Levy Park shines, and Houston struggles to keep up. George Ristow, HoustonChronicle.com ($$$)
Unfortunately, much of Houston lacks the redevelopment authorities that can piece together private and public money like Upper Kirby. And political gridlock is formidable: Had a light rail line or bus rapid transit been built down Richmond from the Wheeler Transit Center to the Galleria, we would be celebrating the reopening of Levy Park as part of a grand transit-oriented transformation.
We've heard this song before. A recent transplant comes to Houston from a Northeastern city that's been struggling and lectures Houstonians that they don't have zoning, massive, debt-riddled and crumbling, public transportation systems and vibrant, walkable inner-cores that really only exist in the minds of the authors.
In fact, there are plenty of walkable neighborhoods in Houston, and many in the suburbs, they're just not where the upper-income Caucasian progressive community in Houston would like them to be.
IF ONLY we had built a toy train, at-grade, down Richmond Avenue (one of the busier automobile corridors in Houston) we could increase the rate at which the Danger Train was taking cars off the road (via collisions) with only an incremental increase in bicycle and passenger deaths.
This is not to suggest that ALL public transit is bad. In fact, much of it in other cities is quite good. Houston's public transit suffers from the fact that it's primary goals are not to move the populace from one place to another (i.e. where they live to where they work) but to forward the NewUrbanist/Crazy Crossley agenda that all people must move inside a super-heated dystopian inner-loop.
You really do want to live in an efficiency high-rise apartment asshole-to-elbow with your neighbors all packing in to a train until it bursts before being shuttled off to work downtown. You just don't know this yet. And you don't know because there are not enough "development authorities" to tell you that, and Crossley and others haven't been able to convince you through constant lecturing.
Of course, what they don't say is that you wouldn't get to live in the nice areas. If you've been following along recently it's only important to build high-rise living quarters for the poor and middle class in undesirable areas. Keep your unwashed/non-progressive living standards out of the Upper Kirby district for example. And don't even think of encroaching on River Oaks.
Houston is one of the most diverse cities in America. It is also one of the most segregated. Do you ever stop and wonder why that is?
Hint: It's not because a lot of people choose to move outside the city limits to the suburbs. Those are actually fairly integrated. It's where most of the central planning by NewUrbanists has taken place that the segregation is occurring. This is a trend we're seeing replicated in cities across the country.
Think about that. Because I would argue that central planning carries with it more unintended consequences than many would acknowledge.