Morning Ed: Cities {2016.02.16.Tu}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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16 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    Forbes: They somehow detect that I use ad blocker and I can’t read the article.

    Hartford: This is probably true for most cities. They are a product of their own successes. NYC in the mythical bohemian period of the mid-70s to mid-80s was affordable because those that could fled. Those that stayed were of an artsy and bohemian sort, the ultra wealthy who lived far above the madness.*, the really poor, and students. During the 1970s or 80s, you could get a Brooklyn Brownstone for a steal, by the time I was looking to live in an apartment in a Brooklyn Brownstone, many neighborhoods were developed.**

    Facts: Many of these are not that embarrassing. The Jacksonville one was interesting because it is almost certainly unconstitutional especially in the post-Lawrence landscape but it is one of those little laws of morality that socially conservative places keep on the books to defy the cosmopolitan liberals that they dread so much. The city either does selective enforcement or is betting that they can use it and most people won’t know about Lawrence. The second part might be true. Most people are not political junkies and I’ve encountered liberals who did not know about Lawrence v. Texas because they just don’t follow the court.

    Tech: Reno is about an hour from Tahoe and the close proximity to skiing and snowboarding can be attractive to techies. I am not sure if there is anything near Fresno that is attractive to techies in terms of sports and activities. Reno still has a long way to go before it overcomes a reputation for being a sad and depressed version of Las Vegas though. My girlfriend stopped by Reno on her way to Burning Man and described it as being very sad and gloomy. Lots of retirees glued to penny slots, bad food, prostitution, drug addicts, homeless people sneaking into casinos and swiping drinks, etc.

    Group-Housing Law: Again this law is blatantly unconstitutional. There was a Supreme Court case about this during the early 1970s. I can’t remember the name of the case. There were a few of them that reached the Supreme Court in the 1970s. One concerned extended families (a town had a strict definition of a nuclear family) and another concerned non-relatives. IIRC both cases also involved welfare benefits for some reason.Report

    • aaron david in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The casino area of Reno is exactly as you describe it, but outside of that and the industrial areas on the east side it is a shockingly nice town. UNR is a good school with a nice masters in judicial studies program. Known as the City of Trembling Leaves in the literary world, the area just south of the Truckee river is one of the prettiest neighborhoods of arts and crafts houses you will find. My brother has been an architect in the ciy of 20 odd years. It has a vibrant arts scene, and is quite nice for anyone who lives an athletic lifestyle.

      Fresno is also a very nice place, once you set aside all the jokes about it (told by people who have never been there, as most of these things go.) As far as sports for the tech comunity, Yosemite is only an hour or so north, there is a good local ski resort (Sierra Summit) and the best backpacking area of the sierras is just to the east in Sequoia followed by Mineral Springs.Report

    • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      fwiw, i’ll second aaron about Reno. It’s a pretty nice town. The casinos always bring unpleasantness along with the cash, but there is a lot more to the area then that.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak says:

        Which is a big part of why I avoid casinos.

        That, and gambling just isn’t that much fun to me.Report

        • …gambling just isn’t that much fun to me.

          For me either, but I love to watch people gambling in Vegas. My favorite was always mid-priced blackjack tables. Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves. Some are trying to be cold and controlled. After someone has dropped just enough money, a casino employee shows up to offer them complementary ethanol. I love walking through the casino, noticing how hard it is to find the exit, or to get any indication of what time of day it is. And marvel at the ugly carpets, which are actually intentionally designed to hide drink spills, wear patterns, and dropped chips.Report

    • Hmmm… The Forbes site notices that I’m running an ad blocker, but lets me through after their usual three-second delay anyway. Perhaps their response is different for different blockers? I’m using one of the lesser-known ones.Report

      • El Muneco in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Forbes is frustrating – most sites let me “temporarily allow all” (sometimes I have to do it two or three times, because opening up one brings in another). But on Forbes even the “Continue” link just takes me back to the “you are still using an ad blocker” page.

        It’s like the old NYT paywall – it’s not really worth linking there because many readers physically can’t get there.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      IIRC both cases also involved welfare benefits for some reason.

      I don’t know the specifics of those cases, but the welfare angle I can see. I once lived next to a house that was a rental, and one of the tenants was a family of 5 (mom, two daughters, two grand-daughters) in a 3 bedroom house using Section 8 benefits. By the time we were able to help the city get them evicted, over 20 people were living there, trash was piled everywhere, people were making drug buys, stolen goods were moving through, and they had taken over a nearby garage/shop that they weren’t renting. Horrible people, hit every stereotype you can imagine. Obviously the glaring exception regarding the character of Section 8 beneficiaries, but I can see a small number of such cases motivating group-housing restrictions.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        The situation you described above is what everyone fears when making laws against group housing. It doesn’t even need to be this bad. University students are generally not known for exactly being clean and they can also be very loud. This American Life did a story on Penn State’s reputation for being the number 1 party school in the U.S. because Sarah Koening moved there because of her husband’s job. The episode involved frat boys putting furniture on fire and throwing it down from roofs. Sarah Koening also had to chase drunk college students from peeing in her bushes.* Very few people except committed activists want to live next to this kind of stuff.

        *The same issues can happen with the homeless and it explains why people would rather have the mentally ill and/or homeless be an out of sight and out of mind problem. I have seen the homeless do a lot of public urination in San Francisco including one woman leaning against a parked car, removing her pants, and just starting to urinate. Or guys who openly piss in bushes, doorways, and against doors. The committed activist position seems to be that we should just deal with the ugliness as is because that is the world. Yet I don’t see this as a winning argument.Report

        • katherinemw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          My position on public urination is that if you don’t want people to do it, you should provide them with places to pee. Yes, that means you have to clean those places, but that’s better than people peeing in the streets.

          Most businesses don’t want to let homeless people use their washrooms.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to katherinemw says:

            Even without the issue of homeless people, Americans always had a lot of prudishness around people’s need to go to the bathroom. When Sigmund Freud visited the United States, one of his biggest complaints was that American cities had too few public bathrooms.Report

  2. Nevada also has no state income tax.Report

  3. dragonfrog says:

    There has been a recent kerfuffle over a practice in Vancouver’s real estate market referred to as “shadow flipping.”

    Basically a property will be bought with a close date well in the future, and an option to assign the sale before it closes. Then the buyer’s side of the contract will be re-sold, often multiple times and at significant markups, with the real estate agent making a commission each time (and sometimes buying and selling it somewhere in there too).

    Through all of this, the land transfer tax is only paid once, and is based only on the price in the initial sales contract. The final buyer might be buying a house for $1 million, plus $500K for the privilege of buying the house – so the land transfer is still only a $1 million transaction.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to dragonfrog says:

      MERS did something similar in the US. It just flatly usurped the county’s role in recording property transactions (and, of course, avoiding paying the relevant fees).

      It was only ruled legal, after the fact, because it would have opened a giant can of worms called “We have no idea who really owns this plot of land anymore” and would have thrown countless mortgages into a potential quagmire of legal proceedings. Sure, most people wouldn’t have sued to make the realtor (and the people running MERS) prove who owned the property — but enough would have that MERS would have been mostly staffed by lawyers doing discovery for years…Report

  4. katherinemw says:

    …So Memphis is approximately at the same place on women’s rights as Saudi Arabia is? Or is this an old law that has been overrruled but not specifically repealed? That and the Jacksonville one were the most embarasing ones for the cities concerned.

    The Denver one does not surprise me in the least.Report