Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Change in Growth Patterns Coming?

Pretty good commentary on the Planetizen website by Anthony Flint, a writer with the Boston Globe and author of the recently released book This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America, about how our patterns of growth may finally start to change because of transportation -- the cost (with rising oil and gas prices) and the inconvenience (constant traffic congestion).

Talking about the consequences of the relentlessly rising energy costs, Flint then points out, "But the discussion always comes right up to the ultimate reason we use so much energy -- our physical environment and how we live -- and then backs away."

"Yes, more people are interested in taking transit or walking more. But millions are in no position to do that. There's no transit to take and there's nothing to walk to. ... The good news is, new forms of development that require less driving and more efficient use of energy are teed up and ready to go.

"The real estate industry has picked up on the desire for shorter commutes and a better sense of community. Frustration with long commutes -- and not getting home for the 5:30 Little League game -- has been a big motivation. Now energy prices ... are clearly becoming the tipping point for a great redirection away from sprawl.

"Across the country, innovative policymakers are also ready to level the playing field in terms of government regulations and infrastructure investments... . What needs to be done is clear, and really isn't all that controversial: change zoning to allow mixed-use development in town centers..., cut tape for urban infill development, ... shift investment to transit."

"Today, establishing alternative development patterns isn't going to hinge on saving farmland or protecting endangered species or preserving historic sites. It's going to come down to convenience, quality of life, and the pocketbook. ... Now more than ever, we shouldn't shy away from talking about the physical environment as the single biggest component of our energy woes. Quite the contrary -- this is the moment to be seized by urban planners and policymakers alike."

By friend and commenter, Google Peak Oi, will likely be pleased with this entry. I agree with Flint that high energy prices will change some of our patterns of development, if the persist long enough. But I also hear that energy prices will head back down in the near future as demand softens and production increases again due to price incentives. So we shall see!


At 8:17 PM, Blogger google_PEAK_OIL said...

I read that article after finding a link to it at The Energy Bulletin, one of the sites I read daily.
You are right, I am pleased to see an growing awareness of our likely energy difficulties in the planning community. It's why I have been making such a blog pest out of myself.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger James said...

It's amazing that the awareness between land use and transportation hasn't been more prevlanent. Hopefully this continues to raise awarness...


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