MEASURING ACCESSIBILITY

As the Cadillac add bellows: “BREAKTHROUGH!!!”

There now seems to be agreement between SYNERGY/Planning and some who have spilled millions of bites trying to discount the relevance of our work. They agree that congestion (the lack of vehicular mobility) is growing worse every year.

We argue that the measures of vehicular immobility leave much to be desired – see “Spinning Data, Spinning Wheels,” (30 September 2004) concerning the 2002 figures and revisited for 2003 in “Regional Rigor Mortis,” (6 June 2005).

More important, the transport strategies propounded by MainStream Media, the Autonomobility Lobby, the Land Development Interests and pandering politicians endanger the prosperity, security and sustainability of contemporary civilization.

Now comes the question about the measures of “accessibility.” Accessibility is the companion of “mobility” in the fundamental equations that must be addressed if there is to be balance between transport system capacity and settlement pattern generated travel demand.

How do you measure accessibility? May I introduce an old friend? Meet Adam Smith.

For reasons we document in The Shape of the Future, and explore in our column “Wild Abandonment,” (8 September 2003) the best measure of accessibility is the market. We can measure accessibility by the market even though what now exists is not a free market or an intelligent market. The current market for the built environment is wracked by counterproductive subsidies but it is still a market with a clear message.

This market documents that a three bedroom rancher within R= ½ Mile of Ballston METRO is worth eight times as much as the same house on a ten times bigger lot that is within a ten minute drive of the Bealeton 7-11.

This market documents that a house on .2 acres within the Clear Edge around Greater Warrenton is worth $200,000 more than the same house on five acres near Clevengers Corners (seven or eight miles to the west) and $100,000 more than the same house on five times as much land in a West Prince William “subdivision.” The West Prince William house is 10 miles closer to the centroid of jobs in the National Capital Subregion but is not convenient to most of the other things that citizens want to live near.

(NB: The numbers used here were documented in April 2003 and have not yet been recalibrated to reflect the last 2 ½ years of rapid escalation because of the equally dramatic readjustment that are likely to occur over the next year.)

These same market forces have put a premium on houses in Planned New Communities with densities of at least 10 persons per acre and a balance of jobs / houses / services / recreation / amenity as compared with the same house by the same builder in scattered subdivisions. This has been the case for four decades. We summarized these locational variations in “The $100,000 Difference” section of “The Shape of Loudoun County’s Future” which was widely circulated prior to the 1999 election in Loudoun County.

The same forces work at higher densities. Dwellings in isolated I-395 Condo Canyon projects would be worth much more if the were adjacent to Georgetown, Old Town, Reston Town Center or even Shirlington Village Center.

The numbers change but the relative differences do not. Citizens will pay more for accessible places to live, work and seek services.

To create functional settlement patterns society must fundamentally change to create more of the places where people want to be and fewer of the places they have to be because they have no choice. We outline six overarching stategies to achieve that goal in The Shape of the Future.

The most important step toward creating functional settlement patterns is to charge the full, equitable cost of the 40 +/- location variable goods and services that make contemporary urban civilization possible. At least 96% of the households in the Untied States are urban households. When they are all paying their fair share they will sort themselves out into functional patterns and densities leaving plenty of room and few costs to be paid by those who choose derive their income from nonurban activities and to live nonurban lives.

At SYNERGY/Planning, we call the process of creating functional places “the evolution of Balanced Communities in sustainable New Urban Regions” and the basic driving force is paying ones fair share of location variable costs. This process requires open, intelligent markets for land and buildings. The creation of these markets is a major goal of PROPERTY DYNAMICS and reflects the “The Five Critical Realities the Shape the Future” which is a Backgrounder available at db4.dev.baconsrebellion.com

Of course just collecting the highest price dooryards, clusters, neighborhoods and villages together is not enough to create Balanced Communities but the market provides a place to start sorting out patterns and densities and demonstrating the the market value of accessibility.

Also note that the free market way to lower the cost of great places is to build more of them, not to build cheaper, less desireable ones.

Post Script: Do not come with that weak stuff about the price of well located structures being higher because they cost more to build or maintain them. How many buyers will pay builder “A” more than builder “B” for the same product because builder “A” has higher costs? That is what Adam Smiths invisable hand (aka, the market) is all about.

Poorly located buildings (what real estate agents call “more house / building / square feet for the dollar”) are to some extent priced lower because of unwarranted and / or unintended subsidies. These subsidies are most often the result of the failure to pay the full cost of location decisions. It is also true that they are priced lower because that is all someone will pay. Few sellers price their real estate lower just because it cost them less to build or they bought it or the land upon which it sits at a firesale.

EMR


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10 responses to “MEASURING ACCESSIBILITY”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    If ACCESSIBILITY has so much to do with the “market”, how does one justify the cost of property in a place like Georgetown?

    It’s notorious for having poor access via societies beloved automobile and it has no metro access. Oh, and watch out for flying man-hole covers when the power grid blows.

  2. Ray Hyde Avatar

    http://www.ce.umn.edu/~levinson/Papers/Accessibility.html

    I asked what I thought was a simple question: how can I find data on accessibility, especially for locations in our area.? If this information was available and important, I’d expect to see it advertised on “For Sale” signs as in “Charming Kitchen, Accessibility 100!”, or “Welcome to Warrenton, America’s
    most accessible Main Street Village”: but this doesn’t happen.

    I freely admit that congestion is worse now than previously, what is not so clear is how this affects accessibility. We just watched a story of a major congestion accident that killed more than 450 people, visiting the Haj. Congestion and accessibility problems are not limited to autos. But just as at the Haj, congestion and it’s effects on mobility are highly localized. The U. S. Department of transportation estimates that forty or so major bottlenecks are responsible for a majority of the nations time wasting congestion.

    What we are really talking about is how accessibility has changed over time, a factor your post ignores entirely. You make the unsupported assumption that housing prices are the best indicator of accessibility, an assertion that is not common among those that study accessibility issues, is never listed as part of the (various) equations used to define accessibility, and even if it is related at a secondary level, it is only one of many factors people consider when choosing, or keeping a home.

    If your argument is correct, then we could go back and look at independent measures of accessibility over time, and compare the housing prices to see if they change over time in a related manner. To my knowledge, no one has done that yet. Congestion appears to have gotten worse in some locations faster than others and congestion adversely affects accessibility, however it is measured. If your argument is correct then we should be able to identify patterns of locations where housing prices have decreased with increasing congestion, or at least have not gone up as much as other sites that have not experienced increases in congestion. Your handful of selected values does nothing to de-confound or account for all the other variables in home prices and it is insufficient analysis to support your argument.

    As to your post:

    P1) I agree that congestion has gotten worse in some locations every year. That is not surprising since the demand for travel has no where near been matched by the structures that facilitate it. At the same time we have continued to build structures that impede travel. The current drive to match development to transportation infrastructure is an attempt to prevent new structures that will additionally impede travel, but does nothing to alleviate current congestion or reduce current demand. Even considering the negative consequences of auto use, some question whether reducing demand is a cost effective strategy.

    P2) I’ve pointed out previously, that your Sept 30 article has more spin than data. Bacon’s Rebellion used to have a comments link where I could waste a few billion bits, but it has been removed for reasons I’m sure I don’t understand.

    P3) While we are denigrating peoples point of view while not refuting the value of their arguments we may as well add the Congestion Lobby, the Environmental Terrorists, the Anti-Mobility activists, and various other economic special interest groups with misleading, pompous, and disingenuous titles. The Congress for New Urbanism comes to mind. Congress has a number of meanings so I guess people are free to choose the one they think best fits.

    P4) Until it is taken to extremes, increasing mobility always increases accessibility. Until taken to extremes, increasing density also increases accessibility. It would seem that this necessarily implies a U shaped, multivariate function, probably non-linear. Our disagreement, it seems to me is primarily about where the bends in the U are, and what is the radius of usual accessibility that is represented by the base of the U. My question about actual measured accessibility was merely an attempt to discover if anyone has made such measurements, particularly repeated measurements over time.

    P5 -12) I have no disagreement with using the Adam Smith argument, providing it is uniformly applied. I also accept the idea that anecdotal evidence is not necessarily wrong, and it is presented for reasons we feel are based in fact. Caricatures are not without some basis even while we recognize them as inaccurate or even politically incorrect. So, the few examples you submit may be indicative of a picture, we can’t see the full image. Your argument is insufficient. You argue that we need to consider the effects of our decisions down to the dooryard level. I think that a 3-D map of accessibility would show overlapping circles of accessibility based on various centers of activity. If your argument about home values and accessibility is correct, then the value of a house in any location would be the sum of the values from each contributing center.

    If you want to use the Adam Smith argument, then you had best be prepared to allow anyone to make the sort of unsupported claims you make, and to make demands for the same kinds of redress you think are needed. Otherwise, we should stick to verifiable, measurable, repeatable facts, so we can adjust the various kinds of compensation over time. I support the Adam Smith argument, but I believe it is fairly applied it won’t result in the effects you wish to achieve: The net public benefit consists of the sum of everyone’s individual benefit, and the best way to achieve a consistently fair result over time is for everyone to strive for those short term profits you seem to hate.

    P12) If people will locate where they get the best mix of services and job opportunities, then surely transportation is one of those services, and surely they should be free, under Adam Smith’s principles, to set their own utility value on those services. Even if you have an objective measure of accessibility, it won’t fit individual needs or dictate the prices they pay.

    P13) This is utter nonsense, as far as I can figure out. You can’t very well promote Adam Smith in one breath and central planning in the next.

    P14)We have been around on that 40+ variables before. Some of them are optional, or commercially provided, others are self-provided. No one that I know of believes the outlandish price quotes you claim for services in outlying areas. Services are more expensive there, but the numbers I have seen come to around 1.25 to 2 times, and nowhere near ten times. If you use that kind of argument to promote your Adam Smith argument, then your argument is in trouble because it means that not only is central planning a failure, but people are incapable of assessing their own utility functions. What is probably true, is that enough people have assessed their utility functions in such a way that they can justifiably argue to spread the costs more evenly through the political process that results in the subsidies you so dislike.

    P15) Sustainable new urban regions depend heavily on the countryside that supports them. Those people that make the biggest wreck out of the land they use (and as you point out, make the most profit) are not paying their fair share to support the countryside. If there was a fair open and intelligent market for land, the value of open space would be properly recognized and there would be no need to preserve it artificially. The interplay between urban areas and countryside will require an investment in transportation and services in any case, so the question is how dense should we make the countryside in order to get the best use of our investment? The current disparity between farm prduct valuations and home valuations should give us some hint of where our investments can create the greatest change in wealth.

    P16) The Pet Rock teaches us that price and value are not necessarily related to value. You use prices to make your point about accessibility, and then claim prices are grossly distorted by the subsidies you choose to point out. It doesn’t seem you can make your price argument stick that way.

    P17)When the free market builds more great places, it is still going to have to compete with cheaper ones. Whether they are less desirable is matter of taste and individual utility functions. What you are proposing is political action to mandate or subsidize great places at the expense of other places.

    P18)Actual construction costs don’t vary much across the nation.. But it does cost more to re-construct a dilapidated area. It does cost more to construct an individually engineered multi-story structure than an off the shelf, single story, home. Such structures cost even less if they are modular or manufactured housing. The biggest differences in cost are land values, which are artificially scarce (subsidized, you would say) and in the cost of fees, which are mostly a way of subsidizing the value of existing homes by preventing them from feeling the effects of the free market. If you feel like attacking those that make a killing off of land speculation, just consider the difference in construction costs and selling costs for a flat in one of those multi-unit buildings. It is also true that built up area frequently have services that are now inadequate or in need of total reconstruction, as TMT frequently argues.

    P19)I’m willing to accept the idea of full costs for location decisions, but the argument must be uniform and fair. so let those served by Metro pay for it. Let those areas that need congestion relief the most pay for it. Let those areas that need to dramatically improve their schools and safety pay for it. You yourself make the argument that homes are priced lower in some locations because of subsidies, so at full cost they are worth more, not less. In other locations they cost less because of lack of amenities. Part of the reason people pay market rate is because that is what nearby homes sell for. If they all cost more when subsidies are removed they will sell for more or not be built. But the price includes amenities, dis-amenities, subsidies, and arbitrary, excessive, unnecessary costs as well. Your price argument doesn’t hold water.

    I guess you ar right about wasting bytes: it is hard to discount relevance where there is none.

    I’d suggest you read ” Accessibility and the Journey to Work” by David Levinson

    available at

    http://www.ce.umn.edu/~levinson/Papers/Accessibility.html

    In it Levinson finds that your analysis is partially correct: housing in workplace rich areas is associated with shorter commutes.

    That is not the same as lower total costs or lower societal costs, or lower personal costs, or even lower pollution.

    I have advocated for moving jobs out of the city (more mixed use) because that would also lead to shorter commutes. This is an idea you have pooh poohed because it does not fit your ideas of how we should conserve open space at all costs, no matter what the net benefit is to the public good.

    Levinson shows that workplaces located in housing rich areas are also associated with shorter commutes.(Ta Ta!) Furthermore the highest percentage of work at home types is in the rural areas – no commuting.

    He agrees that although travel has gone up, travel time has not, and accessibility is more related to time than to distance. He also argues that accessibility is the net sum of several competing accessibility functions, similar to my overlapping circles of accessibility above.

    Since transit is generally half the speed of Autos, transit oriented development is less accessible and more expensive than other technology even after you subtract the loss of accessibility due to street “wastage”. It is not a waste if you use it efficiently.

    So yes, I agree there is a point at which sprawl is inefficient. There is also a point at which density is inefficient. Where we disagree is in what locations that happens. I submit that people are not as geographically illiterate as you seem to think, especially when their personal finances are figured in, and that our present choices are a fair approximation of what we desire, as are the subsidies we demand.

    Yeah, I know, the public good and all that, but here is the thing: I agree with you that people should pay their own way for the choices they make. So as soon as the “Public Good” is willing to cut rebate checks to those who sacrifice, paid for by those who benefit, then I’m willing to listen. Otherwise the Public Good boils down to stealing. I’m in favor of promoting the public good, only so long as the benefits are distributed equally. This is precisely the argument that has led Oregon citizens to make their point overwhelmingly at the ballot box only to be overturned by well-funded special interests in the courts – twice. That argument is not over yet, but other states that previously emulated Oregons enlightened land use laws are now lining up to emulate the latest proposed and publicly supported additions.

    Your argument that cities are superior, misses the point that they are supported by the countryside, and only proves the point that the benefits are not well distributed.

    When those that make the biggest wreck out of the land they use (and as you point out, make the most profit from it), join together with those that claim we have to save this valuable open space, to pay a halfway living wage to those that use and maintain the open space, then sign me up. Meanwhile, don’t beat me up because I commute to my first job in order to support my second job: that I count beans so I can afford to raise beans. In the unfortunate event that I fail in raising beans due to economic circumstances beyond my control, then don’t prohibit me from selling the company assets to the highest bidder or else become the highest bidder. That’s a free market, until that happens, PEC makes Wal-Mart look generous.

    Back on topic, of accessibility. Accessibility is at least a three edged sword. There is jobs accessibility, housing accessibility, and everything else accessibility. Areas with high employment density suffer from higher employment costs because employers have to compete for labor with higher wages because the laborers are in turn paying higher housing costs because the laborers there have to compete for housing. Areas with higher housing density suffer from higher employment costs (lower wages and longer commutes) because the laborers ther have to compete for jobs.

    What you point to as “the market” is actually a market imbalance caused by a surfeit of jobs in one location. This results in outlandish expenses like VRE and Metro to subsidize employers who are located in the wrong place. As you would say, it is dysfunctional.

    Levinson’s research is based on an extensive government data set based on the Washington area. The report is dated 1996, but it is based on data from 1988. It includes graph which shows that housing costs, on average, don’t vary much as far as 18 miles from the center. On the same graph he plots accessibility, which also does not vary much out to 18 miles.

    (Parenthetically, your claim of ten times expenses for homes at this radius appears to be wrong: the best verifiable data I can find shows reactively modest increases.)(Also, Ive got some data on what it would take to entice people to move. If you take those costs into account, the cost of auto transportation looks cheap. Transit, in particular, doesn’t play very well in that equation.) Show me your data, I’ll show you mine.

    At that point,(18 miles) his data starts to agree with your argument: commuting prices go up, and housing prices go down. I have written Levinson to find out if the study has been repeated with later data.

    If you are right, accessibility will have gone down and we would see more disparity in housing prices with distance today than we did then. I don’t have the numbers, so I can’t prove my point, but my sense is that today we would see a very similar graph to the one he produced, except that the radius would be larger. The radius of similar accessibilities would be larger and the radius of similar home prices would be larger. There would be additional overlapping circles centered on new locations. The associated map of housing prices would either show that people are making rational choices or not.

    When the information becomes available, I’ll let you know. If you’d like to learn the answer, let me know.

    Despite your constant harping on these two issues, and with data selected to suit your argument, neither housing costs nor commuting costs are the entire issue. VMT doesn’t mean anything unless you consider the value it delivers. Congestion doesn’t mean anything as long as people are willing to pay the time price, except it lowers the value and raises the pollution associated with TMT (Time and Miles Traveled). Even here a hybrid auto solves more than half of that problem by shutting off when it is not moving or moving slowly. Home prices don’t mean anything, unless every contributing factor is considered. New technologies are completely divorcing our “place” of work from our residence location, freeing the market to make the choices it wants and avoiding the previous shackles to the highest priced places, which are probably subsidized anyway.

    In short, your argument is probably mostly wrong and overstated, and if it is not, it is still trivial. For workers, the time at work represents only one quarter of the time spent, for the population at large it is only one eighth, so the utility of work accessibility is relatively small.

    Levinson points out that the journey to work is only about 20% of travel. People choose homes to meet a number of needs, and once chosen, those homes are relatively inelastic. Even if conditions change over time, people are unlikely to move because of the expense involved. On the other hand, if conditions change enough over time, your plan goes out the window, because a centrally managed plan can’t adjust as fast as people do.

    You believe that excess commuting and the technology that leads to it is wasteful and excessive. Levinson would say to you that this approach entirely misses the transaction costs of moving, the aggreagate nature of data used to show that comuting is wasteful, the nonwork opportunities that people use to make housing choices, that the idea that people will submit to a central planner making choices that limit their individual utilitiies is ridiculous, and the fact that people don’t consider only housing costs, but a package of housing costs combined with a bucket of other related costs and opportunities.

    In short, your argument about accessibility is not backed up with facts, it is one sided, narrowly defined, and wrong.

    Let’s consider a nice walkable, highly accessible location like Ballston. We have here two individuals, one who walks and uses Metro, the other walks and uses a car.

    If he is healthy, he can walk 2 miles in a half hour, so his area of accessibility is about 12.5. Or he can get on the Metro and go to the next station, which takes 15 minutes, and he can walk from there. but the Metro is only open part of the day and he used some time to get there so the additional area of accessibility works out to 1.8 for a total of 14.4.

    If he drives, he has the same walking radius, but he also has the choice of driving (notice the choice here). During rush hour his mobility is limited, but surely he can usually count on being able to drive 5 miles in a half hour, even during rush hour, and ten miles in non rush hour. His weighted radius of accessibility is then 255.

    The enormous investment in Metro offers him almost nothing in accessibility, except the surety that he will pay higher rent. This example is of course a gross simplification.

    Once our hypothetical friend walks very far form Wilson Boulevard, he is unlikely to find very much in the way of accessible opportunities other than some car lots and the homes of friends on single family lots. If, however he jumps in his car, the city is open to him – at a price.

    So, your argument is trivial and mine is incomplete. Either way we have no where near enough knowledge to make policy, let alone administer the policy fairly. That is why we see people argue “That road is only being built to benefit XYZ”. All politics is local.

    I’m on your side. If it was up to me we would live with less, be hunter gatherers, work ten hours a week, and spend the rest of the time in learned conversation, composing heroic poetry, and plotting raids on the neighboring town’s women. We would live off the land with minimal damage.

    That not being the case, I’m pragmatic enough to look for the best incremental answer achievable given the current situation. If I thought that PEC was anywhere close to that answer, then I would be a contributor instead of a critic.

    I don’t have a dog in the fight. This isn’t a matter of you are right and I’m wrong. You hve points and I have points. Nobody knows the “best” answer. I’m willing to let others make their own assessment of which arguments are really in their best interests: I believe in Adam Smith more than I do in Granny Government.

    Today I heard a story on the radio about a previously unknown breakthrough in science, and counter to previous belief. Some scientists suddenly believe that photosynthesis is responsible for as much as a third of methane ( a greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere.
    Why this is a revelation escapes me, since it is well known that apples emit ethylene.

    Be that as it may, this one discovery will mean that those that model greenhouse gasses will have to go back to the drawing board. Our local environment is at least as much a complicated, swirling, changing, difficult to measure mess as the atmosphere. Your one fixed solution strikes me as a feeble attempt to make a simplistic single solution cause stasis in the system that we rely on for change so we can adapt to current needs.

  3. E M Risse Avatar

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOBILITY AND ACCESS

    As a general rule we do not respond to “anonymous” postings or filibusters.

    “anonymous @ 5:38″ raises a useful issue by demonstrating a lack of understanding of mobility vs access. This is in all likelihood due to the neural linguistic framework that is triggered by the use of the word “access” as discussed in “Deconstructing The Tower of Babel,” 12 December 2005 at db4.dev.baconsrebellion.com

    The problem with Georgetown (the core village of one of the Beta Communities that are all or part in the Federal District) is a lack of mobility, not an access problem. As “anonymous @ 5:28″ noted he cannot drive or take METRO to Georgetown.

    It is easiest to keep mobility and access straight by relying on a couple of aphorisms coined by S/PI.

    First is the Private-Vehicle Mobility Myth. This myth is pervasive in contemporary society as noted in “The Myths That Blind Us,” 20 October 2003 and “From Myth to Law,” 29 November 2004. The myth can be stated as follows:

    It is a myth that citizens can choose to live wherever they want, work wherever they want, seek services and recreation wherever they want and then it is possible for government to provide a transport system that allows them to go wherever they want and arrive in a timely fashion.

    “anonymous @ 5:28″ cannot get to Georgetown whenever they want, that is a mobility problem.

    The second tool is an understanding that vehicular transportation is a waste. Resources – time, energy, etc. – are spent on vehicular transport to get from where you are to where you want or need to be.

    Being in an accessible place means that one can get to many, most or all of the places they need or want to be without resorting to a vehicle. Before the Autonomobile, it was that train, the boat or the horse. Those who live, work and seek services in Georgetown (many who live in Georgetown do not choose to work) are already where they need or want to be to assemble the quality, contemporary life that meets their goals. If they were not where they wanted to be they would sell and move and then over time, the price would drop.

    It also useful to understand why shared-vehicle systems “work.” They work, not because everyone within the station area uses the system to meet all their access needs. They work because the system allows station-area residents and workers to meet some of their mobility needs but at the same time facilitates patterns and densities that allow many citizens to meet most of their access needs and wants without resorting to any vehicle.

    As we have noted, the building value market is not the sole parameter of accessibility but it is a very good barometer.

    EMR

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    FIFTEEN TIPS FOR BUYING A HOME
    “3. ALWAYS BUY NEIGHBORHOOD
    Property in good, quiet neighborhoods with solid school systems always appreciates well. Avoid proximity to business establishments,
    factories, railroad tracks, heavily traveled streets, nearness to police and fire stations and being too close to schools. “
    From http://www.prweb.com/releases/2003/9/prweb81125.php

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar

    It takes hard work and deep understanding to elucidate complex problems. If you think they can be explained or planned away with homilies, platitudes, and aphorisms, knock yourself out. If you think repeating the same over and over substitutes for education, or makes the aphorisms truisms, well, I think people are smart enough to know the difference.

    It is important to understand why share vehicle system don’t work.
    1) They usually depend on defined routes that limit accessibility.
    2) They are slow, which limits acessibility
    3) They require paid operators, usually union operators that are subsidised above market rates.
    4) Except in the most densely traveled routes their load factor is worse than automobiles.
    5) They have limited hours of operation. This limits accessibility and increases the ratio of fixed cost to usage.
    6) They depend on heavy subsidies, almost none meet their operating costs, let alone capital costs.
    7) Their mere existence is itself a subsidy to badly located work sites.
    8) They do little to extend opportunites of the new suburban work centers to the urban poor. Some economists have proposed that the urban poor be provided with autos to increase their opportunities (accessibility).
    9) Other economists report that if they paid their full costs, transit use, already a fraction of total travel would decrease substantially.
    10) A major subsidy to transit is artificially restricting development in such a way to make transit feasible.
    10) Control of Transit systems (and the associated development) confers power and patronage. Anyone who thinks transit systems are about transportation, doesn’t understand what is going on.

    Is that short enough for you?

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Complex environmental regulations can significantly increase the length and cost of home building review and approval processes;

    “Smart growth” principles can be misused to justify limiting affordable housing production by restricting available land that could otherwise be developed;

    Impact fees may not reflect the true infrastructure costs of a development and can artificially inflate the cost of housing

    “Regulations Close Doors to Affordable Housing, HUD Finds”

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/consumerawareness/a/affordhousing.htm

  7. Ray Hyde Avatar

    I see in the Post that Arlington assessments are up 18% this year. Out here in far remote inaccessible Delaplane my assessments are up an average of 30.5% per year over the last four years.

    Fauquier is now the locus of one the largest concentration of high value homes in the nation. Class A office space is now being planned in Warrenton.

    How does this square with your theories?

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Consider yourself lucky….assessments are up over 130% in Clarke County!

  9. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Anonymous 10:48 Well yeah, but part of that is because of the overflow caused by severe land use restrictions in Fauquier and Loudoun. But your argument again refutes EMR’s argument, only this time even farther away from the core.

    ——————-

    Consider this argument from Thomas Sowell

    “Why then are there particular places where housing costs have skyrocketed?

    In those places, much of the land is prevented by law from being used to build housing. These land use restrictions are seldom called land use restrictions.

    They are called by much prettier names, like “open space” laws, laws to “preserve farmland” or prevent “sprawl,” “greenbelt” laws — or whatever else will sell politically.

    People who already own their own homes don’t worry about whether such laws will drive housing prices sky high. Somebody else will have to pay those prices while existing homeowners see the value of their property rise by leaps and bounds.

    Meanwhile, land that might otherwise provide homes for others becomes in effect free park land for themselves, while such upscale communities use “open space” laws to keep out the masses. The crowning touch is that such self-interest is depicted as idealism.

    A famous economist named Joseph Schumpeter once said that the first thing someone will do for his ideals is lie. Some people distinguish little white lies from black lies but the biggest lies of all are green lies.”

  10. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “Several studies suggest that rational use of more compact development patterns from 2000 to 2025 promise the following sorts of savings for governments nationwide: 11 percent, or $110 billion, from 25-year road-building costs; 6 percent, or $12.6 billion, from 25-year water and sewer costs; and roughly 3 percent, or $4 billion, for annual operations and service delivery. School-construction savings are somewhat less.”

    Brookings institute.

    Now, that is a long way from your claimed and unsupported ten fold or 20 fold increase.

    Maybe you and PEC would be more believable and get more contributions if you were just a tad more believable.

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