Sunday, December 25, 2011

PID Practicalities

For those of you Centerpointers who, for whatever reason, may need to obtain a PID payment receipt or conduct some other transaction at the last minute (as we did pursuant to a mortgage re-finance with a lender who did not tell us up front about our requirement to do this), here's some info for ya.

There is almost no information about the relevant taxing office on our PID invoice (League City PID 3 Phase 4).  There's only a post office box with no phone, physical address, or name of the corporate oversight entity.  The only clue as to which office administers this tax was the individual name of the current Assessor, Thomas W. Lee, who I zero'd in on via Google:

This smiley guy was located via the Association of
Water Board Directors website,
Again, no physical address listed, and upon phoning, I discovered that both listed lines were connected to FAX machines.  But the staff responded promptly to my email and I was able to confirm that the curious web-listed address "#5 Oaktree" refers to a tiny street on the northeast side of FM 518 about a half mile north of its intersection with FM 528.

Just before you get to this street, you'll also see a business called "Copy Doctor".
Anyway, the staff was extremely helpful and efficient in processing my payment right before the Christmas break.  Very nice folks.  And here is a list of the League City PIDs that this office represents as of the date of this blog post, and if I'm understanding things correctly here, this should include all build phases of Centerpointe:
And in case you're still wondering what a PID even is, this strangely-undated but recent news article in Austin American Statesman explains some of the rationale.  It's not out of the question that you might be wondering about it; as I noted in a blog post about a year ago, my husband and I were never able to determine where in our house build contract or closing statement the PID tax had been disclosed to us.  The first time we found out about it is when our bill arrived in the mail.  As I mentioned at the time of that previous blog post, nearby subdivision Victory Lakes as a concise explanation of the PID on their website

In case you're wondering why I'd bother to post something like this on December 25, well, life often takes on some strange scheduling when one is parent to a teenager.  There are few things that teens do as skillfully as sleeping late, and so Christmas morning festivities can sometimes turn into Christmas afternoon festivities, as those of us who maintain culturally-normal sleep/wake cycles sit around waiting for the rapidly-growing adolescents in our lives to regain consciousness. 

Have a great holiday week!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dash cam: Epiphany

We live in an unmanageably complex society and one of the pitfalls of doing so is that it's very difficult for most people to weigh the importance of all the different risks that this society poses to them. 

Nowhere is this more true than with respect to what risks are posed to physical safety - life and limb.  A big deal was made recently of the one home invasion that occurred in Centerpointe (and it probably wasn't intended to be an invasion per se - the perps probably thought nobody was home, such that they could commit a simple burglary).  So much room was devoted to that topic in the most recent neighborhood newsletter that it had to be chopped into two halves for distribution.  And I also added a blog entry devoted to it. 

As near as I can deduce, this was the only life-threatening event of that criminal type to have occurred here.  I mean ever, in the history of the neighborhood. 

Most of the time, you won't hear me saying much about crime, other than to relay routine statistics that mostly have to do with petty theft and the odd family-violence-inspired punch in the face.

But what you WILL hear me harping about is the risk posed by road hazards.  From hyper-aggressive drivers threatening the lives of motorists and peace officers alike, to local children playing in traffic because there's nowhere else for them to go, to physical road hazards caused by careless drivers,  to people driving dangerously ON OUR SCHOOL CAMPUSES, to people flagrantly ignoring traffic control regulations both outside and inside our subdivison, I've used a dash cam to expose it all.

But up until now, there wasn't much I could offer in the way of this risk's big picture.  I could tell you, for instance, that an average of about 360 people die on Harris County roads every year...

Excerpted from:
...but there was no way to actually give a perspective of that in an immediately-accessible format.

Well, there is now.   A group called ITO World has produced a map that shows all U.S. auto-related fatalities during the period 2001 - 2009
Screengrab of their blog entry announcing the map.
Through some miracle of technology, these guys have managed to plot all 369,629 (!!!!) automobile-related deaths that occurred in America during that period of time.

So let's cut to the chase, zoom in and take a look at the area surrounding Centerpointe:
Icon format:
Upper left corner: Age at death.
Lower left corner:  Year of death.
Avatar: Male or female
Color: Mode of death (legend at left)
Conveniently, the map covers approximately the same period of time for which Centerpointe has been in existence.  And during that period of time, within about two mile of us, a dozen people have been killed in automobile events (I won't call them "accidents" because most of them are not "accidents" - they are the result of ignorance and recklessness). 

A DOZEN PEOPLE KILLED, just within this one unremarkable little area.  Their average age at death was just 34 years.

How they died is extremely telling:  only 17% of them were vehicle occupants.  The other 83% were traveling via less-protected means in the open air - on foot or by bicycle or motorcycle.   This is occurring in large part because we lack complete streets in our area - for the most part, we have no bike lanes and few sidewalks.  The lack of reasonable infrastructure coupled with ignorant drivers is a proven deadly combination. 

And of course, our area is not unique.

NINE PEOPLE killed in the vicinity of the NASA Road 1 intersection.
SIX PEOPLE killed in the vicinity of the El Dorado intersection.  A year or so ago, I actually wrote to TxDOT pleading with them to upgrade this antiquated intersection because it's so obviously dangerous.  It's a decades-old cloverleaf that was never designed to accomodate the volume of traffic it now must handle.  I wrote that letter to TxDOT BEFORE I knew that six people had died here in recent years.
And it doesn't stop with fatalities.  Remember also that for every automobile fatality, there's something like three times as many permanently-disabling injuries and ten times as many less-serious injuries and significant property losses (smashed cars; I've read this, but can't find the reference right now).

Moral of this story: home invasions and burglaries may grab our immediate attention, but they are not what pose the greatest risks to our physical being.  Of external physical threats, risks associated with automobiles win, hands-down.  For this reason, if you feel an urge to modify your behavior based on your perception of physical risk, you should actually feel less urge to fortify against burglars, and more urge to respond to the dangers posed to you by the carnage that continues unabated on our public rights-of-way.
Houston, we have a problem.