At the tipping point

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The backers of The Channels plan have referred to a 2004 study done by the firm Booz Allen Hamilton called Dallas at the Tipping Point: A Road Map for Renewal (800 KB PDF file). The study was commissioned by the Dallas Morning News to answer the questions:

  1. What are the key challenges facing the City of Dallas?
  2. How well is City Hall positioned to cope with these challenges?
  3. What does the City of Dallas need to do to position itself for long-term success?

I've had a copy for some time, but finally had the chance to start reading it today.

The Channels backers point to the report's discussion of the cycle of decline which leads to a hollow urban core: Quality of life declines, businesses and individuals migrate to surrounding areas, the tax base declines, infrastructure requirements are underfunded, resources for city services decline, and the tax burden increases, leading to a decline in the quality of life, which feeds another round of the cycle. The Channels backers call this the Death Spiral and they say that Tulsa, like Dallas, is in this vicious cycle. They believe we need their project -- spending $600 million in public funds to build islands in the Arkansas River -- to break us out of that cycle.

In light of that, it was interesting to read what Booz Allen recommended to Dallas. There were no mentions of islands, arenas, or other big-ticket amenities. In fact, they called on Dallas officials to focus on delivering basic government services efficiently. They called for adjustments to the city's governmental structure so that authority, responsibility, and accountability align and the buck actually stops somewhere.

Like Tulsa, Dallas has a high violent crime rate, even with more than 2 police officers per thousand population. Fixing the problem isn't rocket science:

A programmatic approach is needed to reduce crime, improve education, and encourage economic growth.... Successful approaches to each of these are already well understood. From New York's crime reduction success to Cleveland's success in economic development, there is little mystery as to basic building blocks for improving quality of life. What is missing in Dallas is a comprehensive focus and a cross-department program for delivering the change.

Improving the quality of life index was the first of three strategic imperatives. The other two: Attract middle-class families to the city and address the city's under-funded liabilities (e.g. deferred infrastructure maintenance and city employee pensions).

Note: They don't say to attract more of the Creative Class types, as much as they can add to a city, but to be effective at competing with the suburbs for middle-class families, who provide a stable base for retaining employers and retailers in the city, with their accompanying tax base. (Joel Kotkin is one urban analyst who has bucked the Creative Class tide and insisted on the importance of middle-class families to a city's well-being.)

(Related thought: By going to Tulsa County to seek public funding for their project, The Channels backers have guaranteed that the funding package will include proportionate amenities for the county's other municipalities, neutralizing any competitive advantage the core of the City of Tulsa would have gained by implementing their plan.)

The Dallas Morning News has a special online section devoted to their report on Dallas, including a 2005 update on the situation, also prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton.


SarahL said:

First of all, let's just address the whole "Death Spiral" issue.

Tulsa does not need "The Channels" to break out of an economic -or- urban-renewal "Death Spiral". What Tulsa's city leadership *needs* to do is simply use common sense.

What do people want? What would attract families (the solidly middle-class, minivan-driving, 2.3 kids and a dog type families) back into the "core" of Tulsa? What would stem the tide of these families rushing out to Owasso, Jenks, and even Skiatook to build their little "McMansions"?

First and foremost, people want to feel SAFE in their city. They *want* to feel like they can leave the windows open on a nice fall evening to air out the house. They want to feel like they can take a walk without worrying about being mugged. They want to believe that they can let their children play outside safely.

Make this Number One at the top of any list: People want to be able to go about their daily business in relative safety.

Number two: Solid infrastructure. Roads and bridges and sewers, oh my. Stormwater management (I think we have that fairly well mastered) that works.

Number three: A mass-transit system that actually *works*. If you want people to remain in the "core" or the heart of the city, they need to be able to get around easily, and cheaply. Tulsa Transit needs to be taken apart at the seams, and reconfigured to actually meet the needs of it's riders.

City services in general must be more responsive; their "customers" or "clients" will move on to the suburbs if they aren't.

But let's remember this: Overall, at the end of the day, Tulsa is still a great place to live. It isn't perfect, but "The Channels" won't actually fix any of the problems that the developers point to with their greedy little fingers. What "The Channels" plan does do quite well is leave our collective wallets $600 million lighter.

Tulsa needs to get some basic housekeeping issues out of the way *first*, and then develop a plan for the river that is practical, accessible to all, and actually useable. Something that is unique to Tulsa, not a pale imitation of some other city's river-side improvements.

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

The Creative Class gimmick is a bunch of hooey. Infrastructure is the key. You MUST have excellent schools 1st, good roads, safety. Give everyone a reason to be here not just the fringes. (we need the fringes too, but not first). Oh, and sidewalks.

Paul Tay said:

Suppose the Creative Class shove it up where the sun don't shine. Suppose the proles stage a coup and hold certain creatin public officials ACCOUNTABLE for even entertaining the thought of blowing through over half BILLION tax dollars for another pie-in-the-river SCAM designed to benefit no one but the wealthy few.

This SCAM reminds me of that Star Trek episode where the CREATIVE CLASS live high in the clouds, while the proles toil for THEIR benefit down below, WAY below. Name dat episode, people, while R E C A L L Daddy takes a lil' trip.

Paul Tay said:

EVERYBODY, all together now, SING IT:

Channels Channels rollin' down the strip
Recall Daddy gonna take a little trip.
When the damn plan gets oh so high
Recall Daddy gonna dance in the sky

Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door,
Started to jump but I fell on the floor.
They stood me up and pushed me out the door,
I jumped right out and counted to four.

If my main don't open wide
I've got another one by my side.
If that one should fail me too,
Look out below, Recall Daddy comin' on through.

Slip to your right and slip to your left,
Slip on down and do your best.
I hit the votin' zone with my feet apart,
Legs in my stomach and feet in my heart.

Lying here, lying there, rollin' in fright,
Wonderin' if this is gonna be my last fight.
Nurse, oh nurse, you look so fine,
Recall Daddy gotta make time.

Channels Channels rollin' down the strip
Recall Daddy gonna take a little trip.
When the damn plan gets so high
Recall Daddy gonna dance in the sky
Tell all the girls we all contest.
It's the Channels we DETEST.

Twatch said:

The Channels Project is a perfect case in point of why the central planning tenet of the Socialist philosophy is faulty and dangerous. We are NOT the customers or clients of the Elite central planners, we are their BOSSES and THEY SERVE at OUR pleasure and its about time we said NO until they finally ask; what is it you want anyway?

sbtulsa said:

the channels creates more problems. flooding is one. it is also just a gated community in a very poor disguise. to state what has already been said a different way, its another enclave for an elite class. to spend revenue from the tax base for this just divides the community further. that division would be between the middle class and this urban elite the trust fund babies wish to attract. that is on top of the laready troublesome rift between the poorer folks in our community and the middle class.

i'd love to see just one city counselor go verbally postal on this proposal. this idea is terrible policy. if tyey want to spend another six hundred mill, it should be all for roads and bridges in all parts of town.

Twatch said:

The deep thinkers of the Channels Project should check into the REAL REASON people choose a City to move to.

U.S. Cities with the Highest and Lowest Unemployment Rates

By Kate Lorenz, Editor

When you're looking to buy a home, it's all about location, location, location. And one of the biggest factors consumers consider when deciding on a new hometown is the health of the area's employment. Whether you're moving cross country or a just a few towns over, it's important to know if you'll find a job easily once you get there.

Every month, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the nation's unemployment numbers. In 2006, the national average has hovered around 4.7 percent. But do you really know what that means for you?

If there is low unemployment in your area, then the jobs are ripe for the picking -- it's a job seeker's market. But if the unemployment numbers are higher than the national average, chances are it will take you longer to find a job.
See the rest of the story;>1=8522

Carol Oster said:

Please read my blog for a comprehensive plan for Downtown renewal

Craig Dickson said:

It's jobs stupid.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 26, 2006 1:22 AM.

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