What Will Save the Suburbs?

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby Highlander » Sun Feb 28, 2010 10:40 am

aknowledgeableperson wrote:What rock have you been living under?  The future will be here before you know it.  Utilities already making plans for electric cars.


No doubt utility companies are chomping at the bit to get at the market.  But there are a couple of things that are going to be HUGE issues.  Electric cars will be essentially coal powered cars.  We can go through all the wishful thinking we want about wind and solar but they are nowhere near as efficient as coal and the demands that electric vehicles would place on the system would force utilities to rely even more heavily on coal.  Second, Lithium is a very plentiful element but it is rarely found in concentrations that make it commercially extractable.  At the moment, the niche market for Lithium is easily supplied, start putting electric cars on the market in mass with very large Lithium batteries and there will be critical Lithium supply problems.  Not only that, as Lithium is never found in a very concentrated form, the environmental impact of extracting it is significant (which is probably why Bolivia, which has the world's largest known Lithium reserves, is reticent about opening up it's territory to extraction).  So, look for the cost of Lithium batteries to rise significantly if we ever get to the point where electric cars are produced in mass.  of course, the other issue is the profound difference between an electric car and a gas powered car; the latter wins in every category.  More convenient, more flexible, more powerful, better for the environment (yes, that is true..oil burns cleaner than coal) and on and on and on. 

My guess is that electric cars will be a requirement for the future because gasoline will be too expensive to use as a fuel at some point.  At that point, most people given the absurdity of trying to live a suburban life without the one thing that made it possible (gasoline powered cars) will give up due to the lack of convenience and we will see a transition to denser more compact cities where public transportation can be implemented, goods can be delivered to business's more efficiently etc....

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:07 pm

The Volt is to have a 40 mile range on a charge which should be enough for 75% of the commuters and cost $1.00 to recharge.  Yes, the car will cost more but it would appear to be less costly to operate.  Compare that cost to a car with an average mpg of 20 and cost of gas at $2.50 that comparison is $5.00 to $1.00.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby enough » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:22 pm

gm's apparent strategy is to give the volt a range that would meet the needs of today's typical driver.

in my opinion, they should design the volt for people who don't need that range.  a 20 mile range would be more than adequate for a lot of urban motorists. 

designing for a lower range they'd reduce the weight and cost of the battery, thereby lowering the car's price and increasing its energy efficiency.

a lower range would encourage people to limit their driving -- some people would make a game of getting through the entire day without needing to recharge.  (not a bad game, eh?)

but, of course, gm didn't ask my advice.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby Highlander » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:30 pm

aknowledgeableperson wrote:The Volt is to have a 40 mile range on a charge which should be enough for 75% of the commuters and cost $1.00 to recharge.  Yes, the car will cost more but it would appear to be less costly to operate.  Compare that cost to a car with an average mpg of 20 and cost of gas at $2.50 that comparison is $5.00 to $1.00.


Don't believe everything you read.  40 miles would be under ideal conditions.  Put in an air conditioner, hills, more than one person, high speeds, snow on the road, a load to carry, etc... and I suspect most people would be lucky to get half that.  I think most people are going to find electric cars very limiting and highly inconvenient;  just the recipe needed for fostering denser cities with good public transportation. 
Last edited by Highlander on Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:57 pm

Highlander wrote:Don't believe everything you read.  40 miles would be under ideal conditions.  Put in an air conditioner, hills, more than one person, high speeds, snow on the road, a load to carry, etc... and I suspect most people would be lucky to get half that.   I think most people are going to find electric cars very limiting and highly inconvenient;  just the recipe needed for fostering denser cities with good public transportation. 


It might be a stretch, afterall look at EPA mileage numbers for gas powered vehicles, but don't forget:
(1) the Volt and the others coming soon are just the first generation of these new vehicles.  As time goes on improvements should be forthcoming.
(2) it wasn't that long ago that gas engine mileage wasn't all that great and it is expected to improve the current numbers even more in the future. Not directly comparing the two power plants but stating that given money and research (like they have done with gas powered engines) who knows what the future holds for electric powered vehicles.

Your desire for denser cities and good public transportation may cloud your outlook on these developments.  Suburbs may cloud my outlook.  At the same time though, I have seen many changes in the past and challenges put upon us (like putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade) and mankind has responded.  With your outlook we wouldn't have put a man on the moon.  And I don't see failure in the future.
I may be right.  I may be wrong.  But there is a lot of gray area in-between.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby Highlander » Sun Feb 28, 2010 7:59 pm

aknowledgeableperson wrote:Your desire for denser cities and good public transportation may cloud your outlook on these developments.  Suburbs may cloud my outlook.  At the same time though, I have seen many changes in the past and challenges put upon us (like putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade) and mankind has responded.  With your outlook we wouldn't have put a man on the moon.  And I don't see failure in the future.


Actually, working a career as a scientist in energy-related issues creates my outlook, not my desire for denser cities.  I have no doubt that there will be enhancements to battery powered cars but I also understand human nature and the American penchant for convenience.  When faced with the restrictions of batteried powered cars, lets say they even achieve a 40 mile range, it still would be a huge inconvenience to have to constantly stop and power these vehicles up and people will start to look for alternatives.   Most people simply are not that proactive. I know I am not.

Putting a man on the moon was not something that was scientifically all that difficult to do.  The Germans pretty much solved the big issues during WWII.  Eveybody knew we could do it, it was a matter of cost and whether or not we wanted to spend the money.  That is not the issue here.  The issue is whether or not Americans will put up with massive cost and inconvenience to continue a suburban way of life.  I am betting they slowly start to leak back into the city.  Hell, they are doing that right now.  Most of the young people in my office live in urban Houston.  Most of the people with families in the burbs but even that is changing.  Resale in the urban parts of the city is far better than it is in the burbs,  

Also, it's not just commuters that will set the trends.  Trucks delivering goods to the stores, restaurants, offices cannot afford to stop and recharge during the day, their services will become vastly more expensive for people living on the outskirts of a city.  There is no way we can indfinately continue to waste energy by living in sprawling sparsely settled cities particularly when the most efficient form of energy human kind has ever known is depleting rapidly.  To think we are going to have a seamless and painless transition to another energy paradigm is simply naive; oil depletion is going to have severe and far reaching consequences.  True, we can lessen the impact through technology but we are still  going to feel it and feel it hard.  
Last edited by Highlander on Sun Feb 28, 2010 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby FangKC » Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:35 pm

It has already happened to some extent in some places. When I lived in NYC from 1992-2002, people in suburban NYC, CT, and New Jersey were already moving back into the city.  However, it wasn't gas prices driving it.

What happened was once the crime rate dropped to historic lows, and the NYC public school system improved, people started  moving back into the City--especially Manhattan.  It was convenience-based.  Commuters were tired of having one-hour commutes in and out of the city each day to work. Once the crime problem appeared solved, that attracted a lot of young people, and older empty-nesters, back into the city. When the schools started improving, families came back.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:41 pm

Have been reading some articles about the future of our world, and in particular our country for the next 40 to 50 years.  In the  70's and 80's the talk was saving the cities.  Now we have this topic of "what will save the suburbs".  Well, for some of these writers, when the topic came up, the suburbs will not need to be saved - they will thrive.
Not to get into that discussion though.  What it got me to think about was "What is a suburb?"  And not by its old definition but how would one define it now?  For instance, for a city the geographical size of KCMO what is a suburb?  For instance, Gladstone, Prairie Village, and Raytown are closer to the "city" than many areas in KC North, KC South, and KC East.  Aren't they more a part of the "city" than those outer reaches of the "city"?  Yes, we could call them "inner ring suburbs" and "outer ring" but the far reaches of KCMO probably would have more in common with those "outer ring burbs" than the core of KCMO.  And, of course, a city like KCMO that has huge areas of undevelopment is quite different than landlocked, developed city like St. Louis.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby mean » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:34 pm

It doesn't matter what you call it, and it doesn't particularly matter where it is, either. Proximity to "the city" doesn't matter if a municipality is prepared to densify itself enough to create a self-sustaining node. The only catch is that "the city" (and this goes for pretty much any American city) is far better prepared in terms of infrastructure and built environment to handle that kind of density. Twisty suburban roads, cul-de-sacs, and large, freestanding single family homes on big lots just don't work. What are you gonna do? Tear 'em down?
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:13 pm

mean wrote: Twisty suburban roads, cul-de-sacs, and large, freestanding single family homes on big lots just don't work. What are you gonna do? Tear 'em down?


Which doesn't really apply to most of North Kansas City, Raytown, and Prairie Village.  But that does apply much of the portions of east, south, and north KCMO.  So, is KCMO a suburb of itself?
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby mean » Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:46 pm

Yes, that was, in fact, part of my point.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:10 am

So, overall KCMO becomes more of a suburban city than an urban city as its newer outer reaches grow faster than its older inner core.  If that's the case, for the future, the interests of the voters would tend to be more for the "suburban" city with then with the "urban" city.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby mean » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:12 am

You just described the last 50 years.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby LenexatoKCMO » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:16 am


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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Thu Apr 01, 2010 7:52 pm

You just described the last 50 years.


And, at least for for KCMO, probably the next 50 years.


AKP's worst nightmare.


Not necessarily.  Especially liked the part on rebuilding "values".

Of course this might be a competing view.

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packa ... -2,00.html

Work and life will be remixed, as old-style jobs, with long commutes and long hours spent staring at blinking computer screens, vanish thanks to ever increasing productivity levels. New jobs that we can scarcely imagine will take their place, only they'll tend to be home-based, thus restoring life to bedroom suburbs that today are ghost towns from 9 to 5. Private homes will increasingly give way to cohousing communities, in which singles and nuclear families will build makeshift kinship networks in shared kitchens and common areas and on neighborhood-watch duty. Gated communities will grow larger and more elaborate, effectively seceding from their municipalities and pursuing their own visions of the good life. Whether this future sounds like a nightmare or a dream come true, it's coming.

Or:

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packa ... -2,00.html

In developing countries, the 21st century is likely to be the second age of the automobile. Everyone talks about China's money-guzzling high-speed-rail projects, but of far greater consequence is the less glamorous system of national highways it is building. Today there are nearly 668 million cars in the world; by 2050 there may be 3 billion. Many cars, perhaps most, will be powered by energy sources other than gasoline and may eventually come with robot brains connected to smart highways. But absent the appearance of the long-awaited flying car, the cars, buses and trucks of the future will probably be variations of today's automobiles.
...
Let me offer some predictions of my own. I predict that in the year 2050, the nation-state will still be the dominant form of political organization, with a few new nation-states added to the U.N. The U.S. will still be the dominant global economic and military power, even if China has a somewhat larger GDP because of its larger population. Most energy will still be derived from fossil fuels, and nuclear power will account for an increasing share of global electricity production, while wind and solar power will still be negligible. Most people will get from place to place by means of cars, buses, taxis and planes, not fixed rail. Thanks to biotech advances, people will live longer and healthier lives, and consequently the largest single occupation in 2050 will be — drumroll, please — nursing!
I may be right.  I may be wrong.  But there is a lot of gray area in-between.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby mean » Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:03 pm

aknowledgeableperson wrote:And, at least for for KCMO, probably the next 50 years.


I give it 25, tops.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby KCMax » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:01 am

David Brooks: Relax, We'll Be Fine

Over the next 40 years, Kotkin argues, urban downtowns will continue their modest (and perpetually overhyped) revival, but the real action will be out in the compact, self-sufficient suburban villages. Many of these places will be in the sunbelt ? the drive to move there remains strong ? but Kotkin also points to surging low-cost hubs on the Plains, like Fargo, Dubuque, Iowa City, Sioux Falls, and Boise.


If energy prices remain high or higher, I can see suburbs getting compact, but I can't see hubs popping in very cold places that are very far away from other metro areas. Sioux Falls is not going to be popular. If his theory is correct, it will be warm rural areas that are not that from from existing cities that will be popular - rural North Carolina, rural Texas, rural California. The costs of warming a house in Sioux Falls and the costs of getting things to a city like that are too great for it to make much financial sense for a large amount of people.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby bbqboy » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:07 am

KCMax wrote:David Brooks: Relax, We'll Be Fine

If energy prices remain high or higher, I can see suburbs getting compact, but I can't see hubs popping in very cold places that are very far away from other metro areas. Sioux Falls is not going to be popular. If his theory is correct, it will be warm rural areas that are not that from from existing cities that will be popular - rural North Carolina, rural Texas, rural California. The costs of warming a house in Sioux Falls and the costs of getting things to a city like that are too great for it to make much financial sense for a large amount of people.

Isn't that already true? Rural hubs, I mean. Seems like medium sized outposts are growing.

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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:26 pm

KCMax wrote:The costs of warming a house in Sioux Falls and the costs of getting things to a city like that are too great for it to make much financial sense for a large amount of people.


Compared to the cost of cooling a house getting things to a city in west Texas.
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Re: What Will Save the Suburbs?

Postby Highlander » Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:44 pm

KCMax wrote:David Brooks: Relax, We'll Be Fine

If energy prices remain high or higher, I can see suburbs getting compact, but I can't see hubs popping in very cold places that are very far away from other metro areas. Sioux Falls is not going to be popular. If his theory is correct, it will be warm rural areas that are not that from from existing cities that will be popular - rural North Carolina, rural Texas, rural California. The costs of warming a house in Sioux Falls and the costs of getting things to a city like that are too great for it to make much financial sense for a large amount of people.


HAHAHAHA.  Have you ever seen rural Texas?  I drive through Tyler, Lufkin, Longview and Nagadoches when I come home to KC.  They are pure unadulterated shitholes (I hate to curse but I can't think of a better term).  Some of the west Texas small towns and coastal towns are even worse.  These places are the last places on Earth any sane individual would ever want to live....jeez, life is just too short.  Salina, Sedalia, and Warrensburg are like small versions of Paris France (not Texas) in comparison.  Living in the deep south is not cheap by the way.  You have to air condition your houses in a typical year for about 8 months and electric bills in Houston can top 500 bucks per month easily in the summer. 


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