A N N   A R B O R   I S   O V E R R A T E D . (a blog.)


Murph (murph@commonmonkeyflower.net) - 2003-11-12 10:06:43
I can agree with you that both Miss Rissmiller and the Old Fourth Ward newsletter opinion are a little off base. My bet is that Rissmiller either lives in a dorm or a cooperative, and therefore doesn't need to go grocery shopping much, and that the OFW writer has more money than the average student has ever seen. (Though, honestly, anybody who's on a budget should really avoid the frozen prepared foods...) They do both have their points, though--Ann Arbor's non-driving options rate at least "pretty good" in the grand scheme of things--but they cross a line in dismissing criticism out of hand. So, who's up for an Ann Arbor Bloggers for Better Transportation summit in January? Rob? Ari? We'll set up a speakerphone so that AAiO can maintain their anonymity...

Brandon () - 2003-11-12 13:08:12
You aren't on the cool cities beat today? While Jess Piskor's column had some points, the fact that he implies reviving the industrial sector is a bad thing that will drive out the precious young educated workers kinda pissed me off. Saving industry and having "cool cities" are not mutually exclusive-- in fact, I'd argue that creating more industrial jobs in urban areas would make cities much more viable economically, helping to retain yuppies.

Brandon () - 2003-11-12 13:09:53
Sorry, it was Jason Pesick. Similar names, dangit.

Brandon () - 2003-11-12 13:12:36
Moreover, I'd argue that having the auto-industry centered here DOES provide a lot of jobs for young educated people-- engineers and business-types, at least.

Murph () - 2003-11-12 13:48:04
I'm with you on that, Brandon...

Frank () - 2003-11-12 15:47:28
The gentleman with the Old Fourth Ward newsletter comments is to be commended for pointing out a good point: not only do students need cars, apparently they're the only ones who do.

Ryan (Ryan@hell.com) - 2003-11-12 18:37:47
Note that the same letter praises the clown that wrote the 38 page leash law that is being fixed before being voted on.

ann arbor is overrated () - 2003-11-12 23:10:20
Murph - good points. Yeah, I think it can be great not to have a car. I miss my old place in Cambridge, where I was three blocks from a bus stop and a mile from two different T stops and other bus stops. (And it wasn't even considered that great of a location.) I admit that I didn't think at first that it was possible to commute from my house, which was in a strange area of Cambridge, to my job, which was in an out of the way area on the outskirts of Boston, without a car. It was both possible and fun. I could be wrong here too, but I think that if you want to go out at night, don't have roommates with cars, don't live near the campus you work on or aren't on a meal plan, it can be a little tough.

As for the cool cities thing - I think I missed the point of that column, other than manufacturing is Not Cool. I do know a number of young people who work for the big automakers out here, but I'm not sure if they're cool.

js (rock@sgipub.com) - 2003-11-13 09:32:13
The problem with a reliance on the resurgence of industry to provide jobs is that we're seeing economic trends that, on the whole, mean industry is a poor investment for towns. Most manufacturing jobs are moving overseas, and counting on the big three to take care of Michigan gives us towns like Flint. As for the white-collar jobs for the young and educated, they're not so much tied to the plants arond them anymore, not now that telecommuting is possible, and FTP is used by so many businesses. Frankly, we should be looking at something that Ann Arbor does really well, to emphasise our competitive advantage, and that something is research. Industry in America is dying, but we have the opportunity to leap further ahead (as we're already a research center for many different industries). js

anna () - 2003-11-13 13:37:31
My current city-ish town, a former light manufacturing center (textiles, light munitions), has been grappling with similar issues of how to make the city more viable. A large part of that is making sure you attract enough of a tax base to pay for city services. The powers-that-be have come to the conclusion that research is the way to go, and to that end, the university and the town have invested a lot in creating a neighborhood with facilities intended for biotech and other small research companies. It'll be interesting to see if it works out. One problemis that it's hard to predict whether and which high-tech companies will make it, so the facilities are a revolving door of little companies. The more profound problem, where I live, is that even though manufacturing companies may not be a great investment , there are a lot of people who aren't qualified for white collar jobs. So what do you do with all of those people? It's important to try to find jobs for them, because it's difficult to attract young professionals to a city where they have enormous taxes because a lot of welfare services and housing projects have to be supported, and because a large proportion of the population isn't contributing to the tax base at all. Recently the city leaders have made a deal with a large pharaceutical company so that they will build a big facility in town, and hopefully that will create some blue collar jobs, but until then, it's a difficult problem. My guess in Ann Arbor it's not as big a problem, but I'd be interested in seeing some figures -- what percentage of A2 residents work in service, clerical or manufacturing jobs, versus what percentage work in white-collar jobs? Is it realistic to think that Ann Arbor can be an exclusively white-collar town with just a few service jobs? And even if realistic, is that really the sort of place Ann Arbor should aspire to be?

Hrach (hsimonia@umich.edu) - 2003-11-14 07:34:00
Who are these people? School of music...thats enough of that. Coming from Westwood, CA, where parking is an even bigger problem than here in Ann Arbor, I feel that the Ann Arbor authority has done a poor job with public parking. Actually, I'd like to include the university of michigan in that too. There is enough land here, they just have made the most inefficient use of it. For example, in North campus they have these huge parking lots that are just one leveled lots. And everyday these stupid lots fill up and its impossible to find parking. There should be no reason to have trouble finding parking in north campus. If they built parking structures, even just adding a second level, we would not have these parking problems. Its frustrating to see such a wasteful use of land when you actually have it. see you at Ashley's, where there is no parking.

Murph (murph@commonmonkeyflower.net) - 2003-11-15 09:22:06
Hrach, the lots on North Campus proper are largely just placeholders until the land is built up into something useful. Remember when the media union was a parking lot? Have you seen the plans to build where the Pierpont lot is? Not only are multi-level parking decks horribly expensive in and of themselves, they also make it that much harder to upgrade the land later. Parking is generally a "wasteful use of land", and multi-level parking is a way of guaranteeing that the land *stays* wasted. If you live far enough away that you really need to drive to the north campus area, the commuter lots on Glazier Way generally don't fill up, they're much cheaper than any lot *on* North Campus could possibly be, and there's a free shuttle to get you to campus.

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