Yes, rail is good, but we also need to be careful that it does not continue to enable the shakedown by irresponsible developers. Rail needs to be used responsibly to accommodate people within a community and to other dense communities. It is not a crutch to enable developers to build wherever the cheapest land is.
Sprawl is extortion against tax-payers. As careless developers throw up houses on cheap, inaccessible land to maximize their own profit, it is the tax-payer who’s left holding the tab to build the roads and lay the infrastructure that will allow people to actually live out there.
There are people who claim that sustainable planning is some sort of government takeover. The reason that’s so twisted is because sustainability and planning for complete communities ultimately results in cost-savings. It even means less government because it is through sustainability that people become more self-sufficient, and the need for the government to pick up where inefficient planning leaves off is minimized.
One of the effects of sustainability is that it maximizes the profits of the many rather than the few and enables the independence of the many from those few.
When housing is created in an area that has easy (ie. walkable) access to food and entertainment, that means savings for the people living there, but less money for those who gain from things like highway congestion.
And yet, here we are. Each facet of our lives is separated by time and distance, costing each of us thousands every year. Why do we not plan our communities so that they are convenient and cost us less money and improve our lives?
Because of our perception of growth. We have gotten to a point where we are only able to comprehend strength and improvement as a measure of growth. So, if your city isn’t bringing in more people, generating more tourism, or building bigger business, it’s doing something wrong. But that’s not really true, is it. If you stop and think about it, there are plenty of ways to improve that don’t have to do with growth. You can make a better product, you can make your streets safer, you can create a community that promotes a healthier lifestyle, etc. But we as a nation and beyond, aren’t able to comprehend that fact. Some people say it’s an addiction, but I’m not sure that’s the best way to understand it.
I believe it’s closer to something called coercive persuasion, and I’ll get into that scariness next time.