Brookings to Congress: Integrate Housing and Transportation Planning

In this testimonial to Congress, the Brookings Institution's Robert Puentes argues that housing and transportation are irreversibly linked and that, in the face of the current recession, more integrated planning is needed.

"This economic crisis has been exacerbated by a rapid fluctuation in gas prices and transportation costs that likewise brought the urgency of energy and environmental sustainability challenges into clear focus. While gas prices have dropped along with the economy's performance, no serious analyst believes that they will not rebound to even higher levels; therefore, even after the fixes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 take hold, much more action will be needed to address the twin threats of high transportation costs and destabilized housing markets.

As Congress works to repair our financial markets, it will also have to jump start our economy. That quick start requires policymakers to focus on the basics and to further direct efforts on the metropolitan areas where those basics are concentrated. Yet as the federal government focuses, it has to change its approach to governance as well. As it turns out, the current moment of economic crisis is the right time to be talking about getting more efficiency out of the existing system by linking transportation, housing, and land use."

Full Story: Supporting Integrated Planning and Decision Making by Joining Up Housing and Transportation



Land Use and Transportation

Why is it so difficult to understand the connection between land use and traffic? Land development patterns create the need to move from one place to another. The resulting traffic congestion (and environmental deterioration) cannot be managed without enforcing land use controls in the public interest rather than to selectively grant permission to produce more growth. Investing in traffic facilities to support growth without environmental protection is a doomed strategy.

Convincing the politicians can be impossible

I agree completely! It's a simple concept that you'd think is self-evident. But speaking from personal experience, it can be very difficult to convince politicians that things need to change. They see people buying houses in cul-de-sac suburbs and they assume that this the only thing people want. They are also either scared to challenge developers (thanks to an unfounded fear that they will run away), or they are friends with the developers and want to let them keep on doing what they're doing.

I feel like I argue/cajole/reason endlessly to try to convince decision makers of the need to make some fundamental changes about transportation and land-use planning, but unless we see start electing people with a vision for good urbanism, nothing will ever change.

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