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CNU Visit Should Be A Wake Up Call For Buffalo

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With The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) in town this week I thought I would dig up an old related story and repost it. This post features a video by CNU founder Andres Duany, which speaks to the heart of what we do wrong in building our human habitat. It is an important lesson to absorb.

Many see this Congress as an oportunity to showcase how nice Buffalo is. But in truth, the people coming to the CNU convention are keenly aware fo the failures of modern American city design. They are going to be very focused on the blatant failures of Buffalo (see Bacon’s Rebellion). They are many and the critiques are already showing up on the internet. Sure they will see some of the good; they will recognizes the potential. But their takeaway is going to be, that Buffalo has a lot to do to make istelf whole again.

The real benefit that this CNU convention will bring to Buffalo is not as a showcase, but as an opportunity for local officials to get a dose of reality and hear what the top thinkers in urban design are saying about how cities need to be designed. The harsh reality is that Buffalo has been doing it wrong and still is. Before coming to the convention I emailed a few dozen top local elected and planning officials to see if any were going to be in attendence. While a majority have not yet responeded I was heartened to get a reply from a few important players. I hope to talk with them during and after the conference to get their take away. Take a look at this video and send it on to your local officials. Make the video below required viewing…


 

Some will pout that this is just another snobby city versus suburb post.  The kind of post they often claim BRO likes to favor, which pits so-called Elmwood urban “hipsters” against God fearing people who “choose” to live in the suburbs, clinging to their cars in fear that the city liberals will soon try to take them away. And there could be some of that here, I suppose, if you see this as a confrontation rather than a discussion on how our country needs to rethink itself.

Anyone reading my posts over the last 4 years or so knows I am no fan of suburbs. To be more accurate though, it is the sprawl that I am against.  To me sprawl is possibly the worst concept ever developed by mankind, and it is not exclusive to the suburbs. Land use within the city of Buffalo and its urban inner ring suburbs is increasingly sprawl based.  As development pushes further into the outer rural county, the inner county has thinned drastically.

photo-parkingThe built up area of 2009 metro Buffalo occupies more than 2 times the land it did in 1955 even though the population is approximately the same.

Even as Metro Buffalo decreases in population its built area continues to increase.

The result is a huge excess of infrastructure and a desperately poor city of Buffalo with an inner city East Side approaching the same extreme low density-land use as Clarence.  Parts of North Buffalo now house many giant car base big box stores mimicking Amherst and Cheektowaga. Even Kenmore, a quite “urban” suburban village has given in to sprawl, allowing car based development to eat away at its charming Delaware Avenue retail strip. The issue of sprawl and its destructive nature is not a city versus suburbs issue.

It is an issue of society in general.

I was spurred to write this story from comments posted in this recent BRO story about a new renovation/addition at a site on the near East Side. The building site was once a very densely built area with many mixed uses housed in a variety of buildings dating from the Civil War to the early 1900’s.

Over the last 40 years, the neighborhood has been mostly relocated to a garbage dump.  What remains are scattered buildings among parking lots and grassy fields.  Commerce and people are rare here.

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I commented early in the thread that I felt sad that several of the images shown in the story looked like a construction site in Clarence, which it did.  Some readers jumped in quickly with comments that they were offended by my constant critical attitude toward Clarence, the architecture of the project, etc.

Actually, my comment had nothing to do with the architecture and was not so much about Clarence as it was about my sadness at the loss of urbanism in this part of the city.  Others fully understood what I meant, and resulted in a very long comment stream discussing urbanism and sprawl.   Commenter SinIill posted a link to the wonderful video below.  It provides a great explanation of the failures of suburban style sprawl development over the last 50 years and the benefits of tried and true urban development patterns developed over centuries.

The link is the first of 9 segments of a lecture by well-known “new urbanist” Andres Duany. Duany is an architect and planner who has made his career designing and promoting what has been dubbed “new Urbanism,” but is really old urbanism or a system of urban development and design which is geared toward the social needs and tendencies of the human animal rather than that of cars.

photo-build-noNew urbanism has become linked with the concept of designing buildings to mimic historic architectural styles.  This is a shallow interpretation of a system of thinking and designing that takes into account how people actually react to space and land use.  I encourage you to watch all nine segments of the lecture before you comment here.  Duany’s insights into human nature and how our built environment affects us is compelling.  I believe, along with a growing number of others more important than me, that we cannot sustain the wasteful and environmentally destructive pattern of sprawl that is the norm in America.  This lecture is a roadmap to how we can make a more sustainable, livable, and economically viable nation.  So far, most don’t understand that there is an alternative to sprawl.

Few realize that sprawl is built into our laws, and probably fewer can explain why.  Billions spent on highways wins out over billions on medical research, Destroy the environment rather than cut consumption of fossil fuels with logical land use policy.  Eliminate irreplaceable historic buildings in favor of cookiecutter corporate buildings designed with a 10-year life span.  Our society has locked itself in a dangerous downward spiral to protect a system of development that is hard to defend.

This lecture should be required viewing for everyone in our country–in my humble opinion.  Watch it, and see if you don’t agree.

Steel-Lot-Buffalo-NY

 

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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.

518 posts
  • britannica

    STEEL, seriously, do *not* let the trolls get you down. I know that I speak for many of us when I say your expert’s perspective is much appreciated; for me, it is truly one of the top draws of BRO. (And of course, we all know that the city from which you write is completely irrelevant to the quality of your ideas and the strength of your arguments.)
    Highlighting this link to Duany’s lecture is another wonderful contribution to your long record of good work. Keep it up!

  • Black Rock Lifer

    I think the driving force behind sprawl is the retreat from community. Modern suburbs provide an escape from reality and a kind of ignorant bliss from the complexities of the world. Those that choose this lifestyle prefer isolation, especially from those of different incomes and cultures.
    They seek the safe conformist route with little interest in expanding their horizons beyond their own white bread world.
    My cousin in East Amherst once called me to come out and help him move a refrigerator from his garage down to his basement. I was struck by the fact that he couldn’t ask a neighbor to help. Here in Black Rock I have neighbors and friends all around me that would not hesitate to lend a hand.
    Very different worlds.

  • pwallinder

    Thank you very much Steel, I truly enjoyed listening to this lecture this morning, and I agree, it should be mandatory for our children in school, our City Planners and all the rest to see with their own eyes what the discussion is all about.
    This lecture can show the way for Buffalo out of its blight!
    Again-many thanks!

  • MRodgers

    Blackrocklifer, I can relate. I think that’s why we need both city and suburb. Some folks like the opportunity to decide what environment they prefer to live in. If a community is collective like yours, it’s easy for many to choose.
    .
    Steele, thanks for posting this. Once the required activities of a Saturday are complete (shopping, banking, laundry and cleaning) I plan to watch all nine if they are available.
    .
    There are so many ways we can create better communities within the city and still have the suburbs for those who decide against an urban lifestyle. Vive le difference!

  • stephenjames716

    well put steel, thank you for your insight…and for that great video. please keep doing what your doing.

  • 2roadsdiverged

    I have not yet watched the Lectures, but I’m already on board with your ideology. I currently “exist” in the suburbs, due to the fact that my wife has concerns about safety and the school system in Buffalo, but I grew up in North Buffalo, and would rather “live” in the city.
    As I see it our City, County and State really need to rethink policies that simply fund housing development and rehabilitation that is geared toward the low income bracket.(See our discussions about Re-habs on Whitney Place)
    Only through drawing middle income young people and families back into the city can we truly see neighborhoods and schools improve.

  • hamp

    Right on.

  • mjd1001

    I can’t take ‘either’ side in the ‘battle’ between city vs suburbs. What I’d like to see is something that is neither, but yet in between both.
    I beleive that a region should give some kind of incentive for business (factories, offices, etc) to be located in a central, downtown location (Buffalo in our case, with some in Niagara Falls or Lockport.) Residentail and commercial will follow. HOWEVER, for those who do not want to live in the city, I’m all for “suburban villages”. Less dense than a city, but yet not just miles and miles of subdivision and subdivisions. These villages have to have a ‘village center’, and then you can run some kind of rapid transit (commuter rail, efficient bus lines, etc) from that village center to the Business hubs (Buffalo, Lockport, NF).
    The closest things we could have to that in this area would be Central Avenue in the Village of Lancaster. Center Street in Lewiston. Parts of Tonawanda could easily get back to this. But what I am opposed to is the unchecked suburban developments like we see in the outskirs of Lancaster and most of what Amherst has become.

  • mjd1001

    Sorry for the double post, I didn’t get to finish my above post.
    We moved to Lewiston for that reason. It isn’t ‘the city’, but yet it is a dense village. There is shopping (not all chain shopping), restaurants, etc all in a central location. BUT, we can’t even take a metro bus into Niagara Falls directly, let alone Buffalo.
    This afternoon, we are going to the Galleria Mall (for the first time in a few months), just for something to do, and maybe see a movie. IF there was a location like that in the City of Buffalo or Niagara falls, we would go there EVERY TIME rather than driving to Cheektowaga (or Amherst or Orchard Park for that matter.) But there isn’t.
    Also, We would spend a LOT more time in Buffalo or Niagara Falls if there was public transit to get there. If there was some kind of light rail from Niagara Falls to Downtown Buffalo, we would probably used it at least every other weekend. We could take the few mile drive to catch the train in or near the Falls, and pay a few dollars each to take it to the city. As it is now, because the only way we can get to the city is to drive, we maybe visit downtown 2-3 times a year. (we paid a bit more, but in the summer, we took the Go train from Niagara Falls, ON to Toronto a few times, that let us off right at Union station, while we visited Buffalo only once.)

  • 2roadsdiverged
  • Lego1981

    One thing that urks me is that Many of the Suburban shopping plazas and avenues such as Niagara Falls Blvd. in Amherst have more traffic and congestion than anywhere in the City of Buffalo. No reason why we can’t have even half of those same businesss located DOWNTOWN.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    I agree we need choice but the continuing outward sprawl in areas like WNY must be reigned in. As we shrink in population we occupy more and more land. There are plenty of existing suburbs to serve the needs of our residents. Each new subdivision drives up infrastructure costs and causes more vacancies in the city and inner ring suburbs.
    That cousin I mentioned in my previous post grew up in Amherst and bought his first house in the city. He was not happy at all complaining about the kids playing in the street in front of his house, the noise, the
    supposed inferior snow plowing, etc etc. For him the city was unbearable, he was not a very tolerant person and the burbs were a better fit.

  • GK

    I agree with you STEEL. However, we should not be apologetic about criticizing suburban places like Clarence.
    Suburbia was a response to the unpleasantness of the early industrial city. Since it’s earliest iterations, the solution was to be country living for all. Of course it’s not country living and as Duany says, it’s a cartoon of country living in a cartoon of a house. The suburbs have not delivered on their promise and that is one of the many reasons that they lend themselves so well to insult. Suburbs have none of the advantages of city living or country living and have all the disadvantages of both. These things were not obvious in the beginning when suburbs first began to appear, but now it is little more than a deception.
    It is OK to say it how it is.

  • Roger

    In the Buffalo News today there is an article about how Main Street medians are getting in the way of automobiles. The article makes me laugh and get angry at the same time. The automobile is the fundamental organizing element to this issue of how we build. The mind set will not most likely change in our lifetime. The car has given us superhuman power to be where we want, when we want, we are not likely to give it up. For every urbanist we create we probably build ten sub-urbanist. I think it is hopeless, but hope to be proved wrong.

  • scott penton

    I think it’s going to get worse, everyone want’s brand new ‘stuff’ and get there in their own car (suv) and park as close to the door because a few parking spaces towards the back of the lot is to far. Yes the outer suburbs, like north Amherst, Lancaster, etc. are nice to live they have lots of land, but when more and more people move there you lose that land, and it all starts to look the same. If you think it’s bad in B-lo you should see Las Vegas (where I now live because of job) away from the strip, in the “normal” part of las vegas, sprawl goes for miles and miles, just so many plaza’s and big-box store’s, you have to have a car here. Some day I’m hoping to move back East. Enjoyed the post.

  • sho’nuff

    Your respectful comments and informed observations are really appreciated here. Thanks….

  • reflip

    Well, there is a movie theater “like that” in downtown Buffalo – the Dipson Market Arcade. It even offers free parking directly in front of it. Park in the lot at Washington and Chippewa, walk across Washington Street into the theater. It costs 2 bucks up front, but show your stub and they take $2 off your movie ticket price. Hence, “free. You could eat at any number of downtown restaurants in the vicinity. Try it. From the theater, you could take the train furter downtown or north to Allentown if you don’t feel like driving/parking twice.
    Or there is also a small movie theater on Hertel, with plenty of shops to walk around and look at. There are plenty of places in Buffalo that are quite similar to the “shopping/dinner/movie” experience. And, there’s also plenty of stores on Elmwood and Allen streets. I completely agree that it’s not “exactly” like the Galleria Mall, but if you want to hang out in the city there is nothing stopping you. My wife and I drive, park, take the train and walk throughout various parts of the city every day. There is plenty to do, and it’s not complicated. We even go to the Galleria Mall too. It’s not an “either/or” proposition.

  • sho’nuff

    Your respectful comments and informed observations are really appreciated here. Thanks….

  • reflip

    I have to agree that the article about the medians was just farcicle. Surprisingly, the comments from readers were more supportive of the medians. I figured it would be just another opportunity for malcontents to bash the city. But seriously, I commute up and down Main. I’m glad the medians are there. If you hit one, it’s probably because you’re drunk, distracted, or a bad driver. And the thing that bothers me most is that if you hit one of the medians, it is possible that you would have drifted into oncoming traffic anyway and ended up with a head-on collision. It is like saying that gaurdrails and exit signs on the highway are dangerous because sometimes cars go off the road and hit them. Unbelievable stupidity from the Buffalo News.

  • Lego1981

    If people knew how to drive in the first place, that article would have never of been printed because would pay attention on the roads and not be slamming into them.

  • grad94

    thanks to the aforementioned horrors of the pre-war industrial city, places like buffalo had to defend – and still do – against incessant diagnoses of their flaws and inadequacies. housing shortages! (yes, before wwii.) not enough parking! congestion! too much crime! too many ugly old buildings! people who don’t speak english! noise! crime! waaah, i got a parking ticket!
    lots of suburbanites are now in the uncomfortable position of having thrown gazillions of stones from their glass houses, which is probably why they get so insulted by your posts. they got used to the privilege of dishing out criticism, not receiving it.
    the inadequacies of the post-war suburb are now as readily evident as the inadequacies of the pre-war industrial city. if it is fair game to dissect the faults of one, it is fair game to dissect the faults of the other. so don’t pull your punches, steel.

  • PaulBuffalo

    In one sense, Buffalo has been fortunate to be a poor city. The issues that scott penton mentions above might have occurred in Buffalo had the population not decreased. Buffalo never became over-malled with gated communities. Visit some of the communities in Florida and where would one begin to correct the problems there?
    Here in California, the state faces annual budget deficits of $20 billion dollars for at least three years and you can bet that social services will be slashed instead of road maintenance budgets. There are few choices here and California has a crisis that, at least for now, has no real answers.
    I watched Mr. Duany’s nine segments this morning and it’s sad that, perhaps, 90% of what he says is pointing out the obvious. (He does it very well, though.) As I watched the segments, I thought of the disaster-in-the-making that is Skyway Side. The developers are building a fake environment on Buffalo’s waterfront. The people in the Marine Towers — just because they are renters — have been crucified on this site because they have raised concerns about a giant parking ramp. I’m not against BassPro or a renewed waterfront but it’s depressing how Buffalo and Buffalonians are making another mistake looking for the silver bullet. A number of us on this site have asked what’s wrong with simply putting in a street grid that allows a waterfront neighborhood to grow step-by-step without the umbrella of an outdoor mall atmosphere?
    Compare that to Buffalo’s increasing downtown residential segment that will result in a pleasant pedestrian environment. Converting the Lafayette Hotel, AM&As, and other structures will do more than a large-scale fiasco like Skyway Side can ever hope to achieve.

  • sonyactivision

    Cities have been sprawling since London exceeded the limits of the “Square Mile” and grew out past Ludgate towards Westminster and points beyond in the 1600s. It’s nothing new and it wasn’t invented in America in the 1950s. The leapfrogging suburban sprawl accelerated by roads and highways is indeed wasteful and tragic. But in an age where lifestyle is more important than sustainability and good taste, what does anyone expect? And yet it is this misalignment between the social and cultural expectations that fuel sprawl and the true costs and consequences that many are finally waking up to. In Buffalo, this realization comes slowly for many of the same reasons that STEEL finds a city in decline sprawling so awful: cheap land. The one curb on excessive lifestyle behaviors ( besides disease and death )is affordability. Because Buffalo hasn’t grown, there is little economic pressure on those who choose that suburban sprawl lifestyle. They can always find a lovely house in a safe, sterile setting for less than $500,000. People in other cities pay twice that and when thay add it all up, they decide that the city life isn’t so bad. No one in Amherst or Clarence is doing that. For them, it’s 1955 forever: an endless progression of subdivisions, moving vans, and strip centers. Nothing stands in the path of two car garages and the breakfast nooks overlooking what was once a pristine wetland.

  • Christine

    Well, before one can take on sprawl, one must understand the reasons why sprawl was embraced by people and our zoning laws.
    1) Everyone knows that the US highways came from Hitler’s Autobahns.
    1a) so Eisenhower had 3 issues at work for highways, break the railroad unions that could shut down the entire economy much like French unions can do today allowing highways to compete with rail, use highways to spur the private sector economy and at the same time feed the car and truck industry.
    2) Hundreds of thousand of returning VETs needed housing and pre-WWII the majority of the country were urban renters. Homeownership for returning vets and stimulation the economy thru housing recovery was key.
    3) Remember…we were coming out of a depression and wartime industries needed non-military customers. There was great fear that we would return to depression in the peacetime conversion.
    4) A French Architect LeCorbusier (and others) wanted to replace the dense, dark grey urban streets with skyscrapers separated by large green spaces with fresh air. Frank Lloyd Wright came up with his USonian ranches which were the prototype that eventually came to replace the cape cods. People wanted lots of space for families and children and they wanted home ownership. (a way of owning an apartment didnt exist in the 50s and 60s)
    5) Lastly, industry was looked on as polluting and dirty which most was and people wanted their living spaces as far away from it as possible. (This was long before the EPA). Today, industries are so clean most could integrate easily into our communities just as they originally did.
    6) and one other point…one need only look at the City of Buffalo and its communist public schools and its various political machines and inside business leaches. Corruption and incompetence at every scale. People also long for the old new england style town hall meetings that can still be found in suburbs where voters and members of the community can still be heard and affect change at a grass roots level. Something impossible for families fighting dictates from teachers unions and school boards run by teachers on leaves of absense rubber stamping what the union wants at taxpayer expense.
    If there was a way to break up the public school system with school choice and school vouchers so parents had the control of quality via public, charter, private or parochial…that would be one step.
    If there was a way to decentralize the city so that voters had more control than political machines, unions or inside business types that buy off politicians with large campaign donations…that would be another step.
    But the embrace to new urbanism really comes from a large segment of the population that works downtown in some professional capacity and another segment that is no longer raising children…and these people who once fled the city are returning to the conveniences the city can offer.
    The problem with sprawl is the older suburbs are being abandoned for newer suburbs…but its a different type of city-suburban divide.
    The only way to counter it (in my opinion) is to tax mileage of infrastructure such that new power lines, new sewars, new water mains, new roads…result in a higher tax than pre-existing infrastructure that would receive a credit on their yearly taxes. We can trace age of infrastructure easily. Its all recorded and we can tax it by age.
    The other way we can counter it is through mass transit which connects our growth centers like Niagara Falls, UB Amherst and the Airport. We will never resolve the city-suburb sprawl issues…but we can create a model whereby we allow choices for both…but in healthier ways than we currently do.

  • whatever

    Some people prefer Buffalo’s relatively dense urban living, others prefer having a little more space in Amherst or Cheektowaga, some prefer even more in an outer burb or a rural area.
    Is there really any more to it than that? Personal reference. Just like some people don’t mind a medium sized metro area like Buffalo while others prefer a top 5 big city like Chicago or Philly. Personal preference.

  • sonyactivision

    The point STEEL makes is that those “preferences” are manipulated, either by marketers who are pushing a particular lifestyle, or by regulatory mechanisms that favor one paradigm over another, often the product of political manipulation by real estate developers and road builders. It’s fair to address this but in a way that reveals the truth about the forces at play in our communities, not in a way that predjudices the findings. One only has to remember that once upon a time, landowners and developers plied city leaders with bags of cash to redirect subways and trolley lines to their neighborhoods so they could triple land and building prices and drive up rents. Coal interests once battled over emerging new heat sources to maintain their monopolies in cities where theirs was a lucrative trade. One little discussed aspect of suburbs is how they were often seen as new kinds of places where the urban corruption and machine politics would be banished and replaced by inscrutable managers who would crack down on the crime and vice that city leaders so often allowed if their price were met. What people might learn is that suburbs can be as rife with corruption as cities and that cities can be even more auto-centric in their policies than many enlightened suburbs.

  • sho’nuff

    We know what’s best for everyone so let’s force em to move back. It’ll make everything all good again.

  • Daniel Sack

    It is simply about money. The highway, oil, housing, banking, automobile, rubber… industries all saw there was $$ to be made by supporting sprawl. Lobbyists for those industries saw to it that sprawl infrastructure was funded by government. This government welfare made the cost reasonable for the immediate user while putting off much of the expense for future generations (like now!).
    It’s okay to prefer to live in the suburbs but people who live there should pay all the costs of living there. We have Grand Island residents who don’t even want to pay their discounted price to use the bridges. These people live on an ISLAND, if they don’t want to pay for the bridges to live there they can buy BOATS. There are people who live in East Aurora and drive on the 400, 90, and 290 to get to work. Sure, gasoline taxes pay for part of the costs but contrary to popular myth but hardly all of it.
    I believe that if sprawl was not susidized there would be far less of it.

  • STEEL

    I would “prefer” to have a house on a beautiful sand beach. Unfortunately I can’t afford that lifestyle. That is because waterfront property is a limited commodity. I have nothing against people “preferring” to live in the suburbs. I do have a problem with the consequences of their preferences. We have made the sprawl lifestyle artificially abundant and therefore artificially cheap by use of massive government subsidies. That is what I have a problem with. As a country and as a species on this planet we can no longer afford the destructive nature of sprawl. The people who choose sprawl should pay for the choice not the rest of us.

  • Really?

    I find it comical that someone is so arrogant to chastise people living in the suburbs of Buffalo from Chicago. How about you shut your trap in telling what people in WNY should do David until you live in WNY?
    This post is almost as pathetic and self serving as your post on gift ideas pushing your book.
    Urban sprawl is a challenge. No doubt about that. But so are the challenges in living in the city. People like you want others to move back into the city but blatantly disregard the reasons why they left. Blatantly disregard the self inflicted wounds on the city by the corrupt agencies, politicians and grass roots organizations that are supported year after year, election and election by the complacent voters and residents of the City of Buffalo.
    You can not choose your family but you can choose your friends and neighbors. Maybe people in Buffalo should look in the mirror for once and ask themselves why they are such crappy neighbors.
    Of course people will counter with the amazing performance recently with the EHMO show. I counter that with where the hell were people before the cameras? Are the people going to still come now that the cameras are gone? I will also add that a large portion of the time and money for that “Shinning moment in the spotlight for Buffalo” came from people who live in the burbs and that you so ofter piss on.

  • Daniel Sack

    Exactly sonyactivism (“suburbs can be as rife with corruption as cities”).
    But the larger community does not read in the major newspaper or hear on radio and tv newscasts so much about corruption in suburban communities. Everyone in Western New York learns about corruption in Buffalo but who reads about corruption in Evans or Sanborn? Perhaps the Buffalo News Southtowns Edition will have more Town of Evans news but people reading the Northtowns Edition won’t see it. Everyone reads about problems in Buffalo in the Buffalo News. I’m not blaming the Buffalo News – they don’t have the resources (or maybe I should blame them for not devoting the resources) to cover politics in every community they serve.

  • whatever

    “Sure, gasoline taxes pay for part of the costs but contrary to popular myth but hardly all of it”
    Ok, then gasoline taxes should be raised enough to fund roads, as long as all other car-related govt revenues are dedicated into the same fund. Put all of those revenues (gas taxes, gas sales taxes, tire taxes, state taxes on car insurance, and auto registration and license fees, speeding ticket payments, etc.) all into a dedicated fund which can’t be raided for any other spending uses.
    People in burbs should pay for their own sewers and utilities, etc. – and I’ve no reason to think they don’t already to that.

  • al labruna

    the real issue is over achieving sustainability through density, its just masquerading as a “city v. suburbs” conflict.
    each new subdivision and each new strip mall require investments in infrastructure: utilities, roads, schools, police stations, post offices all need to be built, staffed and regularly maintained.
    these are not inexpensive investments. particularly when you consider in our region they are redundant duplications of already built-up neighborhoods. and because new suburbs are not nearly as dense as the old neighborhoods, they require larger investments than the older ones did. they also cost more in materials, land and staffing. basically, they are just inherently less efficient. every taxpayer and utility customer bares these costs.
    additionally, new suburbs – at least the ones not built in a “new urbanist” style – generally have few sidewalks, streetlights, or mainstreet style commercial districts. inevitably, this makes them inherently unwalkable. and because of the low density, it costs more to ship to the far reaching corners of the exurbs – all of which makes this kind of development unsustainable with high fuel costs (think “fuel surcharge”).
    its important to recognize that some suburbs or parts of suburbs and small villages are dense, walkable and sustainable. some could easily add some features like a transit stop or changing zoning to allow for a walkable commercial district to make them sustainable as well. all is far from lost.
    ____
    btw – im looking to get a new urbanist group in the North Park section of Buffalo, if your interested please check out: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=165318518234&ref=ts

  • Black Rock Lifer

    I live in the city and have long been part of the effort to make it a better place. Does that make it OK to criticize?
    I don’t think the corruption in Buffalo is any different than the corruption in the suburbs, Buffalo is just bigger and with more fingers in the pie.
    My neighbors are “not crappy neighbors”, in fact most of them are good solid people that help and look out for each other.
    I tend to agree with you about the EHMO show, the cameras did draw a lot of suburbanites (and city people) that probably wouldn’t otherwise be there. There are many more quiet behind the scene volunteers doing their thing all over this city every day. They do it for the right reasons and aren’t looking for a pat on the back.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Same in Denver, miles of ugly sprawl with miles of ugly strip plazas. The same chain stores and restaurants are repeated every couple of miles with very few mom and pop operations.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    well said

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Yes, there is more to it, those with a “personal preference” for new subdivisions never pay the full price for their choice. They destroy more habitat and farmland, use more resources, and pass the cost of higher services and utilities to the rest of us. They also devalue the existing housing stock in an area that is not experiencing growth.

  • Daniel Sack

    I agree with “whatever” that gasoline taxes should pay for the costs associated with the vehicles they power.
    Roads (including underutilized land and lanes for parking) and their maintenance, health costs from the pollution, military costs for defending oil supplies… $11.35/gallon is the estimated “real cost” of gasoline according to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.
    “whatever” writes, “People in burbs should pay for their own sewers and utilities, etc. – and I’ve no reason to think they don’t already to that.”
    Until recently the State paid most of the cost of suburban roads and sewers and still pays most of the costs of new schools. That means citizens in cities helped pay for the sprawl that helped kill cities! We share the cost of new suburban schools while cities sell wonderful old school buildings for a song. (Yes I know, finally the NY State coughed up money to rehab Buffalo school buildings – about 50 years late!)
    When cities were densely populated they did not need state subsidies to build infrastructure, city residents paid for all of it. Now that half the city populations left for the subsidized suburban sprawl many wonder why cities are so poor!
    As far as private utilities are concerned city residents still subsidize suburban residents. On typical city streets housing lots are 30 to 40 feet wide. Lots in sprawl land may be 100, 200 feet across or more. The electric, telephone, cable, and gas utilities charge the same basic rates even though a thousand foot supply line serves a fraction the number of homes in the suburbs.
    Still I say let people live wherever they wish. Just pay your way.

  • sin|ill

    whatever,
    you state the idea of preferences as if unlimited resources were our birthright. suburban living is a way of life that should be priced appropriately (they are not yet).

  • Really?

    WOW! You really think the corruption in Buffalo is equal to what is found in the burbs? This just proves my point. B. Davis has accounted for more corruption in the last 2 years than what has been found in the towns in 20 and it does not stop with him.
    People in the COB are so blind to the reality, they do not see the need to fix things. THAT IS THE PROBLEM!
    It would be a different story if COB residents were saying…hey we know things are broke. We are willing to fix them but we need some help.
    What instead is said is it is all the fault of those who left. Never asking why they did. Never their fault.

  • STEEL

    Though I appreciate your opinion that no one from outside of the WNY area should offer opinions and comments on WNY but I disagree with that line of thinking so I will keep on offering my opinions from afar. That being said since I assume you have read the post and watched the videos so you know that this story is not about Buffalo nor is it only about the suburbs. As a matter of fact the 2 sprawl images included here are in the city. I state right up front that sprawl is a universal issue spanning city and suburb and it plagues the entire nation. No where in this commentary do I say people need to move into the city. No where in the videos does it say anything about moving into the city. No where in the videos does it say that people need to move into the city. This is not a story about where people live. It is a story about how people build where they live.
    Since you bring up Chicago. lets examine it for a moment. Even though Chicago is a dense and vibrant city It’s metro region is one of the worst sprawl offenders in the world. From Downtown Chicago you can drive for 2 hours in any direction before you reach the sprawl edge. It crosses into 3 states beside Illinois. If you overlaid this Chicago sprawl onto Buffalo it would stretch from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania line. The Orchards of Niagara County would be wiped out. There would be no delineation between Buffalo and Rochester and subdivisions would surround Letchworth Park.
    Sprawl is a terribly destructive force in this country. Some day we will need to wake up to that fact.

  • Heather

    Americans need to understand that suburban sprawl is wrong. It is just wrong no matter which way you look at it. There is no reason for the developments we build, for the swamps we drain, for the roads we build. Our cities should grow organically, as we run out of space in one area we expand to a new place. Instead we have literally thrown away good and very usable houses in the city for newer and bigger houses in the suburbs. This is absolutely destructive and almost the damage that has already been caused is nearly irreversible. Just like Global Warming and climate change, we need to stop further damage now. We are not too far gone to make amends for past mistakes and begin to reinvest in our city infrastructure instead of building new in the expansive sprawl of the suburbs.
    This is just the right thing to do. Our leaders should take notice and outlaw further development until we fill houses that are currently standing vacant.
    STOP THE SUBURBAN SPRAWL NOW! IT IS KILLING OUR PLANET AND RUINING OUR CITIES FOR GENERATIONS TO COME!

  • sho’nuff

    If only we could build suburban style houses in the city then we’d have the best of both worlds. If only… sigh!

  • sho’nuff

    “Only through drawing middle income young people and families back into the city can we truly see neighborhoods and schools improve.”
    Which comes first? Good schools to bring in wealthier families or wealthier families to improve the schools? Safer neighborhoods to draw the middle class or more middle class to push for safer neighborhoods?
    You are “existing” in the suburbs, apparently against your will. Why not start the move towards the city. Bring your young middle class family back and enroll them in the Buffalo Schools. What’s stopping you from moving to the University District or off Bailey? Be honest now.

  • sho’nuff

    I heard that Michael Moore is doing his next documentary on suburbia.

  • Really?

    I never said you should not give an opinion. I just found your opinions comical because of your location. For some reason it is ok for you to raise your family in Chicago, because one would assume it is in the best interest of your family to be in Chicago, but it is not ok to live in Amherst. Even if the residents live their because they feel it is in THEIR best interest to do so.
    Furthermore, Most people did not pick up your slam on Conservatives (God fearing people) compared to Liberals (Elmwood urban “hipsters”) but I know how much of a Liberal douchebag you are. Add that into the mix is why I spoke out.
    Back to the OP, I agree with every item you mention about sprawl. I agree that it needs to be fixed. Nobody with any common sense would say that sprawl is good.
    However, the difference between you an I is that I realize the real reasons behind sprawl. I understand that it is going to happen as long as those problems exist. I realize that the residents of the urban core need to change and fix things before they can demand people to move back. I also realize that bashing people who moved for the best interest of the their family accomplishes nothing productive.
    It is not like the suburbs of WNY are Shangri-La. They have some items that are nice and match what the residents look for but it is still WNY.
    The people who stayed in WNY should not be railed on. We should seek to understand the real reasons why they left, the real reasons why they are not coming back to the core and fix them.
    This is not a political campaign where you can say “HOPE” 1 million times and point the finger at someone to say….THEY ARE TO BLAME.
    This IS about how people live. What they want and what they will accept. Maybe, if even for the slightest period of time, those pesky suburbanites were looked at as part of the cure and not the illness…they would want to be a part of the solution.

  • al labruna

    sho’nuff – now youve gone and raised a point without actually meaning to.
    suburban style house dont work to build density. its not so much the house, but the the suburban style lots. traditional neighborhood development utilizes lots that are deeper than they are narrow thereby placing houses closer together, and as a result, create density. conversely, exurban lots are generally wider than they are deep, and are much larger than need to be – obviously lessing density and increasing the associated costs.
    actual location is less important. traditional neighborhood development can take place in urban areas, inner suburbs, and small towns. that said, if youre interested in a suburban style place in the city, I hear there might be some availability in Sycamore Village.

  • sho’nuff

    So what about those people who live in Buffalo and drive to the Galleria? Or Ellicottville? Or shop at the Niagara Outlets? How do we charge them their fair share for using the roads to get there? Should everything be a pay as you go or do we trust the government to provide roads that are available to all?

  • STEEL

    Why is it comical that I should be against sprawl if I live in Chicago?
    When did I say it is not OK to live in Amherst?
    Douchebag? Is it necessary to be flinging insults or should we have a civil conversation?
    Again, the story is not railing against WNYers. It is railing against Americans. Sprawl is an incredibly stupid choice we have made in America and correct me if I am wrong. The thing that makes America great is our ability to speak out against things we believe are wrong.
    You are right I did put a subtle messages in there. It has to do with the concept of claiming victim-hood to escape blame for a problem. You have actually given a great example in your response when you act as if the suburban sprawl residents are innocent bystanders who just want to lead their lives in peace if only the horrible city people would straighten themselves up. The problem is that the way “sprawl residents” (as opposed to suburban residents) choose to live their lives is highly destructive to our country and they need to take some responsibility for that destruction. As I have pointed out several times, the sprawl lifestyle is not limited to the suburbs! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
    Check out this video. This is where I picked up on the liberals trying to take the poor suburban residents cars


    I know it is talk radio but a lot of people take this crap seriously.

  • Sally

    Most spot on comment I have ever read on Buffalo Rising – kudos to you.

  • sho’nuff

    Right on… best comment ever.

  • Really?

    I called you a Douchebag because your insinuation that people of faith or Conservatives are the problem, instead of having the guts to just say it, is the actions of a douchbag. But we both know why you made an insinuation instead of a outright comment and that is it would be more obvious to others and they would see you in the same light that I do.
    Back to the discussion….I never said the people who do not choose to live in the urban core are innocent. In fact, I pointed out that there is a problem and that they should be looked at as PART of the cure. In saying PART not THE or ALL, I think it was pretty clear that there are many sides that need to change and when they parts work together, only then can the problem be solved.
    But this logic does not work for people like you. It is more about pointing the finger than actually fixing the problem. You know, come to think of it, you never really offer any solutions to fix things. You just demand the results.
    As for the video clip, ya…that guy is crazy but he does make one good point. Some people do not want to live an urban environment. That is NEVER going to change.
    What you miss, is there are a LOT of people who DO want to live in an urban environment provided:
    They do not have to sacrifice their kids education.
    They do not have to risk their families safety.
    They do not have to pay HIGH taxes with LOW return because of systematic political corruption.
    THEY HAVE A VOICE!!!!!
    See the VOICE is something, for this conversation, Buffalo residents do not want to give. Take the comments from people like Blackrocklifer. He/she sees nothing is wrong..so why should “those people” be able to say things need to change. They should just come back with their tail between their legs because that is what is best for Buffalo.
    Do you notice how few suburban residents participate in these conversations? If you do not give someone a say…just why in the hell should they listen? They will just continue to live their lives, send their kids to good schools, not worry if they forget to lock the front door when they leave and give to charity when they can to help those in need.
    See while you view them as the enemy, they view you as charity. Until both sides, accept wrongs done, accept that changes need to be made…nothing is going to happen. It also sure as hell does not help when the most vocal people on the other side are douchebags.

  • NorPark

    Whats with all these snobby city vs suburb stories? I personally feel that cities AND suburbs are killing this earth! People should live in the wild and in caves. Who is with me, im ready to start a movement?!

  • Christine

    sprawl is only viable as long as we have inexpensive energy and as long as we put more subsidies into building roads and infrastructure instead of maintaining the roads and infrastructure we already have….
    We are paying for miles of power, sewar, water, sidewalks, curbs, street lighting, fire and police to name a few of the services….
    If there was a valuation based tax on age of infrastructure, whereby, the longer the infrastructure has been in existence the cheaper it is…and the newer the infrastructure is the more expensive it is…then the tax incentives for sprawl would be eroded and those people who want the exurban life would be paying properly for it.
    There will always be those who prefer suburbs, exurbs and small towns over urban life. Its fine but we must find a way to make urban life less expensive and more convenient than the alternatives.
    We could revise our municipal governments and county governments into some compromise where say Buffalo was broken up by council districts into separate municipalities…and the county legislature comprised of the mayors of each municipality…with a hired county or metro manager. Thus we get the best of both worlds..smaller town/community based government and the efficiencies of a central metro government.
    Im just saying…why not let people have what they want…and find a way to give it to them.

  • STEEL

    well, I keep saying this is not a suburb v city issue but you can’t seen to understand that.
    My reference had nothing to do with religion. It was a reference to the campaign and the overuse of victimhood as a defense.
    You keep referring to me as “You People” and “People like me” Who are these people you are talking about?
    On second thought, you still seem to want to hurl insults so I guess you are uninterested in conversation. You don’t have to bother replying. We agree that sprawl is bad at least.

  • Pegger

    Interesting theories about the Post WWII influences and how they affected our culture and contributed to urban sprawl. I would place more emphasis in different areas of the arena such as the GI Bill and Madison Avenue.

  • Pegger

    Steel,
    Thanks for supplying the tutorial so all of us could enjoy it. I watched all 9 episodes with great interest. I took a couple urban history classes in college. In the latter part of the 20th Century portion of the two semester classes, Buffalo was cited in detail as a forward thinking city that built on its efficient wheel spoke design and the “new” highway structures now known as the Kensington and the Niagara Thruway. I thought you might appreciate that this is the way experts looked at urban sprawl in the 1970’s. It was an inevitability and this city and region embraced it. Turns out that it wasn’t exactly a perceptive perspective.

  • clockhill

    Thanks for the post, STEEL.
    Thanks for MRodgers, who respectfully watches the bigger picture (Vive le difference!) and Really?, who disrespectfully watches the bigger picture. Both of their responses made me think.
    What is the solution for Buffalo? Rebuild properly dense and urbanistic housing for a city that doesn’t need more housing?
    Build more spacious housing (not necessarily “suburban”) to utilize empty lots and accept our newfound smaller population (and plan for continued population loss)?
    Rebuild existing old houses instead of focusing on newbuilds?
    Doing the previous in conjunction with closing and landbanking entire streets?
    No one likes what we have or how we do it (myself included). I know what I would like to see, but for everyone else, What Happens Now?

  • jolopy

    I tend to not read all the rants that people write on topics that go this long due to the repetitive one sided responses that keep popping up up, but doesn’t it boil down to personal choice? For the Suburbanites – They want good schools, save neighborhoods, the feel of comfort and quietness without being to far from the actual city, neighbors who they know will maintain their property and have it not be a rental to anyone willing to pay. Urbanites – They like the proximity to everything that is needed, they like the environment and idea of living in the city and maybe there is comfort in seeing a constant array of people. As I was writing this I really became board with the topic. Seriously. If people want more people in the cities then make it worth it to be here. It comes down to a mentality issue in my opinion. I don’t like huge crowds of people at a bar so I tend to stay away from those ones and find the mellow smaller ones. I will venture in once in a while for the experience but that’s not my cup of tea. People in the Burbs might enjoy the quietness and less dense population of people in which they live. That wont change. To make the city more dense then attract those who like living in the city and not blaming it on those who choose not to live here and use it for its features when they need to.

  • jolopy

    Mind the spelling mistakes as I did not have my morning coffee.

  • Sweet Lincolns Mullet

    Maybe some people prefer to live away from crime. Not too many muggings in Cowlesville!

  • Sweet Lincolns Mullet

    Maybe some people prefer to live away from crime. Not too many muggings in Cowlesville!

  • Daniel Sack

    Yes “jolopy”, I live in the city because I want lousy schools in unsafe neighborhoods and neighbors who do not maintain their property!
    I’ll repeat what I wrote before. Let people live where they wish but let them pay all the costs.
    To “sho’nuf” (“Should everything be a pay as you go or do we trust the government to provide roads that are available to all?): I have a car (pickup truck actually) and I would be glad to pay the $11/gallon real price of gasoline to pay for the roads when I go to Ellicotville or wherever.
    17% of County households do not have cars. 33% of City households don’t own cars. But we all subsidize road maintenance and stupid projects like the extension of Route 219.
    I do not have children but gladly pay taxes for education; I beleive that is an appropriate expense for government to fund and all to share. Roads are useful and we all use them to some extent but I think a different model for use and payment should apply.

  • STEEL

    So what you are saying is the only way to eliminate crime is to build in a sprawl fashion? How does sprawl eliminate crime?

  • buffloonitick

    I’ve tried to resist movements like that before knowing that I would eventually ‘cave in’…

  • Black Rock Lifer

    You think because I said corruption is just as prevalent in the suburbs that I somehow then believe “nothing is wrong” here in Buffalo. You got to kidding, we have many problems here, especially in the leadership area. Buffalo’s problems are more directly related to the concentration of poverty and the lack of a regional outlook than any widespread corruption.
    The corruption in the suburbs is just less visible, for example Amherst politicians have been in bed with the developers for decades, this kind of corruption is far more damaging than Brian Davis using $2,000 in campaign Funds. Each year we here of another town official or department head getting caught using town resources for their own benefit. Heavy equipment being used at their home, town workers doing favors, etc etc.
    Corruption is fairly evenly distributed, Buffalo is just under more scrutiny.

  • The Kettle

    Dont look now Really?, I think the trolls have anointed you their king.

  • The Kettle

    I guess crime doesnt exist as long as it is happening far awy from ones cul de sac.

  • The Kettle

    It isnt as simple as being a matter of personal choice.
    First, the “choice” to move to the post WWII burbs has allways been driven by public subsidy. As Dan Sack pointed out:” citizens in cities helped pay for the sprawl that helped kill cities”. It is okay to choose the suburban life but dont tax one group to give the burbs a competitive advantage over the city.
    Second, while your post acknowledged many choose to live in the city, many others are isolated in concentrations of poverty away from far flung centers of opportunity. If you visit the neighborhood “O’Brien” likes to look down his nose on, you will see many people living in a neighborhood because they have nowhere else to go not because they chose it. Govt fueled dispersal has had the unintended effect of isolating the poor in inner-city ghettos.

  • okcheckitout

    Agreed!

  • KarlMalone

    You nailed it.

  • KarlMalone

    I love the comment, you should get another week of free cheese coupons for that one.

  • sin|ill

    sprawl does not eliminate crime. did you watch the attached video?

  • The Kettle

    That cheese will taste great knowing it was paid for with your tax dollars.

  • The Kettle

    Really>”How about you shut your trap… I know how much of a Liberal douchebag you are…It also sure as hell does not help when the most vocal people on the other side are douchebags.”
    The beauty of the internet: you can talk like a badass from the saftey of your keyboard. I admire the hell out of internet tough guys.

  • Daniel Sack

    Sprawl creates crime. Crime against the city – just not recognized as crime. Or maybe just not prosecuted as crime.
    When City/County taxpayers pay for parks in the County but County residents who do not live in the City don’t want to pay for parks in the City, that is a crime.
    When town residents with no police department rely on County Sheriffs also paid for by City residents who also pay for their own police deaprtment that is a crime.
    When City taxpayers pay through their County taxes for $12 million/year for County roads – none of which are in the City, that is a crime.
    When Southtowns residents insist on taking 79 extra acres of City land for a highway in the City to save them 2 minutes driving to work, that is a crime.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Cowelesville would not be a good choice for safety. Rural areas are statistically the most dangerous places to live and raise children, mainly due to car accidents.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Lets not forget the pirating of business from Buffalo using IDAs.
    The town of Amherst stopping the rapid transit from connecting UB resulting in less ridership and fewer students going downtown.
    Use of restrictive zoning laws to keep the poor, the elderly, and even the developmentally disabled out of their towns.
    And last, the recent Orchard Park zip code profiling to keep the “wrong kind” of senior citizens out of that town.

  • PaulBuffalo

    Sherlock Holmes, in “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” had a more sinister view about crime in the countryside:
    “It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.… The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.”
    The fictional Holmes was surely a new urbanist.

  • Christine

    Crime, to a large extent much of the crime in Buffalo and Niagara Falls is SELF INFLICTED.
    Niagara Falls, NY had a choice NOT to demolish nearly all of its downtown for urban renewal but it did it anyway, then they could have had the Boulevard Mall in Niagara Falls but they dithered, they could have had the Summit Mall in Niagara Falls but they dithered on that also. They demolished their city and never rebuilt it.
    Buffalo is not quite as corrupt and incompetent as Niagara Falls but it comes darn close. Does anyone want to count the number of companies that Buffalo/Erie County lost because of incompetence besides say Barilla Pasta and Wacker Chemical, failure to cleanup brownfields, failure to stimulate new urban office parks, failure to apply minimum resources to homes for things like new roofs and gutters instead of demolition, failure to inspect and enforce property laws, and the list goes on. What is the statistic that Rochester was able to save and rehab 360 homes per year while Buffalo which receives more money was only able to accomplish 30.
    Crime comes from a lack of opportunity. Very few criminals are bad people…some are very smart…some are very wounded…some are very compassionate…all were denied opportunities to focus and direct their energies productively. Not everyone needs the money and the intellect to be a doctor or a lawyer! The city fails its children. There is plenty of need for car mechanics, plumbers, wallpaper hangers, painters, construction workers, dental hygenists, medical secretaries, etc.
    This is again where new urbanism succeeds where the suburbs often fail…those local neighborhood stores were the ones that often employed those children, mentored them, anchored them, focused them and started their careers. Without urban jobs those kids are lost!
    No neighborhood can survive without jobs…and thats why the eastside died and the southpark area of south buffalo died.
    Now…the big advantage that buffalo has for new urbanism is that we do have suburban sprawl but it is contained within city and county roads that were built to the pre-WWII standards radiating out from the city connecting to other cities, towns and villages….as do the railroads too!
    For Buffalo and much of the Great Lakes region…we wont have as much demolition to do to be low energy and post-modern new urbanism as the southern cities but Buffalo does need to get its act together in separating out what parts of Buffalo can be saved and what parts cant, make the parts that can historic with pre-WWII zoning and architectural codes….and make the parts that cant new urbanist modern and contemporary with a mixture of styles.
    Yes, crime does come from people who fall into drugs and alcohol and sex and other addictions as well as other moral failings…but we simply must put all of societies energy into focusing our children and providing them opportunities for employment. Perhaps it means making more things in the US, less imports and higher prices for products. Perhaps it means less immigration. Perhaps it means letting kids leave high school after 10th grade and finish at a community college so they have access to a degree in a trade. If your a victim of crime..chances are that kids crime started with truancy at school. Perhaps it means deputizing truant officers and hauling parents before a social worker and judge.
    Buffalo has the bones…to build a future…and so do its suburbs…the question is getting builders in Buffalo to build those urban townhomes and rowhouses and urban office parks…and urban warehouses…etc. With Buffalos rising property values its really time to start sharing our focus with what kind of new construction we want…as our major historical properties get rehabbed.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    I am always surprised by the name calling and personal attacks here on BRO. It makes it hard to debate an issue without falling into the mud. Growing up in Black Rock I learned at a very early age to put up or shut up. Name calling might very well bring an a$$ whipping. Learned to be a little more humble and not so quick to act like a jerk. Just another advantage of growing up in the city.

  • sho’nuff

    Let’s not forget the shadow governments and New World Order hiding out in the substrata under the Denver Airport. They are redirecting capital away from the city and into the hands of the wealthy bankers living in the rich suburbs. The man is always trying to keep us down.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Paul, that is interesting, About five years ago my wife and I bought a cabin in the southern tier. After getting to know more of the country people I was surprised to find how similar the problems were to ours in Buffalo. Poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, drugs, petty crime, and poor performing schools were all just as prevalent. In some ways these problems are even worse than in the city. The only big difference is the country is pretty much all white. Makes the whole blame the minorities argument look pretty silly. It is ALL about poverty, no other issue has such far reaching consequences.

  • whatever

    Daniel>”….health costs from the pollution”
    Nice biased very selective accounting.
    You forgot all the financial benefits from health cost efficiencies due to cars and trucks. How much extra would it cost us if all medicines, health supplies, and food in the U.S. had to transported only on trains, bikes, and horses? Lifespans would drop, streets would be filthy with horse crap. Medicines, vaccines, and even food would be much more expensive and scarce for most people. Hospitals would be primitive and our health care would be worse than 3rd world nations.
    Let’s subtract the cost of all that from the $11.35/gallon estimate you quoted… letsee here… it’s….. $2.95/gallon. The $2.85 we’re paying now, plus maybe a dime to better cover the costs of road paving.
    The amusing thing is, when they can afford it even most hippies and hipsters make grat use of cars, SUVs, and (directly or indirectly) trucks – along with the petroleum products that make it feasible. Or maybe they think Subarus and Volvos don’t count for some reason.

  • MRodgers

    BRL’er, I understand. There have been quite a few times I was considering the move, as well. However, the richness of the culture, heritage and diversity of the neighborhood I live in now has warmed even this old lady to only leaving the city feet first. 🙂
    .
    When I was a kid I would look at the Liberty Bank Building and City Hall like the were the most amazing structures (and, really, they are) and I was in a HUGE metropolis, just like Oz. So, picture that and now think about the suburban sprawl. In the middle, on the horizon is Oz.
    .
    The sprawl of sprawl is increasingly entering city-proper and diminishes our character. That is not to say developments such as those along the Delaware Corridor, Medical Campus and such are bad. It’s just the “concrete-tisizing” of Oz. We have plenty of surface parking lots already unmaintained; 10% of plazas rented with others completely deserted; and roadways, expressways and highways wrapping around preventing the view of Oz from the distance.
    .
    Add to that transportation. Lack of public transportation that would be universal in appeal – doesn’t matter who or what you are, you can use and benefit from public transportation. Health, ecology, movement, all needed by everyone. It’s even hard to get from our airport to city-center and it’s only a 20 minute drive (speed limit please) away.
    .
    Then, division – the division that has been historically overriding every project, program or development for well over 60 years. We gotta get it together, kids. We’re all in this together so might as well finally work together. Look what happened on Massachusetts Ave. Although I was one of the biggest fans of this event and have trumpeted its activity to folks I know out of the area, there are the skeptics I would love to show that we can achieve projects like this when the cameras go away.
    .
    So, let’s have some fun, grow, develop plans on every level and rebuild Oz. We’ve already got a good start.

  • MRodgers

    You hit the nail right on the head. Which comes first?
    .
    If we were to succeed as a city to bring these folks in while rebuilding relationships, people and buildings, we could create a benchmark for others to follow. That would change the overall view of Buffalo. But, it takes TRUE partnership with ALL parties at the table. And, it’s worth it.

  • whatever

    Daniel>”military costs for defending oil supplies…”
    Way overstated. Only 16% of total U.S. oil came from Persian Gulf nations last year. http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/energy_in_brief/foreign_oil_dependence.cfm
    The Afghanistan-Pakistan military actions your man Obama has advocated all along and wants to add troops for isn’t even in a region with oil.
    Nearly half of our oil comes from the western hemisphere (including domestic). That % could grow due to big new discoveries in Brazil and Canada, not to mention all the oil we’re not yet touching here in the U.S. offshore and in the Alaska. Drilling those places here in the U.S. would upset liberals, so that grows the amount we buy from Persian Gulf nations. Even so, it’s only 16%.
    If the U.S. had wanted to keep buying oil from Saddam Hussein it could have easily done so without military action and just looked the other way about Kuwait. Before that, he was always willing to sell us as much oil as we wanted at market prices.
    Ask Obama why the military budget he’s proposing is so big, but he doesn’t have to spend it for our oil supply.

  • The Kettle

    I hope none of Subaru’s marketing people have read your past few posts.

  • whatever

    sin|ill>”suburban living is a way of life that should be priced appropriately (they are not yet)”
    You guys can say that a million times but that doesn’t make it true. The less subsidies the better for everything, but you aren’t objective to judge how much subsidies go to urban vs. suburban ways of life. You have far too much pro-urban bias to be believed about that.
    Most taxpayers in Erie Co (over 70%) live outside of the city. So when spending happens outside of the city, it’s not automatically unfair. That’s where a huge majority of taxes around here are paid (county, state, federal).
    I’ve no problem with using car-related taxes and fees gas taxes to fund roads. Put it all (gas taxes, sales taxes on gas, car insurance taxes, truck fees, license registration fees, tire taxes, etc) into a separate fund that can’t be diverted for anything else, then raise gas taxes if it’s not enough.
    People in each town should pay for their sewer lines, electricity, other infrastructure, etc. You’ve given no evidence that they don’t.

  • whatever

    The city has under 30% of the taxpayers in Erie Co and it gets more than its fair share of county spending. Consider the whole county budget instead of just cherry picked line items.

  • sho’nuff

    So true. It is too bad that many in the city are alienating the suburban folks and blaming them for the misfortunes of Buffalo. We just can’t seem to preach the gospel of new urbanism without making snide remarks about where other people live and why they live there. We like to throw around terms like ‘white flight’ and ‘white washed’ to say that suburbanites are racists. We use gross over-generalizations and stereotypes to define the suburbs but then get all upset when someone use a stereotype about the city. We also fail to accept that the city is broken. We fail to accept that our schools are horrendous, that many streets are crime ridden, and that the Democratic majority is failing us miserably.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    I know a lot “hippies and hipsters” here in Black Rock and they don’t own SUVs, Volvo’s or Subaru’s. Many don’t have a car at all and use public transportation or ride a bike. It isn’t always because they can’t afford them, it is more about being a true believer. My wife and I drive very fuel efficient cars and walk whenever possible. I think it is just a small minority of EV types that fit your description.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Not sure where you have been but I have listened to rude and ignorant remarks about my neighborhood for the past 30 years. Suburbanites are much more likely to put down the city with the same old stereotypes than the handful of new urbanists here on BRO. Ditto for the racist remarks whether overt or covert. White flight was real, I grew up at that time and have firsthand knowledge.
    Again, school performance is directly related to the wealth of the district, look at Business First rankings, it truly is that simple. Fix poverty and you have fixed the schools.
    As for the Democratic majority failing us, you must be kidding. Just look at what 8 years of Republican rule in Washington and 40 years of Republican rule in Albany has brought us.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    whatever- As a city taxpayer please explain what I recieve from the County. Please don’t say social services because the majority of working people in Buffalo do not benefit from hosting the regions poor. In fact we would be willing to relocate some of them and their county paid benefits to all and any of our surrounding towns.

  • KarlMalone

    I wish I could say it better…
    “Now who’s the real dookie, meanin who’s really the ****
    Them niggaz ride dicks, Frank White push the sticks
    on the Lexus, LX, four and a half
    Bulletproof glass tints if I want some ass
    Gon’ blast squeeze first ask questions last
    That’s how most of these so-called gangsters pass
    At last, a nigga rappin bout blunts and broads
    Tits and bras, menage-a-tois, sex in expensive cars
    I still leave you on the pavement
    Condo paid for, no car payment.’
    -Biggie Smalls (Christopher Wallace)
    but I can’t….

  • Black Rock Lifer

    I have asked this question before. Can anyone point to an example when one of our suburban neighbors has made any attempt to cooperate with or help the city in any way? We often hear criticism but I have yet to see any effort to work together. The present division is just too advantageous for the suburbs and selfishness prevents change.

  • whatever

    That’s why in my point about hypocrisy I wrote “when they can afford it” and “most”.
    whatever>”The amusing thing is, when they can afford it even most hippies and hipsters make grat use of cars, SUVs, and (directly or indirectly) trucks – along with the petroleum products that make it feasible.”
    The only thing that looks wrong in that is I spelled great as grat, and maybe I should’ve said “cars or SUVs and (directly or indirectly) trucks”. Most don’t have both an SUV and car even when they can afford it. However, many do have SUVs and what I said about cars and trucks doesn’t look disputable.

  • EricOak

    I guess I had better watch all the videos before I can make a full comment, but this habit of New Urbanist priests enlightening the dim folk is grating. As an Elmwood Village resident and support for 22 years, what first strikes me is the apocalyptic tone of this rallying cry against sprawl.
    I didn’t realize that thousands of hardworking responsible citizens in the suburbs had unwittingly (or worse, knowingly) brought my lifestyle to the brink of Armageddon. Is sprawl really the “worst concept ever developed by mankind”? Worse than wedging low-income people into filthy cities without sanitation, which was the norm in most large cities until about 75 years ago? Worse than the lucrative tenement factories of the dense, vibrant New York City of 1900? Or in the city I love more than any other, Buffalo, worse than the systematic ghettoizing of Polish immigrants in Cholera-soaked housing downtown?
    I love city life, but before indicting sprawl and its usual suspects, our city needs to clean out its political rot and burns away its own colossally stupid ways. Then it can start pointing fingers.

  • sho’nuff

    You sound like your four years old… “but Mommmmy, he called me a name first!”… any mother will tell you that two wrongs don’t make a right and it doesn’t matter who called who a name first, your both wrong.
    As far as Democratic leadership. Buffalo has not had a Republican (or Non-Democrat) in the Mayor’s office since 1965. That is nearly 35 years of Democrats running the city, with nearly 45 years of Democrats voted as our legislators and congressmen and congresswomen. I know you are fixated on George W Bush being the root of all problems in America, but let’s focus on the past 40 years of decline in Buffalo and who has been making the critical decisions for the people who live in the city? Our decline has continued during years when the nation was experiencing new economic highs and during economic lows. Our decline has continued regardless of the party running the federal government. We declined under Carter and under Clinton, under Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both Bush regimes.
    Our city will continue to decline until we stop voting with the unions and start voting with our minds. Stop voting the party line and start selecting some real candidates with real promise. Unfortunately, I don’t know that Buffalo will ever be able to get past itself to vote in someone who isn’t heavily indebted to the Democrats and their machine, which is heavily funded by the unions who fight against any non-union development and companies that are unfriendly to unions.
    So our decline started way before the eight years of George W Bush (believe it or not) and even before the eight years of Bill Clinton. Our decline will continue until we get the corrupt democrats out of office and elect in someone who isn’t part of the machine.

  • The Kettle

    Whatever>”You guys can say that a million times but that doesn’t make it true.”
    http://www.ecldc.com/site/index.php
    Follow this link to read a story about Maple Road reconstruction and where the money for which came from. Maple road is of course the gigantic road that services UB North, another example of non-gas tax financed govt hastened sprawl.
    On earlier discussions I posted some general links on how federal subsidies made, and continue to make the suburban landscape possible. If you would like I can dig them back up to refresh your memory.
    Whatever>”but you aren’t objective to judge how much subsidies go to urban vs. suburban ways of life. You have far too much pro-urban bias to be believed about that.”
    And you are supposed to be objective? How is sin/ills pro city bias any less valid than your anti city, anti-Subaru-Hippie bias? No offense, but you are far from an objective source yourself.
    Whatever>”Most taxpayers in Erie Co (over 70%) live outside of the city. So when spending happens outside of the city, it’s not automatically unfair.”
    Was it fair to use public money to rearrange the population from an overwhelming city majority to dispersing them over almost twice the land mass? Is it fair for those 70% to spend resources in a way that has a negative impact on the entire region?
    Whatever>”I’ve no problem with using car-related taxes and fees gas taxes to fund roads. Put it all (gas taxes, sales taxes on gas, car insurance taxes, truck fees, license registration fees, tire taxes, etc) into a separate fund that can’t be diverted for anything else, then raise gas taxes if it’s not enough”
    Just because some of the roads are paid for with fuel taxes does not make them a self sustaining part of our infrastructure. You are repairing/building roads with county/state/federal gas taxes that only a small percentage of the population will use. Should I pay more for gas so that roads that I will never drive down, and the region doesnt need, get built? Also, you assume everybody buying gas is doing so for a car or truck. Is it fair for the Railroad companies to pay more for diesl to let the government assist their competition?
    Whatever>”People in each town should pay for their sewer lines, electricity, other infrastructure, etc. You’ve given no evidence that they don’t.”
    Well electricity is delivered by a priate company so any costs they incur are going to be distributed to the rest of their subscribers. Also, conventional suburban development places a much higher burden on the region’s resources.
    http://www.morrisbeacon.com/images/documents/MBD%20EPA%20infrastructure.pdf
    Couple of highlights:
    -“The variables discussed in the EPA
    report including density, urban form, and impervious area led to a clear
    cost savings for TND(traditional neighborhood development) infrastructure when compared with that of CSD(conventional suburban development).”
    -“The most sustainable and cost-effective infrastructure solution is
    reuse of what has already been built. Infill development and reuse of
    underutilized buildings provides the lowest infrastructure construction
    and long-term infrastructure maintenance costs, and as importantly,
    redevelopment projects typically do not cause additional loss of natural
    resources.”

  • sho’nuff

    {deleted: off-topic}

  • KarlMalone

    People are having interesting comments back and forth and then you go interject your dribble and no one responds to it. Get the hint. Your comments are wastful and lack value, like half the people on Elmwood.

  • whatever

    BRLifer>”As a city taxpayer please explain what I recieve from the County.”
    By that logic, most county taxpayers outside of the city have a bigger gripe than county taxpayers who live in the city.
    Most suburbanites don’t directly “receive” anything from county govt either, yet considering what county property and sales taxes are based on they likely pay on average more $ in county taxes. And through income taxes, suburan residents also pay a bigger share of the state and federal grants spent in the county and city.
    You’re the one saying county govt spending is unfair, so you should try proving your case. County budget info is online, so if you’re seriously interested you can find that and read about it all… ECMC in the city, ECC, the jail and holding center, D.A.’s, medical examiner, health department, libraries, etc. City and suburban residents can benefit from all those. Almost 90% of the county budget is spent on state and federal mandates.
    Yes, sheriff’s road patrols are only in a few rural areas. Boo hoo. I’d favor eliminating those, but they’re a trivial % of the total county budget.

  • Rob2112

    Long time reader of the board, first time poster…
    First a disclaimer: I live in Hamburg, work in the city, use 5 everyday to get to and from home and work…
    I cannot believe that people still have this feeling that the boulevard concept would have only added 2 minutes to the commute… my commute was extended by at least 15 minutes each way during the construction, and that was due to the light at Ohio street… reality is if a boulevard had been built, the commute times would have gone up equally or more due to traffic lights and the backup that would have occurred.
    From watching these boards for quite awhile, I have seen that there is certainly a great divide between the suburban v. urban crowds… funny thing is, I don’t get it… if you like living in the city, live there… if you like living in the burbs, live there… maybe in a perfect world we all live as close to the urban center as possible, removing the need for the Rt 5’s of the world, but last I checked, this is a country built on freedoms that allow us the ability to move around and reside where we want to. For me, I just was not interested in living in a dense urban environment, that said, I have no problem with anyone that does, but I do have a problem with the vocal minority who seems to portray the “my way or the highway” attitude… I would love to see the city grow and become more and more vibrant, and you know what, that is happening, and it is great to see, and best of all, those who wish to live in the middle of it all, can, and those like me, have the ability to live away from it and yet work and play in it because the infrastructure exists to get me there and take me back home… guess what, we just made everyone sort of happy… something for everyone so to speak…

  • The Kettle

    Whatever>”Way overstated”
    Not really. 16% is an awful lot when you consider how small of a region the middle east is. It isnt fair to compare the share of oil bought from an entire hemishprere to a handful of tiny countries. We have spent a lot to protect stability in that small corner of the world for our access to that 16%
    Whatever>”…not to mention all the oil we’re not yet touching here in the U.S. offshore and in the Alaska. Drilling those places here in the U.S. would upset liberals, so that grows the amount we buy from Persian Gulf nations. Even so, it’s only 16%.”
    Interesting thought process. We have to squander our oil supply or else increase our dependancy on the middle east. Ever consider consuming less fuel? Compact, infill development will help encourage conservation.
    Whatever>”Nice biased very selective accounting.
    You forgot all the financial benefits from health cost efficiencies due to cars and trucks. How much extra would it cost us if all medicines, health supplies, and food in the U.S. had to transported only on trains, bikes, and horses? Lifespans would drop, streets would be filthy with horse crap. Medicines, vaccines, and even food would be much more expensive and scarce for most people.
    Again, you are in no position to label others as “biased”. You also seem to think people who would like to build a more sustainable environment want to outlaw cars and return to the horse an buggy days. All I want to see is development that doesnt take away from existing neighborhoods and allows for transportation alternatives to the auto.
    If people drove less it may make goods and services that travel great distances more expensive. That just means that it becomes more advantageous to produce those good locally instead of importing them from wherever. It also may mean…gasp… consuming less.

  • whatever

    There’s nothing wrong with $ being spent on roads like Maple. I’d prefer it come from gasoline taxes instead of borrowed in the federal stimulus, but that’s a different topic. I’m sure many city residents drive on Maple Rd sometimes for shopping and other things.
    pitbull>”Should I pay more for gas so that roads that I will never drive down, and the region doesnt need, get built?”
    Very few brand new roads are built anywhere in Erie Co at this point. Still, it’s important that the major roads be well maintained or upgraded according to their traffic levels, like Maple, Delaware Ave, Transit, Rt 5, Elmwood, Main St, Union, etc., etc. Not doing so would be harmful to the region’s economy which depends on efficient transportation of people and goods. Money people have to spend on car repairs due to bad conditions like on Maple Rd isn’t productive to the economy.

  • The Kettle

    As long as you find my dribble interesting enough to comment on, thats all that matters to me.

  • The Kettle

    Whatever>”it’s important that the major roads be well maintained or upgraded according to their traffic levels, like Maple, Delaware Ave, Transit, Rt 5, Elmwood, Main St, Union, etc”
    Very true. My point is that with a more inward development strategy there would be less of these roads in need of repair.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Your comments are always polite and insightful. I can’t say I am in the Armageddon camp but for me sprawl is very personal. My neighborhood like so many others has been greatly impacted by the outward migration in the past 50 years.
    I often must defend my choice to stay where my family has lived for five generations. Some comments are downright rude, others incredulous, most just ignorant. Today my wife was asked where she lived while at the gym, when she said “Black Rock” the other person said “they are all trash over there”. It is easy to get defensive sometimes.

  • O’Brien

    “Some will pout that this is just another snobby city versus suburb post. The kind of post they often claim BRO likes to favor, which pits so-called Elmwood urban “hipsters” against God fearing people who “choose” to live in the suburbs, clinging to their cars in fear that the city liberals will soon try to take them away.”
    Steele – I appreciate your article, thanks for sharing your thoughts and the video series. I am not against the New Urbanist agenda and I am not against the suburbs either. As others have stated here, there is room for both in this world. I also agree that suburban sprawl is causing irreversible damage to the planet. I think we agree on this. What I was saying in the previous article is we have a tendancy to use broad stereotypes that focus on the negative when we refer to the suburbs. We focus on the sprawl, not on the old villages and unique houses. We ignore the fact that our city is full of cookie cutter houses and cul de sac developments. When we talk about the suburbs we do so with the same standard liberal rhetoric every time.
    I don’t think we can have a reasonable conversation that includes the suburbs and the city as complementing aspects of our region. We seem to focus on all the bad of the suburbs, but won’t let anyone get away with saying negative things about the city. I know I am speaking in very general and broad terms.
    I hope that someday we can begin to look at the area as a region, instead of as a city and everything else. I hope that we can embrace people who live in the suburbs as one of us, and they can do the same for those who live in the city. Maybe someday we can address the systemic issues that plague our city without pointing fingers at the suburbs as the source. Maybe someday we can all just get along.
    I think I’m done with Buffalo Rising. I know my opinions are not shared by the majority who post here and my thoughts are generally not welcome in this liberal love fest. If you find yourself on Winston Rd, stop by and say hi. I’ll be sitting on the porch with an extra beer if you need one.
    Take care now. It’s been fun.

  • O’Brien

    Save your breath, he cannot comprehend what you are trying to say. He is incapable of understanding the balance between city and suburbs. To him it is all about an axe to grind for the suburbs because they are to blame for the social ills of the city. Just give it up.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    We can agree on a few points, new urbanism, environmental impact of sprawl, and most importantly beer. Where we disagree is your idea that “we seem to focus on the bad of the suburbs” and “we won’t let anyone get away with saying negative things about the city”. Maybe sometimes here on BRO that is true but in the other 99% of the world it is quite the opposite. There we seem to focus on the bad of the city and the resident poor and of course minorities. Haven’t seen those kind of criticisms of the suburbs or the people that live there.
    BRO is a forum targeted at city minded folks yet still with a very even mix of conservative and liberal voices. It is far from a “liberal love fest”.

  • STEEL

    Of course – once agian – this post is not about haw bad the suburbs are. It is about how bad sprawl is.
    But since you brought it up it is interesting how easily suburban people get their feelings hurt when someone points out how they could change something in their towns for the better. Especially considering the invectives and derision coming to the city form suburban residents.

  • STEEL

    What services does the county provide to the city of Buffalo?

  • EricOak

    Blackrocklifer,
    Actually I was a little brittle in my response, which I regret. But I feel the same about your comments; always reasonable and genuine. And my hat is off to you for living in and promoting Black Rock, which is older than Buffalo and almost became the locus of the city. It’s a terrific place; I hope you keep broadcasting your presence there with abundant pride. As far as sprawl–I think it’s a more complex issue than this post assumes.

  • STEEL

    Overuse of the planet in support of sprawl has the ability to change the planet’s atmosphere. It may not have the shock value of some of the other horrible thing we have done in the past but wait until 300M people are displaced by rising ocean levels.
    We would not even have our military in the middle east if we did not have to protect the oil that feeds our sprawl based economy. Watch the lecture segments and then come back. Even the most urban places in Buffalo are degraded by sprawl based development.

  • sho’nuff

    EricOak… I actually did appreciate your thoughtful comments. Thanks for posting.

  • sho’nuff

    What services do I receive from the money I put into the welfare system every two weeks?

  • sho’nuff

    Lot size factors into suburban style. The city of buffalo spends less on parks and services for children than most other cities. The last number I saw was something like $12.00 per year per child, while other cities our size spend around $300.00 per year per child. Residents may want to build the playset in the backyard, or have a pool, or maybe both. They may not want to live in a house that was designed for only one car, now that they have one for each adult and maybe a third or fourth for the kids. They may want a yard where they can watch their kids play because in our society today we may not trust the child molester down the street enough to send our kids to the park unsupervised. Parents may worry about their child being shot on the way to the corner or kidnapped on their way to the park. This is how society reacts today, just watch CNN for a few hours and you’ll experience the hype.
    The concept of dense living as it was defined in the 1950s may no longer meet the needs of people today. Maybe, jut maybe, we need to adjust the way we design and build in the city instead of expecting people to adapt and adjust to the way things are being built. Just saying.

  • sho’nuff

    Yes WHATEVER, but you are not a “TRUE BELIEVER”!

  • sho’nuff

    Here are a few examples: ERIE ONE BOCES offered to assist the City of Buffalo schools with management of their IT infrastructure and to work cooperatively to expand the IT vocational technology programs. The Buffalo City Schools turned down the proposal without explanation. The Buffalo News reported that the proposal was snuffed because of complaints from the union employees who teach votech programs and those who work in technology for the city.
    The City of Cheektowaga Police attempted to set-up jurisdictional reciprocity agreements with the City of Buffalo, in an effort to reduce crime and to stop criminals from getting lost when they crossed the border. Buffalo turned them down stating that they did not want their patrols to go outside the city and did not need assistance with the neighborhoods that border Cheektowaga, which are primarily on the east side.
    The Amherst, Kenmore, and Tonawanda police forces attempted to set-up a similar relationship to patrol the University Heights. The City turned them down too. They also turned down UB and the NFTA police.
    These are just a few examples. So what has the City offered to the suburban neighbors?

  • sho’nuff

    We might still be concerned about the nuclear arsenal in Iran and Israel even if we weren’t in the Middle East to protect oil interests. I recall reading that if we were truly interested in protecting oil interests in the middle east, then we would have taken over Iraq instead of attempting to create a democracy of the people, for the people, by the people. If we were truly interested in oil, then we would have a stronger partnership with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and would stop wasting our time on solidifying the Iraqi government.
    You probably don’t hear about that in this type of lecture series. It is just easier to push the agenda if you tie Iraq and Afghanistan into your arguments against sprawl.
    I also read that the issues with sprawl are almost nothing when compared with heavy industry like steel and automotive manufacturing. That article pointed out that global warming is a lag indicator, and that we are now seeing the damage that occurred over the last 50 years of heavy manufacturing. The current trends show improvement since our industries collapsed. We would have to increase the number of cars on the road 1,000,000 fold before we even came close to the filth our factories used to belch into the air. Now that cars are greener and are emitting less harmful gases, we have even less to worry about with sprawl.
    The real issue is the death of the cities that sprawl has created. We want people to move back and using the climate or oil cards is a good way to push this one-sided agenda.

  • Daniel Sack

    Your commute was extended 15 minutes because of Route 5 construction? I know this route well – I have a summer home in Derby. The construction extended my 30 minute drive a maximum of 5 minutes. There are a total of 13 traffic signals in Hamburg on Route 5 East of Old Lake Shore. But adding 3 along a boulevard in Buffalo would be so horrible?
    Once again I agree that people should live where they like – but pay the full cost.

  • Pegger

    Not to play Devil’s Advocate here, but I can speak to one factor concerning urban sprawl in Buffalo that I did not see addressed here. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am in the older segment of participants in this forum. I can remember when the city was at its peak in the 50’s when there were almost 600,000 living within the city limits. Life was vibrant and the streets downtown were crowded. Public transportation was, on the main corridors, highly used even by people in the burbs who came into the city for shopping and medical services.
    With the vibrancy came overcrowding. The city was filthy and the schools were awful. Yes, even then. The first batch of Boomers were taxing the housing availability. Most parents worked in areas of idsustrial labor. I assure you, they were not interested in the extensive cultural opportunitiesas much as the overtime to be made. Money flowed.
    So, there was a powerful push out of the city, not singularly a pull at the hands of greedy developers alone.
    I was one of 6 kids. I attended the former School 65 which was a physical disgrace. The desks were bolted to the floor, ink well holes remained from days long gone by, and the tops were so gouged that you couldn’t write on them. Window were broken year round. Studen behavior, especially from the project kids who were 15 and still in the 6th grade, was appalling despite the excellent teachers. But it was the condition of the school that was the face of education to the parents.
    Buffalo had reached capacity and failed to provide decent services. I imagine that this was repeated in most urban centers.
    I thought I would interject this factor into the equation as it has not received much mention. The burbs beckoned to those who wanted something they perceived as better.
    Living in Buffalo became increasingly untenable

  • grad94

    exactly. like i said, cities have always been expected to solicit, endure, apologize for, and pay consultants fees for incessant diagnoses of their flaws and inadequacies.
    even to this day. remember when edward glaser, that harvard guy, said that buffalo basically had no further reason to exist? what did we do? rolled out the red carpet, invited him to town, and wined & dined him. since when do amherst & clarence have harvard academics questioning their right to exist?
    it is a new experience for suburbs to find themselves on the receiving end of this same kind of scrutiny, and it is hard to get used to. especially since the suburbs were meant to be the antidote to all those urban flaws & inadequacies.
    the point that steel, dan sack, and others keep trying to make is sprawl – defined by extreme separation of uses making automobile use mandatory – is just unsustainable.
    everyday there is less oil in the ground and india & china want more and more of it. when demand exceeds supply, prices rise.
    when gas gets to $5 or $10 a gallon, as it will in my lifetime, just you watch how fast the personal preferance for a quarter acre lot in cowlesville evaporates. people will suddenly rediscover a personal preferance for a home that is walking distance from work, school, recreation, etc.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Erie One Boces is a county program, last time I checked Buffalo was still part of Erie County.
    Cheektowaga’s offer to the Buffalo police was self serving and only came about after crime began to creep into their once safe suburb, same for Amherst, Kenmore, and Tonawanda. Their offer of cooperation was only to protect their turf, not an effort to help the city.

  • sho’nuff

    I read this comment again and decided to save it in a word doc. You definitely captured the essence of what is wrong with this debate. One of the best comments ever posted to BRO.

  • sho’nuff

    Daniel Sack – Everyone hears about the corruption in the suburbs, there is no preferential treatment or free pass offered by the press. There was a minor scandal in Elma or Wales last year that resulted in suicide of the highway superintendent (or something to that effect). We hear from the Police Union or highway department whenever Satish Mohan does something that they do not agree with. We hear about election concerns in Hamburg and preferential bids being selected in East Aurora. We heard about Satish Mohan’s traffic accident for four days.
    I think you might be hypersensitive to the news about the city. You might also be ignoring the elephant in the room. The city government is more corrupt than the suburbs, all the suburbs put together. Violent crime is far more prevalent in the city. The city schools are horrendous. The City of Buffalo has to weed out the most promising students and direct them to special schools, and they have given up on the rest. This isn’t a poverty issue, as Blackrocklifer would have us believe, because you can take a poor kid from any other school and place them in city honors or Olmsted and they will succeed. I think the problem with the schools is the school district administration, the teacher’s union, and the families.
    The city is failing residents, and residents are leaving. Simple as that. My friends all leave the city when they turn 30 something and their kids hit Kindergarten age. This is the big decision point for them, do I pay for private or catholic school or just move to the suburbs. Unfortunately for Buffalo, the suburbs are the easy choice, hands down.

  • sho’nuff

    Fair enough, but what has the City offered to the suburbs. You have a habit of avoiding the question, so answer it.

  • sho’nuff

    Actually, the offer from Amherst, Tonawanda, and Kenmore came at the request of residents in the City and in bordering neighborhoods. It was not to “protect their turf”, it was to protect the residents. Unfortunately for many in the city, the Buffalo police have been unable to keep these streets safe while Amherst, Kenmore, and Tonawanda have stepped up patrols in the bordering neighborhoods in hopes of keeping crime away from their residents.
    Having a police department that responds to calls and is focused on the residents is a good thing. The Buffalo Police could take a lesson from the suburbs.
    Again, where has the City stepped in to help the suburbs?

  • clockhill

    That’s very interesting, Pegger. We don’t often get to hear the other side of the coin; the dangers of TOO dense a city. Saratoga Springs, which has had remarkably good planning for 30+ years, never allowed a highway to enter city limits, a mall to be built within Saratoga County, and has endeavored to keep their historic downtown and push traditional, urbanistic, “to the sidewalk” planning, is now facing the problem of TOO MANY condos being built within city limits! They can’t get their developers to STOP!
    So where is the common ground for Buffalo? We have to accept what we have: a city losing population and suburbs with a higher quality of life and education. How do we reverse this? Or at least even it out? Where (and WHEN) do we draw the physical line for “no more sprawl” and start using empty land in the city?
    What ever happened to a regional planning board?

  • sin|ill

    the city was filthy because of the industry that took place downtown. those dirty endeavors have since moved out of the country.
    Clockhill, are you saying that Saratoga is too walkable, too well built? what is your point, because your post makes no sense.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    The city houses the vast majority of the regions poor. This alone is a huge burden, a burden we carry that allows the suburbs to maintain their lifestyle free from the many serious problems associated with poverty.
    We as the 3rd poorest city in the nation are not in a position to offer much to our more affluent neighbors, its kind of like asking the people of the East Side what they have done for the people of Spaulding Lake. I would think those with the means and political power to affect change would take the initiative.

  • NBuffguy

    Oh good lord. Why is Buffalo so caught up in this city Vs. suburbs conversation? I have been all over the country, and to a lot of places outside the country, and I have never (NEVER!) known a place to be so preoccupied with boundaries and borders. People have a fundamental right to live wherever they want to in this country without being judged for their decisions. That’s a freedom we enjoy as Americans. It just comes down to simple personal preference, plain and simple. Some people like to be in what they percieve as an “urban environment” and others prefer to have more privacy and space. Both of these options are valid, and I am grateful, thankful (since Thanksgiving is this week) to be able to make the choice. All this talk about city dwellers subsidizing the suburbanites’ lifestyle, and vice versa, is ridiculous. We all pay taxed, and we all hate to. But we also all benefit from the taxes we pay. We also have the ability to influence the flow of our tax dollars if we’re not happy. That’s the power of the vote, and the right to express your concerns and interests to your elected officials. We’re all neighbors, whether we live in Clarence or Allentown, and it’s about time we start acting as such.
    One last thought, some people believe that cities are supposed to be there for people, to offer them services and a good quality of life. Other people believe that people are supposed to be there for cities, to dedicate their lives to improving them. It isn’t wrong if there are people in Western New York who don’t wave the Buffalo flag around. Perhaps they’re simply not interested in what’s happening in the West Village or the Elmwood Village. Just as there are people in North Buffalo who couldn’t find Elma on a map if their lives depended on it. Can’t we just acknowledge that different people have different priorities, concerns, values, and tastes? It’s just basic respect and common (or uncommon, maybe) courtesy.

  • Meliq

    You know what really frosts me about this article??–the fact that it is asssumes that everyone in the suburbs is “white-bread, elitist, afraid of the city, etc.” I am not living in an “escape from reality” type lifestyle. I am white, married to a Hispanic man, have relatives that live in Puerto Rico, work in the country and frequent the city for dining and shopping at least one a week. It takes a lot of gall to assume that I will raise my kids in some sterile, fear-induced environment afraid to venture past Union Rd. I do not plan to raise my family in a bubble but rather take them to the theater (all when they are a little older, a 2yr. old at Shea’s won’t work!), festivals, like Allentown and Elmwood Arts, go to eat at my favs like Kostas and Mythos, plan in Delaware Park, eat Puerto Rican food on OMG! Niagara St. of all places (I hope we don’t get stabbed while wearing eating our tostones!)
    I love reading BRO for the construction updates, new store and resto reviews, events info, etc. but I am tired of the asses who proclaim to know SO MUCH about the personalities and people who live in the suburbs. You all are so pathetic, do you thing Torontonians are *****ing about the suburbanites who live in Misassauga or Pickering? Get a life and concentrate on improving your own neighborhoods, not insulting ours.
    PS–if any of you candy asses would love to talk to me via email, please email me, I’d love to share my opinion further.

  • KarlMalone

    I thought you were going to ignore me?

  • clockhill

    I was giving credence to Pegger’s interesting point that the suburbs happened for a reason; they were an escape from the overcrowding of Buffalo (citing Saratoga as a modern example of this – 8 and 10 story condo buildings are overpowering and flooding the 3-4 story historic main streets – not “too well built,” but “overbuilt” for a small city).
    Buffalo no longer has this problem. But you cannot move on without taking note of where you’ve been. We’re all fighting for more dense and urbanistic housing, but Pegger’s comment reminded me to keep in mind (and hopefully prevent) some of the dangers that made urbanistic housing second choice to the suburbs to begin with.
    My overall point is that we’re in a unique position of having a city with infrastructure installed under a significantly blank slate. I feel that we have the chance to have well guided, artfully and sympathetically designed infill housing with porches, accessibility, walkability, affordability, and other pros of city living, without the cons that brought the city down to begin with.
    Just something to keep in mind as we move forward.
    Also, who here wants to start a Community Development Corp?
    Again, regional planning?

  • Small Acts: Innovative Housing Solutions for a New Population

    By Roger Schroeder After reading the community planning article “Required Viewing” by Steel, it occurred to me that most of our community–especially in the city–has essentially been already “planned” if you consider the plan to be roads, sewers, wat…

  • KarlMalone

    I actually tried living in a cave for a while but Tim Tielman had major issues with the bushes out front and then the Preservation community blocked my entrance because some stones I used to mark my cave were post stone age.

  • Daniel Sack

    “clockhill” asked, “What ever happened to a regional planning board?”
    The County Executive vetoed the plan for an Erie County Planning Board recently.
    Not that he is against planning… (he claims)!

  • sho’nuff

    That is a huge cop out! Can you get past the victim mentality for a moment and see things rationally?
    You are asking what the suburbs have done for the city. I asked you the other side of that question and you come back with excuses and reasons that the city is a victim to the suburbs.
    Going back to REALLY’s quote from an earlier post:
    “See while you view them as the enemy, they view you as charity. Until both sides, accept wrongs done, accept that changes need to be made…nothing is going to happen.”
    You expect the charity but don’t want to do anything to help yourself. Sounds a lot like entitlement to me. This is what people complain about when it comes to welfare. The “Poor us, we are just victims and can’t make it because the man is holding us back, so give us money, but don’t expect us to work for it”.
    Reminds me of the typical Michael Moore documentary.

  • sho’nuff

    The Mayor of Buffalo refused to participate in regional planning as well. Our regional planning board would have been the suburban planning board because Byron Brown wants to maintain control of what happens in Buffalo. He does not want to give up control of funding or building to the county. Same reason he is taking control of the parks.

  • MJ Worthington

    Everybody misses the main points. It is not a municipality thing, it is an individual thing.
    Those that can afford to build out on the outskirts and sell within a few year to move farther out when the return on their investment peaks. Others follow it until disinvestment starts due to lack of population to infill. This disinvestment (and the crime, poverty, vacancy etc) that follows will easily cross the Buffalo line as it already has on the west side of Cheektowaga. No municipal government will stop it since we as individuals will use our freedom to vacate. Investment has grown linearly outward in this system and the disinvestment will follow linearly in the same direction.
    Our societal set up allows us to move to low-cost areas while being able to easily access the more expensive built up areas with our subsidized no-direct cost road network and parking. This artificially draws residents to low developed spaces, businesses then follow to the new customer base while the old areas start to hollow out creating and perpetuating the wave. What we are left with is more infrastructure to pay for (and disassemble) and more area for our services to have to cover which all cost money.
    If any of the towns around here were that good at running things they would be off on their own with 100,000 residents and no crime, great schools etc within 30 mils of them. It does not exist for a reason. Society comes with a cost. Stuffing (restricting) all the problems to old urban areas does not make the proposed accomplishments any more real (valid)
    Buffalo is a metro area. It’s one big organism that defines us all. We all share the success of one area and the problems of the other. Pirating off of each other and infighting has gotten us nowhere in the last 50 years and will not in the next 50.

  • sbrof

    It is a tough question to ask now that the pieces are in place the way they are. Before the suburbs because the political juggernaut they are now, with 2/3 of county population and voters, they were dependent and often helped by the city.
    The Buffalo water and sewer authority was the agency that built many of the first stretched of piping out to the eastern suburbs. Fire and police were often extended beyond the borders as well. Fires and calls in Tonwanda used to regularly be serviced by the Buffalo Fire department, until Tonawanda said they didn’t want the help anymore because Buffalo often responded first.
    What does Buffalo offer the county now? Nothing really, but after 50 years of drained population and industry often to the benefit of the suburbs, what is left?
    There was a time we were all in it together. When Kenmore desired to be incorporated into the city, and the city saw the suburbs as beneficial developments to provide a higher quality of life for the growing middle class but then during the desegregation \ civil rights movement, the **** hit the fan ran and 50 years of federal policies, sprawled development, home rule laws and racism, that have created the Us vs Them.
    You cannot deny that the suburbs grew at the expense of the city, and the city holds a grudge that it needs to get over. The city needs clean up it’s act and take the high road as much as it can; certainly schools and police are the first places that need some serious shakedown.
    The suburbs also need to start seeing the city and its citizen as a part of the region and not as ‘those’ people. Things have gotten a lot better but the older generations are still detrimentally judgmental about anyone by the simple fact they are from the city. You can’t expect people to get out of poverty and make a better life for themselves if they are not given the same chances as someone else. And anyone who grew up in the city, and tried to get a job anywhere in the suburbs knows… it is not an equal opportunity world yet.

  • Really?

    FWIW, I would have no problem saying anything that I have written to the face of David Steel. Telling someone what they think does not equal wanting to fight.
    I wonder if David Steel would have the courage to walk into a Church in Amherst on Sunday and repeat some of his words in person. Once again…not to fight but rather not to hide behind a keyboard.

  • sho’nuff

    Sean – All good points. The only comment I have in response is that most of the transitions that you refer to happened over 50 years ago when our world was very different. The world of “Leave it to Beaver” is very different than the world we live in today.
    The suburbs grew up as an extension of the city, not at the expense of the city. It wasn’t until the wealth left the city, and then the industry, that we started blaming the suburbs for our problems. Today, most suburbanites probably see the city as a part of their community, while those who live in the city probably see their community stopping at the city, or neighborhood, line.
    It is important to keep in mind that most of the industry and businesses that left Buffalo did not go to the suburbs. They left the area altogether.

  • Really?

    Since you spoke of both new construction and population infill, I wanted to comment. There are several areas in Buffalo that, if planned for, could have become infill for new market rate housing.
    The key is not to remove the suburbs. Those are ALWAYS going to exist. The key is, in my opinion, to stop the growth. To create a reverse trend of new construction inside of the city lines. The key is to target the “next generation” to move to the city. That next generation could be both people without kids and people who are downsizing because their kids have moved out.
    However, this would require large areas of Buffalo to see massive urban gentrification. Something that does not sit will with city residents. On the way to urban renewal, some “ugly” things to some has to happen.
    You have to block off parts of the city and stop building low income new builds. You have to stop building homeless shelters. What the COB needs is another Elmwood Village or Allentown but of NEW CONSTRUCTION.
    Imagine a walkable neighborhood of quality new builds on the edge of downtown. A 10-15 block area where people could purchase without having to take the ride of bringing a neighborhood back.

  • sbrof

    I think you are right on, we do need new EV’s or Allentowns of new construction and we certainly do not need ANY more growth. I wouldn’t even just say we need to reinvest in the city but anywhere current infrastructure and densities exist.
    Cheektowaga, West Seneca, Tonawanda are going to be facing some REALLY hard times coming soon because those buildings are coming to the lifespan and the maintenance costs are not going to be worth it for many. Who is going to want to spend 20k to fix a house in Cheektowaga when all you get once done are high taxes and a Cape Cod. I fear that many of the post WWII Levitowns are going to fall apart faster and harder than even the east side did and that is going to spur another push outward and onto farms instead of inward for their own towns or the city. Spoiling more land and adding more infrastructure to an already burdened region.

  • sbrof

    Growing up between the East Side and Riverside it was always painfully obvious that I was looked at differently. I always needed to prove myself to earn respect. People never assumed that I was a good kid like my classmates.
    I don’t mean to bemoan this, because it was this attitude that actually spurred me to learn more about the city because it was there people didn’t seem to judge me by my neighborhood alone and I feel I know myself better because of it. It also spurred me into a carrier path I love and has provided for me. But with those kinds of attitudes still so prevalent around the region come missed opportunities and even resentment.
    Things I feel have gotten MUCH MUCH better since I was a kid in the 80’s but there is still a huge lingering negativity about the city and those that live there. This combined with the city’s resentment are both equally to blame for our region not working together.

  • Crisa

    This is one of those BR topics worth preserving in it’s entirety ffr. The references to urban vs semi-urban vs semi-rural vs rural vs why can’t we all just get along are excellent copy.
    .
    There is nothing else in either offline or online LOCAL media that takes readers so far and wide!!!

  • Really?

    The pending reality of places like Cheektowaga, West Seneca, Tonawanda are exactly why people in WNY should NOT be celebrating missing the housing boom and should be doing everything to ride the way, at least somewhat, on the next one.
    Take Charlotte for example. I am using this example because I know a bit about Charlotte having lived there and visiting friends often.
    There are neighborhoods that look a LOT like Cheektowaga, West Seneca, Tonawanda that had enough room in the housing prices to restore in the last 10 years.
    These places, just like the COB, need to change the way to exist. They need to lower taxes, improve the schools and public safety, so that the become more desirable.
    They do not have to try and become Urban and they do not have to try and evolve to Amherst or Clarence. What they do need to do is become a SOLID starter home market. They need to do what is needed so a restored Cape can be sold for $175k not $125K. That $50k swing provides the room for homeowners to invest in the home and bring them up to date.
    Even Amherst can make some choices to improve the housing stock and prevent sprawl.
    In Amherst, a LARGE amount of the houses were constructed in the 60s and 70s, using siding with asbestos. Because the cost of removing this is so high, people either go with vinyl siding or simply paint.
    In return, Amherst is stuck with LARGE homes on LARGE lots that look VERY dated. Because removing the siding is so expensive and people paint, they are unable to add the proper insulation during a residing that would make the home more energy efficient.
    If Amherst would to create a program, through tax breaks, that allowed homeowners to remove the asbestos siding, you would see the housing stock jump into this century. With the great schools and public safety added to the mix, Amherst would be a MUCH more desirable place for people to locate. This would lesson the need to build new, energy efficient homes that are not dated, in Clarence and other 3rd ring burbs.
    Everyone in the region needs to chip in!

  • JSmith

    Are there cities that are building new Elmwood Village or Allentown style neighborhoods nowadays? Doing such a thing would set Buffalo apart as one of the most progressive urban areas in the country, I would think. But it would require incredibly forward-thinking developers and city leadership (I suspect our current zoning codes would essentially prevent such dense walkable commercial districts from being built today).
    The relatively recent housing on the Lower East Side (east of Michigan between William and Seneca, etc.) was meant to provide the exact thing that Really? is asking for (“a walkable neighborhood of quality new builds on the edge of downtown. A 10-15 block area where people could purchase without having to take the ride of bringing a neighborhood back”). It kind of fails on the walkable side because it doesn’t really include a commercial center at all. I don’t know how the build quality is. But it does seem to be an area of reasonably-priced homes in a stable neighborhood; I rarely ever hear of any crime in this area).
    I totally agree with Sean about the upcoming plight of the inner suburbs. Sheridan Drive and other nearby streets are looking very shabby with many large vacancies in Tonawanda and southwest Amherst. At least in the city, small storefronts can be filled with low-end clothing retailers, barber shops, delis, etc. How do you fill a vacant Circuit City or Ames when the area demographics no longer support those kinds of stores? And like Sean said, you don’t even have interesting architectural qualities to spur reinvestment like in the older areas of the city; just Cape Cods, strip plazas, and big concrete boxes. This is my biggest concern: we already see lots of reinvestment in historic buildings and neighborhoods in Buffalo, but there’s very little reason to come back to Tonawanda once it’s been depopulated and the buildings start falling down.

  • JSmith

    Steel, the most depressing thing about that video is that it is from 1991. If anything, the country has only accelerated its rate of sprawl in the 20 years since this lecture was given.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Your claim that “you expect the charity but won’t do anything to help yourself” is not only inaccurate but ridiculous. I have always paid my own way, used my own money and labor to do an award winning restoration of a condemned Federal Style house. I have volunteered countless hours in my community and served on boards, committees, and been active in our block club. I vote for the most progressive candidates and am not shy about bringing my concerns to city hall. If this is “victim mentality” as you claim than we need more victims to get the job done in our city. You shouldn’t assume that being a critic equates with being lazy or seeking some entitlement, pointing out inequities is the only way to start a real conversation as to how to move forward.

  • Rob2112

    All summer, Mon-Thursday, 15 additional minutes each way at rush hour, and for some reason, Fridays were lighter… I would attribute that to people using vacation time to extend their weekends?
    Rt.5 is certainly a highway with two personalities: At rush hour it fills in, and in the case of reconstruction, caused quite a jam over the skyway up to the Lackawanna border. Off peak hours, the road does seem quite empty. As with any piece of infrastructure, I would imagine the designers build with maximum utilization in mind versus building too small as to create constant bottlenecks.
    I have to believe the further south one travels, the lighter the traffic will become as people head off to their respective communities. First Lackawanna, then Blasdell/Woodlawn, then Hamburg, and so on.
    The construction work in my mind showed exactly what kind of daily traffic jam would occur if additional traffic lights were added along 5. Downgrading the speed limit would have had a minimal effect, it is the stop / go that would cause the problem.
    When you say “pay their fair share”, what exactly do you mean by that? I would think any dollar amount assigned would be highly subjective based on ones perspective. As most of us probably do, I pay my town, county, state and federal taxes according to the rules set forth by the taxing authorities… is that not my fair share? Aren’t those dollars supposed to be spent for the good of all (yes, I understand that is way too utopian)? Sometimes that might mean a highway will be built to serve those who live further out at the expense of some land, but last I checked there is still plenty of land along the waterfront to serve multiple needs and wants.

  • The Kettle

    O’B:>”We focus on the sprawl, not on the old villages and unique houses. We ignore the fact that our city is full of cookie cutter houses and cul de sac developments”
    Some of my favorite places in WNY are the villages you are talking about (Williamsville, Kenmore etc) and u r right that when “we” say suburb we lump them in with sprawlville. These places should be models for the majority of new development but instead we see sprawling, auto dependent housing eat up the countryside. The fact that this costs the rest of us so much is what has many of us upset over sprawl and leads to the generalizations.
    O’B>” We seem to focus on all the bad of the suburbs, but won’t let anyone get away with saying negative things about the city”
    One of the things I enjoy about this forum is that its city first slant somewhat compensates for the unfair, negative generalizations about the city in other local media outlets. I like coming to a place where a new restaurant, or re-development of an anonymous building, beats out bank robberies, or other forms of violence that play on suburban fears of the city, as front page news. Keep in mind this is just a message board and no matter how hard someone tries, you can “get away with” saying anything you want.
    O’B”I think I’m done with Buffalo Rising. I know my opinions are not shared by the majority who post here and my thoughts are generally not welcome in this liberal love fest. If you find yourself on Winston Rd, stop by and say hi. I’ll be sitting on the porch with an extra beer if you need one”
    Its good to know I wont be the only one on the porch with a beer in late November. You are free to do as you like but I honestly whish you dont go away from this site. Most of your opinions dont jive with mine but things would be very dull if everybody agreed with each other. Although I disagree with a lot of what you guys post, I value having you, whatever, really? etc. as part of the discussion. Try not to get frustrated when “the liberal lovefest” doesnt change their political views based on what you post and I think you will enjoy it here a bit more. We all have are opinions and it is good to share them.

  • Pegger

    You are so right about Tonawanda. It is showing its age and the effects of depopulation. At one time it was heralded as the first town to exceed 100,000 residents (including Kenmore). I read recently that it now stands at about 60,000. Even the Ken-Ton website once said in their community description that the area is not what it once was as urban problems had found their way there. They further stated that these changes explained the sharp increase for more special education and social services that the district needed to provide. That was about 5 years ago. And, it shows. The October Storm exposed what was hidden behind those leafy trees.
    The suburbs (call them first ring or first tier) were/are not immune to some of the same forces as the city but very different in degree. It was an inevitable and predictable demographic change increasingly visible today.

  • reflip

    Just to keep things acrimonious, I’ll add my two cents about this inspired rant from Really?:
    It’s self-important and thoughtless finger-pointing masquerading as analysis. But, what it lacks in meaningful perspective and intelligence, it more than makes up for in length.
    The fact that other people are viewing it as a new 95 Theses just proves that there is no hope for Erie County. We are intractably stuck in a mid-20th century mindset. Really?, your post is proof: We lack progressive vision and leadership because of you, not despite you.
    But I’m glad you posted it! I think I now understand Buffalo.

  • elmdog

    I am really glad that the CNU is here but I am sure and hopeful that the powers at be no whats wrong with the city…It comes down to …to many parking lots, most of the streets in the city are either tooo many lanes and or one way…lack of good paying jobs and many years of really bad decisions..

    So…fix it

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    What a joke, they visited more suburban sites than they did city cites.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    elmdog 
    Wrong, Wrong and Wrong. It all comes down to schools.

  • Michael DiPasquale

    The City needs to add capacity to its Planning Department. Needs more urban designers, and  more staff in general with a range of skills. And they need to be left alone, away from politics to get their job done.

  • No_Illusions

    Well the question remains…how do you create dense neighborhoods when population is on Decline?
    Before those strip malls in North Buffalo there were abandoned warehouses.
    Which is worse? Acres of blighted land or strip malls that were the only thing that could clean up this land and return it to the tax rolls?
    My point is what good is dense development if there is no population to support it? All you get is blight and abandonment instead. Should we have let all those houses on the East side to rot and be a public hazard instead of demolishing them?

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    I find 90 percent of the comments on here pure hypocrisy. People want to live in the suburbs for the below reasons….

    1. Crime in the city is high
    2. Schools suck
    3. People would rather live around people of their own socioeconomic status
    4. Services in the city are terrible
    5. People want land

    ……and too judge them for their choices is purely asinine and makes you all look like fools.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    1. Crime is only high in certain neighborhoods, most areas have only minor issues.
    2. Schools are a reflection of the concentrated poverty, they don’t “suck”. For those willing to make the effort and do the hard work Buffalo Public offers many quality choices.
    3. Self segregation can breed arrogance and ignorance and removes any incentive to address poverty in our society.  Also poverty is no longer contained within the city, the same problems are now affecting the older suburbs.
    4. Services in the city are just fine, I have not had a problem, not sure what you mean.
    5. Lots of land in the city, many big lots as well.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    Black Rock Lifer 
    1. Crime is all over the city, car break-ins on Allen, lady gets punched in the face and robbed on Elmwood. Ladies dogs are stolen as she’s walking down the stree on Richmond. Gang violence and shoot outs on the east side et etc
    2. The graduation rate is below 50 percent, so yeah they do suck.
    3. That’s just a dumb comments and stinks of your self-righteous attitude.
    4. You’ve never lived outside the city, so how would you ever know? You preach on here all day about how you’ve lived in the city your whole life, lol. That’s like me saying the weather in Spain is terrible, when I’ve never been there.
    5. You’re right, there’s tons of vacant lots, lol. Also, to get a decent lot in the city you have to pay BIIIIIIG money. We’re talking 300k plus.
    ” I can’t tell you how many times I have had to defend my choice of staying and raising my children in Black Rock.”
    That’s great for you. I think BlackRock is a hole, too. But, if you chose to raise your kids there good for you. Ps someone was just shot to death in black rock a couple weeks ago.

  • ironliege

    Two comments regarding the impetus for sprawl in the mid-20th century. After World War II vets were given generous, and deserving, mortgages provided they were used for new housing rather than existing homes. Buffalo was nearly fully developed by that time so the suburbs grew dramatically.
    Another oft-overlooked concern was the threat of a nuclear exchange because of the intense Cold War. While cleaning my attic I discovered a copy of the Buffalo News from the early 1950’s with the front page dedicated to the effects of a nuclear weapon exploding over City Hall – the graphic was quite remarkable. The government encouraged the outward movement of populations away from city centers in the event the urban districts were annihilated. Let’s not forget the primary purpose of the Interstate Highway system was to provide evacuation routes out of metropolitan regions in the event of war.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    @sbrof 
    I think STEEL and BLFR share the same feelings towards where they grew up and how they’re looked at. Also, You find that in suburbs and in life, too. Kids from Cheek look down on kids in the city, kids in Lancaster look down on kids in Cheek, then kids in Clarence look down on everybody. Then kids at City Honors, Nichols, Nardin and Canisius think they’re better than everyone else (which they probably are).

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    @Really? 
    The best part is that suburbs have been around for hundreds of years. Even the uber wealthy city families of the past usually if not always had a “country home” where the lived and spent most of their time.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    @Really? 
    I doubt he would. He won’t even post any pictures of his buildings, even though everyone on here knows who he is.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    1. Crime is not limited to the city, most of us don’t live in fear, just being a little street smart and proactive can reduce the risk. BTW, I have never been the victim of a crrime nor have any of my family members.
    2. My four children attended Buffalo Public and out performed their suburban cousins, the schools worked for me. 
    3. You obviously were not paying attention in Sunday school, no suprise here.
    4. I have lived in other places and have traveled all over the country, not that it really matters.
    5.  Many big lots all over the city, Black Rock has many deep lots, especially here in the historic core.
    Your opinion of Black Rock reveals a basic ignorance and arrogance. Rocco Termini has 3 major projects in Black Rock, he must have not gotten your message.  Amherst St continues to attract investment, real estate values in the business district and here in the Market Square Historic District continue to rise. Many people recognize the potential in Black Rock, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean squat.

  • robins36

    BeardedBuffalonian Black Rock Lifer My goodness Bearded, you rail against the characterization of suburbanites on this website as close-minded and want us to withhold judgement, yet you make sweeping generalizations about the city with total disregard to the good people that live there (like Black Rock Lifer). 
    If you want people on here to stop being biased against the suburbs, perhaps you shouldn’t keep perpetuating a bias against the city.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    Black Rock Lifer 
    1. Once again, random generalization, based off of opinion. Check out where the vast majority of crime is located.
    http://spotcrime.com/ny/buffalo
    2. I know, I know, I know, you tell us every time blah blah blah blah blah. Your children also attended the top schools in the city (which there are few). So congratulations, your kids went to a top city school. Next time send them to Bennett and see how good they do.
    3. Yup, that comments stunk of your self-righteous attitude, too.
    4. That’s funny for years you’ve only talked about living in Blackrock and nowhere else? So tell me this, Scott. Where else have you lived for a long period of time?
    5. Ummmm actually there’s not. You have the Delaware Park area and some places in South Buffalo, but that’s about it. Also, deep lots and large lots are not the same thing.

    If Black Rock (Crack Rock) is so great, how come the average home price is below 50K? I mean, that’s almost a third what the average home price in Erie County is (ouch).

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    robins36 BeardedBuffalonian Black Rock Lifer 
    “If you want people on here to stop being biased against the suburbs,
    perhaps you shouldn’t keep perpetuating a bias against the city”
    ……I live in the city (BOOOOM MIND BLOWN).

  • LouisTully

    BeardedBuffalonian  Dude you’re just, like, wow!  I bet you were a blast to go downrange with.  Just a blast.  “Hey guys, I bet we’ll hit an IED today and all lose our legs.  But it’s ok, ’cause I’ll be there, too!  BOOM MIND BLOWN

  • David Steele

    It is not about location it is about how we bild in that location. Who we build has nothing to do with any of your excuses. I have said this over and over but you don’t want to hear it so that you can stay mired in your lame 20th century mentality.

  • David Steele

    I have recently been to several highly vibrant small cities. They are vibrant and attractive because they do not waste their resources on sprawl and are not satisfied with the lame environment if sprawl. Buffalo has accepted the mediocrity of sprawl and the results are plain to see.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    LouisTully BeardedBuffalonian 
    My friend had his leg blown off in Afghanistan by an IED, so I don’t find that joke funny at all.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    1. That website reveals very low crime in the Market Square area.
    2. My children attended many different schools, not all “top schools”. My point is it can be done.
    3. Lets compare comment history, then lets see who has an attitude.
    4. Lived in a small town for awhile, in Allentown, and the West Side, so what?
    5. Moving the goalposts
    Wow, Crack Rock, thats clever, come up with that on your own or did a 7th grader help? I wonder why Mark Goldman choose Black Rock for his very successful restaurant? he must not be as smart as you. I wonder why Delish moved here from Elmwood or why the Phoenix Restaurant choose Amherst St? I wonder why Wegmans is expanding here or why the Sportmans Tavern just completed a large investment and expansion? Finally, my 3 new neighbors that just paid over 100k for their homes here in the Market Square apparently didn’t have your great wisdom.
    Gotta go, I better call Rocco Termini, Mark Goldman, and all the other investors to tell them the all knowing Bearded Buffaloian says Black Rock is a “hole”.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    I think your attitude displays a typical anti-city arrogance, I can see why someone would assume you didn’t live here.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    That’s correct, when my father and uncles returned from WWII they wanted to stay in Black Rock but mortgages were very difficult to obtain on older city homes. My father saved enough to buy a house for cash but my uncles moved out to Kenmore, Amherst, and Grand Island.  Then to add insult to injury highways were rammed through the heart of old city neighborhoods greatly damaging the fabric and quality of life.

  • JayDBuffalo

    @britannica 
    no ones going to see me way down here lol

  • LouisTully

    BeardedBuffalonian LouisTully  I’ll compare stats with you on friends who were casualties if you want.  You’re dodging my comment that you’re a cloud of misery know-it-all who never has anything good to say.  Can’t spell either.

  • DylanBurns

    No_Illusions I’d just like to point out that the population decline is nearly stopped, and potentially back on the incline in the city, according to the latest census.  What we have seen happening and what needs to continue happening, is the rehabilitation of existing downtown structures to incorporate residential units above 1st floor commercial units.  This brings small scale retail and a higher population all in the same mix.  Once existing buildings are largely rehabilitated, the best outcome would be infill of a similar style on the empty lots.  I don’t know if this answers your question, but it’s what is happening and if continued would see the rise of a populace that could support these types of moderately dense neighborhoods.

  • DylanBurns

    BeardedBuffalonian elmdog Agreed. There are several good schools in the city, but many are performing poorly – which is really more indicative of the home life and work habits of the students, than the school itself.  For students that have trouble at home of are not inspired to care about school, the best school in the world could still have no effect.  
    Anyways, elmdog is not wrong.  The urban fabric is an important factor in the evolution of the city, and this saturation of parking lots in the urban core is doing nothing to help.  We will find that the continued progress of the city will be marked by the steady building upon empty sites of those occupied by parking lots.

  • No_Illusions

    Yes, but none of those cities lost 400,000 people.
    My point is what would be your solution?
    Relocate people in rapidly declining neighborhoods to stable ones and fence off a large section of the city for posterity?
    Fence off those abandoned North Buffalo warehouses until a time demand dictates they can be rehabbed?
    How would you have responded to suburbanization and globalism?
    Even NYC lost population in the 1980s. Stemming the tide seems to be nearly impossible.

  • No_Illusions

    Yes, this is true and very exciting that we can focus on density in popular neighborhoods again. However, its going to take a long time to fill out the city again. Especially the large tracts of blight on the East side and sprawling former industrial sites.
    We can start slow, but filling out the city with density in mind will take half a century or longer at this rate.
    What do we do with the East side in the mean time when the demand is not high enough yet? Do we just leave it for abandon until that time?

  • DylanBurns

    No_Illusions I wish I had an idea for that.  What seems to be happening on much of the east side is that neighborhoods are slowly started to cluster into enclaves.  Some are centered around a similar population, like several blocks of Bengali immigrants just east of Fillmore, or similar situations.  From what I’ve seen, other enclaves are created simply due to where there is housing stock left.  Streets that have the majority of their houses still there are somewhat holding constant, whereas others that have lost most of their houses don’t see many people who want to stay, losing more houses.
    It’s hard to say that it should just be left, because it shouldn’t.  I think that much of what happens there until housing demand increases enough to infill, will revolve around individual efforts or tendencies.  This clustering of people can help to preserve a neighborhood and, tied in with street redevelopment like along Fillmore, can do a lot to bring back a neighborhood or at least hold it steady.
    It is just my belief that the downtown core should receive a majority of the focus of funding and development until it takes off.  If we centralize our focus, it becomes easier to spread out, following the radial plan in a sense.

  • No_Illusions That’s what Youngstown, Ohio did.  Fenced of entire parts of the town.  Not sure if its a better approach, but its been done.

  • whateverr

    DylanBurns No_Illusions

    dylan>’potentially back on the incline in the city, according to the latest census’

    Maybe at some point might start inclining, but hasn’t so far since 2010 to 2013, according to latest Census estimates.
    2010 
    count for Erie County 919,064 
    count for Buffalo 261,310 = 28.4% of county
    count non-city (county minus Buffalo) 657,754 = 72.6% of county
    2013 
    est for Erie County 919,866
    est for Buffalo 259,384 = 28.1% of county, and down 0.7% vs 2010 city count
    non-city est (county minus Buffalo) 660,482 = 72.9% of county

    ref city http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3611000.html
    ref county http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/36029.html

    Buffalo estimated by Census to still be declining in both population (-0.7%) and as portion of Erie County’s population (-0.3%) from 2010 to 2013.

    Projecting those rates if they continue over whole decade 2010 to 2020 would say declining 2.3% in city pop or dropping by 6,000 people (which would still mean many demolitions even though much less drop than 10.8% drop 2000 to 2010), while dropping 1% as portion of the county (which is under half of city’s 2000 to 2010 drop as a portion of county at 2.4%).
    In 2000 counts, city portion was 30.8% (= 292,648 in city divide by 950,265 in county)
    So the 2000 to 2010 decline as portion of county was 30.8% to 28.4% = 2.4%.
    I think the above supports the points no_ill is making.  City estimated to have dropped by 1,926 people since just 2010 and on pace to drop a little over 6,000 by 2020 if estimates accurate and trend continues.  At 2.25 persons per household, the 1,926 est drop so far means 856 fewer units occupied in city vs in 2010, and a 6,000 person drop by 2020 would mean 2,667 fewer occupied units by then vs in 2010.

  • whateverr

    DylanBurns No_Illusions
    Opps, one math goof above is the % on non-city portion should say 71.9% for 2013, not the 72.9% I typed.
    Anyhow, I think my comment above generally supports the points no_ill is making.  
    City estimated to have dropped by 1,926 people since just 2010 and on pace to drop a little over 6,000 by 2020 if estimates accurate and same pace continues.  
    It’s a slower dropping for sure compared to previous 3 decades, so could indicate a leveling off.  But still is continuing growth of vacant units, less populated blocks, etc. in some parts of city.
    At the Census figure of 2.25 persons per household in Buffalo, the 1,926 person estimated drop so far means 856 fewer units occupied in city as of 2013 compared to 2010.  And a 6,000 person drop by 2020 would mean 2,667 fewer occupied units by then compared to 2010.

  • DylanBurns

    whateverr DylanBurns No_Illusions Very true, and it’s good to see the numbers again.  I think it’s just being looked at wrong.  Population is not a linear progression, whether increasing or decreasing.  We can’t look at the loss of population between the last two censuses and say that that same rate will continue over the next 6 years.  
    I was mistaken that the population loss has turned around, but in relation to the population lost in the past, we’re on the brink of turning around.  The next census will be an interesting one!

  • whateverr

    DylanBurns 
    Agreed, next 6 years could continue slowing by even more, or starting to rise. 
    Although OTOH, if part of root causes has been the deep recession causing pause in domestic migration overall in the nation… then it’s possible the metro area as a whole might revert to something like 2000-2007 trends.  
    Another big unknown is if the influx of immigrants from Burma/etc will continue at the same pace to Buffalo as in recent years – something the federal govt decides.  If that either quickens or slows it can have a big impact.  Buffalo’s % of Asian population population http://censusviewer.com/city/NY/Buffalo, from 4,093/1.4% to 8,409/3.2%.  
    So, splitting the difference among all those possibilities I used hypothetical of continued estimated pace.  All far from certain.

  • 300miles

    “They are going to be very focused on the blatant failures of Buffalo.  They are many and the critiques are already showing up on the internet”
    I really hope they do dish out the criticism, and I really hope our politicians and local developers hear it. The last thing we need is them hearing how everything is perfect with no room for major improvements.

  • DylanBurns

    whateverr There’s certainly an endless amount of factors!  I always like to appreciate the positive ones though, because the negative ones are well known and too often control the conversation.  For example, with the Buffalo Billion encouraging and directly bringing developing businesses to the city, people will follow.  Also, all of these downtown buildings being rehabbed, often incorporating many residential units, show that people are moving from the region to the city. If there wasn’t the demand, it wouldn’t be done.  Sure, there’s still the issue that as downtown is on the rise, there are still homes being demolished in other parts of the city, but we cannot force anyone to move to this areas.  There can be incentives like $1 homes and credits, but that can only do so much.
    Anyways, I’m getting a little off topic.  There’s been so many reports recently about the wonderful aspects of the city and there’s clearly a desire to live here, so I am nothing but hopeful!

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  • ironliege Other factors too – rising wages (blue collar workers could afford to move out of places like the Lower East Side and the First Ward), automobile ownership (many older cottage neighborhoods have no off-street parking), functionally obsolete housing (shotgun floorplans, no delineation of private and public rooms, etc), and overcrowding.  Heavy industry and railroad traffic were also still active throughout in the city, and fewer desired to live close by.
    When folks left the city, the houses left behind didn’t stay empty forever.  They were sold or rented to other families  If the housing had some functional obsolescence issue, they experienced a succession of increasingly less affluent occupants –  planners and housing policy researchers call it “housing filtration”.

    We look through the issues of the 1940s and 1950s with the eyes of the 2010s. It was a much different era, with much different conditions.

    And before I’m accounted of being anti-urban, I’m a CNU member, and attending the conference.

  • > If Black Rock (Crack Rock) is so great, how come the average home price is below 50K? 
    Black Rock might not be great by your standards,  but BLR may see things differently.  For some, “home” means a building.  For others, it means a place.

  • > At least in the city, small storefronts can be filled with low-end
    clothing retailers, barber shops, delis, etc. How do you fill a vacant
    Circuit City or Ames when the area demographics no longer support those
    kinds of stores? 
    Quoted for truth.  Single-purpose retail buildings, built with one use in mind, are essentially disposable.

  • > Who is going to want to spend 20k to fix a house in Cheektowaga when all you get once done are high taxes and a Cape Cod. 
    Believe me, public officials in Cheektowaga are painfully aware of their predicament.  They’ve also got the burden of a housing monoculture (mostly starter houses built in the 1950s, relatively few middle end homes, and almost no move-up outside of isolated parts of Cleveland Hill and a few cul-de-sacs in South Cheektowaga), location next to the East Side, being sliced and diced by railroads and the 90, and a reputation as a blue collar ethnoburb. 

    You could spend $90K on a Cheektowaga ranch and spend $50K updating it, or you could just send $140K on an updated house in Tonawanda or Eggertsville – better addresses, schools, built environment, etc.

  • >  I have never (NEVER!) known a place to be so preoccupied with boundaries and borders. 
    Cleveland would like to have a word with you.  An East Side vs West Side rivalry that makes Northtowns vs Southtowns seem tame in comparison, obsession over school districts unlike anything else I’ve seen, folks calling comfortable middle class suburbs like South Euclid or University Heights “ghetto” because they’ve been long integrated (and stable!) … it’s unreal.

  • > The first batch of Boomers were taxing the housing availability.
    Not to mention the thousands of African-Americans arriving in Buffalo every year, as part of the Great Migration.  From the 1940s through the early 1960s, much white fight was actually whites “making room” for new black residents.   Blacks made much higher offers than whites on houses for sale in some East Side neighborhoods.  There was redlining and blockbusting too, but just as often, offers that were too good to turn down – the 1950s equivalent of bidding wars, only in Cold Spring and Hamlin Park.

  • @Black Rock Lifer Denver’s burbs have much stricter architectural, landscaping, sign and site design standards than any Buffalo burb, except _maybe_ East Aurora.

  • whateverr

    Dan Blather
    ‘small storefronts can be filled with low-end clothing retailers, barber shops, delis, etc. How do you fill a vacant Circuit City or Ames when the area demographics no longer support those 
    kinds of stores?’
    ‘Single-purpose retail buildings, built with one use in mind, are essentially disposable.’

    Sometimes yes, sometimes no… but perhaps often exaggerated with a broad brush?
    ex-Ames on Delaware/Buffalo –> now Kohl’s, ex-Ames on Union –> now Hobby Lobby, ex-Circuit City near Blvd Mall –> now LA Fitness, ex-Circuit City near McKinley Mall –> now Savers, ex-Walgreen on Delaware –> now Dollar General, ex-Rite Aid on Grant –> now Save-A-Lot, ex-Burger King on Elmwood –> now Elmwood Taco Sub, ex-Arby’s on Delaware/Buffalo –> now Tim Hortons and Mighty Taco, ex-Tops on Delaware –> now Big Lots, ex-Rite Aids on Elmwood/Virginia and Grant/Forest –> now Family Dollars, ex-Blockbuster on Delaware –> now Office Depot, ex-K-Mart in Amherst –> now Lowe’s, ex-Quality Markets on Elmwood –> now PriceRite, ex-Quality Markets on Main –> now Tops, …
    Most of those are city examples. Meanwhile, in some neighborhoods many small storefronts aren’t filled with anything.

  • rubagreta1

    @Pegger Hidden in this article is a major reason for the population decline in Buffalo, which is and was a heavily Catholic city. You were on of 6 kids living in what I assume was a fairly small house. I would bet that whomever your parent sold the house to, that family had no more than 2 kids. So eventually, you had all these families with 4, 5, and more kids, eventually replaced by much smaller families.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    Dan Blather 
    You’re def correct and I commend hims for sticking it out in a less than stellar neighborhood. I think that speaks a lot to his character as an individual. Buuuuut, to constantly drone on about one subjective opinion about a certain area and to constantly misrepresent the facts is pretty tiresome.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    Black Rock Lifer 
    …..or because I tend to objectively state the facts?

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    Dan Blather ironliege 
    Dan, I like your comment about “housing filtration.” I never in a million years would have considered that term an actual term used to define what happened during some of the darker days in Buffalo’s past.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    LouisTully BeardedBuffalonian 
    “you’re a cloud of misery know-it-all”
    I mean….you’re the one sitting here making personal attacks….just sayin’.

  • Pegger

    I agree w/ the arguments that STEEL presents concerning the unfairness and waste when it comes to the infrastructure that makes urban sprawl possible. There is barely an argument against some of his assertions. And, obviously (from the numerous and often vitriolic responses the topic generates), it is an emotionally charged subject.
    But his focus is far too narrow.
    Embedded in the 208 contributions so far lay many great ideas that speak to the complexities of urban sprawl as a nation wide phenomenon unique to the latter half of the last century. It was a demographic shift of monumental proportions that pushed and pulled every aspect of American life-from the way lived to the way we saw ourselves and even to the way we worshipped-everything changed. There are volumes written about how our technology alone influenced our day-to-day living. Or simply how we used money and prosperity! The G.I. Bill. Gov’t policies.
    Complex, not simple. Urban sprawl was caught up as just another outcome of rapid change. It did not occur in a vacuum.
    There just isn’t a simple cause and effect path to follow here. But the results of it are here. It is neither inherently good or bad. It’s just the outcome of other changes that happened over time. So,  think we need to focus on how to deal with it now.

  • North Park

    Good points. I think that much of Cheektowaga will be urban prairie in about 30-50 years, as their housing will be functionally obsolete and abandoned just like the old telescoping cottages of much of the East side.
    Also unmentioned, the taxes on those small houses in Cheektowaga are killer, almost double the tax rate of most of the region. It hurts to pay over $5k in taxes on a home worth 100k. Why would people do that, when you can pay almost half in tonawanda?

  • North Park

    Hi!

  • kingofbuffalo

    Stop raining on the parade STEEL. There’s a lot going on in Buffalo a city STARVED for development and renewal.  I’m not offended (this time) with your negative comments but your timing is bad. I stopped reading because, actually, your post is boring me. Save it for another time when I’m not so excited about what’s happening around my town.

  • whateverr

    rubagreta1
    Although wasn’t Erie County also heavily Catholic back then?  Yet it’s grown vs 1950 even if very slightly, not massively shrunk as city did. 
    Buffalo had 580,132people in 1950 and 261,310 in 2010. 
    60 year city shrink = minus 55%.
    Erie County in 1950 had 899,238 people and in 2010 had 919,040. 
    60 year county growth = plus 2%
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_ny#Demographics
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_County,_New_York#Demographics

  • LouisTully

    Michael DiPasquale But…
    I’m reading about industry’s role in the New York economy and the city’s urban fabric.  It sounds like its decline was a case of too much planning.  I’m leery of over-planning.  Organic growth produces best results and strongest urban economies.

  • Pegger

    Black Rock Lifer: Do you feel as honored as I do to have our comments of nearly 5 years ago reposted here?

  • Pegger

    Black Rock Lifer Do you feel as honored as I do to have a nearly five year old comment posted here? Scroll way down!

  • arcmorris

    I was at the CNU conference last week.  I thought that Elmwood, Allentown and the Delaware District looked great.  Even the far west-side is looking hopeful.  As for downtown, the biggest short-to-mid term thing that the City could do is to improve the pedestrian environment (trees, wider sidewalks, paving, lighting.  A lot of the infrastructure in downtown looks worn out.  Development will accelerate if we make DT more attractive for pedestrians.

  • Publius V Publicola

    BeardedBuffalonian Let’s count how stupid your reasons are:
    1. Crime in the city is high Only in certain neighborhoods
    2. Schools suck Only certain schools

    3. People would rather live around people of their own socioeconomic status 

    4. Services in the city are terrible That’s not true at all
    5. People want land That’s not true at all, especially nowDude, get out of 1975, or your suburban cul-de-sac. Wake up.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    Publius V Publicola BeardedBuffalonian 
    1. Crime is more rampent in certain parts of the city than others, that’s true. But overall city crime is much higher than suburban crime.
    2. The average graduation rate in Buffalo is 47 percent. The national average is 75 percent! Lol. You’re comment should read, “Only a handful of schools are good.”
    3. No argument from you there….your best comment.
    4. They are. Snow plowing is terrible, police response times are terrible, road repair is terrible, pot hole repair is terrible. Garbage pickup is actual rather good though.
    5. Is that why most expensive neighborhoods in the city have large lots with houses set back from street? Also, see Rands comments about the coulple who moved from NYC because they had no outdoor greenspace.

  • LouisTully

    BeardedBuffalonian Publius V Publicola I emailed the Director of Streets last night at 5:30PM to have a street sweeper clean the alley behind my house.  Response from the director and street sweeping complete by 10:00AM this morning.

  • whateverr

    Publius V Publicola
    pub>”That’s not true at all, especially now Dude, get out of 1975, or your suburban cul-de-sac. Wake up.”
    But if it’s ‘not true at all’ that ‘People want land’, then I’d wonder why in Erie County the total non-Buffalo population is growing from 2010 to 2013.  Wouldn’t it be shrinking due to a net loss of people moving away from burbs into the city to have less land?
    http://wivb.com/2014/05/22/suburbs-gain-buffalo-loses-in-latest-census-figures/
    Suburbs gain, Buffalo loses in latest census figuresPublished: May 22, 2014
    The city of Buffalo continues to see more people moving out than moving in, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The city lost 2,351 people from April 2010 to July 2013, dropping its population to 258,959.  The city of Niagara Falls lost 725 people during that same time, seeing its population dip below 50,000 to 49,468.
    But while both cities lost people, several large suburbs gained population. Buffalo’s largest suburb, Amherst, led the way, adding 1,397 people. Its population in April 2010 was 122,366. By July 2013, it had grown to 123,763. Several suburbs in the Southtowns also experienced gains. The town of Hamburg grew by 682 people to 57,618. Orchard Park added 363 people, growing to 29,417.  North of Buffalo, Grand Island added 303 people since April 2010. …”
    Amherst +1,397 since 2010, Hamburg +682, Orchard Park +363, Grand Island +303. 
    Thousands in net gains in our burbs are showing land is wanted, such as in those example burbs WIVB mentioned.
    I’m not judging whether it’s good or bad that they want land, just saying it seems many still do… so your “not true at all” looks very overstated.  I don’t think Bearded’s comment was saying literally everybody wants land, just that it is often wanted.