Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, January 31

  • Software Engineer: Let’s Use Tech to Save the CTA From Uber & Lyft (Crain’s)
  • Driver Dies After Semi Falls Off Interstate Ramp in New Lennox (ABC)
  • Driver Who Caused 9-Car Pileup That Killed Chef Charged With Failure to Reduce Speed (Patch)
  • 41st Street Bike-Ped Bridge Work Will Impact Metra Service Saturday Night (HFC)
  • Why Does Detroit Have an Indoor Velodrome While Chicago Doesn’t? (The Chainlink)
  • Could Tiny Houses Solve Chicago’s Homeless Problem? (Chicago Reader)
  • No Disrespect to Wesley Willis, but Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s Rehab Will Create Green Space (Curbed)

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  • Jacob Wilson

    Re tiny houses:

    If only there was something like a small dwelling unit that could also be stacked on top of each other and share things like heating and plumbing. If only…

  • Kevin M

    The 41st bridge work will also disturb a couple of late-night South Shore train runs.

  • Chicagoan

    Love the idea of the software engineer.

  • Tooscrapps

    Shipping containers?!

  • Tooscrapps

    Pretty interesting article here about a guy trying to put a prefab unit behind his house in Silicon Valley:
    http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/networth/article/Bay-Area-family-s-arduous-quest-to-create-a-12532333.php

  • A version of “congestion pricing” actually.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Yeah, in an urban setting it’s hard to see why tiny houses are better than small apartments.

  • If only there was some entity that could print money and build such a thing caring more for people than profit. If only …

  • Carter O’Brien

    I’m guessing this may be an attempt to accommodate a desire for independence.

  • planetshwoop

    The Uber tax recommendation seems unduly complicated and pretty hard to implement & audit if it’s working correctly. (I think the same is true of Uber in general, where it’s quite hard to know how the company is working equitably around fares, and quite frankly, their track record in the “just trust us” department isn’t stellar.)

    It’s increasing congestion, but many citizens love it. So the “per fare” taxes are probably the best way to go. I think the room to manipulate the fare is too easy with GPS solutions.

  • The biggest problem in my mind with Uber is their deceptive business model. It can compete with private taxis and public transit only because they subsidize their passengers. Their goal, of course, gaining a monopoly position that will allow them to charge monopoly rates in the future.

    I guess it could also simply be a scam to bilk venture capitalists out of billions of dollars and so what the collateral damage to taxis and transit systems.

  • rohmen

    I think it’s solely an optics thing. If you build an apartment building with 100 public housing units, it’s going to recall the past struggles of the CHA project towers. Tiny houses, though, are the hip new trend, and it looks like you’re innovating. Never mind that some of the empty lots people talk about in the article where these could be built in Chicago are empty because the towers were torn down.

    If the goal is to give people an ownership interest in a tiny house as part of the program to avoid the issues of the past, I fail to see why that can’t be done in a co-op or affordable condominium-style high rise buildings as well, and for much cheaper probably.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    How much does it cost to build a basic studio apartment? Everything you see for sale now is “high end” and built on expensive land.

  • planetshwoop

    Don’t doubt the long term need for them to vacuum up money. It is totally subsidized by investors, so it seems like it will eventually have to end because the music will stop.

    But it is SO popular with consumers, it feels to me like a thing that will live on for a long time before investors finally kill it.

    A good analogy is airlines. They were extremely unprofitable very often, and have burned though gobs of investor money. (And of course, are subsidized by govts bc of the airports paid for by taxpayers.) It’s only very recently that they have eliminated some of the total carnage and been more consistently profitable after many multiple rounds of mergers.

    So I think regulating ride-share somehow is appropriate because of the ease that new entrants can come in. Which is sad because the investor subsidies lead to poor long-term decisions.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Studio apartments could cost more initially to construct. A multistory building is more complicated and therefore more expensive to construct than a single story building. Also with a multiunit building you have to include some common elements like stairwells, elevators and hallways, as well as added safety systems like fire sprinklers. These costs however are somewhat offset by having less roof area and exterior wall area per unit as these both require expensive finishes. The cheapest building type per unit to build is the classic two story hotel with the door that opens to a balcony hallway combo, like you see along Lincoln north of Foster.
    Studio apartments should be significantly cheaper to maintain and operate than tiny houses. Having less exterior wall and roof area should reduce maintenance and heating costs. Also a larger, more efficient furnace system can be used.
    Also important is that apartments allow for denser housing. Either more people can be housed on the same lot, or the same number of people can be housed, but with some community green space for residents to enjoy.

  • rohmen

    The land use issues are the variables I wonder about. Sure, in terms of constructions costs, a tiny house may be cheaper than a studio to build given common areas, etc. that said, if you need to house 20,000 people, what program is cheaper in the long run—filling several lots with tiny houses, or building high rise buildings on a couple?

    Maybe tiny houses still come out ahead, and land value is factored in already, but I’d imagine the margins get tighter if we consider the amount of land necessary to use tiny houses as the main housing option for CHA.

  • rohmen

    Well, and they want to live long enough to dump the labor costs, which is why Uber has invested so heavily in self-driving cars.

    Whomever gets there first on self-driving is going to rule the sector, and then likely go very profitable—or so Uber has convinced a lot of VC folks who backed them.

  • Cheap cabs. “Door to Door”. What’s not to like. Except congestion. And that’s why in urban geometries you have to have transit.

    Then the issue becomes dedicated bus lanes. Physical regulation. Sure let ride-hails clog the streets with cheap rides. But do not let them impede and slow down bus transit. Take lanes from them or parkers. That’s the choice.

  • When (or even if) self-driving cars arrive it will be like the arrival of the automobile. There will effectively be no first. Several lines of approach will arrive pretty much at the same time. Some will be apples some will be oranges. Some will be buses.

    And for quite a while it will be where in addition to when. City centers with lots of pedestrians will either ban them or provide dedicated spaces for them separated always from pedestrians.

    So while some cities will ban walking others will ban self-driven cars from the public streets. Need to cross the street. Hail a SD car.