Prospects for $4-a-gallon gasoline have a lot of people lately questioning their commutes. Some people are even starting to talk and write about the long-term viability of the suburbs with oil trading well over $100 a barrel and heading up by the day.
In Sacramento, traffic congestion alone has pushed growing numbers of suburban residents to live closer to downtown. This avoidance of pain is one reason that property values stay strongest in older Sacramento neighborhoods. Now, expensive gasoline may cause more commuters to rethink where they live.
One alternative to settling suburbanites in downtown lofts is building more houses near transit lines. We are starting to see a little more of that lately in Sacramento. One of the newest examples is Hampton Station, rising within shouting distance of the Meadowview light rail station in South Sacramento. Woodside Homes, a national builder based in Salt Lake City, plans 177 houses on its site near the Regional Transit line and has already sold nine.
Sunday, senior sales agent Jamie Comer was writing up a 10th sales contract when I stopped by a little after 11 a.m. Comer said most of the buyers are from the surrounding neighborhoods. But three buyers bought there specifically because they can walk to light rail and take it downtown to work, she said.
There are only about a dozen homes built so far. But the place has a very nice new city park and prices as of today ranged from $221,000 to $317,000.
Sacramento is still a long way from building the variety of transit-oriented housing that exists in the Bay Area. But one by one it is starting here, too. Hampton Station is a major development where going to work downtown never involves stopping to buy gas.
OK, I confess this video is rough. It's my first on this blog. But you can see the downtown-bound Regional Transit train out the second-story bedroom window near the Meadowview Station. I promise: videos will improve. You get the point.