Seeing as it’s summer and you’ve hopefully been enjoying some well-earned vacation, we thought we’d share some of our favorite posts featured on The Yardstick over the past couple months in case you missed them:
Drive ‘til you qualify doesn’t hold up logically: Americans spend more than 50% of their income on combined housing and transportation costs. Conventional wisdom used to argue that you could save money by moving further and further away from core areas, but even though housing may become more affordable by distance, transportation expenses quickly pile up and these costs are significantly greater for low- and moderate-income families.
Sixty years ago, Fairfax County’s principal economic output was milk. Today it is the region’s most populated jurisdiction with an economy led by fortune 500 corporations. Between 1987 and 2007, metro Washington’s agricultural land declined by 23%.
This trend – metro Washington losing more than one percent of agricultural land per year – represents a huge shift culturally and economically for the region. Economic growth and development need not be at odds with preservation and environmental protection if better land-use decisions prevail.
Homeless and working: The problem of homelessness among the working poor, especially in a region like ours with very high housing costs, is exacerbated due to a lack of affordable housing. The annual count of the region’s homeless population found that 35% of adults in homeless families are employed, as are 17% of homeless single adults and 14% of homeless unaccompanied youth.
Affordable housing and its connection with homelessness and the working poor is a crucial issue. If jurisdictions put policies in place to vastly increase the amount of affordable housing, we can reduce homelessness in metro Washington. On the other hand, if housing costs are allowed to increase, the rate of people who are working and are still unable to afford housing will correspondingly increase.
Economy, time of year impacts rate of travel, auto emissions: The economic downturn is causing people to take longer to replace their cars. This is leading to an older-than-expected fleet producing greater-than-expected emissions. Also, despite the overall rate of travel remaining essentially unchanged, traffic delays decrease by nearly 20% in metro Washington during the summer months due to a people traveling more at off-peak times.
Taking a bilateral approach to a transportation problem: Traffic congestion knows no jurisdictional boundaries. One of the most obvious examples of this reality comes in the form of the highly-traveled and highly-congested American Legion Bridge, which traverses the Potomac River to connect Fairfax and Montgomery Counties.
At their first-ever joint meeting, officials from the region’s two most populous jurisdictions had a frank and honest discussion about the problems posed by the bridge and potential solutions, especially in light of the soon-to-open HOT lanes in Virginia that are likely to increase bottle-necking at the Legion Bridge.