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Old April 26th, 2010, 08:18 PM   #321
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ppl of HK, to me, are like every other group of people in the developed world. A bunch of short sighted whining NIMBYs.

I see exactly the same thing happening in Toronto everytime someone tries to build any type of infrastructure, especaily if it relates to public transit.

what a shame...
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Old April 26th, 2010, 11:26 PM   #322
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That's not true. The vast majority of people are in favour of better public transportation. It's just that the civil service in Canada (and US) is stuffed with good old boys who grew up when everything was built for the car, and who can't imagine anything else. That's why highway projects are generally done within a few years, while transit projects are discussed and proposed for decades without a shovel hitting the ground.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 11:39 PM   #323
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^uh...

from my experiences dealing with the various planning authorities in british columbia and california, the urban planners wield very little executive power. they are usually just there to enforce bylaws and codes. in effect, the power of the urban planners has been gelded and as a group, they have been roundly discredited.

nimbys are around too, but they are not consistently well-organized. and often when homeowners are presented with chances to upzone, a good number of them will snap at the opportunity to sell and collect their capital gains.

for the last quarter century or so, it's been the developer community that has had effective control of the process. the municipal politicians who do get elected are generally very well acquainted with the 'donations' and influence of the developer community. they don't call it 'market democracy' for no reason.

think of it, why the hell would any urban planner/architect/civil engineer agree to build greenfield, low density, completely autocentric stuff that's often passed off as a 'great' real estate venture? you can see why the *supposedly* objective professionals would want public transit, and see why the developers generally downplay it.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 06:22 AM   #324
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In Ontario, proposals to build new freeways into the middle of nowhere are rubberstamped by the planners and developers within one or two years, and money is forthcoming within a few years at most; alternatives to building freeways, namely better transit, are glossed over or casually addressed.

Meanwhile, there are rail and subway proposals which have been proposed for decades and been held up for one reason or another. In Ontario, there is a clear good old boys club in the civil service which is not willing to look at new ideas. Hence, "new" infrastructure is not built, and existing infrastructure is crumbling. It can't be very different in Texas or California or British Columbia.

The whole structure of local governance is one out of the 50s and 60s, and the price is being paid.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 06:34 AM   #325
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^socialize with some developers and their political cronies. take note of the biggest contributors to local politics. see who (financially) benefits from yet another stack interchange, then you'll change your mind. why would developers shovel money into municipal politics if the 'old boy network' of planners have the power and are dumb enough to do the dirty work?

the constant building of more roads is to appease the developer community. the developers reap big bucks from greenfield low density suburbia. the developers are the most financially and politically powerful group in the urban development process, and they're the only ones to INEVITABLY profit from these roads. these profitable burbs can only be serviced by the ongoing spread of roads, with the attendant cost disproportionately borne by others. if you don't doubt the influence of developers, why do you think that the already cash strapped toronto subway is seriously considering an extension.. to vaughn? the civil service drones/planners/architects/engineers have no vested interests in road-building. the sprawl developers' profits are dependent on it.

bagging on the planners, or old-boys club is just too easy. if modestly informed nternet denizens can figure out the advantages of mass transit, i'm sure the vast majority of actual planners can as well. unfortunately you don't realize, or are discounting the role of the developers in the planning process.

Last edited by particlez; April 27th, 2010 at 06:40 AM.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 06:59 AM   #326
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Developers and their cronies can just as easily profit from subway or railway projects, especially given that denser development is encouraged around the stations. It's not inconceivable that Li Ka Shing wined and dined with some city official so that he could obtain those land on the Toronto and Vancouver waterfronts. Who gains control of that land, and how does that happen?

Low density sprawl is not the only way developers can fleece taxpayers. In fact your own example of the subway to Vaughan is a case in point. This is proof that the system is biased in favour of low density and auto-dependent development.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 07:12 AM   #327
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^uh.. NO.

railway projects need to have much denser development for the fat profits. this can occur in hong kong and singapore, etc. however in north america, railway developments would entail upzoning through existing lower density areas, with the capital gains from upzoning going disproportionately to homeowners, not the greenfield developers.

the vaughan subway is such a blatant example of a developer and his politician lackeys trying to exploit mass transit funds to their own selfish advantage, but is not common for a bunch of reasons. now if you want to know why there are cheerleaders for the vaughan subway, realize that there were funds dedicated for it, yet instead of laying track through eglinton or some other place it's needed, some politically and financially powerful people (hint hint) wanted to reroute it to a greenfield location that precisely benefits (hint hint). and when i hint at that, it's not the planners who think it's a good idea, or benefit from it. i guess the developers could potentially make money on this, but compare this attempt to manipulate subway funds with more suburbia built up north or west. what's easier? what raises fewer eyebrows?

now, to summarize;

i stated that the development process (including allocations for roads) has been corrupted/co-opted by the developers, as they have the money and political power, and developers make HUGE money from the constant expansion of sprawl. if the developers did not wield power, why would they shovel money into the decision-making process?

you state that idiot robert moses-type autocentric planners are to blame. i don't agree with you because... autocentric planning has already been thoroughly discredited by every possible academic out there. most of the planners who came of age during the bad old days are collecting pensions in florida. MORE importantly, who ultimately benefits more from the greenfield sprawl seen in toronto and every north american city, the planners themselves, or the developers who profit from it?

the fact that you're persisting with your line of reasoning gives a hint to some libertarian leanings. as i've already stated, ANY planner who isn't a total idiot or isn't a creepy defrosted robert moses will not approve of the current pattern of autocentrism. you could abolish the planning board and repopulate it with fresh graduates, or you could could see the planners as frivolous and abolish them altogether. it wouldn't matter, as long as developers have the profit motive and can wield power over zoning and government spending, the same patterns will continue to be built.

Last edited by particlez; April 27th, 2010 at 07:47 AM.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 07:21 AM   #328
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i know this is getting off-topic, but i really think you should spend some time with the people in the planning department. apart from a few idiots and some dinosaurs, the VAST majority of them know what they are doing. unfortunately, they don't have much power.

and i'm saying this as an architect who has had to deal with the planning departments and developers who want to maximize return on investment. robert moses is dead. the old boys club and their '60s mentality are usually sold as an excuse to further strip the planning board of executive powers. thus the weakest planning boards have the most greenfield sprawl. but hey, it's always easier to take jane jacobs out of context and blame the one group with a mandate to be objective.

if the planners really held power, do you honestly think power centers, freeways, and even more autocentric would continue to be built? what type of planner is proud of this? do you see why developers would want autocentric infrastructure?

yet you're falling into the whole libertarian 'regulation' is bad trap. unfortunately it's the money and political power of the developers that are the impetus behind the slash 'n burn building patterns we have.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 07:46 AM   #329
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Admittedly I don't have the background in the field you have, but I am on a first name basis with a few people in the field, who sit on various committees, etc. Perhaps what I received from them is subconsciously reflecting of whatever internal politics they have, which poisons my perception of what goes on.

Yes, money and developers drive development. But they are simply taking the path of least resistance to maximize their profits. Those auto-centric regulations were drawn up during the time of Robert Moses, when cars, cars, and cars meant everything. They were not swept away in one go once the mood at university planning departments changed, and you can't expect them to be swept away in one go. Some people I talk to express their frustration about how the regulations are stuck in the 60s, and about the degree of inertia present. Hence, the regulations make developers take the path of least resistance, that is to wine and dine politicians to okay a 5 mile extension of highway so-and-so so that their proposed cookie cutter suburb can go ahead.

I'm not libertarian anti-regulation, though I do believe the regulations we have are inflexible and outdated for the world we live in. But regardless, developers will always be synonymous with brown envelopes stuffed with cash, and should the regulations be updated to reflect the need for higher densities and better public transportation, developers will be wining and dining politicians to make sure the LRT line passes through a parcel of land they own. Here in the Waterloo Region, there is an LRT project winding its way through the planning process and I have no doubt developers are quietly scooping up single family homes by the LRT route from unsuspecting owners.

Last edited by urbanfan89; April 27th, 2010 at 08:15 AM.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 07:50 AM   #330
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why delete it? it's an internet discussion, not the airing of state nuclear secrets.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 08:17 AM   #331
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We've had an interesting discussion, but North American suburban planning policy has little to do with the Guangzhou Hong Kong High Speed Rail line.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 08:51 AM   #332
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanfan89 View Post
Admittedly I don't have the background in the field you have, but I am on a first name basis with a few people in the field, who sit on various committees, etc. Perhaps what I received from them is subconsciously reflecting of whatever internal politics they have, which poisons my perception of what goes on.

Yes, money and developers drive development. But they are simply taking the path of least resistance to maximize their profits. Those auto-centric regulations were drawn up during the time of Robert Moses, when cars, cars, and cars meant everything. They were not swept away in one go once the mood at university planning departments changed, and you can't expect them to be swept away in one go. Some people I talk to express their frustration about how the regulations are stuck in the 60s, and about the degree of inertia present. Hence, the regulations make developers take the path of least resistance, that is to wine and dine politicians to okay a 5 mile extension of highway so-and-so so that their proposed cookie cutter suburb can go ahead.

I'm not libertarian anti-regulation, though I do believe the regulations we have are inflexible and outdated for the world we live in. But regardless, developers will always be synonymous with brown envelopes stuffed with cash, and should the regulations be updated to reflect the need for higher densities and better public transportation, developers will be wining and dining politicians to make sure the LRT line passes through a parcel of land they own. Here in the Waterloo Region, there is an LRT project winding its way through the planning process and I have no doubt developers are quietly scooping up single family homes by the LRT route from unsuspecting owners.

if the developers only took the path of least resistance, they wouldn't shell out serious money in exchange for makings things go their way. for developers, the biggest, fattest profits lie in greenfield suburbia. thus ANY attempts to constrict suburban development is met with stiff resistance from the developers and their pocketbooks. there's just no way to argue against this.

you could say the state of development is just a continuation of robert moses' era. but there always need to be interests pushing for or against certain developments. yet the worst of suburban development is now taking place in jurisdictions which weren't around during the sixties, and much of the newer autocentric suburban developments like power centers, casinos, automalls, etc. did not exist during robert moses' reign of terror. why were bylaws and regulations changed to accommodate these new types of development? robert moses sure as hell wasn't to blame for these things.

while there is plenty of inertia in the planning departments, there is always a group that has the power and motivation to lobby for its own interests and effect change. beginning a generation or so ago, neoliberal politics has stripped many regulators of their power. regulation was seen as inherently inefficient, and the ideal of free enterprise was thus elevated as the way forward.

the role of developers in municipal politics is similar to that of the finance industry in national politics. they are the alpha industries when it comes to influence, aka bribery. do developers find anything better (i.e. more profitable) than greenfield suburbia?

the developers not only make disproportionate amounts of money from suburban real estate and call the shots in municipal politics, they also wield influence over the media. thus you don't see stories about the inherent perils of our development patterns. yet it's just so easy to blame a bunch of stereotyped urban planners as inert and unyielding.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 08:56 AM   #333
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To hkskyline,

MTR (HK subway) is also large construction cost (eg, HK$ 15 billian in <5 Km of west island line recently) and not very profitable. Why it should be built?

If MTR not builld 30 years ago, can you image the loss from traffic congestion (money and time)?

Just for brainstorm~~
Well, subway construction easily topples USD 1 billion these days. But the HSR link is USD 8 billion, which is like 4 WIL. Obviously it'll draw a lot of attention from the scrutinizing public.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 01:42 PM   #334
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Well, subway construction easily topples USD 1 billion these days. But the HSR link is USD 8 billion, which is like 4 WIL. Obviously it'll draw a lot of attention from the scrutinizing public.
It seems that you didn't answer my second question.

In 20-30 years ago, many HK ppl againest construction of HK Airport and Subway because of high construction cost. And now, MTR and Airport created benfits (economic and convenence) to Hong Kong. So that the ppl that againest the construction of HK Airport and Subway have no reason to againest.

On the same way, the ppl that againest High speed railway would be affected by the truth.

Lets make a deal, that High Speed railway would reduce the usage of HK Airport and take HSR in around 500-800Km. Also, it also increase HK Airport Usage from Pearl River Delta Area ppl (Please don't forget there are five international Airports in Pearl River Delta Area).

In the final result, that railway would make significent benfits and overcome its high construction cost.

So, Don't be short-sighted.

Last edited by honwai1983; May 2nd, 2010 at 10:29 AM.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 10:57 PM   #335
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Originally Posted by honwai1983 View Post
It seems that you didn't answer my second question.

In 20-30 years ago, many HK ppl againest construction of HK Airport and Subway because of high construction cost. And now, MTR and Airport created benfits (economic and convenence) to Hong Kong. So that the ppl that againest the construction of HK Airport and Subway have no reason to againest.


On the same way, the ppl that againest High speed railway would be affected by the truth.

Lets make a deal, that High Speed railway would reduce the usage of HK Airport and take HSR in around 500-800Km. Also, it also increase HK Airport Usage from Pearl River Delta Area ppl (Please don't forget there are five international Airports in Pearl River Delta Area.

In the final, the final result is that railway would make significent benfits and overcome this high construction cost.

So, Don't be short-sight.
it's more politic (politicians) than planning (planners) when it comes down to arguing the huge amount of money in infrastructures
i don't want to say i blame everything on politic, but that's the reality many politicians are short-sighted who see his/her own immediate reputations in the next 10-15 years of politic career. things that show performance and revenue returns in three decades do no good to politicians.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 11:16 AM   #336
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Developers and their cronies can just as easily profit from subway or railway projects, especially given that denser development is encouraged around the stations. It's not inconceivable that Li Ka Shing wined and dined with some city official so that he could obtain those land on the Toronto and Vancouver waterfronts. Who gains control of that land, and how does that happen?

Low density sprawl is not the only way developers can fleece taxpayers. In fact your own example of the subway to Vaughan is a case in point. This is proof that the system is biased in favour of low density and auto-dependent development.
That's nonsense, Li Ka Shing got those Vancouver waterfront lands by winning through the bidding system.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 11:29 AM   #337
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My statement about LKS was hypothetical. The point I was making is that corruption exists within high density *as well as* low density developments. No one is more inherently corrupt than the other.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 12:14 AM   #338
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^geesh. corruption exists and can exist everywhere. BUT the fattest profits (derived from land development, whether corrupt or not) come from low density greenfield development.

greenfield development of low density autocentrism has lower up front costs, obviously lower costs per square foot of development, and is more straightforward for the developer.

but then you've insisted that the sprawl you see in waterloo or whatever place you live is more about robert moses' enduring ghost than about developers trying to wring maximum profit.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 07:53 PM   #339
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Originally Posted by honwai1983 View Post
It seems that you didn't answer my second question.

In 20-30 years ago, many HK ppl againest construction of HK Airport and Subway because of high construction cost. And now, MTR and Airport created benfits (economic and convenence) to Hong Kong. So that the ppl that againest the construction of HK Airport and Subway have no reason to againest.

On the same way, the ppl that againest High speed railway would be affected by the truth.

Lets make a deal, that High Speed railway would reduce the usage of HK Airport and take HSR in around 500-800Km. Also, it also increase HK Airport Usage from Pearl River Delta Area ppl (Please don't forget there are five international Airports in Pearl River Delta Area).

In the final result, that railway would make significent benfits and overcome its high construction cost.

So, Don't be short-sighted.
So how many years will it take to break even? It's a long and patient wait, and probably not worth the massive investment upfront.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 10:27 PM   #340
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So how many years will it take to break even? It's a long and patient wait, and probably not worth the massive investment upfront.
How many years does it take for the Hk Airport to breakeven? the US interstate system? The Japanese HSR? The English Channel Tunnel?

It's infrastructure for crying out loud.
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Last edited by UD2; May 20th, 2010 at 10:49 PM.
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