Why plan for an uncertain future? Our world is changing in ways that we can hardly comprehend. The planning we have been engaged in over the last 100 years, is geared to a world with abundant energy, a stable climate, and a dwindling natural resource endowment that is reliant on cheap energy for extraction. That world is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Oil price spikes due to supply/demand and geopolitical concerns, water shortages (Google Lake Mead, Central Valley, CA or the Ogallala Aquifer for details), and soil depletion are just a few of the problems we face. As we move forward, the notion that we can continue with business as usual (BAU) is not going to sustain us.
Thinking creatively and making difficult decisions will test our abilities, push our cultural boundaries and hopefully shape a world where these uncomfortable realities can be dealt with in an equitable and meaningful manner. I write about things I see, think, and work on as I transition from being a planning student into the world of planning. I am neither a technological optimist, thinking we can invent our way out of all our problems, nor a doomer, believing in returning to a world much like pre-industrial times. I believe that our creativity combined with the lessons from the past will be instrumental tools for laying the foundation for the path forward. Some of my ideas may seem radical, others are just based on common sense and keen observations.
Planitizen’s Michael Lewyn explores the relationship between density and price, combating the notion that dense urban development is bad because it is unaffordable. While urban housing prices have risen lately, it is largely a reflection of housing preference and supply and demand for those sought after living spaces. He includes several examples of dense development at various price points.
My not so original contribution to this is to ask: how big of a role does transportation play in affordability when one isn’t paying for the high cost of an automobile? There is a great mapping site that uses a variety of data inputs and displays housing affordability according to median home price, then combines that with transportation costs to give a clearer picture of affordability.
Once transportation costs are accounted for, and perhaps disaggregated to tease out auto ownership in high density transit served areas, can an accurate analysis be performed. That would provide a clear picture of the real cost of living based on place and transportation choice.