Friday, February 20, 2009

Sprawl's dipping into your pocketbook


People just don't realize how much extra tax money must be spent because of the sprawling development patterns, not just in Charlotte and North Carolina, but around the country. Consider connected streets, and their role in easing expenditures for roads and for emergency services.
It's clear that connecting streets – whether with a rigid grid or more curving street patterns such as Charlotte's John Nolen-designed Myers Park neighborhood – relieves thoroughfares of some portion of their traffic. Yes, each neighborhood street gets a bit more traffic. But if they're well-designed, narrow enough to discourage speeding, have adequate sidewalks, bike lanes and/or on-street parking (or all of the above) traffic moves slowly and poses little burden for residents.
Meanwhile, thoroughfares need not carry as much traffic (or be widened or resurfaced as often). When there's an accident or other problem on a thoroughfare, motorists have plenty of options for alternate routes.
Yes, it costs developers a bit more to build a street grid than a cul-de-sac subdivision, and the extra streets reduce the number of lots and buildings a developer can squeeze onto the land. But for taxpayers, it ought to be a no-brainer.
But connecting streets can have some other, unexpected benefits for municipal coffers. Here's an intriguing study from Charlotte’s transportation and fire department staff that finds fire station costs sharply lower in parts of town where streets connect.
The study analyzed eight stations and found those in connected neighborhoods can serve more square miles because they can reach more homes within acceptable response times. The Dilworth station can serve 14 square miles. The station in the cul-de-sac-laden Highland Creek area can cover only 8 square miles.
The study found the annualized per-household life cycle cost of the Dilworth station to be $159. The equivalent cost for the station in the Highland Creek area was $740 – almost five times more.
Charlotte Department of Transportation staff who worked on the study included Matt Magnasco, Steven Castongia and Katie Templeton. Fire Department staff included Benny Warwick and Rachel Pillar. Magnasco tells me it hasn't yet been published or peer-reviewed, but they're working to get it into shape for that. The PowerPoint presentation linked to above was for a Congress for the New Urbanism transportation conference in Charlotte last last year.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

So your recommendation to the city of Charlotte would be no more annexation, then?

Anonymous said...

Mary's crusade against cul-de-sacs continues even though many people with families prefer them because they make the neighborhoods safer for their kids to run around and play. Keep on whining Mary.

Anonymous said...

I agree that grid-like streets are better, but you gotta convince people to move there too. Developers build cul-de-sacs because families want them and they sell homes; while houses in very accessible streets do not do as well.

Anonymous said...

"Mary's crusade against cul-de-sacs continues even though many people with families prefer them because they make the neighborhoods safer for their kids to run around and play."

OK, this really bothers me. Why do your kids need to play in the street? You have a yard and most homes in the Charlotte area have very large yards.

Larry said...

Mary.

Did you know that annexation is considered a cash cow for cities?

And here in Sprawlville we are forced to take city water with a close to 2 thousand hook up fee.

Now we could mention the lack of police coverage but that is just the fact we are so far out from that nicely patrolled center city area.

Funny how those emergency service such as fire and ambulance were covered before with volunteers and when the city took over they had to have nice expensive new fire stations and the like.

But we have to take what the mighty Observer says even if you have not even presented the full story.

So people can move on top of each other in overpriced boxes and complain that they are supporting us out here.

Maybe you can help us secede from Charlotte and save you folks downtown all that money.

By the way did you check out the McClatchy stock today? Around 55cents. Sorry about that perhaps it is because you people at the Observer print stories that alienate the majority of your readers.

Rodger said...

Thanks Mary. This is good stuff and I plan to quote the study often. Oddly, your readers here don't get it. They complain of high taxes and wonder why they can't be cut. The pattern of our development has a direct correlation to the cost of service delivery.

If you want your cul-de-sac's, no problem, you simply have to make a choice. Pay higher tax rates to fund more stations, cut response times to 10 or 12 minutes for the first responder, grow smarter, or charge development fees to cover infrastructure costs. Here is a new idea, maybe we should charge graduated tax rates. Maybe Dilworth residents should pay a lower tax rate because it is more efficient to serve and Highland Creek residents should pay a higher tax rate because it is less efficient to serve. Maybe that would help level the playing field if people had to pay the true cost of service delivery.

I hope CDOT does more studies for services like police, garbage collection, meter reading, etc.

Anonymous said...

Start charging people who live on cul-de-sac higher taxes, if they are more costly to provide services and the problem fixes itself. Right now people living in more dense efficiently designed parts of town are subsiding peoples asethic preferences. I have no problem with people who have different living preferences than myself, but they shouldn't dump the cost on me.

Rick said...

Ok, Mary and Roger, fine so it costs more per capita to have fire service in the far out suburbs. What about police service in the close in neighborhoods.

The University Division (Highland Creek I believe is in there) has 1 officer for every 917 people.

Eastway division has 1 for every 466.

Eastway's violent crime rate per capita year to date is 4 times that of the University Division. Add in the societal costs of all the extra crime and criminals coming out of the Eastway division, and I'd say we're about even.

But hey...they've got better street connectivity, so that makes it all better - right?

From CMPD Website

===========

The University City Division covers approximately 46.8 square miles in northern Mecklenburg County and has an estimated population of 93,551. There are 89 Officers, 3 Response Area Commanders, 7 Sergeants, 1 Investigative Technician and a Captain assigned to the division.

Total Robery/Rape/Murder/AggAssault = 25


The Eastway Division currently encompasses nearly 10.2 square miles of historic and older communities like Plaza-Midwood, one of Charlotte's oldest neighborhoods. The buildings range from turn-of-the-century factories and blue collar housing to elegant residences and the city's first country club, Charlotte Country Club. The historic North Charlotte Community represents an important phase in the development of the City of Charlotte, and today many of the original cotton and textile mills have been converted into private residences. The Eastway Division includes a strong commercial and international community along the Central Avenue corridor, and Eastland Mall is located here, too. The estimated population is 44,285. Currently 1 Captain, 3 Response Area Commanders, 7 Sergeants, 83 Officers and 1 Investigative Technician staff the Eastway Division.

Total Robery/Rape/Murder/AggAssault = 54

Anonymous said...

Buyers prefer cul-de-sac neighborhoods- that's why developes do it that way.

I agree with the comment that taxes should be based on costs. But my take is to let the taxpayers have a menu of what they want to pay for and pair down the workers to fit what is wanted, not create a ervice fleet and tell the taxpayers hat they should pay for it.

Want faster medi response times- move close to a hospital.

Rick said...

Since we're trying to level the playing field, let's also make sure we add in all the other societal costs of different choices people make.

Those who are transit dependent receive highly subsidized transportation vs those who pay for their own cars. And don't bother using the roads versus rail arguements because the vast majority of those who are transit dependent rely on buses and roads. Shouldn't they pay higher fares to cover the cost of buses and drivers?

Then you've got all the jails. CharMeck is working to build another roughly 2000 bed jail. I guess you'd have to agree that those from high crime communities should pay for their own jail spaces since they are the main users of that taxpayer funded free room and board. Just trying to follow your logic, Roger.

What about shools? I'd be glad to only pay for my one child's schooling. Give me back the roughly 50% of my county property tax that goes to CMS plus my state and federal taxes that they get, and I'll take care of it. Those who have 4-5 kids can pay more. They chose to have those kids. hether or not they can afford to educate them shouldn't be my problem. Those of you who have no kids can pay zero. Would you agree with that Roger?

Just trying to make sure we're being fair in our distribution of public resources.

Ghoul said...

Those calling for higher taxes for cul-de-sac homes need to realize they already pay higher taxes. Property taxes are based on home values, and those homes are more valuable than those on main streets. Also those further out from the city are worth more too. As much as the liberals want to pack people like sardines into downtown, they cannot change what properties are worth.

Anonymous said...

"Those calling for higher taxes for cul-de-sac homes need to realize they already pay higher taxes. Property taxes are based on home values, and those homes are more valuable than those on main streets. Also those further out from the city are worth more too. As much as the liberals want to pack people like sardines into downtown, they cannot change what properties are worth."

It is probably true that on average cul-de-sac houses are worth more but that neither here nor there. Surely you'll conede that there are cheap houses on cul-de-sacs and really expensive ones on grids. So the increased taxes have no connection to the cost of services provided. That is the problem. No one wants to pack anyone anywhere I just don't want to subsidize your lifestyle. People who choose to live along inefficient road systems or far away from existing infrastructure should pay more for the services they consume since they cost more to provide more. In effect I want to use market mechanisms - pricing - and you want me to subsidize how you live and your calling me the liberal?

Rodger said...

Rick,

your crime argument falls apart as regards to connectivity. Lets compare the central or providence districts to university city. or lets take north tryon which is a mess of unconnected neighborhoods. Crime has nothing to do with connectivity.

You are trying to pit complex social and moral issues against simple physical issues. The constitution of our great state (article IX) guarantees a free education as a right.

Section 1. Education encouraged.

Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

Sec. 2. Uniform system of schools.

(1) General and uniform system: term. The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.

(2) Local responsibility. The General Assembly may assign to units of local government such responsibility for the financial support of the free public schools as it may deem appropriate. The governing boards of units of local government with financial responsibility for public education may use local revenues to add to or supplement any public school or post-secondary school program.

Sec. 3. School attendance.

The General Assembly shall provide that every child of appropriate age and of sufficient mental and physical ability shall attend the public schools, unless educated by other means.

There is no such provision in the constitution for the right to live in poorly planned communities and for the rest of the tax payers who make smart choices to fund the poor choices of others. Cul-de-sacs are not human rights. Bearing children and educating them are. And if you want to live in a country of laws, we all have an obligation to fund a police force, court system and prisons to enforce those laws. I also wouldn't look down to hard at the people who live in Eastway whom you think are so bad. We can just look at the bank towers and in Charlotte (of yes, the sprawling facility in University City) and to the neighborhoods many of them live in and find plenty of criminal activity and the cause of much of our country's current suffering.

Conservative said...

typical liberal

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more.

Rodger said...

Oh yes, I forgot your argument about transportation. If roads payed for themselves through vehicle and gas taxes then why don't we have enough money to build all the roads we need and maintain the ones we have?

Transit makes up a tiny portion of the NCDOT expenditure. see budget summary at link below.

http://www.ncdot.org/about/finance/

From the 25 year transportation plan adopted Sept. 2, 2004

"The centerpiece of the plan is the Recommended Investment Scenario, which outlines priorities
from the estimated $55 billion, in today's dollars, expected to be available over the next 25
years for transportation investment. Based on this scenario, the department will be able to meet
an additional 10 percent of its maintenance and preservation needs and nearly 25 percent more
modernization infrastructure needs. Additionally, the scenario proposes increasing NCDOT’s
investment in the other transportation modes.
The plan also identifies $84 billion in total transportation needs and states that NCDOT will only be able to meet two-thirds of the state’s 25-year transportation needs at its current funding
levels, regardless of how the department’s resources are allocated."

Bobby said...

We would all be so much better off if we lived in communist block housing. We could all live close to the state monopoly grocery store, and wouldn't be distracted by the ability to drive to other competing distractions. While some might say the housing is boring, drab, and that concrete blocks are uninspiring. The lack of any ownership interest would totally alleviate the need for a bailout for deadbeats that don't pay their mortgages.

Anonymous said...

"Conservative said...
typical liberal"

Conservatives like you are the reason our country is falling farther and farther behind. You just don't get it and I don't think people like you ever will.

joey said...

Good discussion here.

Shouldn't we require all cul-de-sac developments to pay for their own roads? After all, the roads in these developments are really just shared driveways (of no benefit to anyone else), so why should other taxpayers have to foot the bill for any of it?

Rodger Lentz said...

http://enterprise.star-telegram.com/ARCIms/Maps/clt/FC300.asp

since you brought foreclosures into the discussion, maybe you should look at this map and see where the bulk of the recent foreclosures are. North and east of town in the sprawling wonderful subdivisions. Then look at where the least are, Dilworth and surrounding areas, uptown, providence, myers park and surrounding areas, Elizabeth.... Oh yes, these in town, connected neighborhoods which are holding their value and have charm.

Anonymous said...

So she's worried about tax money when it's spent on something people want, but not when it's spent on something they don't want, i.e. the Whitewater Center, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Arena, and anything else the powers that be have wasted our money on (that we're now regreting more than ever -- I'm sure the county would love to have that million bucks back it has to give Whitewater). If people want to live on cul-de-sacs, that should be their right. It shouldn't be the government's right to force me to pay for things I don't want and don't use.

DULA said...

Two words will end this discussion once and for all...PEAK OIL.

Soon the "happy motoring" way of life in America will come to an end. We are running on empty and the end of suburbia as we know it is right around the corner. The new topic of conversation will not be about such trivial and mundane topics like cul-de-sacs and sidewalks but rather where and how we are going to grow our own food! most of what i call the 90%'ers have no idea that there is only a 3-5 day supply of food on America's store shelves at any given point in time and that any disruption in that supply could spell serious disaster and social upheaval within 10 days of such an event.
So stop fighting about who lives in the better 'hood and put your time to better use like planting a garden and storing a few dry goods. You will thank me for it later this summer 'cause food prices are fixin' to skyrocket very soon! (californina drought will disrupt our food supply this summer, mark my words, read todays headlines) shortages are comming and we all know how the sheeple react when they fear they won't be able to get what they want, when they want it....They freak the F out!

Have a great night!

Rick said...

Roger,

I'm just taking your logic to its logical conclusion. Somehow, choosing to live somewhere that may cost more is fundamentally different to you than a person having too many children which also costs society more. Or committing crimes and then having society pay for your room and board.

I have zero control over how many children someone chooses to have or whether or not they choose to commit crime, or whether they choose to drop out of school,or whether they choose to be transit dependent by not having their own tranportation. But to you, it's perfectly a Ok to ask me to pay for those things.

It's also telling that you hide behind the standard government technocrat response of "well you see, we've got this rule or that rule which won't allow us to do this or that. Or, this pile of money is only for this specific thing or that specific thing, so even though we have plenty of money, we're broke when it comes to your need."

That's what you do when your logic doesn't hold up. You hide. It doesn't matter whether you are talking about complex social issues or otherwise.

You see, I never said I wouldn't pay more. I just said I shouldn't be the only one to pay more if overall fairness in society is the issue. I'm only trying to be fair - across all areas of society, not just the one issue you initially raised.

Your responses show that you really have no real interest in real fairness.

Rick said...

Oh, and thanks for the advice DULA.

I'll plant a few extra rows of beans and greens for canning in my cul-de-sac house's back yard this summer.

A former City of Charlotte engineer said...

Mary's conclusions are derived from sound bites from a biased study conducted by city staff that was inherently conducted to produce a specific hypothesis. Government doesn't hire employees to conduct research. When studies like this are done, they are almost always slanted to prove a point. Since the city has annexed most of its sprawl after those neighborhoods were built why is this even a story? What's your solution? Keep annexing and build a grid system on the outer peripherals of the sprawl? Don't just pose a problem if you haven't taken the time to provide a solution. I would fire one of my employees if they just dumped problems on my desk with no thought about how to fix them.

Anonymous said...

What is up with your hating on the suburbs? It's the American Dream...a half acre (if you're lucky, like we are here in Huntersville), a safe neighborhood, good local schools (private and public), a yard big enough to actually have a REAL garden (not tomato plants in a pot on your balcony), and a local police force and fire dept. that is responsive and knows the area. Gee, I can't imagine why that would be attractive to so many people. You wanna live in Dilworth or Myers Park, more power to you making that house payment. Most of us aren't lawyers or bank execs...or Observer editors. Shut up and leave us alone. Stay in Charlotte and keep your nose out of our business. You've already run off thousands of people from Meck County and obviously your goal is to try to tax the rest of us out too.

John Keels said...

Hmm, I was just in Charlotte today. But after all the posts from the suburban readers I think I will skip, hop and jump right on to another city where people don't feel entitled to their wasteful development and life patterns.

I have never seen such a bunch of Vitriolic, Fire Filled, ignorant posts. Although as a few of the other posts have pointed out that this "fantasy world" of McMansion, Cul De Sac suburban living will soon be crushed like corn in a mill by the economy and other factors so really I don't have to do anything else.

Read about the depression of 1873 not the great depression and then you will understand.

John Keels said...

Let my clarify something I said. By saying "I don't have to do anything else" simply means that I don't have control over the decisions that people made. I have enough of my own stuff to deal with. Its just amazing that people expect their current way of living to remain blissfully and mostly unaffected by a very serious economic situation not to mention the results of their destructive choices in recent years.

Anonymous said...

So why is it, then, that Mint Hill which is almost entirely cul-de-sac neighborhoods has a lower tax rate than Charlotte, while at the same time enjoying the most favorable fire insurance rates due to the response time of the fire dept? And how in the world does it do that while maintaining it's own parks system and police dept with that lower tax revenue?

Anonymous said...

Keels, that wonderful bit of high-minded hyperbole has all the ear marks of a young fellow who is still a student. One of the great joys of that stage of life is that you still know everything. As you'll discover when you grow up, actual accomplishment will rob you of that omniscience. By the time you've actually had to contribute to the world you'll come to see as the mark of intelligence not your own certainty that having read about something, you know what there is to know, but rather that in spite of that reading the effort at doing has informed you of how little you really do know.

You'll find it genuinely surprising that as you come to see yourself as NOT knowing all there is to know, people will begin to take you more seriously. Some people never do reach that level of intellectual maturity. (We often call them "Professor").

Anonymous said...

well rodger, there's no "right" to healthcare in the NC constitution that you so diligently posted for us either, but that doesn't stop you and your ilk from wanting to tax us in the burbs to pay for it!!

Homer said...

Anonymous comments to Keels are perfectly stated. I suggest you "skip" to San Francisco where you will be welcome with open arms. If that doesn't work, Google "Dweebs" and move where they live.

2whls3spds said...

DULA Good point; not to mention we are never more than a couple of days away from disruption of gasoline supplies that keep the sprawled out suburbs alive. I have no problem with people choosing where to they want to live, but they need to be prepared to deal with the issues when they arrive.

Rick said...

Look at page 22 of the presentation Mary linked.

That's the slide that tells it all. If there was a 300 foot connector road, then the issue of response time would go away. Interestingly, the missing connector is right behind Highland Creek Elementary, and I would imagine CMS had a big say in why the connector wasn't completed, just like they did with Croft Elementary and Davis Ridge.

I wonder if that little fact will come up when this thing is peer reviewed.

Look up Shelley Ave or Highland Creek Elementary on Google Maps to see it.

Instead of honestly telling the readers that the government could have easily remedied this situation while completing a government project, Mary turns it into another war on the suburbs.

Rick said...

Let me clarify something...

"goes away" relates only to the repsonse time issue in this specific case. I don't think too many people would object to increased "connectivity" when it prevents something stupid from occuring such as in this case.

To the cost issue, it would be better to use the word "reduced". And reduce it will as the developable land around that station continues to be built out. On the same google map picture around the Highland Creek station, you can see other developments underway with more oportunities to connect streets as they are built out.

Comparing this station to others in older built up areas at this point in time is comparing apples and oranges. It is not entirely honest when it's known that the numbers for this station will improve over time, but the current numbers are used to make the argument that taxes should be raised for those there now.

I'll go back to my earlier statements that if you are going to do that type of thing, then be fair about it and do it for all services across the board.

As things change over time, then charge people accordingly for what they owe that specific year. This year fire would be more expensive for those living in Highland Creek, but police would be more expensive for those living near the Eastway station.

Anonymous said...

Older parts of Charlotte have plenty of connector streets that aren’t being used anywhere near capacity. Obviously developers aren’t to blame for that. Blame the residents who live along or near them and city council for an over-zealous application of speed bumps, four-way stops and other discouraging tactics.

What motorist would want to use the handy East Tremont connector between the traffic circle on Park Road and South Blvd. in Dilworth when you’re required to stop-and-start every 80 yards? Were there really so many pedestrian and vehicle accidents along there years ago to justify installing all those delays? Are motorists really that irresponsible?

Not long ago CDOT and a developer seriously considered a connector between Barclay Downs and Park South Drive in the SouthPark area to relieve congestion on Fairview and Sharon roads. The project that would have invited this was eventually tabled, but those most strongly opposed to the connector weren’t even residents of the impacted area. They just didn’t want to look out their backyard windows at a street 300 yards away.

Sure, offer incentives for connecting the newer suburban cul-de-sacs, or legislate that requirement onto developers. It still won’t move traffic in the long run. A handful of residents will always trump thousands of commuters in this burg. Methinks you are targeting the wrong culprits.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone pay close attention to the headline of this story?:

Sprawl's dipping into your pocketbook

Notice the crucial word: your.

Now, if you live in the sprawl, then the sprawl's not dipping into your pocketbook. In fact, according to Mary, your pocketbook is being enriched because you live in the sprawl. Your suburbanite, cul de sac lifestyle is being subsidized by those who live in the city.

So who is "your" referring to?

The answer is rather obvious: This story was targeted toward urbanites... poor blacks, Westside dwellers, and anyone else who lives in town who might be resentful of those who live in Ballantyne and Huntersville and Matthews.

Way to encourage the class warfare, Mary. What's next? "Sprawl kids denying your kids the expensive public education they're entitled to"?

Anonymous said...

When were Huntersville and Matthews annexed into the city of Charlotte? The neighborhoods Mary mentioned are within Charlotte's boundaries. Mary's post didn't require a semantical dissectation or the erroneous conclusion that it was about urban versus suburban lifestyles.

She said in effect "Charlotteans, our city's addiction to cul-de-sac development is taking more of your tax money to support". Frankly, she could have added Matthews, Hootersville-on-the-Lake and other suburbs to the list. Her statements are also true for those towns and their cul-de-sac loving residents.

Did you notice the photo at the top of her post? It was very appropriate. Now imagine a photo next to it of a grid-like street development. In which one do you think the response time of fire fighters to a conflagration at the house in its very center would be less?

Mazes of cul-de-sacs not only require more fire stations and operating costs to provide acceptable response times to fires within them, they effectively increase insurance premiums. Oh, by the way, they also increase the chance of human deaths.

Dustin said...

Those who live in denser urban areas with "nontraditional" types of housing are being expected to pay for sprawl, too. Check out this article from The Washington Post:

"Condominium buyers who cannot come up with a 25 percent down payment will be hit with a three-quarter point add-on penalty, no matter how high their credit score -- simply because they are not purchasing a traditional detached, stand-alone house."

Anonymous said...

Dustin;

Do you not understand that those are risk mitigation efforts and have nothing to do with subsidizing "sprawl"? Those non-traditional dwellings have much smaller markets than traditional free standing houses which effects both their appreciation and the risk of a default when job changes force sales.

Not everything is susceptible to an ideological view.

Anonymous said...

just looked up the "slide 22" roads on google earth. Rick is right.
CMS, which could have connected the road, the developer who built the school, and city council/county commissioners who approved all this are to blame.
Who got the kickback?

Someone approves these plans...Mary, could you get their response?

Anonymous said...

and since the next slide says CMS to complete by 8/09, any bets this gets whacked in their budget cuts?

Anonymous said...

It is also a sustainability issue. Sprawling suburbs are unhealthy, they waste land resources that could be used, for example, for farming (which means food must be imported, causes more pollution & cost), lead to deforestation and erosion, waste billions in building infrastructure (seas of asphalt in the middle of fields), cost more tho heat/cool, lack transportation options and have obscene distances between homes, businesses, schools, stores, etc. causing more reliance on oil and more pollution and smog. On a social level they promote segregation of classes & ethnic groups, and generally lead to selfish thinking & xenophobia instead of community building.

Anonymous said...

I find it kind of odd that so many are concerned here about a "war on the suburbs." I don't think this has to be so decisive. This is about grid vs. no grid.

I would like to point out that Charlotte really does not have a grid at all, anywhere - if you want to see grid, go to the City of Chicago AND its suburbs. Having lived in many of the places desparaged by various posters here (north and west charlotte, dilworth, on a "grid" and on a cul-de-sac), as well as in the City of Chicago and in the Chicago Suburbs, I can attest to the benefits that Mary mentions to the grid pattern, and I can tell you that it has nothing to do with hating "the suburbs" or being envious of anyone else.

Cul-de-sac neighborhoods do cost the city more money, they are not environmentally friendly because they are dependent on transportation by cars, and I really don't think they are any more safe for children.

Sure, in a "grid" neighborhood, your child can't run in the street as if it were your personal driveway, but your kid could not walk to the park because it is too far away and they would have to travel along or across one the giant/busy roads that connect all the little developments. I have actually chosen not to live in these places just because it would be too unsafe for me to go for a jog (in contrast to the level of safty I felt running in the south side of Chicago).

Still, I find it so odd that the level of anger here is so high. Yes, I do think that sprawl is bad for the environment and bad for the city and its people - but I am definitly not angry at people who live in it, nor do I think that they are bad people. Similarly, I think it odd for others to get so mad at people like me, just because I have certain views.

Tolerance anyone? Friendly debate to try and make Charlotte a better place?