Thursday, November 14, 2013

America’s Housing Style is Changing!

       This photo comes from the website of North Texas Kids!

It appears that major changes are taking place in America’s metropolitan communities. The problem of sprawl seems to be solving itself because we’ve simply reached the breaking point that makes living further and further away from one’s job too expensive.
by Charlie Leck

An article in this morning’s local paper talks about the cost we pay in order to move around in relative convenience; that is, roads and transportation. Early on, mention is made of the organization, Transit for a Livable Community. I support that organization! We’ve been slow to show some sanity about transportation in our communities here in America. We’ve ignored the European model because we didn’t think it would work here. Now, when we talk about creating a coast to coast, national, high-speed train system similar to those in Europe and Japan, the ultra-conservatives call it spending. The liberals call it an investment. 

Actually it is both. In the long run it makes sense. Those of my age won’t profit or benefit from such an ambitious plan, but it will make the nation a better and easier place for my grandchildren and they will be proud that grandpa advocated for it.

The thrust of the story is that transportation (the cost of moving around) has become nearly as expensive for Americans as their housing. In less than ten years the gap between housing costs and transportation costs has narrowed dramatically. It costs a lot of money to build those roads and bridges.

A lot of this cost hit us because of the way our metropolitan areas sprawled outwards, creating suburban communities far away from the main work centers. That, as I understand it, has slowed dramatically in most large metropolitan communities and the fashion now is to live as close to one’s work as possible. Minneapolis is experiencing a huge renaissance in residential building near the downtown center.

In the last eight or nine years, the cost of transportation for households has risen by about 11 percent. In our metropolitan area that jump would have been even more had we not constructed a rather significant light-rail system that moves people from the south into the downtown area. Another system moves people smoothly up along a northwest corridor. In a matter of months a system will open that will move us between the two major metro centers here. In fact, we need more such rail systems and the far removed southwestern suburbs are crying for one. Any new systems meet resistance, however, because they will have to alter the face of communities through which they must move in order to get to those distant suburban communities.

We must understand, however, that transportation costs are not going to decrease or even stabilize. The cost of gasoline and the cost of automobiles are going to rise, rise, rise, even though this news story says they have decreased in the very recent months! It makes more sense to look at long term patterns and they show us that gas costs are going to go up.
This morning’s story also tells us that “the AAA says the average cost of owning a sedan is $8,946” and I expect that means annually.

Recent statistics show that people are getting more comfortable with less house, less land and less of a drive; and all of that adds up to less spending on living and transportation. It’s something that just had to happen, isn’t it? One can live only so far from one’s work! One can go only so far for the privilege of owning more land around one’s home! One can devote only so much time to driving to and from one’s work. There comes a limit; and, in most communities, that limit has been reached.

I also urge you to get familiar with the organization called Transit for Livable Communities. They work to encourage more sensible transportation plans that will give people alternative ways to move around their communities at less cost. I’ve join as a member and I do contribute a bit of money to them each year. You might want to consider doing that as well.


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1 comment:

  1. With technology, some people no longer need an out of home office and really do not care about how far they are from a city center.