Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

March 31, 2009
The next housing boom will be different
A fascinating morning today at the Sutter Club where the Sacramento affiliate of the Urban Land Institute had William Hudnut in for a morning address to about 100 public- and private-sector land use attorneys, real estate consultants, developers, architects and urban planners.

Hudnut is best known as the mayor (1976-1991) who inspired and shepherded the revival of Indianapolis, and has ever since been a big advocate of cities.

We have a story in tomorrow's paper, but the main takeaway point for me was that when this real estate downturn runs its course, the next housing boom will occur under a wave of new environmental legislation that aims to limit greenhouse gases - and clamp down on cars.

Though it's extremely hard to break the familiar development patterns of single-family homes on empty land in suburbs, these rules could well force more growth inward to existing neighborhoods. The rules aren't voluntary and there's likely to be more coming down the line, was the consensus of speakers.

Hudnut calls this the "Re-century."  Reinvesting, rebuilding, revitalizing and re-engineering.

He had a lot of nice things to say about Sacramento as home to the SACOG "Blueprint" to make growth until 2050 more land efficient. He praised California, home of AB32 to limit greenhouse gases to 1990 levels, and SB375 to tie development patterns to that goal.

"You seem to get it," he said. "A lot of the country doesn't."

 He also praised the walkability of Midtown after a Monday evening reception at the L Street Lofts. He said, "I love the architecture that's been preserved. I love your commitment to historic preservation and the beautiful green space a visitor like myself can enjoy."

(Afterthought, hours later: There's one thing worth noting about any big expectations that housing patterns will change greatly. The California Air Resources Board says changes in development patterns by 2020 will, indeed, trim greenhouse gas emissions - but that nine times more emissions reductions will come from cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars that are still our dominant form of getting around. For all the talk of getting people out of their beloved cars, transit is still only about 2 percent of all trips in the capital region, a fact that shows the continuing challenge of changing behavior to meet climate goals)

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