Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More on the impact of gas prices on the exurbs -- and by implication on rural development

This piece is from today's Washington Post, with the headline: "Gas Prices Apply Brakes to Suburban Migration." (The graphic depicts the Washington, DC areas suburbs and exurbs; click on graphic to enlarge).

Here's a nice quote from deep in the story. I include it because of the mention of soybean fields.

"We need to change the patterns of development," said Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. "We have to move to a new transit-oriented development paradigm and concentrate development and avoid the sprawl that we've allowed in the past and undo some of the environmental damage."

He pointed to nearby Arlington County and its Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, alive with pedestrians and dense housing development.

"We actually know it works," Connolly said.

That is also the model that Tom Darden, chief executive of Cherokee Investment Partners, is betting on. His Raleigh-based firm snaps up urban land, often used industrial sites, near transit stations and transforms it into housing.

He said the days of building giant houses on former soybean fields on the outer fringes of metropolitan areas are over.

"What were pluses of that lifestyle are now liabilities: a big SUV, a big home to heat, the energy needed to mow the lawn," he said.

He said his urban properties in Charlotte, Raleigh, N.C., Montreal and Denver are doing well, while exurbs like those in California's Central Valley are "turning into ghost town."

"And we're only at the shallow end of the pool," Darden said.
As you can see, the story mostly ignores the impact of development and land use policies on rural places, focusing instead on the urban.

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