Saturday, March 27, 2010

Study points to demise of burbs as bedroom communities

A study by the Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology found that long commutes to jobs in the Los Angeles basin from California's Inland Empire area (San Bernardino/Riverside) aren't really worth it when the cost of commuting is factored in. For decades, housing that costs less than comparable real estate closer to jobs in L.A. was the draw that fueled the region's growth. But when the costs of hours spent in cars and gasoline and maintenance are taken into account, it comes out a wash. (And arguably, potentially a net loss when the adverse work/life balance and health effects are included).

This story reported in the Inland Empire's Press Enterprise is a harbinger of socio-economist Jack Lessinger's predicted end of the surburbs. If their main attraction -- more spacious housing and bigger lot sizes for the buck -- begins to disappear, then the demise of the burbs as bedroom communities is at hand.

Local and regional planners want to revamp the region to bring in more employment to reduce out-commuting. But that can't be the only approach as it's likely not enough local jobs can be created to achieve a rough jobs/housing balance. Lots of creative and information-based work will continue to be connected to L.A.-based institutions. Those who work for them need robust telecommunications infrastructure to interact with and deliver their work product from their homes and local communities. This infrastructure is as critical to the survival of these suburban regions as the freeways that created them.

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