Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Life on the fringes of U.S. suburbia becomes untenable with rising gas costs - International Herald Tribune
SJ has wondered when the impact of fuel prices on the suburbs would begin to become clear.
This is a real opening for the Dems. We obviously need an Eisenhower style effort (he built the interstate) to create the sort of regional rail that would allow people to live spread out w/o requiring autos. In some places, a lot of the SouthW, it is already too late . BUT politically, the Dems could say that such areas need to come up with plans for how to transition .. perhaps to multicentered urban developments? For other places where this has not already gotten out of hand, e.g Seattle, and some of the midwestern cities this could be a blessing.
An interesting variation is the OPPORTUNITY to tie together urban renewal, new industry (building trains) and the energy crisis! Imagine Detroit/GM and Seattle/Boeing competing for new generation of fuel efficient, computer controlled transit systems! Current transit is based on technology that is easily 100 years old. I find it incomprehensible that there are no opportunities to improve on this. Moreover, with clever legislation, the profit gained by NOT using fuel ought to be realizable by the industries building this technology.
At the federal level, there are MANY opportunities. I would bet that the savings from a 50 billion dollar redo of the worst messes ... say LA and NY-Boston, would be far bigger than any profit from drilling in Anwar AND have a far greater long term impact.
There is also a huge opportunity for the Feds to offer funds to areas that come up with plans that reduce the future need for fuel. Arguably, the net cost of such funds might be zero or there could even be a profit. The same effort might be directed at housing costs. Unless something happens, the price of a house in Seattle is gonna go sky high because living in Seattle is so much cheaper than living in the burbs when car costs go into the red. So, how do we restrain real estate costs? The answer is alread clear ... look at the vast amount of moderate cost housing going onto the Ranier Valley as a reult of transit to/from Seatac.
I know there are a lot of naysayers on the Dem side .. folks who are still afraid of the Reprican party. If NOW is not the time to show leadership, then when? For example, we ARE gonna build a new 520. It is clear that Redmond/Bellevue/Seattle will comprise a multicentered ubanaopolis for some time to come. Why not invest in that now? This would also be a great time to challenge Microsoft. Clearly they have every reason to want good interactions between the Gates Foundation (under the Space Needle) and his company on the shores of Lake Sammamish. Why not challenge them to be directly involved in the fund raising? Would not free transit between Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue be a good employment Perk?
One final point is that there is wonderful tie in here to the infrastructure issues that affect Boeing. Boeing 's choosing Everett was dependent on the relatively short distance needed for land transport of parts coming to the 787 plant from the effin whole world. A regional effort to improve that structure, to encourage Boeing workers to live nearer to the plant by helping the port of Everett grow would be a great campaign issue for Gregoire. This could also play off of the opportunity to create a Washington State Polytechnic College in Everett. Hasn't the Time come for the Gates Institute of Polytechnology?
Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.
Life on the fringes of U.S. suburbia becomes untenable with rising gas costs - International Herald Tribune: "ELIZABETH, Colorado: Suddenly, the economics of American suburban life are under assault as skyrocketing energy prices inflate the costs of reaching, heating and cooling homes on the outer edges of metropolitan areas.
Just off Singing Hills Road, in one of hundreds of two-story homes dotting a former cattle ranch beyond the southern fringes of Denver, Phil Boyle and his family openly wonder if they will have to move close to town to get some relief.
They still revel in the space and quiet that has drawn a steady exodus from U.S. cities toward places like this for more than half a century. Their living room ceiling soars two stories high. A swing-set sways in the breeze in their backyard. Their wrap-around porch looks out over the flat scrub of the high plains to the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains."
Posted by SM Schwartz at 3:26 PM