An in depth analysis of WHY YOU ARE WRONG

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Facts

On several other blogs I have been involved in some barfights relating urban issues like plans for downtown development, transportation and sprawl as they relate to Pittsburgh. I am sort of a newcomer, but am struck by how little evidence is presented for positions. And, I have to admit that I am not going to be providing massive charts here either. I think that I am close enough to having my facts straight and am eager for good data. This January 2006, PG article gives at least a decent backround for discussion. ( and also this article) Some of this data comes from the 2000 census so it is a bit stale ( In NY , which has changed so fast that data is pretty worthless ) but unless there have been some big changes it helps frame the conversation.

Most of the debate on the blogs is coming from people who endlessly repeat that Pittsburgh's big problem is jobs, jobs, jobs, and that the problems the city has been having relate to job losses. That article shows that this is not too accurate. The city of Pittsburgh, remains a major employment center in the region and in fact seems to have actually gained jobs during the 1990's owing to a large extent from strong growth in the medical and educational sector. What it has lost primarily is residents. I think that the article says that the city's population drop accounts for 98% of the loss in regional population.

This reinforces my point that the city of Pittsburgh has been acting as a non profit provider of jobs and amenities to a population that now increasingly lives out of the city limits. This is not something that can be sustained without some major changes- either in repopulating the city or somehow changing the distribution of funds/ taxes in the region.

The most extreme example of this type of urban model would be Washington D.C.-- a city that ( is forced ) to act as the central employment hub in the region and yet seems to get so little for it. It is not a pretty or sustainable road to be on. Change has to start happening fast. Many of the largest employers in town are hospitals or universities that are not likely to move much, but the other employers may start to be pressured by these population trends. They know where thier employees live and office space is often cheaper out of town.

6 comments:

Patt said...
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JM Colberg said...

Right on - this is not what people will want to hear, though. People will wanto to hear that it's OK to move to a MacMansion somewhere in the middle of nowhere AND to complain about transportation and parking in Pittsburgh AND how there's so little to do in Pittsburgh. And as you're pointing out, these kinds of problems are shared with many other - incl. European - cities.

Just one, very absurd, Pittsburgh example is the "Waterfront", that sad joke of a strip mall that people like to mistake for something that's worthwile spending time at (imagine they had converted an old steel mill into an industrial museum - not THAT would have been something unique!). There's a bridge going over the river towards that place, and that bridge has been in disrepair for years (and by disrepair I mean it's literally falling apart). Pittsburgh refused to pay for the repairs, pointing out that the brdige was part of Homestead - an impoverished deserted town next to the mall. Homestead pointed out that it was Pittsburghers using the bridge. The net effect of this all was that the issue was left unintended for so long until the bridge literally wasn't safe any longer. I don't know who's paying for the repairs now - but given the speed of the repairs I don't even want to know. But needless to say, those people who shop at the Waterfront will find nothing wrong with all of this.

This all really isn't much of a Pittsburgh problem - it's a mindset problem. People think they're entitled to everything, and they refuse to accept that their personal choices are largely responsible for lots of problems. So the problem is not that they're moving out of the city, it's that there are no jobs (even though they do have a job - usually in the city)...

John Morris said...

American's live a gross lifestyle and i think that we are just starting to see the cost of it.

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JacksPgh said...

Allegheny County suffers from a tangle of over 100 municipalities. I think around 120. They are in constant battle over taxes, state funding etc. The redundancy of services and politicians and police departments is ridiculous

John Morris said...

It's time for Pittsburgh to put a hurtin on it's puny neighbors by slashing taxes and developing high density housing as well as finding ways to make sure that workers in Pittsburgh at least pay a small fraction of the cost associated with them.

In a fair fight, most of the little twerps would be knocked silly.