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A Tale of Two Buildings and a Parking Lot

The city of Buffalo, not only legislates to promote sprawl style land use patterns, it also rewards sprawl based development with a generous gift from the tax payers.  In my last few posts, dealing with the current city zoning code here, here, and here, I showed how some of Buffalo’s most beloved buildings and neighborhoods can not be replicated today because of an absurd outdated law – the Buffalo Zoning Code.
I also recently wrote here about how much less property tax is collected from sprawl based property when compared to equivalent densely built property.  This massive government subsidy of sprawl in the form of drastically lower taxes is true in Buffalo as well. The result of this legal and economic attack on urbanism is designed to create a city full of parking lots and empty space.  As an example of this I looked at some of the properties from 783 to 701 Elmwood.  This is possibly the most prosperous stretch of Elmwood.  Its land use patterns range from very dense to outright sprawl with some properties containing nothing but parking. The drastic variation in tax rates and money collected from nearby and adjacent properties is shocking.
The first building I looked at was 758 Elmwood.  It is a beautiful 3-storey 1890s building with 20 apartments above a very nice row of shops at street level.  It fills the width of its site and about 1/2 the depth of its lot. It has no parking.  The remaining space at the rear appears to be a shady back yard.   It is a wonderful building that people in the neighborhood love.  It adds great character and vibrance to the street but,  as with other buildings of this type in Buffalo, it cannot be replicated by law. It is outlawed by the zoning code. It is also penalized by the tax code, paying substantially more in taxes than nearby sprawl based neighbors.
Urban-infill-Buffalo-NY-building.jpg
To make this building legal you will need to add space for 46 cars and as much as 10,000 square feet of open land.  That would almost double the current lot size.  Of course to do this you will need to tear down its productive and attractive densely built neighboring buildings.  I also looked at the M&T branch bank building which sits on the next property south.  It is a good example of what the zoning code loves.  It is only one story tall with only one use – banking.  It is set back from the street with a small dull plaza filled with useless little trees. It has a giant parking lot in the back.  Cars need to cross over the sidewalk to use the parking in two places creating a dangerous situation for pedestrians.
Bank-sprawl-Elmwood-Buffalo-NY-1.jpg
The building is not unattractive but it hardly adds much life to the street, especially after it closes at 5:00 pm. This site used to be mostly filled up with the amazing dark old Public School #30. The school was a gloriously hulking 4 stories from the 1890s.  Anyone who remembers that great old building knows what a major loss that was.  It was torn down,  just because.  It would have made a great apartment building today and it likely would have paid the city significantly more in taxes than the bank does. (of course old school 30 did not meet the code either). This is where the city’s sprawl, tax payer gift comes in.  As I noted, sprawl pays significantly less in taxes to the City of Buffalo than neighboring dense development.
For example:
701 Elmwood (the one story parking lot and bank) pays only about $0.51 per square foot of property.
715 Elmwood (the densely built mixed use apartment building) pays about $1.21 per square foot of property – almost three times the rate paid by the bank.
766 Elmwood (parking lot see more below) pays only about $0.09 per square foot of property – only $1,380 per year – the neighboring dense property pays almost $13,000
In raw dollar terms the dense apartment building is paying $6773 more in taxes than the bank.  But if you consider that the bank property, if built out to the level of the apartment building, could be paying as much as $37,000 or approximately $26,000 more than it currently pays.  So you can see that the people of Buffalo are forking over a substantial sum so that M&T bank can maintain a big convenient free parking lot.
Parking-Lot-Sprawl-Elmwood-Buffalo-NY-3.jpg
Then there is the partially gravel covered parking lot at 766 Elmwood which sits between Globe Market and the 7 Eleven store. The owners recently proposed a new high density building for the site – a proposed building which does not meet the zoning (for which they will need to ask for a variance).  In the meantime the owners have graciously allowed free parking on the land.  This parking lot pays only $1,380 in property taxes per year.  That works out to about only 9 cents a square foot!  The apartment building at 715 Elmwood pays more than 17 times more in taxes on a smaller property… that is more than 1700% more!  If built to the same potential as 715 Elmwood the parking lot should collect as much as $25,000 or probably more since a new building mostly likely would be taxed at a higher rate.
Just looking at these two sprawl style properties in Buffalo’s most prosperous neighborhood you can see how the City is potentially leaving as much as 62,000 in tax money on the table – in just 2 properties!  The so-called “free” parking provided on these properties does not look so free all of a sudden. With so much of Buffalo reduced to no value at all how can this tax discount be justified in the city neighborhood that is growing in value? What well run business discounts its hottest product like this?  With so much of the city reduced to basically $0 in value it is insane to discount the areas that are accelerating in value and then also make it illegal to do what it takes to make the land pay what it should be paying. This is just an incentive for divestment in Buffalo. This makes no sense. Buffalo has been buckling under to sprawl culture for more than 60 years now.  It has not worked.  Time to try urbanism again. Time to stop this sprawl handout.
Images are taken from Google Maps. Tax information was gathered from the City of Buffalo website.

Written by STEEL

STEEL

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of “Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land” ( www.blurb.com ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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  • GDubs

    Thank you, this was a very good read. What is the proposed solution? Is there an attempt being made to change the building codes through legislation?

  • Slu

    Good for you for bringing attention to this. This really is a missed opportunity on many levels. The nighborhood benefits from increased density and tax revenues increase as well. The only people that suffer are those that won’t walk two blocks after parking. If the variance is not granted for the new build on the lot next to 7-11, if will be a huge mistake.

  • bung

    Great article now let the cynical parking excuses begin.

  • LI2Northpark

    Good article Steel. I really hope the new building at 766 is approved.

  • flyguy

    Isnt there a comprehensive overhaul of the code ongoing right now anyway? I was under the impression the problems with the current code have been recognized and are already being addressed. Isnt that what the green code is all about. Frankly it does amaze me that the current code was allowed to last so long though. Why did folks just sit on their hands on this? Amend the code if its screwed up!
    Hopefully this change will be business and development friendly and remove one of the big roadblocks that have held the city back and worked against it.

  • LI2Northpark

    Yes the code is (most likely) about to be updated. Steel just likes to point out the ridiculousness of the current code anyway.

  • suburban_hillbilly

    I usually make snarky comments about Steel’s sprawl articles but I honestly really liked this one. Very strong points supported by excellent examples.

  • STEEL

    This is about tax policy not the code. But, you would have to have read the story to know that. As for the possible new zoning code, there is nothing put into law yet and there is nothing that assures that what is put into law will correct the current problems.

  • travelman

    Why does it have to be a street level parking lot, especially here in snowy Buffalo. Is underground parking not a possibility? Most urban cities rely on this as the solution.
    Also, regarding your quote “filled with useless little trees”. So is Deleware Park for that matter. NOW THAT WOULD MAKE A GREAT PARKING LOT! That was sarcasm of course, the point is these green areas make a big difference in the urban landscape and are quite useful. Green spaces foster a connection between community residents and the natural environment that surrounds them, thus allowing for a more livable city. This is essential in order for a community to be sustainable.

  • STEEL

    The concept of “green space” usually leaves out the “space” part as in sense of space. Using the phase natural environment in relation to that M&T front plaza makes no sense. It is a dumpy space that no one uses and which fosters no connection between community.

  • paulsobo

    and who does the city come to make up the difference for all the non-taxed parking spaces…
    hhmm, could it be you and me?

  • Up and coming

    It looks pretty full for a bad usage of space.

  • BuffaloInk

    The only issue I have with this is “The building is not unattractive” really? It looks like it was designed on a bring your child to work day.

  • Jesse

    This isn’t a “good read”. It’s endlessly repetitive bashing of the current situation, WHICH IS CHANGING. It’s like the whole Green Code effort doesn’t exist in this guy’s mind.
    Also:
    “This massive government subsidy of sprawl in the form of drastically lower taxes is true in Buffalo as well.”
    Bull. Crap. Lower taxes is not a “subsidy” unless you believe all property is owned by the state and what you keep is only what they allow you to keep. Which is entirely backasswards thinking, but sadly typical.
    The rest of this post contains much of the same. “forking over a substantial sum”? Really?
    In the end, what STEEL should be arguing for here is a land-value tax, not standard property tax.
    But he’s not going there. I’m not sure he understands it.
    Finally, just because:
    “Cars need to cross over the sidewalk to access the parking in two places creating a dangerous situation for pedestrians.”
    Brain-dead hyperbole. Dangerous?? In this dope’s mind, my driveway creates a ‘dangerous’ situation because there’s a sidewalk that crosses it. WTF?

  • travelman

    We could plant some useless little trees in the lot….

  • Jesse

    Just out of curiosity: For you anti-parking types, once EVERY building has eliminated parking and we’re all urban and hip and cool…
    Where the fuck do us suburbanites park when we want to come down and visit your shops?
    You say ‘2 blocks’ now, which is fine. But once EVERY parking lot is eliminated, it’s going to be much more than that.
    My guess is you’ll give us the ol’ public transportation shpiel.

  • Up and coming

    You don’t miss what you never had.

  • Jesse

    For a post about tax policy you don’t seem to address it at all, except to whine about how “we” are “subsidizing” empty lots, which is ridiculous.

  • JSmith

    The last paragraph pretty much sums it up. I’m sure that there will be some comments to the effect of “If the market was there to in-fill these lots with big tax-paying buildings, they would be built, but right now a parking lot is for better or worse the highest use for that land.” But that discounts the fact that the current zoning code makes it extremely difficult to in-fill these lots. Trying to get a project approved with minimal parking or open space is essentially swimming upstream; it can be done but it is not what the code “wants” you to do. But without those variances, it is impossible to fit both the required parking and a reasonably-sized building on the site, so the lot remains a parking lot indefinitely.
    The new zoning code may not be able to alter the market dynamics that affect Buffalo, but it needs to remove all regulatory obstacles to in-filling the city’s vacant lots in place (without having to demolish neighboring properties).

  • JSmith

    Steel is absolutely right to say that the city is leaving substantial tax revenues on the table when it forbids the construction of densely-built, high-assessment buildings.
    I am teaching my son to ride a bicycle, and let me tell you, driveways absolutely DO create a dangerous situation for him. I feel so much more comfortable when we get down to Hertel and he can ride on the blocks that have no curb cuts to worry about.
    And your residential driveway doesn’t get anywhere near the traffic that a drive-through ATM does. Those curb cuts on Elmwood definitely create a frequently uncomfortable and occasionally dangerous situation for pedestrians, compared to blocks with no curb cuts.

  • JSmith

    But Benchmark is proposing to replace the 766 Elmwood parking lot with a building of much higher tax value, but the current code makes it illegal to do so without jumping through hoops.
    This is not a case of “what you never had” but of what you could have but are actively hindering yourself from having.

  • STEEL

    Read the stroy

  • STEEL

    Cars crossing sidewalks is not dangerous? Really? That is your position on this? I don’t even know how to respond.

  • LI2Northpark

    The new code would eliminate the sprawl type builds which are causing the tax loss problem. You can also see where I wrote most likely to be passed. Nothing is written in stone yet, I know. Relax man. I read the article and I liked it.

  • STEEL

    Suburbanites have been promising to come to the city if we would just pave over this or that neighborhood, park, and waterfront with some highways. You have been promising to come downtown if we would just provide more parking. 50% was not enough you said – just make more of it into parking. You promised to come to the city if we would just make your parking free. The city has done what you asked and you still have not come. It is time for the city to start making the city for city people. I have a feeling that once it does the suburbanites will start to come.
    Look around, The most prosperous, most attractive cities don’t offer suburbanites acres of free parking. Get over yourself. The earth’s resources are not limitless – we cannot pave over everything for your personal choices and irrational fears about walking a few blocks on a public sidewalk

  • STEEL

    Nothing is most likely to be passed. You just cannot assume that.

  • buffalo_lover

    “The High Cost of Free Parking” – Donald Shoup (http://shoup.bol.ucla.edu/)

  • bung

    My little house with no driveway or garage west of Richmond generates $1.33 per. sq. ft. in tax revenue. City wouldn’t let me build another one like it but, the city Would let build a crappy tin tool shed on this little lot. Just saying.

  • grad94

    well put. i’m tired of designing my environment around people who make occasional visits rather than people who live here.

  • YesSir

    Well then you need to exclude Steel, then.

  • grad94

    funny, none of us who live in buffalo’s dense neighborhoods ever burden towns & villages with our demands. imagine if we complained ‘where the -f- am i supposed to walk?’ whenever we had an errand at a suburban address.

  • cgrammer19

    “…now let the cynical parking excuses begin.”
    I live around the corner. Remind me again how our local businesses will replace customers using the 42 parking spaces in the $0.09 psf lot, and the additional spaces required by the new building?

  • Up and coming

    I think that’s a first round TKO right there. Yes Sir 1 Grad 0

  • Up and coming

    ” imagine if we complained ‘where the -f- am i supposed to walk?'”
    I image you wouldnt have to because everyone in the suburbs would be driving and the sidewalks would be clear for you to walk on.

  • LouisTully

    What sidewalks? And when there are sidewalks….
    I watched a guy today crossing Sheridan and Delaware with his dog almost get run over by a car making a right on red.

  • JamesDeen

    More like just a straight KO.

  • JSmith

    Exactly. I once walked up Niagara Falls Blvd from Maple up to the Barnes & Noble, and then crossed the street to catch a bus back home. What a harrowing experience. Through parking lots, over soggy berms and drainage ditches… If you ever want to feel completely marginalized and unwanted, go take a walk around there.
    So I don’t have a lot of sympathy for suburbanites who feel affronted that Elmwood doesn’t cater to their favored form of transportation as much as they would prefer.

  • Slu

    New York or Philly have no problems getting people to come. And nobody advocates eliminating parking altogether, but if anything Buffalo has excess parking. And there are also ways to have density and parking. Everything does not have to be a paved street level lot.

  • Up and coming

    In NYC people pay thousands of dollars a month for private parking, because it’s such a pain. In Philly my best friend would dread coming home because parking was so bad. She’d sometimes have to walk 10-15 minutes just to get back to her apartment while be cat called and followed by strangers. My other friend lives in DC and has private parking in her building which she pays an extra 250 dollars a month for. Also, when she goes out in DC she usually goes to a restaurant she knows she can park by, instead of the best restaurant she knows. People on here need to get over their hate of parking lots and stop trying to equate density with shitty parking. I can see some BRO readers sitting around driking wine with their nose in the air saying (in a British accent), “did you how long it took me to find parking today? My neighborhood is so vibrant and fancy. I can’t wait until the homeless start shitting on my lawn and sleeping in the local parks. One day maybe i’ll even get robbed walking down the street? Then I’ll live in a truely vibrant city!”

  • gtscout716

    This article loses it’s punch with the coming Green Code, but I’ll bite anyway.
    Is there less tax revenue from the parking lot? Yes. But until recently, there wasn’t even demand for new builds in Elmwood, the most desirable city neighborhood.
    I don’t know what developer in their right mind would have developed anything with real density over the past 50 years. You build for what the market demands – and when jobs and people were fleeing the region massively, you don’t build a 4 story building when there are properties going vacant all around you. Not only would you be increasing your own taxes, you now have to pay to engineer a larger partially vacant building that costs more to maintain. All while the vacant space drives rents down further in existing buildings, leading to a game of musical chairs that would drive up vacancy rate either further.
    Even without requirements such as setbacks and minimum parking, dense buildings still wouldn’t have been constructed. Code can help dictate form, but it can’t overrule market demands.

  • STEEL

    So you are saying your friends are paying for their own parking instead of insisting on others pay for it through government subsidies? Good for them. As for your weird idea that walking down a city sidewalk will result in you being the subject of a crime, good example of irrational suburban fear of the city. Do you know that you are far more likely to die in a suburban car accident than be the subject of a crime on Elmwood Avenue?

  • JSmith

    Read my earlier comment below, which addresses your point:
    http://rising.wpengine.com/2012/06/-a-tale-of-two-buildings-and-a-parking-lot.html#comment-124738
    Even if developers then wanted or now want to build more densely and in-fill a vacant lot, the current code makes it a steep uphill climb to do so.

  • JamesDeen

    I thought all you Chicago lefties loved government subsidies. Your boy Obama sure does. I guess you just pick and choose which ones you want.

  • Up and coming

    How do city residents pay for their parking, magic pixie dust and Unicorn tears? Also, how do they pay for the metro rail, which benefits the majority of city residents but is heavily subsidized, or even Metro bus service? Also, where does the 80 percent of school funding the city receives from the state get generated from, Albany grown money trees?

  • brownteeth

    This is a city. Cars and pedestrians all belong. I utilize all forms of transpo (except buses, waste of time imo) and have no issue either walking, driving, biking, riding scooter, etc. It’s a baseless argument that parking is an issue anywhere in the city. I mean a real issue, having to park 2 or 3 blocks away or paying $8 for an entire day at a lot is not a real issue. The sooner people get over this misconception and irrational fear the sooner we will see smarter development.

  • STEEL

    Your comment is irrelevant to the story – however since you mentioned it Obama is not a boy nor does he belong to me. Also, he has consistently lowered taxes. They are now lower that during both Bushes and Clinton.

  • Up and coming

    “Do you know that you are far more likely to die in a suburban car accident than be the subject of a crime on Elmwood Avenue?”
    How about you substitute Elmwood for Baily, Fillmore, Jefferson, or Niagara and see what you get. Ps ask the lady who was punched in the face while walking down Elmwood, or the lady who was jacked of her two dogs, or the couple who was robbed at gun point on Richmond if they’ve ever felt as fearfull in a car as they do now walking down the street.

  • Up and coming

    “having to park 2 or 3 blocks away or paying $8 for an entire day at a lot is not a real issue.”
    I expect from now on you’ll park three blocks away from your house to free up parking for the little old ladies who live in your neighborhood. This included the winter time, when you’re huffing groceries home, or walking the kids home.

  • paulsobo

    Anyone know what was there before the bank?
    It seems that the city should grandfather in a certain density to restore the density that was there.
    Its different if its Tonawanda and it was built for cars then grandfathering in zoning has a different meaning.
    Buffalo was built before cars and if a 4 story building built to the sidewalk existed prior then that zoning should be grandfathered.
    That could add alot of flexibility to the building code until it gets fixed.
    But then pre-war transportation (trolleys, interurbans mixed with buses) had alot to be desired, so did pre-war architecture and pre-urban density.

  • STEEL

    Or the bike path killer.
    The fact is (and it is a fact) driving in a car is far more dangerous than walking on Elmwood. That suburbanites believe that entering the city is the same as getting robbed does not make it true. You need to get over your silly city fears ( oh and stopp bashing the city by the way – I know how you guys get upset if anyone points out bad things about the suburbs)

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Stop bringing facts into the debate, how can the right continue their stranglehold on America if you challenge their fantasy world of misinformation, distortions, and lies.

  • STEEL

    If all municipalities taxed their land at the same high rate as high density development then businesses would not be so inclined to have gigantic wasteful parking lots and then things would be closer together meaning fewer roads and utilities and less need to drive meaning less need for parking and less need for roads and ultimately lower taxes because you would not need to pay for all the stupid sprawl roads and parking lots and other excessive infrastructure required by sprawl but not paid for by the people who choose sprawl

  • Black Rock Lifer

    How sad, living in a place where walking is not normal, no wonder so many Americans are socially isolated, fat, and out of shape.

  • JamesDeen

    What facts are you talking about? I never mentioned taxes in my post. Just thought it was funny that a Chicago liberal is now taking a stand against government subsidies and handouts. Is it not a fact that the present administration spends a lot on handouts and subsidies? Are these not facts? The hypocrisy of the left is amusing. Black rock you are always talking about corrupt corporations along with your other anti-capitalism rants. Do you have a problem with corrupt unions getting government assistance?

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Actually we subsidize air travelers at a much greater cost, the NFTA spends far more to ensure the more affluent can fly than they do to ensure the poor can get to work.

  • grad94

    don’t be silly. steel isn’t demanding accommodations that mutilate buffalo’s architecture, streets, or neighborhoods. if he was, i’d be calling him out, too.

  • JamesDeen

    We get it, you don’t like sprawl. But don’t make the statement that sprawl is not paid for by the people that choose it. Most people I know that live in what you term as sprawl have paying jobs, and contribute quite a bit to taxes. Are they not contributing to paying for it? Do you collect welfare or use Medicaid? If you don’t how do you feel that you pay for these programs but don’t use them, while those who do use them do not contribute?

  • Black Rock Lifer

    STEEL is correct, cars are responsible for more death and injury than any city violence. Fact is cars are indiscriminate killers, the victims are innocent (see the recent rash of suburban fatal accidents for proof). Violence in the city is almost always targeted, criminal to criminal, thug to thug. Statistically the most dangerous place to raise children is in rural areas and outer ring suburbs. I wonder why we never question the motives of those raising their children in such a place yet continue to attack the city as “unsafe for kids”.

  • gtscout716

    The tax rate doesn’t matter that much because the land was dirt cheap. The effect of the tax rate will be marginal when the value of the land was low and still plummeting. Especially when the utilities are already placed or covered by the municipality, it was going to be cheaper to go out than up.
    The only time density occurs, in American cities at least, is when demand is exceeding supply by a good margin either from growth or transportation/geographic constraints. Obviously we have had none of these conditions for a long time – the last time we had true demand for denser housing would have been post WWII, and Buffalo was basically built out at that point. Even then, there wasn’t enough demand to build up to outweigh the cost of building out the first rings.
    I agree with you that it might not be the best form factor for a city. However, I guarantee you that if you were a Buffalo developer held accountable to investors from 1960-2000, you would have done the same thing. If not, you wouldn’t have been a developer much longer.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    The Obama administration does indeed spends a lot on government programs, of course this is directly due to the economic collaspe brought on by George W. and his Republican cronies. Somebody had to pick up the pieces after America was looted by the wealthy.

  • grad94

    agreed. i’m surprised that the government-is-evil crowd hasn’t weighed in on how government regulation (our present zoning code) is suppressing free-market responses to free-market demand.
    here is a good read, sort of on topic:
    http://www.planetizen.com/node/57322

  • whatever

    “the NFTA spends far more to ensure the more affluent can fly than they do to ensure the poor can get to work.”
    But BRL, isn’t that spending funded by fees paid to the NFTA from “the affluent” users for airport-dedicated revenue like flight ticket surcharges, airline company payments for airport use, and airport parking prices? So in those ways the affluent are both funding and using the aorport, no?
    The NFTA can’t “spend” any money except what it’s paid by its customers (bus riders, Metro Rail riders, air travelers, airlines, Greyhound for bus station use, boat users at their harbor, etc) and the govt funding it receives. Isn’t the latter restricted to uses specified by the govts who pay them?
    For instance the big amount of taxpayer money Erie County gives the NFTA yearly (more than the county spends on sheriff road patrols and county roads combined, right?) must be spent by the NFTA only for public transit, not for the airport used by the affluent. True?

  • Black Rock Lifer

    The cost to subsidize mortgages for the affluent costs the Federal government about the same as welfare spending (not including medicaid). I find it interesting that people complain about “how much they pay” for poor people yet don’t seem to mind paying for wealthy peoples McMansions in the sprawling suburbs.

  • grad94

    you mean like that highrise at elmwood & utica that dates from around 1980?

  • YesSir

    Cue the broken record….

  • JamesDeen

    Let’s get one thing straight-I don’t belong to a political party. You just displayed why if the Republicans are the party of NO the dems are the party of BLAME. Not a Bush fan at all but please stop blaming him for the entire fiasco. Take a look at what Clinton did for loosening the bank regulation and what really happened with Fannie and Freddie. Plenty of corruption on both sides. Stop blaming everything on the wealthy, it’s tired and pathetic. You seem to be Mr. Pro Union. Do you think those big wigs haven’t gotten rich off of others? As far as Obama, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”. Just another lying Chicago crook.

  • whatever

    I don’t know who’s in that crowd, but it sounds pretty good to me if the city’s new Green Code will remove mandatory parking space regulations for buildings while still allowing in voluntary ways a reasonable amount of parking spaces and driveways. From comments JSmith has made on BR, it sounds like that’s what’s planned.
    If current and future businesses like Wegmans, Tops, Target, Schuele Hardware, and Mark Goldman’s new restaurant in Black Rock are allowed to have parking spaces like they choose to have now, but businesses who don’t want parking spaces aren’t forced to provide them, that sounds fine.
    Similar for whether new houses have driveways or not. Not forced, not forbidden.

  • sobuffbillsfan

    You can actually make a pretty compelling case that sprawl is subsidized based on utilities and roads alone, but you don’t want to believe that so it doesn’t really matter. Of course you can also find heavily urban subsidies. These discussions are meant to open you mind and create a better Buffalo. If you think sprawl is working for this area I’d like to see your aurgument.
    I’ve seen sprawl tied to the increase in teen suicide. I don’t buy this I don’t think its the root of all evils, but as someone who is carrying the flag for captilism on this site I don’t think you can call it efficient either.

  • JamesDeen

    HaHa. Which broken record Steel’s sprawl rants or BR Lifer’s anti-wealth bs?

  • Lego1981

    Would be great if the NFTA would wake the ‘F’ up and extend the metro rail into all the burbs and increase the bus service to make it easier for everyone (city and burbs) to catch a train or bus instead of needing a car.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    You are correct but my point is that we shouldn’t be subsidizing those with the means to pay, subsidies should be reserved for those without resources. Air travelers are indeed subsidized as you are well aware. If you can afford to fly off on vacation or to visit friends or family you should pay the full cost. Flying is a luxury not a necessary like riding the bus to work. It really comes down to disposable income and those at the bottom that rely on public transportation have none.

  • Weaves32

    Its in the article.. an old Buffalo public school

  • whatever

    I suppose it depends on what’s considered compelling and by who. Also whether spending that occurs in the same place a taxpayer works or lives is considered subsidizing. Is self-subsidizing really subsidizing?
    Another factor is that total taxpayer spending on all transportation (sprawled plus non-sprawled, all combined) is a pretty small portion of govt budgets. This despite some people saying things like its bankrupting us, and so on.

  • JamesDeen

    Yes
    LEt’s start a campaign against those who choose to farm in a rural setting and raise kids there as well. How dare they grow food for the rest of us.

  • whatever

    “If you can afford to fly off on vacation or to visit friends or family you should pay the full cost.”
    Hypothetically if the federal funding to our airport and NFTA funding of it are both entirely from dedicated user fees of the mostly-affluent who choose to use the airport (and airline co’s for gate usage fees, and people who park at the airport, etc), then would you agree that isn’t subsidizing?
    Or even then would it still be subsidized due to the affluent people who fly also using the mortgage deduction on their income tax and sometimes benefiting from stuff like TARP/GM bailouts, Solyndra funding, historic tax credits, Empire Zones, etc.?

  • JamesDeen

    Funny thing is that those who can least afford it are usually the ones on vacation, buying expensive electronics and cars, etc. wake up.

  • LouisTully

    Really? I think you need to take a time out. Take your dog for a walk or something.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    So we agree there are far too many ways the wealthy benefit from subsidies? I think we are not too far apart on this, I wish there was no need for any subsidies at all. I agree the present system is not fair or productive and is abused by the politically connected. That said I stand by the need for subsidies to the poor and less fortunate. Until we can address the great inequity of wealth and provide a level playing field for all citizens we have no other choice.
    I would also support subsidies as reparations for past abuses, historic tax credits would be an example.

  • sobuffbillsfan

    Sprawl has actually already declared war on Farms. They drive up the assesed value of land in towns near to the central core, causing taxes to rise to the point were it is cost prohibitive to farm on the land and are pretty much forced to sell for developement.

  • paulsobo

    Instead of building new and contemporary they should model a new building after the old school and enrich the character of Elmwood
    4 stories…big windows…facade
    all new and modern interior

  • gtscout716

    Okay so there was a larger building built on Utica in the early 1980’s. Please compare this to the demand and amount of new construction in nearly every other American city in the decade before and after. Please consider every Buffalo neighborhood abandoned and cleared out in decades before that, and the ones that are bottoming out today. Consider how many people left and how much vacant space opened up (I’ll give you a hint, at thet point 225,000 of 580,000 people had left the city in 30 years).
    Now think critically, is that one building really indicative of any real demand at that time?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if that building was subsidized like many of Buffalo’s buildings built around then. Key Center, HSBC Tower, the vast majority of new housing in Buffalo from that period – all built or heavily subsidized with government money. There was no real demand for new space.
    I would say now the local demand in Elmwood is finally starting to reach the point where there is demand for new construction. Downtown is still heavily reliant on government subsidies, so I don’t think the critical point has been reached there. But this does not counter the vast majority of the region that’s still losing people on the whole.

  • gtscout716

    I wouldn’t say I agree with the current zoning code either, and I’m happy to see the Green Code move forward. I am saying that it makes no sense to think had we had different zoning or no zoning, that somehow we would be a more successful city. There was no demand for new density, so even if it were written into law, no developer was going to build dense buildings.
    Why would someone take a hit to build tons of space when there were more and more vacancies and people leaving? Do you think M&T would have used the vacant school as a branch and tried to fill the rest of the space? I’ll tell you, they would not have gotten far especially with the cost to maintain such an old building. Instead, they would have not built a branch there at all.
    I dislike urban sprawl and urban decay as much as the next day, but you can’t say these things are unrelated to demand and market conditions.

  • gtscout716

    It’s not “sprawl” some nebulous evil force that drives up these prices. If people didn’t want to live in places like Clarence and have their own new builds, the land value wouldn’t go up. However, as much as you and I may not like it, there are plenty of people who want that location, which makes it valuable.
    If there are enough people who want to live there that land becomes more valuable for houses than farming, then that is what will probably happen.
    For being such a progressive site, some of the comments here are terribly close-minded of any position besides their own.

  • lenlam

    Sommetimes (only sometimes) does it amaze me at how many dumb things we do. Very informative article.

  • STEEL

    You mean the businesses that don’t provide those spaces themselves? To meet the zoning requirements for parking nearly 1/2 of those businesses would need to be removed to supply parking for the rest (loss of jobs and more loss of tax revenue which must be made up by others). There are many busier denser cities that have a lot more businesses and residences than Buffalo and they seem to have a lot more success than Buffalo with a lot less parking (no parking in some cases) If only Buffalo could have the horrible business conditions of Boston Back Bay or downtown Madison Wisconsin with so little parking and such successful businesses and beautiful people friendly streets. I would wager, by the way, that most of those cars in that lot are not customers but actually local residents and business owners.
    If that does not satisfy you I wager the city could finance a few bonds to build a below grade parking ramp with the taxes they could be collecting from this sprawl use if it was taxed fairly.

  • STEEL

    That is great now they should pay the true cost of the excessive infrastructure needed to support their chosen lifestyle. That is all I ask.
    Since they don’t and don’t want to then I think it is my right to criticize their choice and the destruction it does to the city, country side and out planet in general. Making a choice does not make it a good choice and does not entitle you to a reward from society.

  • STEEL

    I am not sure why you bring politics into this discussion – it really has nothing to do with politics. To respond however:
    First – you have no idea what my political leanings are right or left.
    Second – being against corruption is not anti capitalist unless you have the weird idea that corruption and capitalism is the same thing.
    Third – It is a fact that the government in general spends a lot on handouts and subsidies. To blame that on Obama’s administration alone is disingenuous. If you look at the historical record you will find that government spending and the deficit have increased more and faster under Republican presidents – this is a fact that you can look up if you like. Spending leveled off under Obama despite a near depression with massive drops in revenue and major bailouts to the auto industry and banking. It is also disingenuous to pretend that Republicans do not like subsidies and hand outs. The farm handouts, big oil handouts, banking handouts, and many tax loophole handouts are brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Tea Party Republican.
    Fourth – I am in favor of subsidies when the goal is clear and achievable and will benefit the general public. Not all subsidies will do that. Many are designed only to benefit individuals. Some may have no goal in mind at all such as in the case of the sprawl subsidy. I see no benefit to the public when sprawl is subsidized especially in the case of the City of Buffalo when it is discounting its most valuable land in a way that inhibits higher density development.
    Finally – enough with the inane political blabber – this is not even a political subject – this kind of tax reform should be embraced by both sides. There is nothing to gain by sprawl subsidies. In a metro area plagued by high taxes there should be no excuse for encouraging the development ow wasteful sprawl.

  • sobuffbillsfan

    The progressiveness of the site comes from trying to change the status quo. The idea that causes these exact scenarios where people feel they need a new build in Clarence 30 minutes from the city core that further strains the area on so many levels. Population growth is not driving this, at all, then it wouldn’t necessary fall under sprawl. Sprawl isn’t new development, I think that is a misconception here. I’m not against new development, or free markets per se. I agree if people really want to live there an can buy the property they have the right.
    I do find the culture and mindset that propogates this wasteful and counter productive. If you can find me a pro-suburbs book outlining true social, monetary, and environmental benefits please recommend it. I’ve tried to find one, it doesn’t really seem to exist, which leads me to believe its a hard case to make.
    The argument is that they are moving away from congestion, taxes, poverty crime etc. but eventually it always shows up. The problems are not solved they are avoided through a constant consumption of land and resources.

  • warehousedweller

    YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH YOUR OWN LAND ! OH WAIT YOU DONT REALLY OWN IT YOU ONLY RENT IT. IF YOU DONT PAY THE TAXS , GARBAGE FEE , WATERBILL ETC… THE GOVERNMENT WILL TAKE IT FROM YOU ! THIS COUNTRY IS TOO GOV. CONTROLLED !SOON THEY WILL TELL YOU WHAT ANIMALS AND PRODUCE YOU CAN GROW !! BUY MORE AMMO OR TAKE THE MARK OF THE BEAST ! HOPE I DONT LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE IT , BUT MY LITTLE GIRL WILL . WE ARE TEACHING HER APPROPRIATELY.

  • paulsobo

    Werent they discussing taxing property parking spaces at the same property tax as the over all building.
    I forgot what it was called but it removed the entire incentive to demolish buildings to lower property taxes and the demolish buildings for lower cost parking spots.
    As much as I hate the inconvenience of parking in the city, their are smarter ways to handle it.
    for instance, tax surface parking lots but subsidize subsurface parking for multi-story buildings. If you have a ramp that offers 10 parking spots undergound then offer them tax free and if you have 10 parking spots at the surface then tax them as the same $/sqft as if there were a building there.
    They should have done this to subsidize trolleys. As much as I love Buffalo…northeastern and midwestern cities were so much more livable and convenient. A car should be an option not a necessity

  • LouisTully

    Teach your daughter how to finish a project in less than 20 years. And turn off Caps Lock, psychopath.

  • gtscout716

    I think you’re underestimating amount of taxes a place like Clarence takes in and the amount of federal subsidies that Buffalo takes in. Buffalo was found to be the top city per capita in terms of federal dollars received in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s by the Buffalo News. BPS, BMHA, every other Bxx agency other the sun have been continuously pumped up with cash.
    Clarence property values are extremely high, with a pretty bad tax rate. They do bring in the money, and I wouldn’t doubt they pay for maintenance the vast majority of the sprawl you’re talking about. Typically the subdivision developers pay for the the majority if not all of the inital cost of infrastructure before turning it over to the town.
    If anyone is missing out in this equation it’s first rings like Cheektowaga, West Seneca and Tonawanda. Not poor enough to gulp down federal cash, and not rich enough to not need it.

  • EB_Blue

    The coming Green Code? Steel is right. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
    This reform effort has to be fought for by the community. Nothing is guaranteed.

  • EB_Blue

    That’s why Paris is a ghost town. Without the parking, no one goes there anymore.

  • gtscout716

    While I agree that the city is safer than people make it out to be, you just need to take a look at crimereports.com to see how much happens (and that’s just what is reported and actually gets input). I don’t know where you got your statistics from, but it doesn’t seem right. First of all, how is the your data reported?
    Comparing data of fatalities per 100,000 licensed drivers or per hundred million passenger miles to Buffalo’s homicide rate, NHSTA gives us about 16 deaths per 100,000, or about 1.5 per 100,000 per hundred million passenger miles to Buffalo’s murder rate of 21 per 100,000. This neglects other violent crime such as rape, robbery and assult. Your chances of being part of a violent crime or murder in the city are significantly higher than dying in the US in a car crash.
    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
    http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ny/buffalo/crime/
    Please check your facts in the future, white washing our cities helps nobody.

  • 300miles

    “…AND CUT YOUR HAIR …AND GET OFF MY LAWN”

  • STEEL

    Your ignoring the fact that you can avoid most crime in the city by avoiding certain parts of it. For instance if we moved the borders and gave the east side of Buffalo to Amherst. Buffalo’s murder rate would drop drastically and Amherst’s would go up drastically. Does that mean my chances of getting murdered in east Amherst go up? No they don’t. the city is not a monolithic place. I know this is hard for suburbanites to understand since since many rarely experience the city other than on the news at night.
    Also most violent crimes are by people that the victim knew. This is another factor that can reduce your actual chance of being a victim.
    Car crashes on the other hand can happen anywhere and are more likely to occur if you drive more. Walking down Elmwood is light years safer than driving in a car. People who live in safe walkable neighborhoods are far safer over all and also will benefit from better health.

  • STEEL

    A similar income street in Buffalo compared to Clarance takes in much more taxes but requires drastically less infrastructure. The fact that Buffalo is also the place where the very poor are concentrated is the explanation for the large amounts of public aid needed. Vast areas of the formerly taxable city have been vacated and rendered valueless as people spread out to places like Clarance. These subsidies to the city are the result of sprawl and corporations sending industry to other countries. the city’s tax base is a fraction of what it was even in the 1970s. If the metro area did not increase its footprint so incredibly over the last 50 years with zero population growth and virtually no GDP growth this aid would not be necessary. Suburban people look on these matters with such self righteous indignation when in fact it is a matter of simple math. Sprawl is a major government subsidy budget buster.
    Here is a solution though. Lets bring the poor from the city out to Clarance to live. Then we can see if the smart people out there can solve the problem of poverty. My bet is that they will just move away again.

  • whatever

    BRL, I don’t know if we agree about airport subsidies or not, since you didn’t answer my hypothetical q.
    My answer to it would be if hypothetically the costs to operate an airport and fund its capital debt payments are fully met by fees it charges to users (flight ticket surcharges, airline co payments for airport use, fees for airport parking, food sale profits/fees, advertising revenue, etc.) then no, probably I wouldn’t think subsidizes are happening at that airport.
    The amount of affluence its customers have would seem irrelevant.
    Whether or not the NFTA takes in enough such revenue to fully fund the Buffalo airport is something I don’t know. Being fair minded, I won’t assume that they don’t. If they aren’t, where’s the extra $ coming from?
    Anyhow, if they aren’t taking in enough revenue then user fees such as on flight tickets should be raised enough to fund it.
    (By the way, shouldn’t that also apply for Amtrak tickets – surcharges on those should be high enough to fully fund Amtrak’s budget and passenger rail projects state by state, without any general tax revenue? Same for the Thruway being fully funded using toll revenue, as I think might already be the case for that.)

  • whatever

    steel>”Sprawl is a major government subsidy budget buster.”
    Isn’t it true that the percents for total spending on all road maintenance (sprawled plus non-sprawled) pretty small at all levels – federal, state, county?
    How can such small percents be busting any budgets?

  • 300miles
  • pampiniform

    Going up and down stairs carries the risk of of falling and severely injuring or killing yourself. A not small number of Americans meet their demise that way every year. So are we to presume that staircases are evil and should be banned? Or should we presume that the risk that is posed by cars crossing sidewalks is a part of the risk of living? I would like to see how you respond to that.

  • No_Illusions

    …Park where everyone else in the suburbs park, on the side streets and then walk. No one ever seems to complain that they have to walk 2 miles for a Sabres game.
    Even if every place had a parking lot there would still lack the parking on Elmwood on a Friday or a Saturday; where you already could spend 20 minutes just finding parking on a side street.
    Maybe a parking garage behind these buildings is needed, but surface parking adds neither the necessary spaces Elmwood needs, and it detracts from the atmosphere of the neighborhood.

  • batmankh

    Sorry you’ve devoted so much time to this now irrelevant series of yours. It’s fun to pound the keys with anger, so pick a new cause and keep pushing for change.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    I was refering to children, it is a fact that children are more likely to be killed or maimed in rural areas or outer ring suburbs than in the city. Your stat’s are lumping all driver miles into one, this would include city driving and interstate driving, both are much safer and drive down the deaths per hundred thousand miles.
    Also as I stated violence is the city is almost always targeted, especially murder, it is rare for an innocent bystander to be killed. The chance of being murdered in the city if you are not a thug or criminal is miniscule, almost nonexistent. Car accidents are a real threat to all, cars do not discriminate, victims are innocent and cannot avoid the threat.

  • Up and coming

    This is a better read….
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/census/2011-04-07-1Acities07_ST_N.htm
    These couple of “factoids” really stuck out too.
    Fourteen of the 15 most populous cities in 2000 lost population or grew more slowly by 2010. Philadelphia was the lone exception, reversing a decline in the 1990s. Cities that lost in the 2000s included Chicago, Baltimore and Detroit.
    A key factor: blacks leaving for the suburbs and more immigrants settling directly there instead of cities when they arrive in the USA.
    Immigrants are naturally going to suburban areas. That’s where the housing is, where the jobs are.”
    Also, many Sun Belt metropolitan areas such as Charlotte, Nashville and Orlando, which saw an influx of immigrants in the past 20 years, are largely suburban regions.
    The urban revival of the 1990s may not return, Lang says.
    “That could’ve been it,” he says. “It might have been as good as it gets.”

  • Black Rock Lifer

    If ticket fees, etc. did indeed cover ALL costs to operate an airport and the cost to actually fly I would agree there is no subsidy. I think it is safe to say that is not the case, the costs to fly are certainly subsidized by the taxpayers. There are airports, security, air traffic controllers, etc. that are all payed with taxpayer dollars.
    Of course if ticket prices reflected all those ancillary costs I would not include the other generous subsidies the wealthy take advantage of in that equation.

  • LouisTully

    That’s a pretty stupid article. They’re basing the growth of US cities on high unemployment causing young people to not be able to afford to buy homes in the suburbs.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Only 2 of the 15 cities lost population (Detroit and Chicago), the other 13 had growth rates of between 2% and 16%. I don’t see how that is bad news.

  • STEEL

    How is it irrelevant?

  • Up and coming

    You can try this….
    http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2006/12/the_sociable_su.html
    Interesting paragraph:
    Brueckner and his co-author, Ann Largey, took data from a survey of 15,000 Americans and … showed that, other things being equal, suburban residents have more friends and confidants, invite friends into their homes more often and have greater involvement in community groups. People who live in less-densely populated areas, Brueckner says, are more likely to join a hobby-oriented club, attend club meetings and belong to a non-church-related group.

  • STEEL

    That is an odd thing to say when governments are already complaining that they do not have the money available to rebuild bridges and roads and other infrastructure such as sewers and water. I have posted articles showing that the transit tax is less than roads cost. I have shown that metro buffalo has tripled its infrastructure while decreasing its population. Since 1978 Buffalo’s GDP has decreased relative to inflation yet local government taxation has increased in order to par for the massive expansion of roads and other infrastructure. I would like to see your stats showing that sprawl is not so impactfull on locay government resources.

  • Up and coming

    Let me break it down to you Barney style. The article was showing how the growth in the top 15 US cities is slowing dramatically, or declining. And how the urban renewal experienced in the 90’s was a passing fad.

  • Up and coming

    I’d like to see your stats say that it is.

  • Up and coming

    I just pulled this off a leading out of state real estate website. It clearly shows why the suburbs are a better choise for most families.
    Are Suburban homes safer? Living in Suburban communities are generally considered to be safer than cities. In fact the crime rates are lower, the streets are cleaner, communities are more closely knit, petty crimes and violent crimes are harder to commit in such quiet communities. Choosing for a safer environment for your family, living in the suburbs could be one of the best options for you. Chandler properties are situated in one of the safest places in the country.
    Quality homes – If you compared it with homes in the city, taking your budget in the suburbs can get you a nicer, better home. You can also get a bigger yard if you want to, where you can to do some gardening or where children will have more space to run around and play in. In other words, you get more value for your money with suburban homes.
    Better Environment – Since suburban homes are nicer, the environment is safer, quieter, and less populous than city environments, and there’s more room for recreational activities with the family, people who live in suburban communities tend to be less stressed out because they can come home to a better environment.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    The article was speculating, nothing more than an opinion. Loss of population in 2 of 15 cities and growth rates of 2% to 16% in the other 13 is hardly a negative trend unless you are a pessimist.

  • LouisTully

    That’s it! My choi s e is the suburbs! I’m selling my house right….. NOW!

  • STEEL

    This is all pretty much subjective marketing from a developer and pretty much off topic. This story has nothing to do with the suburbs it has to do with sprawl and sprawl based tax policy. Lets try to keep on topic from here on.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Yes, because we all know the real estate industry has no bias, they are only looking out for what’s best for American families. We should all listen to their expert advice, after all they have no other motives other than doing the right thing for homebuyers, right?
    On “crime”, never had a problem in over 50 years, on “clean streets” my block is always clean, we take care of it ourselves, on “closely knit” city neighborhoods are by far more personal and connected, I have many friends and good neighbors here and we interact regulary, not usually true in most suburbs. On “quality of homes”, the city offers the very best, no comparison to the cheaply built tract housing and developements that make up the majority of the suburbs. On “budget” you must be kidding, city homes offer much more for your dollar, especially here in Buffalo. As for yards, I like many of my neighbors have a beautiful garden area, city yards tend to be smaller but of better quality, most suburban yards are underutilized and sparsely landscaped. Finally on stress, many suburbs are congested with heavy traffic, air pollution can be higher than in the city. The high taxes, longer commutes, and lack of community all contribute to stress, many suburbanites are frazzled in their constant struggle to maintain their lifestyle.

  • sobuffbillsfan

    More friends, like on facebook? J/K
    I would be interested to see the break down here of activities. How many are tied to raising kids, may skew the numbers a bit. But I don’t dispute that there are happy, engaged, and active people in the suburbs. Thanks for digging this up, its not a comprehensive book, but still an interesting study.
    I’m curious as to how he broke out the density though. Not all suburbs are sprawl, many on here including myself at times use the 2 interchangeable. The Village of Hamburg has 10k + people in 2 square miles. That is more dense than some of the “big cities” in the US. However once you break over the Village line the town tends to sprawl. Are the people in the Village of Hamburg less social than the town of Hamburg?

  • TheNextMayor

    Great article.
    Buffalo would be a perfect laboratory for Land Value Tax.

  • Up and coming

    Unless you compare that data over a wide range and find that the top 15 US cites all saw a decline in growth, or negative growth…..just sayin.

  • Up and coming

    You’re so dillusional, I’m really almost starting to feel bad for you.

  • brownteeth

    Once again, this is a city. First come first serve. Most days I can park directly in front of my house, some days not. No big deal. My 85 year old neighbor seems to be ok with this too.
    There are certain things you deal with when you CHOOSE to live in a dense urban neighborhood. Parking is one of them. I don’t even complain about Chip Strip patrons parking on my street as long as they are respectful of the neighborhood, ie dont be loud at 2am or leave trash around.
    It’s not like the city and my particular 140 year old neighborhood suddenly got dense overnight. To me being concerned about where cars will fit into the mix if infill and development continue is irrational and baseless. Its like when NYS banned smoking in bars and restaurants and everyone thought it would kill all those businesses. Well we all know that only a few suffered but most survived just fine.
    I think we should stop putting the cart before the horse and deal with the parking issue if/when it actually becomes one. We should have more faith in ourselves that we will effectively adapt, just like when smoking was banned.

  • https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkMphMztfvgC-hSMOYheqVOh-I3me3nKY8

    Each new neighborhood is subsidized by the last one. If not there would be Clarences and Amhersts all by themselves without a core to have fed off of. There is a reason there are not isolated cities of no poverty and only with wealth and low taxes. There is a reason they develop outward attached to each other.
    It’s all fine to move out farther across an invisible municipal boundary and under a different name but it does not change the fact that it is all Buffalo. It is all interconnected and none of it would have developed or functioned on its own. The old part still needs to be paid for as does the new. The same population has 3x more infrastructure to pay for, maintain and at times demolish. We can blindly point fingers at the place 2 miles away we left or we can work together to fix things.
    Let the city make itself a place for those who live there. The critical mass will bring in the rest as it always does. If it is a worthy place to live, it is a worthy place to be and the time to get into or out of it is not longer the main concern.

  • Up and coming

    “friendly streets”
    Do the streets say high and pour your a nice cut of lemonade on a hot day?

  • Up and coming

    cup*

  • LouisTully

    Yeah, because “cup” was your only error. I’ll avoid breaking it down Barney style for you.

  • bung

    I have never had a problem parking in the EV. I live seven blocks from that parking lot. I have never parked in that lot it looks like a pain in the ass to get in or out of.
    My current house has no driveway and I have no problem parking. My previous house had a driveway a smaller house assessed within 10k of my current one. I paid $2000 more in taxes per year over 100% more in taxes. One can say just have a driveway. Plus the price of maintenance paving, sealing, and having a snow blower to clear it. So I guess you can say there is no such thing as free parking.
    It amazes me how people’s lives are totally consumed by their car or cars.

  • Up and coming

    I’s be sorry boss. I dont be speakin that a great a English they’re. I was meanin to say hi, but I’s be fast like a june bug typin on this their mochine here, an I a mispoke. I’s wont be dooin it again.

  • Up and coming

    I know right? That snow blowing you do, 10 maybe 15 times a year and the drive way sealing you do once a year really consumes people’s lives, damn car’s.

  • bung

    Oh ya, plus the $36,000 extra in taxes I paid the eighteen years I had that house + $3000 to pave the driveway + $700 to seal it over the years + $600 for the snowblower = $40,300 + anything I had missed. Sounds like a lot of work to me.

  • Up and coming

    Obviously if you knew anything about property tax you’d know that the 2k difference has little to nothing to do with your driveway, or lack there of. Also, nobody forced you to redo your driveway so you can toss out that 3k. So in the end you were set back 1300 dollars over 18 years. Factor that out over 18 years and thats less than 100 dollars a year. Im so sorry your life was consumed by the anxiety of spending less than 100 dollars a year.

  • 300miles

    And…So…? It’s still happening regardless of the reasons. And unless the trends suddenly turn around the results are still real results. Your logic would be like saying Buffalo’s population decline isn’t real because it’s only based on the fact that other cities have lower taxes and better services.

  • STEEL

    You have seen them if you have been reading – I do know that many comment on my stuff without reading but if you go back they are still there

  • Up and coming

    I want to see a break down. Look over the budgets for each municipality, add up the tax revenue, then subtract the tax revenue from the over cost of maintaining and building roads etc and then let us know what figures you come up with and how the tons pay for infrastructure. Also, I’d like to see a direct dollar amount of city funds that are spend subsidizing suburban development. The city gets millions of dollars from the state for renovating schools, school budgets, metro rail, bus service, social service programs, police, etc. On top of that i’d like to see what an equal density suburb block pays in taxes compared to an equal density city block. Because we all know that Kenmore Tonawanda Cheektowaga Hamburg etc all have areas that are equally as dense, or more dense that vast swaths of the east and west sides. Also, Buffalo has 30,000 abandoned properties that we’re built in dense/vibrant fashion, but now they look like the wild wild west. So explain to me why they became this way if the build environment is such to keep this from happening. If you can directly answer some of these questions maybe people on here will take you seriously.

  • whatever

    steel>”governments are already complaining that they do not have the money available to rebuild bridges and roads and other infrastructure such as sewers and water.”
    When you say “governments” are complaining, it has to mean a politician or bureaucrat.
    Governments as inanimate objects don’t say anything.
    It’s very naive if anybody believes everything claimed by a politician or bureaucrat is true and accurate. They may be choosing to prioritize spending on other things like the Buffalo’s mayor and Common Council often do instead of more street repairs – but that’s very different from the money not being available. If he and they instead prefer to spend on things like city subsidies to Broadway Market, or a “heritage corridor”, or $500K city public funds to the Livery project’s wealthy owner Savarino, or countless patronage hires and so on … those are decisions they’re legally empowered to make.
    Same for elected officials in towns, counties, states, federal.
    Let’s have a quick look at percents.
    Total spending on highways/street infrastructure work (all kinds combined: the sprawled kind you hate, the non-sprawled kind you like, and all fuzzy kinds in between those extremes) is a small portion of public spending at all levels – federal, state, and local.
    Mathematically, it isn’t busting budgets even in it’s entirety – never mind the portion of it you oppose.
    For federal, the pie chart near top of the following link says all transportation infrastructure spending (including for public transit, as well as highways, airports, etc) is 3% of the budget.
    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258
    That also says interest on the debt is 6%, so that’s double all transportation costs.
    In the NY state budget
    http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/New_York_state_budget
    transportation spending is 10% ($12B out of $117B), and much of that $12B spending happens in mostly-non-sprawled NY City.
    In all local budgets within NYS (same link, the table below the state table), transportation is a similar total portion, $20B out of $181B, or around 11%.
    Again, that amount is for all transportation-related spending and also includes what you’d call the good kinds of it – public transit, urban/dense streets, etc.
    Spending on what you consider bad sprawly kinds of transportation items is a relatively small fraction of a fraction. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to criticize it – of course you do. However it just looks very lame to say it’s a ‘budget buster’ as you did above or bankrupting us as others have said sometimes.
    If you want to reference any link to any particular government who you interpret as saying what you say it said, then we can all look at it’s most recent budget online and see the numbers & percents.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Look, if you can’t make a credible argument then don’t say anything at all, it just makes you look foolish and petty.

  • whatever

    Perhaps we agree about airports – although I don’t think a solution should be to ever use airport spending as an excuse to raise govt spending on any other transportation.
    I’d favor raising the respective user fees enough to cover all federal spending on both Amtrak and airports. Why there’s any federal spending on any transportation projects or operations seems dumb at this point. Maybe it made sense a long time ago, but now I don’t see any reason why all of it shouldn’t be funded only by state/local govts and the private sector.
    Cato makes sense on this, toward the end here
    http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-ce-06302010.html
    (just before the conclusion section)
    Of course, then federal taxes&fees on gasoline, airplane tickets, etc should also end if federal transportation spending does.
    I doubt President Romney will even try for that much change, but who knows – maybe he’ll surprise us.

  • Up and coming

    No honestly I’m really starting to feel bad for you, lol.

  • EyeC

    I live in the city (have for over 10 years), but grew up in the suburbs. If you’ve lived in the city for 50 years, how do you substansiate your statement: “I have many friends and good neighbors here and we interact regulary, not usually true in most suburbs.”? I’ve found very little difference in interaction with neighbors between the two (interaction was good in both city and burbs)

  • STEEL

    What would be the purpose of comparing equal density blocks from city and suburb. The discussion is not about political boudaries. It is about how places are built. You guys love to turn everything into a city versus suburb. I really don’t give a shit about political boundaries except in how they tend to be used to keep certain demographics in place.
    I have already shown in several articals that sprawl costs more to run and takes in less tyaxes. If you want more be my guest and do the research.

  • Up and coming

    You saying that this isn’t a city vs suburb argument is laughable. You remind me of learning about slavery in the 8th grade, when southern states said, “we’re not for slavery but we’re for states rights.” It doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines. Like you comment saying,
    A similar income street in Buffalo compared to Clarance takes in much more taxes but requires drastically less infrastructure. The fact that Buffalo is also the place where the very poor are concentrated is the explanation for the large amounts…
    ignoring the fact that you can avoid most crime in the city by avoiding certain parts of it. For instance if we moved the borders and gave the east side of Buffalo to Amherst. Buffalo’s murder rate would drop…
    …..or this comment in regards to people wanting to build new homes in Clarence.
    That is great now they should pay the true cost of the excessive infrastructure needed to support their chosen lifestyle. That is all I ask.
    Since they don’t and don’t want to then I think it is my right to criticize their choice and the destruction it does to the city, country side and out planet in general. Making a choice does not make it a good choice and does not entitle you to a reward from society.
    See the thing is you don’t have to be come out and say you’re a racist to be a racist. You don’t have to come out and say you’re a homophobe to be a homophobe and you don’t have to come out and say you hate the suburbs to be a suburb hater, because in your case everyone already knows you do.

  • Up and coming

    Ahhhh the cold hard reality of statistics.

  • moonqueen

    “With so much of Buffalo reduced to no value at all”
    So, I really enjoyed the article until I got to this. I forgot that Elmwood Village is apparently the only part of the city where anything has value or anyone pays taxes. That money the bank takes from me in the form of a house payment every month (which includes my taxes) must really go into some elaborate pyramid scheme. We ALL know working class neighborhoods don’t have any real estate transactions (my value-less house was just given to me right?) or pay any taxes. *rolls eyes*
    EV isn’t the center of the f-ing universe, yet again, Buffalo Rising. Other people here work and contribute to the pie. People often start out making good points about the city, but then just have to throw in something about how Allentown and EV are the only places that REALLY matter and the only people who REALLY do anything around here. A lot of people can’t afford to buy in those areas and many just don’t want to, but we still pay our due. In fact, I would guess that while someone like myself may not pay as much in taxes for my house/land as someone on, say, the eastern end of Cottage Street I am probably paying a higher portion of my income in comparison.
    If you think the contributions of myself and my neighbors are so insignificant we would be happy to let you make our payments for awhile.

  • STEEL

    You need to pull back and work on your reading comprehension. No where does it say anything about the EV being the only neighborhood with value. Nor does it say the rest of the city is valueless. Also, if you don’t realize that vast tracts of the city HAVE been rendered valueless then you need to open your eyes to reality.
    By the way. If you live in a densely built part of the city even a low income part you are likely paying a higher sf rate on your taxes than this parking lot does in one of Buffalo’s wealthiest neighborhoods. That is what you should be angry about.

  • YesSir

    [off topic]

  • Up and coming

    [Off Topic]

  • Up and coming

    “The problems are not solved they are avoided through a constant consumption of land and resources.”
    Did you know that less than 10% of US land is developed?

  • sonyactivision

    Who’s angry about parking lots? We have cars. We have to park them. There are lots where we can do so. I’m not the least angry about any of that.

  • sonyactivision

    And if all municipalities taxed lots as heavily as they tax densely developed properties, what makes you think the owners would start building precious 6 story vernacular charmers with little cafes and yoga studios on the ground floor? Wouldn’t they just charge more to park which would kill businesses in the area that rely on customers who drive in to their area?
    Of course they could both build large parking ramps and charge more while leasing the ground level for yoga studios and cafes. Win win.

  • moonqueen

    I actually scored very high in reading comprehension on my SATs. Your insinuation may not have been intentional, but it was still there, as it is in many articles and thread posts on this site. Much like Artvoice, BR tends to be a writing project for the upper-middle class (and those who desperately aspire to be there) about the upper-middle class (and those who desperately aspire to be there). Very little thought is put into how it depicts the city outside of the “hip” areas and there always seems an idea in the background that the rest of Buffalo can only be successful and desirable if it mirrors Elmwood Village. I can only think of one author on here who ever mentions Black Rock as a positive, and some of those articles still border on condescending (“we just need to get the artists and hip restaurants in here to force out the locals, because god knows they can’t make their ‘hood any better”) and general coverage of low-income areas is scant. My comment was in no way “off topic” – it was a direct comment ON the article, its tone and substance.
    I think “vast tracts” is a tad of an overstatement. Sure, we have quite a few low income ‘hoods with an empty lot here or a boarded house there, but there are only maybe two areas I can think of where close to 0 value has been achieved for blocks at a stretch. People here seem to suffer from one of two syndromes – assuming the city is way better than it is (more open-minded, sophisticated, cooperative amongst different groups, etc) or assuming it is way worse than it actually is (super widespread crime, extreme blight, etc). Both mindsets come from a “bubble” syndrome wherein people experience very little outside of their circle of work/friends/neighborhood. They can’t see past their choices in lifestyle to accept other people may not want what they want or that their perceptions of certain places aren’t based on fact.