Housing and Transportation costs

The Center for Housing Policy has released a fascinating report titled: A Heavy Load: The Combined Housing and Transportation Burdens of Working Families (PDF). It’s 32 pages long, so I have not had time yet to fully digest it, but the premise is fairly commonsense: It typically costs less to live farther from urban centers. Gas costs money. Driving farther costs more money.

As I have noted before, important and clear parallels may be drawn between the Central Virginia and the Northern Virginia market:

Among the regions studied,the Washington,D.C.–Baltimore has one of the least affordable housing markets. Both housing costs and housing as a share of income are especially high among the region’s outer suburban and suburban fringe areas.Except for married couples with children who bear the brunt ofthese high costs, Working Families are more likely to live in central city and inner suburban neighborhoods where housing costs and cost burdens are somewhat lower. Public transit is heavily used within Washington,D.C.’s Metro corridors. Everywhere else,however, the auto is consistently favored by Working Family commuters. This is as true in central city neighborhoods as it is on the suburban fringe.

In our market, by contrast, many of those in the City have taken advantage of the recent housing boom and sold their houses and moved out into th Counties. Some have been driven out by increasing rent prices. We don’t have efficient public transportation from outside the urban ring. Locally, just look at the numbers of people who are commuting into Charlottesville/Albemarle (CharlAlbemarle!).

These are a few of the stories from my feed reader about this story:
Bacon’s Rebellion
Business Week

Commenter EM Risse notes on Bacon’s Rebellion:

Of course, as we all know by now, Autonomobility is a dead end. But shared-vehicle systems (aka, “mass transit”) cannot overcome random distribution of origins and destinations.

For this reason, studies such as Albemarle’s recent one on residents’ opinions regarding growth serve only to perpetuate the myopic view which local governments continue to reinforce. Unless there is region-wide cooperation, transportation will remain as inefficient as it is today – and will only get worse.

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4 Comments

  1. C October 16, 2006 at 20:59

    “For this reason, studies such as Albemarle’s recent one on residents’ opinions regarding growth serve only to perpetuate the myopic view which local governments continue to reinforce. Unless there is region-wide cooperation, transportation will remain as inefficient as it is today – and will only get worse.”

    So, until there is some regional governmental entitity with real authority, Albemarle Co. should abandon it’s growth management strategies? Are you suggesting that Albemarle would be better off allowing the scattered development that’s going on in counties like Greene, Fluvanna and Louisa? I think you’ve mischaracterized Albemarle’s survey (not “study”). It was actually a statistically significant survey conducted by UVa’s Center for Survey Research. It found that 64% of respondants felt that Albemarle is growing too fast. Should the County ignore it’s own citizens? That doesn’t sound very democratic to me.

    There is also a new development review survey that’s available at: http://www.albemarle.org/department.asp?section_id=1827&department=devel
    …with some interesting results.

  2. Jim Duncan October 16, 2006 at 21:19

    I didn’t mean to mis-characterize the survey in any way. It is one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging survey about growth in our area that I have seen.

    What I do mean is that we need to have a growth strategy that is system-wide, beyond the borders of Albemarle and extending to all the Counties that touch it – those who benefit from those who live there and commute .

    “…my commute is a part-time job and my work is my full-time job …”

    I like the survey. For what it is, it is outstanding. What is needed is a broader understanding (and implementation by politicians -and the citizens – of that understanding) of the growth patterns affecting our area, lest we continue down the path of becoming “extreme commuters.”

    *thank you for pointing out my use of “study” rather than “survey.” I would have kept on doing that in perpetuity had you not addressed it!

  3. Jim Duncan October 16, 2006 at 21:27

    I thought this was interesting as well: (from Page 11 of the Survey.)

    Of the 20.4 percent of residents who had moved to the County within the past two years, more than half (55.6%) moved from other areas outside Virginia. Just over ten percent (10.8%) moved from the City of Charlottesville. About eleven percent (11%) moved from Fluvanna County (4.7%), Louisa County (4.2%), and Nelson County (1.9). About five percent (4.5%) moved from Maryland and 4.0 percent moved from Washington D.C. Eleven percent (11.0%) moved from other Virginia areas. According to these residents, the primary reason for moving to Albemarle County was to take a job in the area (39.5%). Other primary reasons included the overall quality of life in the area (9.9%) and the presence of a family member already in the County (9.5%). About twenty-one percent (20.7%) cited other primary reasons for moving to Albemarle County.

  4. C October 17, 2006 at 09:53

    Much agree about the need for…

    “broader understanding (and implementation by politicians -and the citizens – of that understanding) of the growth patterns affecting our area..”