job widening the walking/bike bath along the Charles River but there's a pinch point at the bridge because the old pedestrian walk way across the bridge is so tight it can't readily accommodate the bike traffic it gets a lot of now.
There has to be some reason why they've left the bridge. My dad said when he was a kid he remembers barges delivering coal to the power plan that runs along the north side of that canal. It's all gas powered now, but I wonder if it could use coal in an emergency and they've left access to the plant for that reason?
I'd be the wrong person to ask about Fort Point Channel. I love it and it's full of history which in Boston is a big deal.
Going there is the part that makes you feel cut off from the city.
Santa Fe, Newport News, Hampton, Albany, and Jersey City would disagree.
I love the Netherlands in part because it feels like it was frozen in time in the 1800s.
Netherlands is one of the best countries I've been to. Its squeaky clean throughout with excellent infrastructure. Most of the roads, public transport systems look spanking new and are not overloaded. Its also quite green. The long distance trains are also pretty fantastic compared to the ones you might find in the UK or US. Amsterdam is one of the most liberal cities in the world with a good startup eco system. It definitely is one of the best countries in the world. The USA honestly feels like a downgrade compared to it.
Particularly after Koninginnedag or the New Year's Eve it would take days of wading through a thick layer of mush before it got cleaned. I've never seen such a mess anywhere else! (And I kind of enjoyed it. It felt... alive?)
One good thing about density is you need a lot less infrastructure. America way too much infrastructure and its poor state of repair shows it.
Here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oceans_and_seas_boun... is a map of the parts of the Netherlands that are under water (highlighted in blue). They haven't colonized those parts yet. But as you say, they don't think they are done.
Or you may prefer the map at the bottom of the page on https://what-if.xkcd.com/53/ depending on how you think global warming will play out.
The older I get, the less it feels like America.
netherlands has 17 million people. india has 1300 million people. population density of netherlands is 488 people/km2. population density of india is 416 people/km2.
usa is 98 people/km2. we are not netherlands or india.
https://countryeconomy.com/countries/compare/netherlands/ind... : netherlands and india country comparison.
https://countryeconomy.com/countries/compare/netherlands/usa : netherlands and usa country comparison
https://countryeconomy.com/countries/compare/india/usa : india and usa country comparison
continual improvement is aka constant readjustments for optimal function. america functions just fine because of our less than highly dense population/km2. stability is not a negative point. change and progress occurs with stability too. perhaps india and netherlands ought to consider stability and aim for lesser population density.
I think reasonable people might disagree with that assessment.
Also, as an example the South Bay (Santa Clara County) houses 2'400 ppl/km2. That's cherry picking a bit, but somewhat comparable to the Netherlands' densely populated area (the Randstad @ ~1'600/km2). The US just happens to contain a lot of desert in the middle, but that says little about the metropolitan areas. I don't think anyone suggests Alaska should polder-up or Nevada desperately needs urban mass transit.
I have never seen anyone trip over to try and immigrate to Netherlands.
US has a lot of ‘desert’ in the middle? Pray do tell..what is the name of said desert in the middle of America?
Apparently many people are upset with their housing cost and commute situation, which I understand triggered the original post on making more land. Having lived in the Bay Area for a while, the housing/commute/living cost situation there definitely seems dysfunctional.
> US has a lot of ‘desert’ in the middle? Pray do tell..what is the name of said desert in the middle of America?
Most of the west is arid, as you can see on the map here:
Here's a list of the deserts:
In the context of this conversation, "desert" was meant as a placeholder for "sparsely populated" though. Here's a map of population density in the US:
As you can tell, the arid/desertified areas from the first map match to low population density in the last one, as you'd expect.
> I have never seen anyone trip over to try and immigrate to Netherlands.
I don't think that's a useful argument. Migration is a complex, many factor issue, with affordable housing presumably being a minor point amongst many. Your personal impression might also be colored by the people you happen to know.
Data suggest the EU has a net immigration rate of ~5 per mil, with the US at ~15 per mil. Given higher population in the EU, in absolute numbers that's 2.5 million vs 5 million immigrants over the last 5 years. So apparently a lot of people do try and immigrate to Europe. But again, it doesn't seem like a useful argument.
Right. But how is America different from other countries? Mumbai and Tokyo have similar problems and they can’t expand housing outside their dense zip codes unlike America because they are much smaller.
America doesn’t have to ‘make more land’. We have enough of it.
This whole issue must be reframed as a resource allocation problem and not a ‘land problem’.
Bay Area housing woes occur because those who can’t afford to live there want to live in expensive zip codes. When the city of San Francisco wants to build housing for the homeless at $800k per, they are essentially taking away the land resource from the working class and upper middle class people who can afford to live there with their salaries.
The case for mixed income neighborhoods has clearly jumped the shark. It’s political shenanigans and pandering to unions and a vote bank.
The Bay Area housing crisis as well as the commute problem is a failure of imagination and execution of sound policies by Sacramento and the elected officials whose progressive stubbornness is creating a Bread and Circus empire right out of the manual circa Roman Empire.
Most of the west is arid, as you can see on the map here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_the_United_States#/.... Here's a list of the deserts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_North_American_deserts
In the context of this conversation, "desert" was meant as a placeholder for "sparsely populated" though. Here's a map of population density in the US: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=49471c6646....
As you can tell, the arid/desertified areas from the first map match to low population density in the last one, as you'd expect.[...]
Right. I am confused. You said ‘the middle is desert’ and then went on to claim that ‘most of the west is arid’(not true,btw).
And then you claim that desert in this context is ‘sparsely populated’. Which one is it?
I don't think that's a useful argument. Migration is a complex, many factor issue, with affordable housing presumably being a minor point amongst many. [..]
It might not be useful to you, but rates of immigration is directly related as a factor to an increase in population density outside of native population’s natural birth rate.
Bay Area does not have affordable housing and yet, the urban-rural migration has only been increasing. Intra state migration from states outside CA to Bay Area has also increased. Immigration to the country is also highly desirable.
[Nitramp said]Your personal impression might also be colored by the people you happen to know.[..]
Irrelevant and unsupportable.
[Nitramp said]Data suggest the EU has a net immigration rate of ~5 per mil, with the US at ~15 per mil. Given higher population in the EU, in absolute numbers that's 2.5 million vs 5 million immigrants over the last 5 years. So apparently a lot of people do try and immigrate to Europe. But again, it doesn't seem like a useful argument.
Right. So you are changing tracks again. EU population density is 117 people/km2. It is closer to the population density of America.
While considering migrants data, refugee/asylum migration as well as immigration should be considered. As well as geographical location.
Can you state your position on this subject clearly and concisely because I can’t tease this beginning or end from this ball of yarn.
Your style of argument (including the ad hominems) suggest to me you're neither interested in an exchange of ideas nor in a civilized conversation, so I don't think there's a point for me in engaging any further.
Having said that, I still don’t find your comment coherent or clear enough to pursue this discussion. So it’s probably a good idea to drop this exchange. Have a great rest of the day.
That said, the Netherlands truly does many things better than America. It is such a great place to raise kids. America will not be great if it doesn't steal good ideas where they exist.
The notion that one can be best in something means that there is second to best and there will be someone at the bottom of the pile.
Constant comparison of United States with Scandinavian and Nordic countries isn’t helpful. At all. Bernie Sanders started this circle jerk. And it is entirely unhelpful.
It’s not a competition or a race. We all work with what we have.
I don’t understand why that is misleading?
Most Americans live within or near cities that are populous enough to support car-free lifestyles.
Aiming for lower population density is why the Netherlands turns sea into land.
"I own property here, and if we do this, the value of my property will fall. Therefore, we shouldn't do it".
This is the real motivation, but bring up some environmental concerns, something about retaining the character of the area, something about ensuring that the area won't be mobbed by new inhabitants, just to make the argument plausible. Then vote.
sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better to take a snapshot of all property values at a certain point in time, pay out the owners at the current value, and switch land over exclusively to long term leases from the government (where the lessee is allowed to sublet).
What you do with that land is irrelevent - you pay the same whether you have a small house on a 15 story building on it.
(I talked about this some in https://www.jefftk.com/p/land-value-taxes-are-distortionary , which I probably should have linked from the article)
If the government is reasonable they should have exemptions for this:
* Pay you back for infrastructure development
* Have the government agree to treat the area as a whole (it was unimproved land til you improved it) then grandfather prices in as you subdivide
If they are completely unreasonable I guess you are left with:
* Don't subdivide instead rent out the parts of your unimproved superblock
* Charge so much for a subway there is no consumer surplus and recoup your money that way
My understanding is that this is all screwed up in California because there are restrictions on how much your taxes can go up each year. So it's not an issue of needing an additional tax, it's just a matter of needing to un-break California's property tax system.
the basic objection to property tax as it currently exists is that it penalizes you for improving your property. at the margin, this creates a perverse incentive to let housing stock degrade or even leave whole lots unused. in general LVT advocates want it to replace traditional property taxes, no be added alongside them. the claim is that, for a target tax revenue, LVT can raise the funds much more efficiently.
as for California, the problem with their tax system is outside the scope of LVT vs traditional property tax. they have land with massive valuations but get relatively little revenue out of it due to extremely low grandfathered rates.
It also anchors a person to society forces them to partipate.
I'm suggesting the city owns the land, you lease the land for something like twenty or fifty years and do what you want with it. next lessee gets to decide what they want to do with whatever you built there.
(Unless you're advocating for a method of distribution / allocation other than highest bidder.)
What most people consider ownership is really just leasing from the state via yearly property tax values.
What you're suggesting would only increase property values further. It's a similar mechanism that fuels "gentrification."
that's an interesting point. whether or not they structure it as an upfront payment, there's still an opportunity for people to grab a ton of leases, do nothing with the land, and essentially arbitrage the government rent. I guess you couldn't really eliminate this behavior, but you could limit it by the shortening the length of the lease term. of course, if the term is too short and the government is free to pick a different lessee next, it might be uneconomic to actually build anything.
It has the problem that if you think existing property rights in land are legitimate, instituting it looks like a massive expropriation. Also, you can't avoid getting priced out of your home by buying it.
It apparently has some pretty large economic efficiency and incentive benefits.
> Also, you can't avoid getting priced out of your home by buying it.
this is part of what I was getting at in the "land is one of the only truly scarce things" bit. I don't think the expectation that you should be able to afford to live on a specific piece of land forever is reasonable.
That (speculative) value is based on how they propose to use the land. In other words, their improvements. That acre of dirt in the middle of the financial district might as well not exist, in economic terms, until someone actually builds something on it or otherwise starts using it to satisfy human needs or wants.
Put another way, say that acre of land is on the other side of an impassable barrier. It's exactly the same land, but no one can get to it to make use of it. What is its value now? The value comes from how the land is used, not the land itself.
If you're proposing to base the tax on what others would be willing to pay for the land (the market value) then this is no longer a land value tax but rather a property tax.
Everyone acts like this is about value as money, but it isn't. The value comes from a variety of factors. If you started pouring sewage into my bedroom, you can bet the value of my place is going to fall, and that's why I'd be strongly opposed to it, but it's not about the money. The dollar value would fall because it'd make it a worse place to live, which is the real cause of the objections. The dollar value going down is (often) a symptom, not a cause.
Although I think, based on experience and intuition mixed with logic, most nearby property values would actually go up.
If you give a mouse a cookie...
Wetlands are hard to come by and getting more rare. Why not make more?
Seattle’s Union Bay Natural Area was previously underwater, then exposed by changing lake levels, then a dump, and now a natural area . It’s partially wetland, partially forest. It’s a popular spot for birders now. Green Herons (rare-ish find in WA) took up the area recently.
It seems like we could, at least to an extent, compensate for clear environmental harm (paving over estuaries) by building up more elsewhere. Obviously not an easy task. Not even obviously possible (there are only so many places substantial freshwater meets the sea).
But at the moment we have substantial suffering in the Bay due to housing availability. We have clear suffering in nature due to habitat destruction (more broadly). Seems like we should at least try to engineer more interesting solutions than “build taller” or “build nothing”.
> Potter Marsh was formed when construction of the Alaska Railroad embankment limited tidal ingress to a bridge over Rabbit Creek. This embankment impounded the creek and consequently formed the marsh.
It's also being used as a way to clean city runoff and post-treatment wastewater effluent.
It's not really rare. Just not usually newsworthy.
Wetlands in particular are pretty rare and environmentally valuable places though. The fact that you would fill them in and "set aside" some probably less valuable land somewhere else is not very reassuring.
Wetlands are mostly found around bays and estuaries.
Now, where are major cities found? That's right, around bays and estuaries! Because that's where you can build ports and lowest bridging points, and those are fundamental drivers of the development of cities.
There's something about this failure to consider basic geography and ecology that complicates an otherwise shockingly bold and simple plan that is characteristically LessWrong.
And frankly, the behavior of stopping reading of a proposal when you get to a point of disagreement is the root cause for why people have to do such weaseling: otherwise, people who do that would just stop listening or leave the room. So what we get are leaders who are forced to come up with ornate, wishy-washy language to lead people to the end of the argument so they can, maybe, digest the whole thing at the end.
Calculate how much that particular wetland is worth ecologically and find a low-price equivalent somewhere, buy that.
The Bay gets more space to sprawl their ugly single family madness and the wetlands (or more precisely the wetland equivalents) are safe too.
Furthermore, it's possible to simply incrementally move the wetlands toward north by filling in a southern patch and wetland-ifying some of the southern parts of the Bay's open water.
And ... this modest proposal is very much the mirror that the Valley needs. Not that it will help much, but still. It would eradicate the wetlands and the Bay itself before allowing proper high-density development and mass transit.
The entire central valley was a marsh. The delta is the small part that still slightly resembles its natural state.
Look at this picture of Sacramento from 1857 surrounded by ponds and wetlands:
Rehabilitation of wetlands is a very important goal in itself. Now that 99% is already gone and fucked up (virtually beyond repair) ... well, it means it's almost irrelevant what happens to the remaining 1% if the other 99% will be "restored" somewhere else, then that 1% can be "moved" too.
Not to mention that it the fugly plain of endless mansions sitting where the wetlands were would be replaced with a few high rises, there would be ample space to recultivate a big chunk of it.
Absurd. Just because a city happens to be there doesn't mean we should destroy the surrounding environment with impunity.
Want to increase available housing in the bay? Get rid of NIMBY zoning that prevents building up.
I'm also strongly in favor of abolishing the restrictive zoning that prohibits building up, but in many ways it's less politically practical to increase density in built-out areas than build new dense areas.
If we don't use small amounts of land close to cities to build new housing we'll continue with our default of using large amounts of land far from cities. This destroys more of the environment, pollutes with more driving, and wastes more time commuting.
To be clear, I'm fully onboard with no-build nature areas in countries like the US where we have lots and lots of sparsely populated land. But, environmentally integrated building is almost surely the best way forward for preserving human health and in terms of long-term maintenance of an industrial civilization.
Perform a thought experiment in which human systems are part of nature, not separate from it; that land isn't set aside for nature, but that nature is everywhere. This frame will encourage systematic thinking of the sort that at least more realistically contextualizes this land-filling exercise, and at most entirely invalidates the ideas underlying the practice.
To decimate such productive, sustaining landscapes is reckless, short-sighted, and perhaps even cruel––not only to natural systems which depend on them, but to us, who in turn depend on those systems.
Read Wendell Berry's "Wild and Domestic" on this, if you'd like: https://orionmagazine.org/article/wild-and-domestic/
Combine C. Alexander's Pattern Language and "Living Neighborhoods" with Permaculture.
Use biomimetic technology like the New Alchemy Institute's "Living Machines" bioreactors.
Despite this, travel times to points of interest (theaters, stores, restaurants, etc) are LESS than I've found in other non-major cities in the US, such as Richmond, VA or Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, PA. Hard to compare to places like Boston, MA or New York City, NY.
Every time I visit/fly over places like New York and SF I'm torn. Waterfront properties are beautiful, but then I think back to the dynamic ecosystem and landscape that was there 300-600 years ago and how different it is now.
It's just interesting to think about how the land we live on now was like before us. Are we living somewhere that could have been a beautiful national park?
I think it's a fantastic idea overall, but not at the expense of wetlands preserves.
Then again, what would actually be a fantastic idea overall would be increasing density in existing areas, but clearly that's politically fraught right now.
There is a reason very few people want to live in Siberia (south of the tundra). Except for some mineral extraction, fur trappers and some science/military outposts there’s not much to attract people even when Putin promises free land.
That's pretty hand-wavy. I'm sure the guys in 1970 said the same argument. The word modern has been around for thousands of years.
Which is pretty much why we got "residential red zones" in Kaiapoi and Christchurch in the 2010 Greendale earthquake and subsequent aftershocks - suburban areas built on large unconsolidated deposits of fine alluvial silts left by the Waimakariri River in its long wanderings across the Canterbury Plains suffered massive liquefaction, repeatedly.
IIRC liquefaction has even been observed in uniform gravels.
How about instead just build densely on the land that already exists in cities? And not pave over the bay?
Political feasibility is relevant when deciding what to do. It doesn't matter which solution is best. It matters which solution we can actually make happen is best.
Personally, I doubt the political feasibility of paving over the bay, but it seems like telling rich people to get over their selves isn't working either.
For the record, the industrial salt ponds are actually very beautiful. The fact that they are salt ponds is not actually a refutation to the 'but you're destroying beauty' argument.
The Bay Area could also just build taller buildings with more living space on land they already have in a denser area.
Also, I like that the article complains about how bad sprawl is, and then their solution is basically create sprawl from new land.
> Baron Haussmann was the man responsible for the city’s new look. The Paris prefect had no background in architecture or urban planning when he started his project in 1852 under Napoleon III.
If we create a new island, what about that new coastline? Is it worth preserving for the sake of it's "rarity"?
Development of this land hasn't been off-limits historically, although many of these places in the U.S. are now (rightfully) preserved. Certain types of development are more detrimental to ecosystems than other types.
If something is rare and good, it should probably be preserved, regardless of how natural it is. In this case, we're talking about natural landscapes and living beings that cannot be re-created once they are gone.
Using that definition, anything and everything could be justified as rare.
Coastlines are the most dynamic places on Earth. They change, they adapt, they are a constantly shifting equilibrium. Geologically, they are the youngest and most easily replaceable features on Earth. They're not fragile things.
What isn't natural is how static we've tried to keep them.
>If something is rare and good
You're romanticizing things. Coastlines serve an important ecological purpose, and we shouldn't ignore that, but the vast majority isn't irreplaceable.
There's no reason to believe that newly created (ecologically engineered) coast wouldn't be just as, if not more, biologically productive than what is being replaced.
Sure, it's possible for people to create new and better habitat for endangered species. The problem is that we usually don't. The "make more land" article doesn't even offer that as a suggested environmental offset. I imagine that the cost of doing so in a way that would actually be beneficial to the environment would nullify any gains to the developers.
I agree that coastlines aren't fragile on geologic time scales. The living things which depend on them are. There are millions of species that we haven't even cataloged, so how many are going extinct because of human development? We'll never know.
Ecosystems take many years to develop and often host unique species that don’t just pack up their bags and move where we want them to. When habitat is lost, extinction occurs— maybe not all at once, and maybe not species that we know of, but habitat loss contributes significantly to extinction.
“ The second biggest is that BART doesn't have enough coverage to make living without a car practical in most of the area. ”
I don’t know about the land, maybe it’s a good idea. However, this really comes down to building better mass transit.
“Closer” doesn’t need to mean distance, it could also mean time. Could Oakland be turned into “Manhattan“ with better mass transit?
As you said, closer isn't a measure of only distance it is also a measure of time. If the transit system can isn't too far to walk to, runs often enough that people don't worry about when it comes, and doesn't waste time going places the rider don't want to go: people will take it. When transit is inconvenient to get to, doesn't run when/were individuals want to go, or takes too long to get there: people won't take it.
Fixing that isn't easy though. Roads/streets need to be designed for transit. Enough people need to ride that the system isn't mostly empty. It needs to go more or less direct routes to where people want to go, not take long detours to other destinations. Only the middle depends on density at all, if you fail the other two density won't give your transit systems many riders. Pass the other two and you can still get a lot of riders despite not being very dense.
You won't be running a bus every 5 minutes through the suburbs, but you can support one 30 minutes, which is the minimum frequency to be useful, and allows 1/6th the destiny to have the same riders.
There are areas of the US nearly as dense as Paris, but because the geometry is so transit hostile there will never be transit despite the density seeming to support it. Los Vagas for example has inward facing apartments that make getting to any through street from the door hard.
Yes, it will require urban planning. Personally, I’d prefer trains/subways to buses.
The future of mass transit should arrive within a decade or so as China finishes developing low-speed maglevs that travel around 100 mph. Oakland out 50 miles should become commutable.
For now, what’s the subway situation from Oakland to downtown San Francisco? Getting people to commute in that direction would be a good start. As well as getting companies to build in Oakland.
There are a couple advantages to trains/subways over buses, but for the most part they don't apply.
They can be longer: have more riders, which is only important when they come every 5 minutes. When the bus isn't coming every 5 minutes you should address overcrowding by adding more buses which makes the whole system more convenient for the riders.
They run steel on steel which is more energy efficient. While this is a factor, a bus is so much more better than cars we shouldn't count it.
When the US surveyed (PLSS) its lands for the express purpose of selling it to citizens and immigrants, they didn't even bother to survey most wetlands, because they were thought to be entirely worthless and of no value. Certainly not anything worth saving or preserving.
It sounds a lot like the attitude people currently have for the existing environment on Mars.
In California, it would take several generations and ultimately bankrupt the state.
Any modern land management solution needs to include wetlands. We should be building more of them, not less.
- High speed rail through the mountains to places like Modesto, Keyes etc.
- More building up in Oakland, Richmond
- Allow more remote work
- Second headquarters in other major cities
Americans don't love to hear this but the political battle here is fundamentally a class war between the people that own property in California and the people that don't. The haves will also fight this proposal for the same reasons they are financially incentivized to fight the proposals to improve the existing land. You can technology your way out of some political problems but probably not this one.
I had this debate with an environmentalist who supported urban farming. Sure, urban farming is cool and a nice hobby, but it would be far more environmentally friendly to build a high rise. New high rises drive down the costs of urban living, more people move to the city, and whole tracts of nature are saved from destruction.
Absolutely Right! And, it would decrease pollution and global warming because people's commutes would be much much shorter, as they wouldn't be forced to commute from 80 miles away, like it currently is in the Bay Area.
This is a non-concern now of course, but in a world where we want to reduce transportation at scales serious enough to fight climate change, large cities will be a liability.
Vertical farming could help big cities rely on less energy, but so far I don't see it being scaled to the extent we need.
But if you don't build in the city, you have to build outside of the city. Does it really take more resources to build a large housing complex than it takes to build an entire suburban neighborhood?
The benefit of building smaller cities is that you can afford to have lettuce that comes from a couple kilometers away. If you build small cities, but still keep a distribution network that spans across continents, things will indeed not improve.
Also you compare dense cities to (american?) suburbs. Dense cities are indeed better. My point is that they are a local optimum, and one that is not good enough to offset the effects of climate change.
The model I would promote is cities small enough to rely on a short-distance farm network for most of their needs.
I sure hope not. Two sentences by the author dismissing environmental concerns isn't sufficient.
They also list Boston as an example, but Boston's land creation projects ran over cost back in the 1800's, which most people seem to think is only a modern day issue for some reason. The Back Bay was filled-in because the city had already created an environmental disaster out of it. A dam was built which caused the bay to stagnate, and fill with sewage. Maybe a judge should've ordered an environmental impact study be done before the dam was built, which would've caught this. https://historyofmassachusetts.org/how-boston-lost-its-hills...
You don't need to create land in order to have a functioning public transit system, which would address several of the problems the author brings up, without introducing a plethora of new issues.
> I sure hope not. Two sentences by the author dismissing environmental concerns isn't sufficient.
That's typifies a problem I have with internet pseudo-"rationality." The world is messy and and composed of lots of legitimate, competing political interests. The only way you can hope to offer a simple, "rational" solution in a pithy blog post is by ignoring or handwaving away a huge amount alternate perspectives and history, which actually isn't rational at all.
 The reason I bring this up is because the article is a blog post on LessWrong, which describes itself as "a place to 1) develop and train rationality, and 2) apply one’s rationality to real-world problems."
We do seem to have no ability to do any sort of large scale projects. They built the Empire State Building in under a year in the 1930s, and meanwhile it's taken ten and counting to replace a bridge where I live today. The technical ability is there, there's just no will to get anything done.
Some of the reasons things take longer today are actually good!
We have enormously better technology today than in the 30s, and should be able to put of a skyscraper in 1/4 of the time. I understand that's more or less what China does.
> 21% / 991 of 4693 Work Deaths In The US Were In Construction (2016) http://www.imectechnologies.com/2018/07/30/construction-safe...
Two deaths to build 1 WTC, vs 60 deaths to build the Twin Towers (4x the square footage), vs 5-14 deaths to build the Empire State Building (80% the square footage). Most ordinary skyscrapers have zero, which wasn't the case 100 years ago.
I'd bet that more people would die in car accidents getting to the work site over the extended construction time today.
Residential or commercial developers have never been given authorization to reclaim coastline, AFAIK. And governments very rarely do it themselves, save for when they’re essentially serving the role of an infrastructure provider to some later industry (e.g. an airport.)
Edit: I can't find the source, but the levee board still has title and standing permission from the state to fill-in something like an additional 2 miles out into Lake Pontchartrain.
(Oh, and the Dutch of course.)
This idea is dumb, we can build more tech hubs in other spaces, we don't need to destroy the gorgeous wetlands of the South Bay.
Is it perhaps possible that there may be reasons that public policy has not favored these approaches, and neither has the labor pool as a whole? For my own part, I find the benefits of living in a major point of economic agglomeration to be quite nice and not something that can be replicated by remote links.
Building up is already strongly incentivised: new units would sell for far above the costs of construction. But NIMYS use zoning and other restrictions to prevent it. I'm strongly in favor of fixing this, but building dense housing in places with no neighbors is another way to approach the problem.
I’m not affiliated in any way, just a big fan of the book.
No, we should fill the Bay, build more single-family units, and hope that whatever reasons we have for not having functional transit magically won't apply in the newly-minted suburb.
Is the proposition then to create more land to work around these restrictions? Why wouldn't the same forces apply on the new land?
What I am saying is that there's enough land already for the vision you have for the infilled areas. Your post is implicitly saying that it's easier to literally create land than change zoning laws.
And it might be, but let's be clear on what the problem actually is -- and the lack of land it is not.
EDIT: just to emphasize: Brooklyn has 2.5x population on (1/2.5)x area, and is growing -- all within the confines of an island.
Example: It feels like Japan is trapped and can't grow where it is anymore. Is it so out of line for them to offer to Russia or Brazil like $10B over 10 years for like 1000 sq KM?
The way to avoid the problem would be to not require everyone move to the bay area to be economically prosperous.