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I shared a bedroom (!) with a roommate in an apartment for three years (roughly 500 nights when subtracting out the nights I or the roommate did not sleep in the same room). So yes I have, thank you very much. Living in a shared home with your own room is not that big a deal, and again this is subsistence living. Minimum wage is supposed to be a temporary condition and not permanent. And people can and choose to live in areas closer to work or to attractions and live tighter together in order to be near what they care about. This is why I used the median amount, which could be calculated using ACS survey data.
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On the other hand, the minimum wage was never intended for a full time worker to afford a two bedroom apartment. The minimum wage should be a subsistence wage, set at the amount where one individual can live in an adequate situation (a private room in a house, or pooled with another worker in a one bedroom apartment) without requiring government benefits. I would take the USDA thrifty food plan, the cost of a median private room or half the cost of a one bedroom apartment, bus pass, health care, and personal expenditures such as clothing and hygiene, and divide by 172 (the average number of working hours in a month) to get the minimum wage. This rate would differ between metropolitan areas (I would use GSA localities as a definition), and employers which provide quality health insurance (HMO/PPO at Gold level or above) would get a credit on the cost of their minimum wage. In places like New York or San Francisco, it might be higher than $15 an hour; in places like Houston or Kansas City with low housing costs, it might be at or even slightly lower than the existing Federal minimum wage. Families not being able to live on minimum wage don't garner that much sympathy in my book, as the minimum wage was never intended to raise a child, and I have no issue with supplemental benefits from the government to help raise them.
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Also Rails to Rooms is available, which is a comprehensive list of hotels within walking distance of rail transit and Amtrak. http://kevinkorell.com/hotels/hotels.htm
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Actually on bus, distance based fares are not common - there are some agencies that use zones like NJ Transit and Golden Gate Transit but zones are much wider. The average bus rider has an average income of less than $30,000 so is unlikely to have visited some of those countries which have distanced based fares, or be immigrants from Latin America where local buses generally charge a flat rate. And Salt Lake City is taking a pause on converting their system to distance based fares because they have to address Title VI concerns, as members of racial minorities may be disproportionally impacted by moving to a distance based fare system.
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Should have taken 50. Maybe next time.
Toggle Commented Jul 10, 2012 on Death Race 2012: day one at xoom
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The Inland Empire decidedly does have downtowns, or "town centers", in each of the incorporated cities therein. Some of them, like Redlands, Riverside, or Ontario, are actually quite nice. Auto sprawl filled in between these small town downtown, but the original points were already established thanks to the railroad.
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2010 on transit's role in "sprawl repair" at Human Transit
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At some point there will be dense development. After all, Wilshire and Vermont was an empty lot for over a decade until they dropped apartments on top of it. With single family neighborhoods resisting denser development, the train stations (which are generally not in single family neighborhoods) will be denser, assuming that people feel safe there of course. You don't notice TOD on the Blue and Green lines through South Central since there is a high perception of a lack of safety, especially for women and people not of the predominant race in that area.
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The other thing that helps Seattle and Austin break away from being the overly-creative city attracting teen runaways like Portland is the presence of a major research university. U-Dub and UT are nationally ranked, AAU/Research I Universities that not just attract a substantial number of undergraduate students, but also graduate students and post-docs as well, which make the city feel more substantial. As well, you get people who are more science-focused as a counter to the low-paid literary types. Portland doesn't even have the flagship university in the state, much less the region. I think if you compared city environment of, say, Madison, Austin, or Boulder to Portland, you can see the impact a major university makes on a community.
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Two problems that I see in Portland, having lived in the city and surrounding area exactly five months (two summers while working at the Mt. St. Helens NVM). One is the issue that you actually have two separate cities. Sure, there's the coffee drinking and pot smoking, tram riding, wannabe European inner Portland, concentrated around NW and SW, with a little in the Albina and Hawthorne areas. And there's the guns on pickup trucks, Tonya Harding-loving, white trashy part of Portland, which basically describes Clackamas County, outer NE and SE, and by inference parts of Vancouver and Clark County, Washington. When I think Portland, I automatically think of the dichotomy between the two cities. If you're familiar with talk radio, you can boil it down between the contrast between two nationally syndicated talkers out of the town - Lars Larson and Thom Hartmann, both expressing the stereotypes of their side. Larson the plain spoken, no-hands barred defender of lower taxes and anti-government planning, while Thom Hartmann is the professorial gent who loves to hold a discussion and cordially debate other people, but can never seem to hit the commercial break on time. Yes, there's the historically African-American ghetto too, which brings up another problem with Portland, and that it's lack of diversity. As a member of a racial minority, and having grown up in inland Southern California and gone to school at Berkeley, it's a culture shock when the entire city is so white. Yet Seattle is almost as white, but I have no problem with Seattle. I did with Portland, and it's the lack of culturally-appropriate food (from all cultures, not just my own heritage) and faux-celebration of other cultures in the Stuff White People Like kind of format. For most of my life, I've lived in first tier cities. Portland seems to want to be a first tier city, yet it feels like an overgrown burg - which is where the inferiority complex sets in. At least places like Bakersfield or Spokane don't pretend to be world class cities. Portland tries, and tries to hard in my opinion.
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Actually, everyone in San Pedro itself pronounces it as San Peedro. I know a person who lives there and corrects the spelling otherwise. It goes back 200 years, and correcting a local who says its correctly is just rude. http://www.insidesocal.com/southbay/2009/05/more-on-the-san-paydro-san-pee.html
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LA is a very park starved community. The management of the City of Los Angeles is incompetent, and mayors from Tony Villar all the way back to Sam Yorty have promised too much and can't deliver. The library system is pretty good, and the fire service is better than average, but in terms of other public amenities, LA falls short of other major cities. Not enough parkland and community centers, fewest cops of any major city per capita, a 100 year backlog to fix sidewalk and roadways that are roller coasters (try riding the Metro Rapid 720 and you won't have to go to Disneyland to ride a rollercoaster), small business unfriendly atmosphere (not just taxes, but in terms of the multiple layers of approval to run a business), etc. The other advantage of driving in LA is the grid system, which allows for an infinite amount (well, almost) of routes, and very few natural barriers - going back to the post on natural barriers. Yes, most of the time all of the streets headed between the Westside and Downtown are saturated (because there's too many damn cars) but in less dense areas like the San Fernando Valley or the San Gabriel Valley, surface street traffic works well. My commute daily takes me across one of the big bottlenecks - the San Gabriel River - but even that is minor compared to, say, the hills ringing Seattle or San Francisco Bay. With traffic speeds on my phone and electronic traffic time meters, I can usually guess where I need to get off to avoid traffic, and jump back on past the bottleneck. The travel time may be similar but I prefer sitting at a red light for thirty seconds every 3-5 minutes than the agony of stop and go 10-15 mph traffic.
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It's like saying New York City is just Manhattan and Brooklyn, and ignoring the millions of people that live on Long Island, the sprawl of the Connecticut suburbs, or the small commuter towns in the Raritan Valley and Hudson Valley. I often consider Riverside and San Bernardino County our New Jersey - distribution centers and chemical plants, pockets of wealth (Temecula, Palm Springs) mixed in with poverty and decrepit communities, and an area with little to no media identity of its own.
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I agree with Justin - there are two Los Angeleses. Half of them lives in the world that Watson thinks of - the outer valleys, the South Bay, and the Gateway Cities, which have only bus and some commuter train service, with a mishmash of transit operators (woe to the person who lives in, say, Cerritos, with Long Beach, OCTA, Norwalk, MTA, and Cerritos on Wheels entering the city) to contend with, vs. the central city, where you transit market share is in double digits in places like Pico Union, Westwood, and Downtown.
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Dana, it's great that these folks infected with White Liberal Guilt (tm) are reporting in a faux-anthropological style on their experiences in the community. But they aren't doing the investigative reporting that you want or need. In these communities, apart from the occasional article in La Opinion (which covers local news an order of magnitude better than the Times, no offense to you Daniel) NO ONE covers these issues well, or digs beneath the story, except local blogs covering local communities like Blog Downtown or what was once Macarthur Park Media. MPM provided useful coverage of an underserved community. The Entryway is just pandering, and ironically in a way that it can't be read by members of the own community that it's pandering to (since all entries are in jpg files and can't be thrown into the Babelfish for basic understanding - also not ADA accessible either, not that private parties really care about that).
Of course the masses are going to retweet what they see on the TV or on state run radio. There are hundreds of times more of them than there are of the eyewitness. Plus the eyewitness is likely either shellshocked or worrying about other loved ones, and in hardly a position to tweet something. US cops are likely to just be as close-lipped as Russian cops if they ran a perimeter around an office shooting or bomb blast, and penetration of social media is much less than in the United States. Tweeting is not a panacea, but to say that Russians fail worse than Iranians is a bit bizarre.
And part of it is due to political considerations. For example, you could shortline Red or Green Line trains at Gateway during weekends and off peak hours and save money. But that would downgrade light rail's usefulness for those going to Clackamas or the airport. Instead, there's an excessive 16 trains an hour between Gateway and Downtown Portland, seven days a week.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2009 on portland: counting by 17 at Human Transit
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Actually, there is a good reason to do fuel hedging, and that is budget consistency. The converse is an agency like Salt Lake City UTA, which imposes "fuel surcharges" on its riders every time gas prices, go up above a certain level. Utah is lucky in a sense because their board is conservative and as such gave staff the authority to index fares based on fuel prices. Trimet, in blue Oregon, likely would have never received that authority. Sure, you save money in the short term if the economy crashes, but you have to remember that in 2007 and 2008, when oil prices zoomed above $100, it was an open question whether it would hit $150 or $200. Today, with oil prices hovering around $80, despite the global recession, I don't see oil getting significantly cheaper. Certainly the era of $50 a barrel oil is oil, unless they find another Saudi Arabia in a stable country or the US dollar significantly strengthens.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2009 on portland: counting by 17 at Human Transit
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LA TV has no auxiliary transmitters. Even though most English speaking people have pay TV services, over 30% of the Spanish speaking population doesn't, and the total number of households solely reliant on over the air TV is almost 900,000 (including this household). If another natural disaster, heaven forbid, were to occur, the only TV available would be from 24 in Riverside.
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