Commentary, Mostly about Pflugerville
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Blog Web Page (Recent entries are also accessible by RSS)
Blog (November 11) News Article
Blog (November 5) TOMA
Blog (October 23) Transparency?
Blog (October 17) Even More of a Mess
Blog (October 15) Pflugerville's Image
Blog (October 4) City Branding
Blog (September 21) AGW
Blog (September 20) Acorn
Blog (September 19) Apollo
Blog (September 18) Zelaya
Blog (September 13) Rail Transit
Blog (September 11) Planning
Blog (August 21) Honduras
Blog (August 15) Whole Foods
Blog (August 13) Obamaland
Blog (August 10) Pflugerville 2030, Continued
Blog (August 7) Pflugerville 2030
Blog (August 4) Double Talk
Blog (July 18) Pacana
Blog (July 17) Green Energy
Blog (June 30) Homeownership
Blog (June 29) Crime
Blog (June 28) CNU Guidelines
Blog (June 26) SB 2169
Blog (June 24) MMGW Validity?
Blog (June 22) Pflugerville
Blog (June 19) Planning, Land Use, and Smart Growth
Blog (June 17) An Observation
Blog (June 16) Questionable Question
Blog (June 14) Congestion
Blog (June 4) Subsidies
Blog (May 30) Georgetown
Blog (May 28) Pflugerville
Blog (May 27) LaHood Again
Blog (May 26) MMGW?
Blog (May 24) Density
Blog (May 23) Behavior Modification
Blog (May 13) A Modest Proposal
Blog (archives)

OTHER WEB PAGES:
Topics (Table of Contents)
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Some Pflugerville Links

Our Pf Voice

Commentary, Mostly about Pflugerville (Blog)
(This new blog was started on November 23, 2009 and updated December 17, 2009.)

In and Around Pflugerville
(For information about the TOMA lawsuit issue, updated July 30, 2010)

Pflugerville and Rail Transit
Slideshow:The Howard Red Line Station

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Pflugerville Neighborhoods Home (A directory of neighborhoods for Pflugerville, Texas)

Texas Hiking: Pflugerville Trail

Tree Planting 101 with the City Forester. This is a direct link to a video available on the City of Pflugerville website.

Parks. A City of Pflugerville webpage about Pflugerville parks. Pfluger Park, Gilleland Creek Park, and Heritage Park are featured.

COMMENTARY, MOSTLY ABOUT PFLUGERVILLE

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HEADLINE OF THE DAY FOR December 21, 2010

"Corker's Case for START: As Convincing as 'A Letter from My Mother' by Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review Online, December 21, 2010.
"Suburban nation, but urban policies" by Joel Kotkin, Politico, October 28, 2010.
"Tea Party to the Rescue" by Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2010.
"What the Wilders Trial Means" National review Online, October 18, 2010.
"The Democratic vision of Big Brother" by George F. Will, The Washington Post, October 17, 2010.
"How radical Islam seduced the academics" by Nick Cohen, The Observer, October 10, 2010.
"Red Herring Politics" by Thomas Sowell, Real Clear Politics, October 5, 2010.
"Why Is He Sending Them?" by Charles Krauthammer, National Review Online, October 1, 2010.
"Why Dems Are Going Down in November" by Arnold Ahlert, Real Clear Politics, September 30, 2010.
"Destroying King Dollar Is Not the Solution" by Larry Kudlow, Real Clear Politics, September 25, 2010.
"Visigoths at the gate?" by Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, September 24, 2010.
"Mollifying Muslims, and Muslifying Mollies" by Mark Steyn, SteynOnline,September 20, 2010.
"Trifle with the government? Just ask Jacob Maged" by George F. Will, The Washington Post, September 16, 2010.
"Gangster Government Stifles Criticism of Obamacare" by Michael Barone, Real Clear Politics, September 13, 2010.
A Very Interesting Article:

"A Hidden History of Evil" by Claire Berlinski, City Journal, Spring 2010.
Watts Up With That?
Jim Skaggs' Transportation Comments
Green Hell Blog
Randal O'Toole's Blog
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
jennifermarohasy.com/articles.php

Introduction:

Pflugerville is a rapidly growing city just north of Austin, Texas. There are new toll roads in the area and a north-south rail-transit line passing through Pflugerville is an eventual possibility. In January 2008, the sign pictured on the right was replaced with one that read 40,003 for the population. Later the number posted was 41,817. The population number on the newest sign is 47,417.

The New Urbanism and/or smart growth provide approaches popular with planners for handling urban and suburban growth and development, but these approaches are controversial and may or may not be the best ones to adopt for Pflugerville.

The issues that are raised relate not only to land use but also to transportation.

Many of the pages gathered into this Web site include links to criticisms of the New Urbanism and smart growth.

An example of strong opposition toward the New Urbanism in one instance was in a speech given at a meeting of the Mission Viejo Planning Commission by a resident of the city, who said: "While the proponents will tell you that we have to change our style or be left behind in the rush to the New Urbanism, I am here to tell you that is hogwash." In the remainder of his presentation, the speaker made it clear why he opposed higher density residential development in Mission Viejo.


A very provocative article about the sociology of smart growth appeared online on April 17, 2008. The title of the article is "Class: The Unmentionable Topic" and the author is Randal O'Toole. There are some interesting comments about "vibrant streets" in this article. Is it fair to ask whether the vibrancy that some are trying to bring to Pflugerville through new development is of the kind that was experienced by Jane Jacobs in Greenwich Village?

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A Growing City

Heritage Park is a reminder that not too long ago, Pflugerville was basically a rural farm town. In Bohls Crossing, a recently built subdivision south of Heritage Park, one can still sometimes hear cattle in the adjacent farm land to the east. There are some ruins of a cotton gin complex at the edge of the central business district.

At the present time, Pflugerville is a pleasant suburban city, but it is growing rapidly and there is considerable vacant land left within the city limits and within the extraterritorial jurisdiction. With smart growth and New Urbanism currently so much in vogue, land use becomes a very important issue.

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Smart Growth Vocabulary

The adjective "vibrant" is frequently used by supporters of smart growth to describe a kind of development that they advocate.

John Kelso once opened a column in the Austin American-Statesman with this statement: "It's about time Austin Mayor Will Wynn picked up on something many of the rest of us have known for some time: Vibrant is just another word for congested."

The use of such terms as "smart growth", "traffic calming", and "vibrant" by smart growth advocates is frequently criticized as being misleading.

Here are some more terms in the smart growth vocabulary: "urban feel", "mixed use", "light rail", "transit-oriented development", "compact development", "walkability", "gathering place", "live, work, shop, and play", "vertical mixed use", "connectivity", "urban growth boundary", "density", "sustainability", "sense of community", and "sense of place".

To a suburban homeowner who had sought out a place to live far away from the density, congestion, and crime of the inner city, the most irritating of all of these terms could very well be "urban feel" if smart growth advocates have begun redevelopment in and around his or her neighborhood.

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Not Always Complete:
An important segment** of the September 9th City Council meeting was omitted from the Channel 10 broadcast.
**With Particular Reference to the Multi-Family Residential Design Guidelines Advisory Committee

Contrary to what is posted on Channel 10, the broadcasts are occasionally cut off before the meetings have ended. On Wednesday, September 10, 2008, for example, the evening broadcast of the Tuesday meeting ended at about 9:00 PM before the meeting was finished. The broadcast of the (September 9) regular meeting of the Pflugerville City Council was cut off in the middle of the reading of the consent agenda.

The 7:00 PM broadcast began with the City Council work session, which lasted for about one hour. Thus, only about one hour of the regular meeting was aired before the broadcast was cut.

One of the most important parts of the September 9, 2008, regular meeting cut out of the broadcast was "12B Discussion regarding the development of multifamily design guidelines." The minutes of the September 9 meeting are available here.

Some slides were shown during Section 12B of the regular meeting. The first page of "Multifamily Residential Design Guidelines and Standards" was displayed in the second slide. The complete text of this guide produced for the City of Overland Park, Kansas, February 11, 2004, can be found here.

The first page of "Multi-Family Development Guidelines" (prepared for SEDC, September 2000) appeared in the third slide.

The first meeting of a committee appointed for the task of coming up with recommendations about multi-family residential design guidelines was held at 7:00 PM on October 13, 2008. The meeting was hosted by PfCONA.

More information about the Multi-Family Residential Design Guidelines Advisory Committee is available at this City of Pflugerville website.

An article by Amy Stansbury entitled "Land Development: Topic for Ongoing Debate" appeared in the August 2008 online issue of Community Impact. This article is relevant to current issues regarding apartments in Pflugerville. There was a lengthy response in the "Comments" section that followed the online Community Impact article. This lengthy response was not available in the print edition of Community Impact distributed in the mail.

Also see "About the Multi-Family...." and "Apartments."

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Reaction to a Washington Post Article Bashing Suburbs

An opinion article entitled "Is the End of Sprawl in Sight" by Eduardo M. Penalver appeared on page A9 of the January 3, 2008, issue of the Austin American-Statesman (also accessible on this Washington Post web page). In this article he wrote: "Given the connections between car-dependent suburban development and the social ills from climate change and the destruction of wetlands to obesity and social isolation, the end can come none too soon." Here are links to some studies that question the existence of such connections:
  • Climate Change: "Climate Change - The Last Gasp of Smart Growth?" by Owen McShane (November 2007).

  • Obesity: "Fat City: Questioning the Relationship between Urban Sprawl and Obesity" by Jean Eid, Henry G. Overman, Diego Puga, and Matthew A. Turner (October 2006). Also see "The Effects of Neighborhood Density and Street Connectivity on Walking Behavior: The Twin Cities Walking Study" by Michael Oakes, Ann Forsyth, and Kathryn H. Schmitz (December 2007).

  • Social Isolation: "Social Interaction and Urban Sprawl" by Jan K. Brueckner and Ann Geraldine Largey (November 2006). Also see "Insight: Bowling Alone in Urbanistaville. Is Living in Suburbia the Social Antidote?" by Richard Carson (June 24, 2008).
  • Finally, it is not at all clear why suburban development must lead to the destruction of wetlands.

    The kind of harsh (and questionable) criticism leveled against suburban development by Penalver probably helps make humorous stories such as "Family of Five Found Alive in Suburbs" from the Onion more entertaining. Note that frequent ant infestation and the threat of rezoning to erect an industrial park across the street were among the many hardships the Holsapples had to face. Unfortunately, this sounds very familiar!

    Also see the Austin Contrarian for some other comments about the Penalver article.
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    Tax Breaks

    By the end of 2008, it may be that tax relief incentives will no longer be given to some emerging retail businesses in Austin for the purpose of encouraging economic development. See "Ban on Retail Tax Breaks Makes Ballot" by Kate Alexander (Austin American-Statesman). .

    Also see an opinion column written by George Will that also appeared recently in the Austin American-Statesman (also accessible on this Washington Post web page).

    Note added in November: The tax breaks will remain in place.

    "Endeavor delays retail projects at the Domain" by Shonda Novak, Austin American-Statesman, December 16, 2008.

    There is a letter to the editor entitled "Domain Subsidies" by Brian King in the Austin American-Statesman, March 16, 2009, page A10. This letter suggests that some businesses are moving from their current Austin locations to the Domain to take advantage of tax breaks.

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    Some Pflugerville Links

    Pflugerville Now -- 2009

    Pflugerville Pflag Twitter Page

    Pflugerville Neighborhoods Home (A directory of neighborhoods for Pflugerville, Texas)

    Texas Hiking: Pflugerville Trail

    Tree Planting 101 with the City Forester. This is a direct link to a video available on the City of Pflugerville website.

    Parks. A City of Pflugerville webpage about Pflugerville parks. Pfluger Park, Gilleland Creek Park, and Heritage Park are featured.

    Holidays at Heritage Park, usually held in December at Heritage Park, 901 Old Hutto Road, Pflugerville.


    Key to the City (A City of Pflugerville webpage)


    Christmas:

    A home with elaborate Christmas decorations in Pflugerville has gained recognition in the Austin American Statesman. See "Christmas in Overdrive: Pflugerville Couple Go All Out for the Holiday Season" by Adrea Ball for a photograph (which can be enlarged) and the story.

    January 2009 BNA Newsletter (From the Bohls Neighborhood Association)

    PfCONA (Pflugerville Council of Neighborhood Associations)

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    Links to Land Use and Transportation Humor

    "An Odyssey in the Land of Tod" by Cliff Slater, Honolulu Advertiser, June 7, 2004.

    "Family of Five Found Alive in Suburbs" from the Onion, August 22, 2001.

    "Report: 98 Percent of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation for Others" in the Onion, November 29, 2000.

    "Report: 98 Percent of Owners of Single-Family Homes Support Smart Growth and Favor Multifamily Housing for Others"

    An article with this title apparently does not exist, but what the title sets forth may be only a slight exaggeration. Many people do worry about sprawl, but do not necessarily want to live in a local high-density environment themselves.

    In areas, such as many in California, where severe smart growth restrictions were put in place, the supply of desirable housing often does not keep up with demand, and existing houses tend to show higher increases in value than in areas where such restrictions are not present. This favors those who already own a home. Of course a time of reckoning is likely to come eventually, which is exactly what is happening now, unfortunately.

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    Photographs for This Home Page: Taken on Dessau Road in November 2007 and in Heritage Park in December 2007. The photograph at the top of this page is of the Pecan Street Bridge across SH 130. Also see Additional Photographs taken in Heritage Park.

    Clipart for this page and others in this website were (with the exceptions noted) selected from 320,000 Images published by Greenstreet Software.

    RSS button courtesy of Taylor McKnight.

    Note that on the first Sunday each month, the Heritage House Museum (Bohls House) in Heritage Park is open to the public in the afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00.


    "Commentary, Mostly about Pflugerville" is written by a resident of Pflugerville.
    E-mail address: admin@pfcommentary.com
    The reporting of dead links and any other viewing problems will be greatly appreciated.

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    COMMENTARY, MOSTLY ABOUT PFLUGERVILLE

    Concerning Envision Central Texas




    The September 4, 2008, issue of The Pflugerville Pflag had an article entitled "Progress report reveals region's growth: City uses report as a reference to help create new comprehensive plan" by Kristen McLaughlin.

    The complete text of this progress report, entitled "Vision Progress Assessment," which was prepared for Envision Central Texas and dated July 2008, can be found here The url given in the Pflag article for more information about the report, however, was incorrect.

    Information about the history of Envision Cemtral Texas (ECT), in turn, can be found here, where it can be learned that ECT was founded in 2001 and that Fregonese Calthorpe Associates was the consulting firm selected to manage the visioning process. The Wikipedia has a article about Peter Calthorpe. John Fregonese was Director of Growth Management Services at Metro in Portland, Oregon, until November 1997.

    Besides Envision Central Texas, Fregonese and Calthorpe have been involved with Envision Utah and Envision Houston + Region. In the book This Land by Anthony Flint, a passage on page 186 following a discussion of Oregon's Measure 37 seems to indicate that the planning process in Utah went more smoothly than in Oregon.

    Some additional links

    "The New Urbanism Doesn't Work" by Randal O'Toole (Ortem, June 15, 2000).

    " Portland: A Model for How Not to Run a City. Part One: The Reformer" by Randal O'Toole, June 22, 2006.

    "How Not to Run a City. Part Two: Planners Derailed" by Randal O'Toole, July 10, 2006.

    Books

    This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America by Anthony Flint, 2006. This book is available at the Pflugerville Community Library and at the Round Rock Public Library.


    "Commentary, Mostly about Pflugerville" is written by a resident of Pflugerville.

    E-mail address: admin@pfcommentary.com

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