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The steep costs of living so far apart from each other

Stashed in: Economics, Cities!

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Not sure what the problem here actually is.

How do you measure, for instance, the saved health care costs in a community where many people walk for transportation every day? How do you quantify the pleasure gained from a big yard that offsets any of these costs?

So take this number as more of a starting point than a final answer: A new analysis authored by Todd Litman at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute concludes that sprawl costs the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion every year.

More than half of that, Littman calculates as part of a New Climate Economy research project lead by the London School of Economics, is borne by people living in sprawling places who have to drive more, among other things. About $400 billion of it is borne by other people, in the form of air pollution or traffic congestion, or costlier public services — all of it created not necessarily by consumer demand for big homes and lots of driving, but also by policies in America that encourage and subsidize sprawl.

"An awful lot of auto travel and sprawl is the result of market distortions," Litman says. He's talking about policies like the home mortgage interest deduction that encourages large, suburban housing, as well as the fact that we don't charge people for the true costs of using roads. In a more efficient market, he says, "consumers would rationally choose to own fewer automobiles, to drive less, to rely more on walking, cycling and public transit, and they’d choose more compact home and work locations simply because that really optimizes everybody’s benefits."

His $1 trillion number is based on a tremendous number of assumptions. And they’re grounded in a particular take on what the opposite of sprawl should look like. Litman asks the question of what would happen if everyone living in metropolitan America (cities and their suburbs) lived at a density of about 10 people, or five households per acre. That’s by no means Manhattan. It’s a number that represents today about the top fifth of urban density in America.

“For the most part, it means that families with children would have a house with a yard,” Litman says.

So is the problem time? Money? Yards? Cars? Not sure. 

Distance from and poor utilization of land closer to urban centers creates need for cars and roads and all other expensive inefficiencies mentioned in the article.  

The same cars and roads that have been cornerstones of our economy for the last hundred years?

Hmm, it seems like more of an opportunity than a problem. 

America has lost its will to maintain its roads and bridges, so there's opportunity to light a fire *somewhere*!

Ah! That's the issue. The roads and bridges led to people being spread out but now people don't want to pay for roads and bridges!

Ever since our talk about this I see evidence of this trend everywhere, Geege.

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