Tuesday, November 14, 2006


To Peak or Not To Peak

The Energy Bulletin has a story regarding today's announcement by the Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) regarding what they see as the "peak oil myth." Worth reading, especially if you follow some of the links. The responses by Congressman Udall (D) and Bartlett (R) are encouraging.

Tear Downs and Rehabs

Found this at The Broken Heart. Pretty sucky that the Alderman, who has an email list of interested constituents, couldn't find the time to at least email us about this proposed demolition. Reading Paradise's comments regarding Pratt really chills me. I just walked past there on Sunday AM with one of my sisters who was here for a visit. I pointed out buildings and chatted up RP. The one we like best on Pratt has the big open porches.

I also read the article at Howard Hellhole about the loss of affordable rental housing as condos take hold.

A couple of thoughts - 1) Tear downs are not the answer. Simply adding density doesn't improve anything. 2) Diversity comes in many forms, and I would like to see more economic diversity than is currently obvious here in RP. That said, I didn't move here in search of a less expensive version of the Gold Coast, Streeterville, Andersonville, or Lakeview. I can't afford the $300K+ condos going up all over the Loop, and I say that as a fully employed individual looking to retire in 2 years. RP has a wide range of condo pricing from what I have seen just walking around. I'd like to see it continue that way. But not everyone is ready or able to buy. Keeping affordable housing is also a part of the diversity although I object to having it centralized like the projects of old. That didn't work.

A balance on many fronts, economic, racial, cultural, etc. This is what makes RP special to me. I'd hate to lose that.


Paradise said...

Hi, Kheris.

I read CERA's report on the Energy Bulletin, also, while in the midst of reading Matthew Simmon's TWILIGHT IN THE DESERT, which is meticulously researched and stuffed with data on reserves and pipelines and horizontal drills vs. vertical drills.

What I am taking away from everything I'm reading is that the 3.7 trillion barrels may be mostly oil trapped in shales or tar sands, which is extremely costly to extract in both terms of dollars and environmental costs.

I hope CERA is right, but my belief is that there is so much evidence to the contrary that it would be unwise to bank on it.

For one thing, the stuff tends to occur in the biggest quantities in other countries, mostly those unfriendly to us, and it is unsettling to think that our lives are in the hands of people who don't love us, since we import 70% of what we use.

For another thing, the sprawl lifestyle is so expensive and uncomfortable that we perhaps couldn't afford to go on the way we have even if oil dropped to $5 a barrel.

Regarding the recent teardowns- have these developers been keeping up with the housing market? Where are they getting the financing in this climate? Do they not know that the market has totally tanked and that housing sales are 34% lower than for the same period a year ago?

As it is, two large condo buildings that were to break ground in September, in Edgewater, haven't done so and aren't likely to. Same for another large building in Uptown. According to my agent, nothing, absolutely nothing, is selling. He works Evanston, Wilmette, and Rogers Park. The story is the same in my mother's suburb in another city.

I'm backing away from buying as I expect the prices to back off more, even though sellers here in RP seem to think it's still Spring 2005. I am seeing one bedroom places in Lakeview and Sandburg Village highrises for less than $150K and $160K respectively, and they are decent-sized units.

So where do the developers who are tearing down to build more cheesy condos think the buyers will come from? There are many new condos just like these for sale and the buyers are not coming.

Kheris said...

Maybe in 10 years, assuming the price of oil gets seriously higher, the suburbanites will come racing back into the city or cluster around the Metra stops. That's when city home prices will rise and folks will really start buying. Of course all those suburban homes will tank pricewise. That's the scenario some 'peakists' have for the future, regardless of how long it takes to get there.

Paradise said...

I believe suburban disinvestment is already happening. Take a look at how much more house or condo you can get for the dough, if you like new plastic subdivisions in places like Zion, Harvard, Schaumburg, or Arlington Heights.

The commutes are getting too grueling. I have had to commute to jobs in far flung suburbs, and had a two-hour, 3-leg commute each direction on one job. Worse, you might have moved to say, Mattson, to be close to a job, then you get laid off and find another job in Vernon Hills. This is way too common, and it's killing people. It's sucking up their lives and literally making them ill (think Road Rage).

You live this way for a while, and you can see why Rogers Park is more expensive than the many very clean suburbs. A person gets sick of having to drive 4 miles to get a gallon of milk.

I really miss the days when almost everybody worked downtown, and you could always get a bus or train there. I also miss all-night service on all the train lines. These things are the things we lost when the population diffused itself over hundreds of miles of hinterland.

Paradise said...

I believe that many of the suburbanites will cluster around transit nodes. As it is, suburbs like Evanston and Wilmette are extremely walkable and closely knit, and Evanston is now building very dense housing downtown. These will be great places to be in the event of widespread energy shortages. They are already better places to live than the 'automobile suburbs' because of their urban configuration. Winnetka, Oak Park, Des Plaines, and Park Ridge have nice little town cores and Des Plaines in particular is encouraging higher residential density at the core.

The others have a long way to go, and many of them will be impossible, and aren't wonderful places to live even now, because you are totally car dependent if you live in them. Many people in places like Schaumburg and Westmont don't even have a gas station-cum-convenience store within walking distance, and often don't have sidewalks along the main roads.

However, the city will really be the place, because it has not only the best transit, but the most of everything that makes a place liveable and walkable. It has the best amenities, it has the libraries, museums, parks, lakefront, it has the entertainment, and it has the beauty and history.

I believe that's what people in farflung burbs of cookie cutter tract houses miss the most, and don't know it until they move to the city - the sheer beauty of the city. I mean, I met people out there who have never been east of Woodfield Mall their entire lives- they don't know what a real building looks like. They never saw the lobby of the Bank of America Building, or the old main library, or the beautiful buildings and houses lining the streets of these old neighborhoods, where the trees meet each other over the streets.

I couldn't live in a place where the trees didn't form arches over the streets, or in a place without beautiful older buildings.

Maybe even cities like St. Louis (my old home) and Detroit, will come back. These two beautiful small cities have been destroyed to the point where people are almost starting from scratch, yet even they have more than the outer burbs do. Both cities have considerable built beauty from their glory days in the 20s, and top deck cultural amenities, especially St. Louis. Likewiise the other little midwestern cities. These are cities where there will be little resistance to doing things in a new way, since the way things are now is so obviously not working for them.