Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SPI - A Walkable Urban Community

I talk to lots of people who are interested in renting my condo. One recent potential guest told me that her family usually vacationed in Corpus Christi but that they wanted to try out South Padre this year so that they could leave the car at home.

It may surprise even some of the people who live here that we are perceived as a walkable destination. But the SandBox Inn website makes a point of telling people all the places that are within an easy stroll, and that includes four restaurants, two with bars and one of those a beach bar, a movie theater, a convenience store, a liquor store,  bike & buggy rentals, a coffee/gelato shop, multiple shops and a public beach access. Add the WAVE and the airport shuttles into the equation and you can see that it is in fact very easy to get by without a car in my neighborhood -- and I am not even in the “middle of things.” (Added bonus: Get enough folks thinking they don’t need their cars here and pfft! our parking problem disappears!)

An interesting article in the June issue of Atlantic Monthly has very nice things to say about high-density walkable urban mixed-use neighborhoods. These locales are retaining their property value better than the sprawling suburbs and they are the type of housing most desired by younger single adults as well as families. These are also the types of places people most want to visit on their vacations. There can be no doubt that as cars become more expensive to buy and maintain, the demand for mass transit between these walkable neighborhoods will continue to rise -- and SPI is tantalizingly close to meeting that ideal. Yay us!

The question is how do we get the high-speed rail that will make it easy and affordable for a family in Houston to pop down to the coast for the weekend? The Atlantic article suggests we look to private enterprise: Access to mass transit makes property values rise, so it is appropriate for developers to help fund their establishment.

Imagine with me if you will the idea of a second causeway that is designed not for cars but instead has just one lane for a high-speed train and another for bicycles - paid for largely by the developers who stand to benefit most from its placement. 

Now _that is a second causeway idea that I could throw my support behind!

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