The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Home of More Transit Links Than You can Possibly Check(tm), Unless you have no life other than websurfing

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity: and I'm not so sure about the universe. Einstein

From the Cabalmaster:

Continuing our review of other transit-oriented blogs:

City Comforts Blog,, deals with urban issues other than transit. Webmaster is David Sucher, author of “City Comforts: How to Build and Urban Village.” The blog has a convenient, prominently-posted mini-manifesto titled “What is this blog about?”

“Cities, architecture, the 'new urbanism,' real estate, historic preservation, urban design, land use law, landscape, transport etc etc from a mildly libertarian stance. Our response to problems of human settlement is not "better planning" and a bigger budget for local government. But alas, conservative and libertarian (not the same, to be sure) response to shaping our cities is too often barren and in denial. Our goal is to take part in fostering a new perspective. But not too earnestly.”

The webmaster added the following “UPDATE:” My ‘mildly libertarian stance’ is, I regret most sincerely, getting milder by the day.”

Not too much in the way of transit items in recent posts – but we did find a zinger aimed squarely at one of our favorite “targets,” the inimitable Peter Gordon:

“Apr 12, 2004

"’Let the neighbors decide!’ Not.

“Peter Gordon has the idea that if you let neighborhoods decide, everything will be just fine:

“....San Francisco politicians now want to keep chain stores with eleven or more stores from setting up shop in any of selected SF neighborhoods. They argue that they are doing what they can to protect the cities prized neighborhoods.

“What is wrong with this picture? Why not let the neighborhoods decide? Let them secede and hammer out their own rules. Top-down one-size-fits-all has never quite worked. Besides big-city politics is less likely to cater for local tastes and more likely to be hijacked in the name of various agendas that have little bearing on neighborhood life.

“I won't examine the merits of the specific San Francisco proposal. It sounds a bit goofy at first; and if you actually read the flimsy article -- Neighborhood Pride Prompts Effort to Limit Chain Stores -- you will get only the vaguest picture of what the ordinance actually requires. But enough does seep through to suggest that the ordinance might indeed be reasonable -- merely a design-review system to make a chain drop enough of its "trade dress" to make every Main Street look different. At least I think that's the theory, as essentially harmless as it may be mis-guided.

“I am more fascinated by the idea that anyone still believes that it's fine for ‘neighbrohoods to decide.’ Why not simply say ‘let business decide.’?

“Neighborhood NIMBYs can be just as narrow-minded as their business opponents and with whom are joined at the hip by a singular though opposing devotion to respective factional interests. Neighborhoods are made of neighbors, not altruists; proximity produces interest, not wisdom.

“Moreover, we do let neighborhoods decide; it's called voting for city councils and mayors.

“Further, if you really did balkanize a city into neighborhoods with separate zoning powers, you would no longer have much growth anywhere at all. Now that may be fine, in fact, if you like the idea of freezing things as they.

“But it's pretty funny when hard-core pro-market academics who usually sneer at liberal do-good environmentalism and its urban no-growth progeny turn around and urge on us a neighborhood-based decision-making system which would give us yet more liberal do-good neighborhood protectionism.”

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