Chevy Volt to Run on Goodyear Fuel Max Tires
East Penn Manufacturing and Nuvera Fuel Cells Provide 20 Fuel Cell/Battery Hybrid Units for Forklift Demonstration

President Obama: Days of Building Sprawl Are Over

Responding to a question from a city councilwoman about transportation and infrastructure in the stimulus bill during a town hall forum in Ft. Myers, Florida, President Obama said that the days of just building sprawl are over.

From a transcript provided by Transportation for America:

Not only do we need to rebuild our roads, our bridges, our ports, our levies, our dams, but we also have to plan for the future. This is the same example of turning crisis into opportunity...Now, look, this is America. We always had the best infrastructure. We were always willing to invest in the future. Governor Crist mentioned Abraham Lincoln. In the middle of the Civil War, in the midst of all this danger and peril, what did he do? He helped move the intercontinental railroad.  He helped start land grant colleges. He understood that even when you’re in the middle of crisis, you’ve got to keep your eye on the future. So transportation is not just fixing our old transportation systems but its also imaging new transportation systems.

That’s why I’d like to see high speed rail where it can be constructed. That’s why I would like to invest in mass transit because potentially that’s energy efficient and I think people are alot more open now to thinking regionally in terms of how we plan our transportation infrastructure. The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody recognizes that that’s not a smart way to build communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this kind of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation. That will make a big difference.

Comments

kelly

Refreshing Presidental remarkings.

Justin VP

I completely agree with these statements. Urban planning is the most important step in reducing our energy consumption.

But watch out, there's going to be a lot of voters upset by this. Folks love their big lots in suburban neighborhoods. The public won't give up their love for the suburban life until demographics shift, and suburbs become lower income and higher crime. It appears this shift is already happening due to spiky energy prices and the collapse of the housing bubble, but I think it'll take another 5-10 years before most Americans realize what happened.

ejj

EXCELLENT OBSERVATIONS JUSTIN. Many of us saw this redistributionism coming --- no surprises for me. With my experience of having worked in the Detroit area, my translation of what Obama is saying is this: "No more white people moving out away from the non-white people." Detroit has "lines in the sand" - one side white, the other side black. The white side (generally speaking), moving progressively out towards the country, is more and more wealthy. The ghetto of Detroit looks like a post-apocalyptic war zone. I think a lot of whites grow up in the suburbs, go to college, then get a corporate job in the suburbs and never truly understand or are exposed to the ghetto - especially the pampered/spoiled soccer moms & church ladies.

I agree with Obama though and think his presidency is good for America - even though he is waaaay to liberal for me. We do need to figure out and solve, once and for all, gentrification - the American dream can't simply be a house & yard in the burbs as far out as possible anymore. Will it will truly work in places like Detroit? Doubtful. Certain segments of our society are going to have live more civilized lives and take MUCH better care of themselves and their surroundings - speak english properly and conduct their lives with dignity (raise their standards). Other segments are going to have to develop more realistic, grounded perspectives (lower their standards a little).
My two cents.

Bryan

So now the president is telling me where I can and can't live? I miss liberty.

Bryan

Seriously though.. How can the president tell people what to do with their own property if it is legal within the local zoning laws?

Andrey Levin

Emerging trend is to move back into city centers, to live in high-rises in walkable neighborhoods with public transportation connections (preferably under/over ground). Notable examples are Boston and Manhattan. There are multiple advantages: live in walkable distance from work (downtown), restaurants serving during the day downtown workers open their doors at evening to dwellers, etc.

This is what is happening in Vancouver, and on large scale. However, families raising kids universally prefer to move to suburbia. But the rest – young and old folks (about 40% of population) could find living in the city center much more satisfying.

Treehugger

Ha one intelligent contribution of Andre Levin, keep going when you are not led by your AGW blind negationism you are rather good.

wintermane2000

The problem with cities is they are full of people.

Reel$$

And all this wish fulfillment has what to do with green cars?

BTW, old people will only move into cities IF they are clean and safe. If you look at cities mentioned here they are neither.

ToppaTom

Has Obama reverted to empty rhetoric and hyperbole?
We should all walk, bus, use mass transit, carpool and floss.
WOW, no kidding.
We should all pack together like ants in Arcosanti?
"The days where we’re just building sprawl forever", is grade school hyperbole.
The push from the inner city to the suburbs was, and is, the American dream.
Moving back into the inner city has been a low level “chronic fad” for the single upwardly mobile since Paolo Soleri in the 70s.
The drug free open spaces of lower cost housing is still the place to raise kids.

Now, if he can outlaw heterosexual marriage and having kids .. .. Umm.
Did he promise this to Nancy Pelosi ?


ejj

Andrey: The problem with New Urbanism is the reality that you're not going to get everyone behaving the way they need to in order to co-habitate peacefully in environments where they're packed in like sardines. You're going to have people with lowriders parking their hoopties on what little lawn they have & blasting their subwoofers...fighting with their "bitches & hoes" or "chicas"-all kinds of disturbances...and once you've bought a place & moved in, good luck getting out in this market....definitely NOT a Truman Show utopian picture.

In Orlando, Florida and other major cities, developers built massive upscale condo developments thinking yuppies would flock to these areas that have bars & restaurants that might cater to them --- but they didn't think to address ingress/egress to these areas, crime, the massive amounts of "homeless" people (sometimes a con by normal people to make extra money) on the streets that are constantly panhandling, and various other sleaze. So for those and other reasons, vast condo buildings, ready for move-in, are sitting empty.

Obama needs to attack these fundamental problems of urban areas in ways that only he can. People aren't going to want to live and work in an area like Detroit that has mass transportation, if you still have to order your food through 6-inch thick bullet-proof glass, work in an area where garbage is piling up on the streets & commercial buildings have bricks where the windows used to be and are surrounded with chain link fences & razor wire (where you need a remote-control to get in) because of the crime & drug dealing that takes place out in the open. People aren't going to want to live in a ghetto where 1/3-2/3 of the residential homes have been burned to the ground & most of the homes that are remaining have their windows smashed out and are falling apart. Go ahead & build mass transporation to these areas - it has government boondoggle written all over it.

Zhukova

Vladimir Lenin limited Soviet people to an 18 square meter apartment per family. Is this where we are heading or will Obama have the guts address the real cause of sprawl - overpopulation?

country mouse

urban spaces are fine for people who welcomed the rented experience (live music, restaurants, etc.). Those of us that build or grow things survive better in suburban spaces. Urban spaces are great for young people who are strong and capable of asserting their rights to exist. Anyone needing someone else to defend them (children, older people) are a risk to the ever present criminal element.

walkable cities trade-off economic freedom for the tyranny of the local merchant. If you need to live off of what you can get to by walking or highly inefficient public transit, you end up in a monopoly situation where you have one merchant to go to and I can guarantee you, they will charge a premium for that service.

urban spaces are significantly more expensive per square foot than suburban. The price differential between equivalent urban and suburban spaces will subsidize 20 years of automobile use. a related question is how in the tubes or the economic loss of people abandoning suburban properties and moving into urban spaces? Who is going to build urban properties, how dense, and how high? The current subway/bus model of public transportation implies there will be housing clusters of tens of thousands of people around each public transit stop.

bringing this comment back on topic for the blog, public transit is less efficient than electric cars. A bus with a four mpg rating must have seven passengers minimum at all times to reach energy parity with a 30 mile per gallon car. If you have electric vehicle which is three times more efficient, that means your average passenger load for public transit bus in order to reach energy parity needs to be 21 passengers for every single mile that bus operates.

another thing to consider is the cost of building public transportation. Would it be cheaper to use the same money to buy everyone an electric car? There's a good chance it would be.

according to current technology, electric vehicles won't make it practical to commute more than 30 or 40 miles each way to a job. What they will make practical is preserving a financial investment in suburban properties by enabling you to get to a nearby transit stop as well as putting 3 or 4 markets within range so you aren't held hostage by the local merchants.

TM

That was a stupid declaration. yes, there should be more city planning/suburbia planning. is sprawl over? no way. why? land in the boonies is always cheaper than prime downtown real estate.

The Goracle

"Smart Growth" has already proven itself to be a disaster. In Montgomery County, Maryland, they are building massive, high-rise, condos near public transportation (METRO). What it has done is make the streets in those areas gridlocked and unusable. It's a "lets make things dramatically worse!" plan.

Why is it that liberal fantasies are always disasters for people?

MikeR

I think this discussion is driven by what we perceive as suburban vs. urban (good vs. bad; safe vs. unsafe; boring vs. exciting).

Future living situations will be determined by what is economically practical. Should energy prices remain stable it will be business as usual; some cities will thrive, others will decline, sprawl will continue unabated. Everyone will get to drive their technologically advanced, "green" vehicles and feel good about what they're doing for the environment.

If, however, energy prices rise significantly (and this is likely given our dependence on petroleum to fuel our economy; and by the way, it's not about gasoline and your commute to work, it's about diesel and its role in everything we build and produce) then it would be prudent to invest in infrastructure like high-speed rail, public transit, intermodal transit, and urban spaces. The suburbs that surround the network and urban core are not to be left out of the equation. We will just have to rethink their form and role, including providing for greater density and extending mass transit.

creativforce

The limits of expansion are real, Obama doesn't need to enforce them. We taxpayers are tired of paying for roads to nowhere so that developers can fill them in with sprawl. It is profoundly stupid to think that if you live at the edge of Exurbia, your home prices and taxes should be cheaper! You should be free to live where ever you want, but you should be required to pay for the privilege. Do you think anyone living in McMansions could afford it if they had to foot the bill for the infrastructure that allowed them to get there? It's the wealth of urban dwellers living economically close to each other that generates enough tax dollars to support the free loaders in the edge suburbs. Obama gets this because unlike "W" he can do simple math. Ignorance and freedom are incompatible. Highways to exurbia are very expensive, I am tired of paying for them. Come share a wall and a floor with me where we both can walk to work or catch a train and we will both be freer and wealthier, because our taxes and cost of living will be greatly reduced. But please don't bring your automatic weapons.

The Goracle

.

"Do you think anyone living in McMansions could afford it if they had to foot the bill for the infrastructure that allowed them to get there"

It's funny how one's perspective gets so skewed by the place that he or she lives, or fantasizes about living. Most people who live out of town are fairly independent types - NOT asking for, or wanting, the government to get involved in their daily lives. Many, if not most, urban dwellers not only want the government in their lives but want others to pay for it. Look at any urban center's welfare roles, crime, etc., for proof. Also, see tax and spend liberal parts of the U.S. for even more proof.

.

Jorge

"The suburban sprawl is the greatest misallocation
of resources the world has ever known."

-James Howard Kunstler
(author of: The Long Emergency)


creativforce

The point is that you only think you are independent. You don't want to look at the true cost of how and where you live or who is paying for it. Urban centers in Europe are dynamic and healthy, urban centers here are crumbling and decrepid. Europeans pay closer to the true cost of driving, more than 3x for fuel than what we pay, because their fuel taxes pay for road infrastructure--the more you drive the more you pay. We pay for the interstate system with income taxes. Heavy drivers are subsidized by infrequent drivers. Living further out and wasting resources is encouraged by our system. For examnple, a semi truck because of its weight causes over 300% more road damage than a car, but pays only 15% more in taxes. That's a subsidy. A person driving 60 miles a day pays no more in income taxes than a person driving 3 miles a day--that's a subsidy. It's not fair or equitable and when the price of gas got too high it was a major contributing factor to the real estate collapse. It's not about freedom or independence (because we are all dependent on each other as long as we share the same earth with finite resources) it's basic, fricking economics. Gas isn't getting cheaper, roads are getting more expensive, and our past way of doing things is unsustainable. Get used to it. Now, what are we going to do about it? Obama says the days of unlimited sprawl are over and you guys think he is wrong? The alarm is going off, don't you hear it? It's time to wake up.

Bryan

creativforce-

I would like to point out two inherent flaws in your arugments:

1. The longer term trend in the US has been toward urbanization. Since the relative advantage of the US compared to Europe is our agricultural riches, in 1900 the vast majority of Americans lived on farms. American lifestyle is more suited to wide open spaces. I grew up in a farm and now live in a city. I can't wait to move back.

2. You think city dwellers allow people in the suburbs to live? Where do these taxes come from? Only interstate highways are paid for by federal taxes. Most local roads are paid for by local taxes.

I would also like to add that I disagree regarding Obama's mathematical prowess. If that were the case, he would realize any of his campaign initiatives were both unrealistic and overstated. Although his bigger problem is his lack of historical perspective and understanding of economics and financial markets.

The Goracle

.

Urban centers in Europe are dynamic and healthy,

You obviously know nothing about Europe. Urban centers in France were burning a few years ago. Gridlocked traffic is standard. Crime is high. Not exactly "dynamic and healthy."

A person driving 60 miles a day pays no more in income taxes than a person driving 3 miles a day--that's a subsidy.


Why discuss income taxes when fuel taxes pay for roads? Yo attempt to divert the issue with a red herring. VERY large taxes are paid on every gallon of gas purchased. Those taxes are to pay for infrastructure related to roads. That corrupt governments take money slated for roads and spends it on vote buying schemes, not roads, is another issue. Yes, the person who drives farther pays more in taxes than if he drove less.

our past way of doing things is unsustainable

And... Once again, simply blather on with no proof. The only thing that is not sustainable is larger and larger government - exactly what Obama wants, and is actively doing. See ALL of the countries that have tried it in the past for proof. Sweden is a great example. Their system started to collapse about 25 years ago.

Socialism does not work. Get used to it

Bryan

I would like to point out though that I dislike the suburbs because I think they're ugly and lack character... I just think people should have the choice.
Urban living is even less sustainable than suburban living. At least suburban houses could have geothermal HVAC and solar panels. Rural lifestyle is the only truly sustainable living condition in that sense. You can grow your own food.


creatiforc-
Also, another flaw in your argument is that road maintenance is paid for by gas taxes and tolls. The more you drive, the more you pay.

Peter

Goracle, it was the suburbs of cities in France that were burning a few years ago, not the city centers. You're the one who knows nothing about Europe. I was living in Paris in 2005 when the suburbs erupted in riots. Paris was perfectly safe. Paris is safe in general and the metro works great. Sure there's traffic still, but don't try to convince me that traffic in Paris is worse than in large American cities.

ejj

(I think people are missing the point about the suburbs - that people aren't necessarily because of what is there, but because of what's not....)

The problem with New Urbanism is the reality that you're not going to get everyone behaving the way they need to in order to co-habitate peacefully in environments where they're packed in like sardines. You're going to have people with lowriders parking their hoopties on what little lawn they have & blasting their subwoofers...fighting with their "bitches & hoes" or "chicas"-all kinds of disturbances...and once you've bought a place & moved in, good luck getting out in this market....definitely NOT a Truman Show utopian picture.

In Orlando, Florida and other major cities, developers built massive upscale condo developments thinking yuppies would flock to these areas that have bars & restaurants that might cater to them --- but they didn't think to address ingress/egress to these areas, crime, the massive amounts of "homeless" people (sometimes a con by normal people to make extra money) on the streets that are constantly panhandling, and various other sleaze. So for those and other reasons, vast condo buildings, ready for move-in, are sitting empty.

Obama needs to attack these fundamental problems of urban areas in ways that only he can. People aren't going to want to live and work in urbanized areas like Detroit that have mass transportation, if you still have to order your food through 6-inch thick bullet-proof glass, work in an area where garbage is piling up on the streets & commercial buildings have bricks where the windows used to be and are surrounded with chain link fences & razor wire (where you need a remote-control to get in) because of the crime & drug dealing that takes place out in the open. People aren't going to want to live in a ghetto where 1/3-2/3 of the residential homes have been burned to the ground & most of the homes that are remaining have their windows smashed out and are falling apart. Go ahead & build mass transporation to these areas - it has government boondoggle written all over it.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)