Data from three U.S. metro areas show a failure to address land use and sprawl as a key factor driving climate change.
A report from Rushaine Goulbourne and Jenny Schuetz provides a model for climate-friendly housing development in Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., three metro areas with different urban development patterns. The report notes that "over the past 30 years, most new homes in these metro areas have been built in suburban and exurban communities, with single-family homes making up roughly 70% of new homes—exactly the opposite of climate-friendly growth." But since 2005, multi-family units have started overtaking single-family construction, signaling a shift toward denser, more accessible developments. The authors recommend strategies including infill development that will put people closer to jobs and services and enable a 'car-light lifestyle.'
According to the report, "In Chicago and Washington, D.C., homes built in the urban core and along key transit spokes that connect to large suburban job centers create the greatest opportunity for non-car-dependent commutes. However, in the Atlanta metro area, nearly two-thirds of MARTA stations are located within the city of Atlanta, providing limited connections to major suburban job centers."
While most land use decisions are made at the local and state level, the authors note, the federal government can encourage more sustainable development by enacting rules that connect land use to transit funding and providing grants to boost transit.
The Right to Mobility
As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.
How Virginia Counties Use Zoning to Stifle Development
Some state legislators are proposing action at the state level as counties block development using zoning and development requirements even as housing prices rise sharply in the region.
The Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Remake Downtown
Urban cores around the country were transforming into live, work, and play destinations before the pandemic. The pandemic was a setback for this transformation, but it could also be a rare opportunity. It’s up to city leadership to seize it.
L.A. Times Editorial Board Calls for CEQA Reform
The Board argues that the environmental law, while important, has too often been ‘weaponized’ by NIMBY groups to delay or halt housing development.
Seattle Brings Free Transit to Public Housing
Linking transit programs to housing can lower administrative costs and streamline the process for riders.
Columbus Could Lower Downtown Speed Limits
The city council will vote on a proposal to lower speed limits to 25 miles per hour to improve safety and make downtown more walkable and welcoming to pedestrians.
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