Contrary to popular belief, it turns out that the roomiest areas are not in the Western regions of the nation but in the South, according to Jed Kolko, independent economist and senior fellow at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at University of California-Berkeley, in a guest post for TheWashington Post.
We still want some space when building, but also like to be close to jobs, schools, and retail. Kolko points out that sprawl isn't always the opposite of density. In Portland, residents are 1.7 times as likely to take public transit to work than Las Vegas residents, though Las Vegas has denser neighborhoods than Portland (the assumption is that denser areas rely more heavily on transit, while less-dense neighborhoods are car-dependent).
This unexpected finding tells us something important about density. People don’t give up their cars just because they live close together. And as you’ve probably guessed, those metros with surprisingly high housing density but low transit usage don’t have particularly high job density.Job density, for instance, is three times as high in metro Washington, D.C., as in Los Angeles. The politics of density reflect how closely together we live and where there’s room to build -- and the places with lots of room to grow aren’t always where you’d expect.