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Roundup 4-14-2017

April 14, 2017


Transportation – TBX Reset

Transportation – Corridor Study

Downtown – Micro

Channel District – Condos

Hotel – Five Stars

Politics – Saying No to a Penny

Development – A Map

Built Environment – And Also the Trees

Economic Development – Millennials

Good Reads

– The Problem of Parking

An Autonomous Conundrum


Transportation – TBX Reset

There was news about the much touted TBX reset:

Director of Development Bill Jones made a 10 minute presentation to the Tampa City Council Thursday about what exactly the TBX “reset” means. He told the board for the Community Redevelopment Area that DOT will have a new plan for the project by the end of 2019.

“Over next two years, 30 months, express lanes are going to be reevaluated,” Jones said. “We’re also going to look at other options as well.”

Well, that is a lot of time.  What do they say they are going to do?

The reset, Jones said, will focus on three steps: research, evaluate, respond. As part of the first step, DOT took a three dozen people — including politicians, residents and business members — to St. Louis earlier this week to learn how Missouri Department of Transportation worked with the community there on a controversial highway project.

Similar to TBX, which originated from a 20-year-old study, Missouri was working with an old plan that faced significant backlash. Officials there quickly realized they needed to regroup and work closer with the community if the project would ever be successful, Jones said. DOT here wants to take the same approach, Jones said, which means putting all options — including tolls — back on the table.

“We’re here to listen to transportation as a whole,” Jones said.  “Some communities might not want to talk about transit or TBX, others specifically might want to dive right into it.”

If that is what they actually do, we welcome it.  And given that time frame, they should be able to coordinate it with the regional transit study (though there are some questions about that – see next item).  On the other hand, we really don’t know what they will do.  We hope FDOT does this with good will and an interest in creating a true, proper transportation system with the interests of the community at heart rather than recycling TBX with a few tweaks and tossing in a few “express buses.”

Unfortunately, given what has gone before, there is a trust deficit at the moment both with FDOT and many local officials (like all those people who endorsed TBX without even knowing what it was).

For $6-9 billion, we can have a good plan.  The real question is whether officials care enough to craft one. We will just have watch very closely and see.

Transportation – Corridor Study

Last week, the Business Journal reported:

The engineering firm responsible for targeting Tampa Bay area transit priorities as part of a state-funded process will announce this week five corridors it has identified as top attractors for federal funding.

The announcement will serve as the first major step toward identifying a regional transit solution and pave the way for the next step, which is determining the mode of transit that will work best.

Setting aside that there apparently was no announcement, there was some interesting information in the article:

The Florida Department of Transportation is funding the regional transit feasibility study through the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, aimed at honing transit across municipal boundaries rather than a piecemeal approach by county. Experts will evaluate more than 60 transit plans, most of which were never brought to fruition, to establish priorities.

“The Tampa Bay area hasn’t been very good at that,” said Scott Pringle, a group director with Jacobs Engineering, the company conducting the transit study.

In other words, it is a study of past studies.  We are not completely sure what the utility of reviewing past studies rather than doing a new study is, but that seems to be what is happening.  Because of that, we doubt that the new study will actually give us something new.  And how far back are they going? (Are they going back to studies in the 1990s that justify TBX even though there were no express lanes then and the area has changed substantially since then?)  For a nice summation of past studies see this video:

Additionally, we wonder about a study to identify what will have the best chance of getting federal money rather than what is needed or what will be more beneficial to the area.  Yes, federal funds are important.  And yes, what stands the best chance to get federal funds might be the most useful or most needed corridors, but not necessarily.  If the money is going to be spent, it should be spent on evaluating what is needed now, not what was thought to be needed before.

We will have to wait to see what they say.  Maybe it will make sense.  Still, it seems a strange process.

Downtown – Micro

There was news that an office buildings facing Gaslight Square might become the first micro-apartment building in the area.

Urban Core Holdings, LLC is under contract to buy a 12-story downtown office building and convert the top eight floors into micro-apartments. Each would have a kitchen with a two-burner stove top, microwave hood, refrigerator and dishwasher; a stackable washer-dryer unit; a bike rack; and a Murphy bed that transforms into a dining table during the day.

All of this in 300 to 400 square feet for about $850 a month, far less than for other downtown apartments that are fast becoming unaffordable without two occupants to share the rent.

* * *

Although the project is expected to take up to a year to complete, Urban Core will start accepting reservations Monday for 200 Madison, a building at the corner of Madison and Franklin Streets that now houses a Subway, a Pita Republic restaurant, a CVS and second-floor offices. All of that is likely to remain but plans call for a new common space for residents on the third floor with a gym, pet care area, cafe and balcony overlooking the street.

The mostly vacant fifth-through-12th floors will be converted into 120 apartments, each with ample windows, Garcia said. 

From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

We have no problem with this adaptive reuse.  That particular office building is rather old and might as well get put to better use. And the apartments would really be in the heart of downtown.

One interesting thing:

One potential drawback that could raise the cost of the project and the rents — the lack of parking.

“We will not have any parking because the idea is that the residents of this particular community will use mass transit, bike share and ride share and are willing to give up their cars in order to live downtown,” Garcia said.

City regulations, though, call for one parking space per unit, and Urban Core could have to pay a one-time fee of nearly $1 million because it can’t meet that requirement.

“We are going to try to negotiate that with the city,” Garcia said. If the fee isn’t totally or partially waived, the rents could rise by about $100 a month, though they still would be about $1,000 less than for certain downtown apartments that are only slightly larger.

Our view is that if people want to rent without getting parking, let them, especially downtown. (And see “The Problem of Parking” below).  If they can make car-less (or off-site parking) urban living work for them, why should the City get in the way?  (Moreover, the office building was built in 1962 and, as far as we know, did not have its own parking, nor does it have it now. If the City wants competitiveness – see “Built Environment – And Also the Trees” below – then don’t penalize people trying to revive un or under used buildings downtown. And does it make sense to retroactively charge for parking for a building that had none in the first place?)

Tampa does not really fit the normal market for micro-apartments, but it is an interesting idea.  We are not sure how big the market is, but apparently we will find out.

Channel District – Condos

As we noted last week, Mercury Advisors, developers of the Channel Club are resurrecting their Del Villar project.  This week they filed their first documents.

Mercury Advisors, the group behind the $90 million Channel Club— a Publix Super Markets Inc. store and 21-story apartment tower under construction on East Twiggs Street — are planning a 36-story condo tower at the corner of East Whiting Street and Channelside Drive.

* * *

The plans call for 61 condos in 36 stories; the site was originally approved for 124 units. The new plans also reduce the number of parking spaces from 256 to 145, with an amenity deck on top of a five-story parking garage. Retail space is no longer in the plans.

The address listed in the City’s Accela database is 858 Channelside Dr. Based on the filings, the height is 382 feet.  Here are some line drawings:

From public records – click on picture for a larger version

From public records – click on picture for a larger version

Most of the changes listed above do not bother us.  One thing we do not like is the lack of retail.  As you can see from the rendering of the east elevation (top rendering, left), the streetscape would be left quite dead. We get that the developers have a Publix in their other project (as well as retail in their first project, Grand Central), but this project would be much better, with the added benefit of complying with the Channel District plan that calls for it, with at least a small amount of retail.  The City should stick to the plan (specifically Sec 27 overall, and more specifically Sec 27-204, all of which can be found here).

Another thing we don’t really like is the apparent blandness of the design, at least in the top elevations.  On those sides (the sides facing the street), it is just a big box, with not even a lot of windows to break up the blandness. (The west side – the bottom elevation – is broken up by balconies, which is better)  We really don’t want to see Channelside Drive become a dead street just as the Channel District is taking off (especially if the Port goes forward with its real estate concept).

We are all for a project of this size in the Channel District, but, from what we have seen so far, with a few changes, it could be quite a bit better.

Hotel – Five Stars

The Times had a pair of articles about hotels this week.  First, the set-up article:

Over the next few years, at least 27 new hotels with a total of 4,000 rooms are expected to start welcoming guests in what has become one of the nation’s hottest hotel markets. From Busch Gardens to the Gulf beaches, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties haven’t seen this much hotel activity since the early ’90s. And — finally! — the bay area could even shed its dismal distinction as Florida’s only major metro area without a five-star hotel.

“The next couple of years are going to be pretty remarkable in terms of new hospitality products and the caliber of hotels entering the market,” said Lou Plasencia, CEO of Tampa’s The Plasencia Group hotel sales and consulting firm. “We’re finally starting to reap the rewards of a lot of planning and a lot of focused effort to add amenities to the community that attract meeting planners and corporate travelers. And by attracting that business base, you automatically attract the hotel products that appeal to that base.”

The new lodgings planned or under construction run the gamut from the limited service TownePlace Suites near MacDill Air Force Base to the full service Kimpton Hotel near Tampa International Airport and a new Hyatt rising in downtown St. Petersburg. The West Shore area is getting a 175-room AC by Marriott, a chain that started in Spain and retains a strong European flavor.

All of the bay area newcomers have one thing in common — they’re entering a market that’s grown much more attractive to hotel companies.

Plus the teaser:

“The time has come,” he said. “What is attracting interest from the brands in doing a high-end hotel is No. 1, Tampa Bay is finally achieving rates commensurate with that type of product, and No. 2, more and more businesses are speaking out and asking for a five-star or six-star hotel. Downtown Tampa and West Shore are absolutely ripe for a luxury hotel, and a luxury hotel would do extremely well in downtown St. Pete.”

Plasencia said developers —- he would not name them — already have sites selected.

“I think we will hear of at least one, if not two new projects in the next six months,” he predicted. “Plans are pretty far along.”

Tantalizingly, the list of new hotel projects that Plasencia’s company compiled includes one with 500 rooms in Tampa’s Channelside District, which is being redeveloped on a grand scale by a partnership that includes Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.

Will that be a five-star hotel? Plasencia laughed and said: “No comment.”

The Lightning owner’s project may include a five-star hotel, but that was not the follow-up article:

After four years of planning, one of the world’s top luxury hotel brands, JW Marriott, finally could be coming to Clearwater Beach.

Sales are to begin this week for 36 fully furnished JW Marriott Residences, the first of their kind in the United States. They would occupy four upper floors of what also would be a 166-room JW Marriott hotel, one of only about 75 worldwide.

It would be Tampa Bay’s first five-star hotel.

“This is a big deal,” hotelier Uday Lele said Monday of the $120-million project that would replace his DreamView Resort at 691 S Gulfview Blvd. “I feel that to have this name brand come to Clearwater Beach will benefit all of Tampa Bay in a very big way.”

* * *

But on Monday, Marriott confirmed that it had given Lele the green light to launch sales of the condos on the Multiple Listing Service under the JW Marriott name. The one-, two- and three-bedroom units, ranging from about 850 to 1,350 square feet, will be priced from $550,000 to $1.3 million and could be occupied by the owners for a month at a time, Lele said. When rented out, the condos would serve as suites for the hotel and be managed by Marriott.

The 166 traditional hotel rooms would occupy the rest of the 15-story building, which would have an infinity pool, outdoor decks at various levels and a Spa by JW. Plans also call for two restaurants, one similar to the market-style Burlock Coast Seafare & Spirits in Fort Lauderdale, the other serving Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine.

The rooms, residences and restaurants all would have views of the 300-foot private beach, which faces Sand Key across an inlet and also looks toward the Gulf of Mexico.

This is the location.

We get having a five-star hotel on Clearwater Beach, which is going through quite a boom (more because it is allowing it, unlike other local beaches).  The exact location is not necessarily where we would have chosen, but it is not our investment. For us, the real issue is not the facility itself but the sign that the market is maturing enough to have such a facility. And we are happy if we do get a five-star hotel, though the effect of this location on the general area would be less than in downtown Tampa or St. Pete (where it would signify an even more mature market than a beach resort). Nevertheless, once the door is open, and assuming it is successful, it could lead the way to more.

As with most development, we shall have to wait and see.

Politics – Saying No to a Penny

There was a really interesting article in the Times about Penny for Pinellas that gets to the heart of much of local politics:

The anti-tax foes that helped defeat the Greenlight Pinellas transportation sales tax in 2014 don’t believe they can thwart the coming renewal of the Penny for Pinellas sales tax. The 30-year tax is coming up for another vote in November.

But critics of the penny tax can still complain about it.

Their latest complaint is that they don’t stand a chance against the coordinated campaign under way from elected officials across Pinellas County who are using public funds to highlight to residents what the tax has paid for over past decades.

“Everybody loves feel-good stories,” said St. Petersburg resident John Burgess, who, with his wife, Betsi, donated thousands of dollars to oppose the Greenlight Pinellas initiative. “People get what they deserve when they vote themselves more taxes.”

We are not sure exactly what he is trying to say in that last comment, but, looking at it literally, we hope people get what they deserve and expect when they vote for a tax.  That is the whole purpose of having to choice to tax yourself for a specific purpose.  And, yes, people like feel good stories.  If a tax chosen by the people (once again, the most direct taxation with representation) works like it is supposed to and that makes people feel good, we don’t see the problem.  But, anyway:

Seminole businessman Tom Rask, another ardent Greenlight foe, called it “problematic” that public officials were going around the county, holding public meetings and asking residents how to spend the money before the tax has even been approved.

Rask said the 2017 initiative will be difficult to derail. But he’s already giving it a shot, distributing fliers opposing the tax.

“It’s very hard to defeat the renewal of a tax,” Rask said, but county officials “act like they already have the money.”

It is not that hard unless you are trying to defeat a publicly voted-on tax that provides things people just for the sake of defeating it without having a real argument other than “because.”

County spokeswoman Barbra Hernandez said the meetings and surveys are “part of a robust public-engagement program” to spread information across the county.

“We are trying to get through to as many people as possible,” she said. “It’s crucial to reach them early in the process.”

County and city officials are touting projects such as bridges, libraries and recreation centers that were built and paid for with their share of the penny tax. Residents who are attending these information sessions are also taking surveys about how the next round of funding should be spent if the tax is renewed for 2020 to 2030.

Another selling point: Officials estimate that one-third of the revenue comes from tourists.

The Penny for Pinellas is certainly well-known. Voters approved earlier rounds of the tax in 1989, 1997 and 2007.

We still have not been given a reason to oppose the tax.  If it works as intended, is passed by the people, is temporary, and has been renewed, what exactly is the problem?

Burgess, the St. Petersburg resident who opposed Greenlight Pinellas, said he would support the Penny for Pinellas program if elected leaders called it an “infrastructure tax” and only used money for projects such as roads and sewers. He opposed Greenlight because it would have funded light rail.

He also said that using the moniker “Penny for Pinellas” — which has been in use for three decades now — is a “marketing ploy” and gives elected leaders wiggle room to pay for pet projects.

“It’s become nothing but a big slush fund for elected officials to dole out money,” Burgess said. “There is no accountability in the Penny for Pinellas tax.”

While we disagree with that position, at least it has some internal logic.  But the accountability comes from the renewal vote and elections of officials.  That is democracy.

We like low taxes.  We also like accountability.  But, we also understand that you can’t buy something for nothing.  If you want to enhance your area, there needs to be some revenue.  Taxes like Penny for Pinellas are direct democracy where the people choose to tax themselves for a limited time with the benefit of an expiration date and the right to vote for those who choose what to do with the money.  There is really not democracy deficit there.

But the opposition is really not about process and accountability. For most of the opponents, like most of the transit opponents, opposition is just reflexive.  They don’t have a plan to really improve the area, make us competitive or provide real infrastructure and amenities that people want.

Development – A Map

The Business Journal launched a new feature this week.

With Crane Watch Tampa Bay, you’ll be able to track dozens of commercial construction projects around the Bay region, from condo towers to retail centers. Crane Watch is an interactive map that shows projects in various stages of development, from proposed to recently completed. 

You can access the map here.  We like the idea, though the present map is a bit limited in scope and geography (and includes things like a Sprouts store).  Hopefully, it will get filled out more and become a useful tool.

Built Environment – And Also the Trees

There was a report this week from ABC Action News regarding the Tampa tree ordinance:

Some of Tampa’s prettiest neighborhoods are lined by Grand Live Oak trees.

“If you start messing with the ordinance, so to speak, it will definitely have an impact,” said Joe Chillura.

But how the city protects these decades old trees may be changing.

“There a lot of new people in the area coming into the area that are only interested in maximizing their profit,” said Chillura.

Chillura, former Tampa City Council member drafted Tampa’s original 1972 ordinance which forces landowners to get proper permitting to take down or trim live oaks or be heavily fined.

“We had 40 years or more of different people, from different departments, going in there making one little line change,” said Snelling.

Now the City is taking a comprehensive look at the tree ordinance.

Recommendations from the Mayor’s Competitiveness Committee ask for more flexibility regarding grand tree preservation, more flexibility for city staff to approve removals and rescinding the 50 % tree preservation rule in certain areas of the city.

This is an interesting issue.  First, the tree ordinance has done a pretty good job protecting the Tampa canopy.  Sometimes, it is a little difficult, but it is not too bad.  Proof of that is all the development going on right now.  While a little more flexibility may be good, there is no evidence that the tree ordinance is really holding back development or that a change is required.

Additionally, this is actually not a new issue. (See page 7 of this 2016 update to the 2012 report by the Competitiveness Committee. ) The changes have been requested by developers for a while.  Yet, it is not clear that the changes are needs rather than just desires.

Nevertheless, we would be open to some changes, but the real issue just exactly what the “flexibility” is going to be.  Without actual details of the proposed changes, it is hard to say. But the changes should not just be to make developers lives cheaper and easier. And, if they allow trees to be cut more easily, it should also include aggressive replacement or offset plantings.

The City also has an interest in other things – like good design standards and other aspects of the code, that have not been addressed. It would be much better to have a comprehensive reform of the code rather than do it piecemeal. (Frankly, a lot of the issues we are dealing with now – from sidewalks, bike lanes, walkability, transportation – stem, at least in part, from trying to make us “more competitive” in real estate.)

And, once again, it is there is little evidence that the ordinance has held back development, so there is no rush to change.

Economic Development – Millennials

There was an interesting column in the Times regarding millennials and Florida.

Making Tampa a magnet for millennials is a permanent pitch in Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s speeches. Economic development groups for many years have pondered better ways to make Tampa Bay more appealing to adults 35 and under, both to retain homegrown talent and to attract the young and the smart from afar.

Emerge Tampa and St. Pete Young Professionals were born to empower young business professionals and groom them for leadership. The newer StandUp Tampa group features millennial entrepreneurs serving as regional economic and lifestyle ambassadors.

Despite Florida’s insatiable quest to become more of a mecca for millennial talent, the Sunshine State gets no respect in a new study released this week. WalletHub — measuring all 50 states for affordability of living, education, health, quality of life, economic health and civic engagement — zinged Florida with a near-the-bottom ranking of No. 42 on its “best and worst” states for millennials.

Is WalletHub right? My anecdotal sense is Florida’s ranking is harsh. I see lots of younger people who appear to be reasonably prosperous all across the Tampa Bay area. 

We are sure there are prosperous millennials in the area, but that is not the question.  The real question is if it is better than elsewhere for millennials overall. First, let’s look at the Wallethub methodology:


In order to determine the most livable places for millennials, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across five key dimensions: 1) Affordability, 2) Education & Health, 3) Quality of Life, 4) Economic Health and 5) Civic Engagement.

We evaluated those dimensions using 24 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for millennials.

We then calculated the overall score for each state and the District based on its weighted average across all metrics and used the resulting scores to construct our final ranking.

For the purpose of this study, “millennials” are defined as individuals who were born between 1981 and 1997.

Digging deeper into the factors (here), it is clear that income and comparative cost of living (including housing cost) is pretty important.  So how does Florida do? It is 32nd in affordability; 39th in education; 35th in quality of life; 34th in economic health; and 46th in engagement.  Quality of life and engagement is a bit subjective, but the others are based on more solid stats.  From a few weeks ago:

Put in more personal terms, Florida’s per capita income last year was $45,819, ranking 27th among states and representing 92 percent of the national per capita average of $49,571. That differential has remained fairly consistent for many years — a sign that while income may be growing, it has largely failed to close the gap with the nation as a whole.

In other words, Florida is quite a bit below the national average. And note that income here includes more than just wages. While the Wallethub list is about states and not areas, we are in very much a reflection of the state.

Our low wages and how they make the relative cost of living higher, plus limited opportunities to break into higher wage industries are an issue.  (Not everyone can afford to rent the luxury downtown apartments.)

Still, I hear complaints from local officials who like the revival of downtown Tampa but fear all the new housing, amenities and jobs offer too little in price or opportunity for millennials.

It is definitely an issue.

On the other hand, I often visit Washington, D.C. — No. 5 on WalletHub’s best/worst list and a metro area where I once lived and worked — and I am routinely stunned at how many young people are flocking there. The same goes with Denver, since I was there a few weeks ago, with Colorado ranking a healthy No. 9 among states for millennials. D.C. and Denver have young adults to spare.

Exactly, competition is all about what you provide relative to what others provide.

The column points out that North Dakota came in first on the Wallethub list.  That is not odd given certain economic quirks in North Dakota.  The column also points out that Georgia ranks below Florida, though we know Atlanta draws plenty of millennials.

The point is not that, even if there are issues, we cannot have success.  But we will not have real success by ignoring facts (not saying the Wallethub list is definitive, but it does highlight some issues) or just saying plenty of people want to move here.  We have had big waves of growth before with some people doing quite well, but, somehow, we are still having the discussion about raising our wages and getting our economy where it should be.  And we are still discussing transportation, planning, and all those other issues.

Are we improving?  Yes.  Are we improving relative to our competitors? Some, yes, but many, no.  It all goes back to the question: if a person can live anywhere (or almost anywhere) they want, why would they choose to live here as opposed to another area that already has so many amenities that we are still talking about?

There is still much work to do.

Good Reads

– The Problem of Parking

There was a very interesting article in the Economist this week entitled “How not to create traffic jams, pollution and urban sprawl” and subtitled “Don’t Let People Park for Free.”  (We would like to that the reader who sent us the link)

Parking can seem like the most humdrum concern in the world. Even planners, who thrill to things like zoning and floor-area ratios, find it unglamorous. But parking influences the way cities look, and how people travel around them, more powerfully than almost anything else. Many cities try to make themselves more appealing by building cycle paths and tram lines or by erecting swaggering buildings by famous architects. If they do not also change their parking policies, such efforts amount to little more than window-dressing. There is a one-word answer to why the streets of Los Angeles look so different from those of London, and why neither city resembles Tokyo: parking. 

The article goes on to explain the hidden costs of parking requirements and the damage they do to making cities more appealing.  We have to say that theoretically, we agree with most of the article.  However, we are also aware that, because we are so car-dependent and lack reasonable alternatives, simply charging more for parking or eliminating requirements everywhere without changing how we plan and build and providing alternatives would quickly become a mess. (Though there are places where parking requirements could be eliminated or significantly reduced) Nevertheless, we need to understand what our present planning is really doing.

An Autonomous Conundrum

There has been a lot of talk about autonomous vehicles, including, among a host of other things, HART looking at Teslas and the Innovation Alliance head talking about them on Fowler, as well as moves in the legislature to make it easier to use one in Florida (and how they will remove the need for transit).  Given how many people say autonomous vehicles are the future, a Wired article entitled “Securing Driverless Cars From Hackers Is Hard. Ask the Ex-Uber Guy Who Protects Them” caught our attention.   Here is the main idea:

Two years ago, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek pulled off a demonstration that shook the auto industry, remotely hacking a Jeep Cherokee via its internet connection to paralyze it on a highway. Since then, the two security researchers have been quietly working for Uber, helping the startup secure its experimental self-driving cars against exactly the sort of attack they proved was possible on a traditional one. Now, Miller has moved on, and he’s ready to broadcast a message to the automotive industry: Securing autonomous cars from hackers is a very difficult problem. It’s time to get serious about solving it.

Last month, Miller left Uber for a position at Chinese competitor Didi, a startup that’s just now beginning its own autonomous ridesharing project. In his first post-Uber interview, Miller talked to WIRED about what he learned in those 19 months at the company—namely that driverless taxis pose a security challenge that goes well beyond even those faced by the rest of the connected car industry.

Miller couldn’t talk about any of the specifics of his research at Uber; he says he moved to Didi in part because the company has allowed him to speak more openly about car hacking. But he warns that before self-driving taxis can become a reality, the vehicles’ architects will need to consider everything from the vast array of automation in driverless cars that can be remotely hijacked, to the possibility that passengers themselves could use their physical access to sabotage an unmanned vehicle.

“Autonomous vehicles are at the apex of all the terrible things that can go wrong,” says Miller, who spent years on the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations team of elite hackers before stints at Twitter and Uber. “Cars are already insecure, and you’re adding a bunch of sensors and computers that are controlling them…If a bad guy gets control of that, it’s going to be even worse.”

You can read the rest of the article here. Just something to consider.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. B. Wills permalink
    April 14, 2017 8:10 AM

    Besides the potential for hacking, there is another, even more basic issue with autonomous vehicles: They will traverse the same traffic-choked roads that regular auto traffic and buses already do. People who tout the prospect of autonomous vehicle technology being the transit solution of the future, and advocate doing nothing else, are no different than the alchemists who believed that coal could be transformed into gold.

  2. April 16, 2017 8:49 AM

    The millennial debate continues and the problem is really much larger. Workforce aka affordable housing is important to a much larger group and is being addressed in communities around the county through building code requirements. Developers will always build what is profitable so to fix the problem government has to change the equation.

    As for the Wallet Hub report I seriously doubt millennials will be flocking to North Dakota anytime soon, unfortunately the same is currently true for Florida. The reality is we have a huge issue with affordability, in education we rank 28th nationally, we pay well below market rate for most jobs and the sunshine equity pitch doesn’t cut it anymore. How does someone who earns $50k in a technology role purchase a home? The same job pays $100K in Atlanta or Minneapolis, $130k in Austin, Denver or DC, etc. As for apathy around civic engagement, you know you have a problem when more people over the age of 90 vote than those under the age of 35.

    Millenials are very clear they are not renters, they are buyers, they want to live near their work, they want quality public education for their children, and they care about the environment. They want public facilities near their homes and various forms of transportation which are accessible and affordable. When we address those issues then we can change the equation.

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