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Articles by Andy Brett

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  • The proposed DC stadium

    By 2008, there will be a new stadium for baseball on the banks of the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. for the Nationals. The stadium and the associated development will "transform" the surrounding area. D.C. is unique in that the mantra of "grow up not out" faces some legal restrictions, namely height limits on buildings in the city.

    In the spirit of hearing from the people, there's a transcript available of a live chat conducted by the Washington Post on Monday dealing with the stadium. The plans have very little detail at the moment, although you will be able to see the Capitol dome over the left field fence. (number of times the environment was mentioned: 1).

    One of the participants was Jacqueline Dupree of the Post, who is running a blog-ish site about the project. The interactive map on the Post's main site is also pretty informative.

  • Swimming out to the exurbs

    What could be even more appalling to James Howard Kunstler and company than the suburbs? The exurbs.

    If the extension of government services to the suburbs is a huge money sink, the extension of those services to the exurbs is a black hole. This is one issue mentioned in the three letters to the editor in response to the NYT article.

    KB Home is the big, bad developer in this story, and the exurb in question is New River, Florida.

    They know almost to the dollar how much buyers are willing to pay to exchange a longer commute for more space, a sense of higher status and the feeling of security.
    The answer, the company decided, is that a house in New River must be $12,000 cheaper than the same house in the north Tampa suburbs, 15 minutes closer to downtown.
    Suddenly, the situation described in last week's Washington Post article doesn't sound that bad -- many things are a five-minute drive, and everything is a fifteen-minute drive away.

    The effects of three-dollar gas occur on different timetables in different sectors of the economy. The retail industry may be feeling the effects already. It takes longer for people to switch to more fuel efficient cars, and even longer for people to express that they value a shorter commute by increasing the demand for homes that aren't "in the middle of nowhere."

    Might it be time to concede that people are unwilling to relinquish cars and instead promote communities where car use can be minimized?

  • Gas prices skyrocket

    The USA Today headline blares: $3 a gallon. But the paper is not alone. The reason everyone is talking about the surge in prices is that everyone is paying for it. Everyone is starting to employ their own personal favorite gas-saving tactics, but this means different things for different people.

    Both MSNBC and the LA Times have reactions to gas prices today. Between the two they run the gamut, everything from people who aren't complaining at all to people who have decided that a bicycle (or a scooter!) is their mode of transportation from now on.

  • Conservation easements and taxes

    The Los Angeles Times reports today on the Bonnheim ranch, a recently minted conservation easement. There is some controversy over the ranch because its owners are permitting logging on the premises, which doesn't sound like conservation to many people in the area.

    My high school English teacher had an expression: show, don't tell. The article is a powerful anecdote that reveals many of the issues surrounding land trusts and conservation easements, by giving just one example.

    Whenever trusts or easements come up, my first thought is this: the agreement is forever, or at least it can be (if this is incorrect, someone please let me know). The up-front price of the land is the bargain of the century when you look at it that way. It surprises me that more land isn't bought and donated to easements or trusts, especially given the other financial incentives to do so, like tax deductions.