Our Urban Challenge: Cost of Living

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Take a look at this presentation by the Ozarks Transportation Organization, and pay particular attention to slides 17 though 30 about housing and job growth in Springfield and surrounding communities. You’ll see that demographic projections predict more sprawl.

We must find a way to prevent further sprawl unless we wish to see the cost of living rise beyond sustainable levels — specifically the dual costs of housing and transportation.

The affordability index for our region (calculated by the Center for Neighborhood  Technology) shows that the problem has already arrived. For many people living outside the city limits of Springfield, the costs of housing and transportation have risen above 45 percent of income.

If you work in Springfield and live in the county (Greene or Christian) or in one of the surrounding communities, you are driving a car to work. It’s difficult to know if gas prices will spike this summer, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration does show that the average price per gallon of gas will rise from $2.35 in 2009 to $2.86 in 2010. The price will only go up as we reach peak oil.

Now is the time to be talking density for our urban core.

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Comments 3

  1. Greg wrote:

    Two things people oppose most: Density and Sprawl. You can’t have it both ways.

    And gas prices? They’re going down — well below the projections made earlier in the year. By Memorial Day, estimates are that a gallon of gas in Springfield will cost $2.41

    Posted 13 May 2010 at 12:54 pm
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Greg… I heard that news after I posted this. But I’m thinking the long term trend will always be up since we’re dealing with a limited resource.

    Posted 13 May 2010 at 1:49 pm
  3. Jason C wrote:

    What I find noteworthy in the media’s discussion of the Gulf oil spill is the occasional mention of how BP is having to look for oil in ever deeper waters. Similarly, certain TV ads by Exxon, for instance, tout new methods for reaching oil that is harder to get to.

    What is the significance of these items? They are unmistakable indicators that the most readily available oil has already been found and so ever more resources are having to be directed at its continued discovery and procurement. We likely won’t run out of oil very soon but it will take increasingly more effort to extract it and this will drive cost up. At some point supply will lag far behind demand and this will have the same effect. Never mind all the oil held by OPEC. They can afford to sell it at the going rate no matter how great their reserves. If BP or Exxon charge an arm and a leg out of necessity (not just greed), so too can the OPEC countries (many of which might tacitly view the arrangement as economic sanctions).

    Maybe the price of gas will go down by Memorial Day, but that sort of myopic vision will leave us in a worse state down the road.
    With our society built as it is around the automobile we are running headlong towards another 1970s-style oil shortage, except that this one will not miraculously end.

    Oil is finite and it may take a decade for all I know but the price will go way up and it won’t come back down. At that point people might favor density over sprawl. Or, if effective public transit options have been implemented, then sprawl may still be preferable. Either way, your property value will likely go up, Andy, whether you stay near MSU or move downtown.

    As a side note, some think liquified natural gas will run all our cars if oil supply becomes problematic. Considering how financially strained this country is and how slowly the auto industry adapts I don’t think feasible a switchover to cars that run on LNG. It might work for city buses but I don’t see it happening for individual cars (besides, let’s keep it for heating in the winter!)

    Posted 13 May 2010 at 5:22 pm