Density and too many Realtors

I’ve been busy actually showing and listing houses, so posting has been light.

In the meantime:

* Aspen or Austin? – this is an excellent post about the future of Charlottesville, sponsored by the Virginia Piedmont Technology Council, one of my favorite local groups (but unfortunately I rarely have the time to attend their events) Here is the podcast.

* Density increases congestion.

* Too Many Realtors? No kidding. Two related posts.

Statistically the average Realtor (NAR member) sold fewer transaction sides in 2006 than in 2000. … Furthermore, the increase in NAR membership even outpaced the increase in new households.

When you compare the price per square foot in the Central Virginia region to here, we are downright affordable! (or here!) A modest mean price per square foot in the Charlottesville are is about $150 per square foot, give or take $50-$75 dollars.

Increasing education requirements for new and current real estate agents in Virginia – getting a real estate license in Virginia is dangerously easy. Kudos for this bill.

A solution to our transit (lack thereof) problems (via BoingBoing)

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  1. TrvlnMn January 25, 2007 at 13:01

    Re: Aspen or Austin-

    The L.A. Times several years ago had an article about the “Aspenization” of small towns after the rich “discover” them. The short of it was that because of the effects the rich have on the economy in those places- the economy changes and decent jobs are replaced by service industry jobs that don’t pay enough but cater to the new wealthy population, so eventually the locals can no longer afford to live in the “discovered” small town. Having grown up here that’s exactly what I’ve seen happen over the past several decades. The wealth divide got steadily larger with each new transplant, and now the town no longer resembles the one I remember. The middle class left or stayed and became the working class. Now it’s a population of affluent people from somewhere else with this idealized concept of what C’ville should be.

    So I guess- long story short- Aspen or Austin? I’m going to say- too late, you’ve already got Aspen.

  2. C January 25, 2007 at 23:18

    Why post an article such as “Density Increases Congestion” that is so blatantly wrong? Does the dispersed pattern of growth in Northern Va. (and LA, and Phoenix, and Atlanta and Houston and on and on) not prove that sprawl creates more traffic than the alternative. Are you suggesting that this community should focus growth in Albemarle’s rural area and surrounding counties, as an alternative to congestion?

    On another subject(Aspen/Austin), the PTC’s arguement doesn’t make that much sense to me. I don’t quite understand the need for providing jobs for UVA students upon graduation, most of which are not from Charlottesville. What’s the upside to existing residents, much less residents who’ve lived here a while…more traffic? What about the fact that 25% of Cville’s residents live below the poverty line, while only 8% of Aspen’s residents live below the poverty line. Not to mention that the median income for families in Austin is $54K versus Aspen’s $70K and Cville’s $45K. Aspen looks a little better to me in both respects. There are costs with both affluence and job growth, the problem with the PTC’s arguement is that they only acknowledge the cost of affluence.

  3. Jim Duncan January 26, 2007 at 10:44

    C –

    I am so sorry that your comments keep getting caught in my spam filter. I sent you an email off-line apologizing for the last set, but it was kicked back.

    Regarding the article on “Density increases Congestion,” I found it amusing. That site is consistently posting articles that are 180 degrees contrary to most everything that I have been writing, and I wanted to see if I could elicit a response. 🙂

    Regarding growth in the rural areas – I think that we should focus on keeping development localized around the urban core(s) and, if I had my way, establish some form of efficient (both time and fiscal) transit.

    Concerning the differences between Aspen, Austin and Charlottesville, thank you for providing those stats. I honestly had no idea about the disparity between the locales.

    Growth costs money, but so does poverty.

  4. TrvlnMn January 26, 2007 at 13:05

    I don’t quite understand the need for providing jobs for UVA students upon graduation, most of which are not from Charlottesville.


    What about the fact that 25% of Cville’s residents live below the poverty line, while only 8% of Aspen’s residents live below the poverty line.

    With regards to jobs for UVA students. I agree with C.

    As to the Poverty Line information. Those numbers are misleading. There is a simple reason that only 8 percent of Aspen’s residents live below the poverty line. It’s because the poor in Aspen do what they do every other place when the rich claim a town as their playground. The poor get forced out (never mind that they used to be middle class before their town “got discovered” by the wealthy who moved in and changed the economy).

    Of the low percentage of poor that are still in Aspen- I’ve got to wonder how many are imported in to do the grunt work at the resorts and the businesses in town.

  5. DaveNorris January 29, 2007 at 02:52

    TrvlnMn is definitely onto something. With the average Aspen home selling for $5.5 million in 2006 (,1299,DRMN_414_5277189,00.html), a huge majority of its laborers have to commute from elsewhere — and a growing number of them are quite literally “imported” from other countries (immigrant labor now fuels much of Aspen’s private enterprise). In other words, Aspen’s 8% poverty rate does not mean that the rising Aspen tide has somehow lifted all its boats. Instead, the boats have been sucked away by a vicious undercurrent called economic dislocation. And now it’s affecting neighboring communities too, so the working-class is being pushed further and further away. (One nearby town elder is quoted as saying, “Our community is really losing its soul. People born and raised there can’t afford to live there.”)

    Sound familiar??

  6. Ray Hyde March 13, 2007 at 00:47

    Having grown up on Martha’s Vineyard, and long since been sucked out by the undertow, I can attest the Aspen factor is real. If you don’t want growth, make your town ugly.

    Why is it that you think the anti-planner is so blatantly wrong? It is one thing to say that dispersed living causes more traffic, but it is quite another to say that it causes congestion.

    Say I drive thirty miles to the city and the last ten miles are congested. If I move 20 miles closer will it make that last ten miles less congested?

    Besides which current evidence says that suburban dwellers only drive slightly more than urban dwellers, and because they travel at more nearly auto efficient speeds they pollute less. The suburban drivers do burn more fuel than city drivers, but almost all of that is due to the fact that they drive larger vehicles. If you want less auto travel, then make more people poor.

    It seems reasonable to me that if you increase the density faster than you decrease the miles driven, then congestion increases.

    There is only one reasonable means of creating a workable mass transit system: smart van pools or jitneys. Using modern software we could calculate where everyone wishes to go on the fly and dispatch vans to pick them up and deliver them in the most efficient manner. With ten passenger vans you could have door to door service with probably only a few stops and minor side trips. For all but the very best of the present transit situations it would be faster and more convenient.

    We see some of that happening now, but it is done largely by association and not by applying the right technology.

    We all want to save the countryside, but we need to face facts: the people who presently own and maintain the countryside do so with the help of urban or urban related jobs. To some extent, the more jobs that are located away from the core, the more countryside is located within reach of them and the more countryside can be “preserved”.

  7. Cityboy March 13, 2007 at 07:24

    Ray- You may not be familiar with the past census…

    …which, if drilled into, proves that counties with dispersed growth patterns (Loudoun, Prince William, etc.) have a higher incidence of longer commute times. I happen to live in the city and I have people say to me “how can you deal with the traffic?”…My reaction is, “how can you deal with the county’s traffic?” I literally do not sit in traffic in the city. I walk to work, bike to the gym and drive to the grocery store. I may sit at a few stop lights, but this myth that a dense urban areas creates bad traffic is a hoax. The problem is suburban areas planned without a network of interconnected streets, such as 29N. There are plenty studies on the benefits of compact communites at the following site….

    Your comment that locating jobs away from the urban core helps protect the countryside is not supported by the vast majority of groups working toward forest and farmland protection, such as …. American Farmland Trust, The Land Trust Alliance, The Trust for Public Land, etc.