Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Driven to the Brink

with 6 comments

Those of you following the fortunes of the US and who read Chris Leinberger’s article will find the following somewhat familiar

A new analysis shows that high gas prices are not only implicated in the bursting of the housing bubble, but that the higher cost of commuting has already re-shaped the landscape of real estate value between cities and suburbs. Housing values are falling fastest in distant suburban and exurban neighborhoods where affordability depended directly on cheap gas.

Author Joe Cortright wrote to me “Our contribution is to use some current and very detailed data about real estate markets to flesh out that [Leinberger] story.”

Read the press release here.

Download the full study here.

Download File (PDF 107 KB)

Of course I do not expect that this will have any impact at all on Kevin Falcon – who will just stick his fingers in his ears and start singing the zoom zoom song

Oil $120m a barrel, gas $1.30 a litre – and we are going to widen a freeway and build the SFPR across Burns Bog

Written by Stephen Rees

April 28, 2008 at 4:17 pm

6 Responses

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  1. The article makes me think that the Park Royal expansion was an opportunity lost. Imagine if 4-9 storey condos and townhouses were interspersed with the “Main Street” shops and restaurants.


    April 28, 2008 at 5:41 pm

  2. It’s amazing how fast that withdrawal from the burbs is happening. The Atlantic had an article a couple months ago ( that talked about entire neighbourhoods being abandoned by people who can’t afford their sub-prime mortgages, wondering what the future is for these empty houses where infrastructure will stop being supported. Will they become unpoliced tribal/gang zones? Camps for mortgage refugees? Or will they just become adopted as small towns, no longer a part of the larger city?

    It’s an interesting problem, but also very sad to think of the rapid cycle of building and abandonment. The idea of people just leaving the keys and walking away en masse has an almost literary feel.

    Todd Sieling

    April 29, 2008 at 9:34 am

  3. On re-reading, I should say that the point of my comment is to ask, what is the end-game for suburbs that required cheaper oil in order to be affordable?

    Todd Sieling

    April 29, 2008 at 9:36 am

  4. Todd

    Yes that article is linked from my post.

    Let us hope that there is no “end game”. But the process of retrofitting the suburbs is going to be massive and take a long time. First will be the provision of transit alternatives. Second will be densification around the transit nodes, and increasing the amount of mixed uses. Secondary suites and home offices will flourish, and lawns will be converted to vegetable patches. Most of the sillier rules that currently govern use and appearance will be scrapped in favour of energy saving. New footpaths and trails will be pushed through to shorten human powered trips.

    North America will still be better off than a lot of the rest of the world, so it will be still be a migration destination. The interesting thing will be the extent to which buildings are adapted – or just pulled down and replaced. After all, most of what goes up these days are temporary structures, never designed to last very long. Clearing sites will allow for more rapid land use changes, but I would bet on piecemeal rather than comprehensive redevelopment. This could well spark a whole new wave of innovation. And I would not be surprised to see some places abandon zoning and conventional planning altogether.

    Stephen Rees

    April 29, 2008 at 10:18 am

  5. I haven’t read the articles yet and need to get some shut-eye but today I tallied up the houses for sale in my neighbourhood: 7. Two sold within the last 2 or 3 months, 2 sold recently, and 3 more still on the market. (I think that’s about right.) When I got home I read the entire list of sale prices from this one real estate agent, from March to the present. On the list of 20+ houses, townhouses, and condos, only two, perhaps three, got more than the asking price. Another real estate agent has been boasting of his over-asking price sales and I have a feeling that will not continue.

    Maybe Falcon’s betting on the price of gas being so high that his future expansion will give the remaining drivers the room he’s dreaming of. HA! I will be shocked if this government gets re-elected next May… something we didn’t bring up at the VALTAC meeting, at least while I was there.

    Erika Rathje

    April 29, 2008 at 11:39 pm

  6. We also made a short video to help explain the concepts…maybe that might help get the message across:


    June 20, 2008 at 9:03 am

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