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nyxmike

If gas hits $7 a gallon, how will this effect Charlotte?

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Will we continue to grow by 60,000 plus people a year? Will we begin to densify? I feel like a lot of people move here not only because it is cheap, but for the more suburban/rural lifestyle. As a result, you pretty much have to drive everywhere. Will people still move here like they have been, but closer in, or will we see a huge decline in the amount of growth here? I like the growth we have been experiencing, mostly because it has helped Charlotte become more diverse and give us some culture we didn't previously have. However, I would much rather see us densify than continue to spread out. What do you all think?

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Hmmm...interesting point. I think people will continue to move here as long as they perceive that the job market is better in Charlotte than wherever they are from.

Also, as long as Charlotte has relatively affordable housing, I don't really see a huge shift to denser (closer in) living. The logic being, it's better driving 15 miles in Charlotte to live in a $150k house than driving 30 miles in Boston to live in a $300k house.

I think Charlotte will be successful in attracting young professionals to the urban core. I know several that have relocated in the last several months, and all live in the SouthPark area or closer to Uptown.

Families...don't count on it until the perception of the school system changes.

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Honestly, I feel we are just in a transitional period right now. In order for the automotive industry to survive, it is going to have to create fuel efficient vehicles and new technology to adapt to high gas prices. In a few years, I'd expect for this to have happened and that many will continue to live out in the 'burbs. However, I think with the 2030 plan and just the energy scares in general, plus the lifestyle that our recent uptown has been able to provide (more things to do), more people will like to move uptown or on the corridors. I agree Atlvr, the center city living and neighborhoods tend to cater to the younger generation and the suburbs will continue to offer to growing families... at least here in Charlotte.

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Folks are certainly going to have to rethink their suburban or rural lifestyle if they want to work and play in the city. Fortunately for Charlotte, high gas prices are happening everywhere, not just here. Charlotte has a great deal to offer in terms of location that isn't available in a lot of other places, particularly those in the midwest. We're just a short-drive from great mountains and great beaches which gives us an edge over a lot of other places.

Perhaps Charlotte needs to be marketing itself more towards these and other similar desirables.

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I personally don't think the influx of newcomers will stop. Perhaps it might slow if people need to sell a property elsewhere to be able to move, but the overall migration shows no signs of stopping. I have personal connections to a number of people that have moved here, gas prices had no impact on their choice -- they chose Charlotte because of our housing costs relative to where they left and/or because our job market is fantastic. They didn't get white collar jobs, but they very easily got work the minute they set foot here.

The folks I know that moved here this year:

2 builders from Detroit in December -- they have 30 years experience building high-end homes and had been reduced to apartment maintenance up there due to the lack of construction work. Now they have had their wives move here, and another friend/builder and his son arrived a month ago that was a connection up there of theirs.

My sister and brother in law and their two kids just moved here. They were in Kentucky for two years and before that in ATL. They heard the market was good here and they visited quite a bit. They looked for jobs on the last visit, found them, and loaded up the truck and moved the family. Now their grandparents are looking into moving up from Atlanta.

what i keep seeing going on are people that move here get work, get a home (either rental or purchase) and call where they left and pull more folks this way. again, from what i've been a direct part of, gas prices aren't relevant and, as Neo pointed out, gas prices are rising everywhere so it shouldn't be a factor here unless it was someone that wanted a more large-scale public transport system that we don't have yet.

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For most people moving to Charlotte the fueling aspects of driving are not a huge factor in the decision making process. If you trade your 12 mpg Chevy Suburban for a 36 mpg Prius, you just turned $7 gas into $2.33 gas.

However $7 gasoline and presumably higher diesel will have huge ramifications for any industry that has to move product whether it be human (our airport) or Charlotte's role as the 6th largest distribution center in the USA, and in construction. I see massive disruptions in these industries and it will have ramifications directly here both in employment and in relocations.

Then there is the issue of what happens to general costs. It is more troublesome for many people in this city as the only real outlet they have for clothes, food, and other necessities are in big box retail. There is very little of the manner of home grown movement, self sufficiency, community supported agriculture, food co-ops etc. So the vast majority of people who are forced to shop in places like Harris Teeter, Target, etc are going to be shocked by what they see there. These places only exist by shipping in product from vast distances and unless they make significant changes to their business models, a city that only has these kinds of places, like Charlotte, is going to be less desirable.

Charlotte is a place where there are neighborhood restrictions to prevent clothes lines, not a place that would view a clothes line as a good way to save the environment. True progressive urbanites, I would presume, as this problem gets worse, will choose the latter over living in trendy places such as in downtown or South Park.

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For most people moving to Charlotte the fueling aspects of driving are not a huge factor in the decision making process. If you trade your 12 mpg Chevy Suburban for a 36 mpg Prius, you just turned $7 gas into $2.33 gas.

However $7 gasoline and presumably higher diesel will have huge ramifications for any industry that has to move product whether it be human (our airport) or Charlotte's role as the 6th largest distribution center in the USA, and in construction. I see massive disruptions in these industries and it will have ramifications directly here both in employment and in relocations.

Then there is the issue of what happens to general costs. It is more troublesome for many people in this city as the only real outlet they have for clothes, food, and other necessities are in big box retail. There is very little of the manner of home grown movement, self sufficiency, community supported agriculture, food co-ops etc. So the vast majority of people who are forced to shop in places like Harris Teeter, Target, etc are going to be shocked by what they see there. These places only exist by shipping in product from vast distances and unless they make significant changes to their business models, a city that only has these kinds of places, like Charlotte, is going to be less desirable.

Charlotte is a place where there are neighborhood restrictions to prevent clothes lines, not a place that would view a clothes line as a good way to save the environment. True progressive urbanites, I would presume, as this problem gets worse, will choose the latter over living in trendy places such as in downtown or South Park.

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As someone who moved from NY to Charlotte and then back to NY, I don't think high gas prices will affect Charlotte's overall growth much. The types of people who seem to move to Charlotte- young professionals from the Southeast and elsewhere who want good jobs but don't want to live in NY, and families from NY who want more space or cheaper housing, will still come.

I'd think that housing prices would hold up higher around central Charlotte and people will drive smaller cars and support more mass transit, though.

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In terms of economics, I see $7 gas as a sign that the United States is finally becoming less spoiled than over the last century. The shear fact that gasoline everywhere else in the world is still much more expensive as a whole proves that it is possible to remain economically viable in a automobile oriented environment. We have just become so accustomed to $1 gas ending last decade that we frivolously spend that money elsewhere (when viewing it from a world perspective.)

However, I see this change as a positive one for Charlotte. This change to more dense development and the impending decline of suburbia is a sign that Charlotte has the opportunity to grow in a positive manner and not end up like sprawling metro Atlanta. As people move closer to the city and become less personal automobile dependent, we will see a rise in appeal for Charlotte's inner neighborhoods. Also, we will probably see more and more developments like CityPark that promote live, work, and play within the same community. There will still be opportunities for growth outside of and between these communities via public transportation and our already mass-auto-centric infrastructure. As fewer people drive longer distances, the toll on our roadways will begin to subside. And, therefore, while the city grows, the change in the number of cars on the road should hopefully be lighter.

In light of that point, I believe now is the time to begin implementing tolls to encourage fewer people to live further out and increase reliance on mass transportation. As the trend to move closer to the city grows, the city may as well capitalize on that movement and push it event harder by tolling commuters.

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^ Although that sounds all nice, and I do agree that I believe there will be a shift, I really don't see this happening on a whole. There are many people that believe in living in suburbia, and many that want to raise families in suburbia or have that lifestyle and want the space. Once new technologies emerge that make gas less dependable, I believe you are going to see more of a shift of "suburbanites" transitioning their fuel inefficient vehicles to new vehicles that use alternative energy more so than seeing suburbanites shift in moving their homes and lifestyles. I'm not saying this will be true for all, because I do believe we are going to see more density, public transit use, and 'logical living' (living where they work and spend most of their time) as a result of everything going on, just don't think it's going to happen as much as we'd probaly like.

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In light of that point, I believe now is the time to begin implementing tolls to encourage fewer people to live further out and increase reliance on mass transportation. As the trend to move closer to the city grows, the city may as well capitalize on that movement and push it event harder by tolling commuters.

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I think that by the time we reach $7 a gallon, we're going to have to see some major shifts in the way we get around. One of the things that has now become a factor is transportation COST. People are going to start considering where they live in relation to how much it costs for them to get where they need to go, particularly to places other than work. As owning a car becomes more expensive, the inexpensive homes in the suburbs become much less appealing.

In the interim, fuel efficient cars will be created and it sounds like they will drill for more oil. Anything to try and preserve the status quo.

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The Center for Neighborhood Technology site has maps for showing changes between 2008 and 2000 for gas and transportation expenditures: http://htaindex.cnt.org

The site is a bit slow at the moment but I was able to grab a couple of screenshots showing gas expenditures in 2000 and 2008. If this isn't a telling tale of our city then I don't know what is:

gallery_1_5_2848.png

gallery_1_5_17661.png

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^^I'm sorry for pointing out the obvious, but I'm actually really proud that in UCity, despite its auto-dependence, a nice proportion of people who live in UCity, also work and "play" in Ucity. Also it seems a lot more people use mass transit in this area than I am used to seeing in other areas of the city. For being as far away from uptown as it is (by comparison to other areas of the city in the lighter colors,) I'm a little surprised that it would be that much lower. Places like Southpark would make more sense to me due to their improved infrastructure and more dense and mixed development. Then again, the heart of UCity is the University, which has the associated student pedestrian traffic, and I'm sure it contributes to that figure. Sorry, I just wasn't expecting to see that in an area reliant on a handful of roads.

As for commuter rail, while it will still promote suburban growth, the dependence on the automobile will decline as a result at least proportionally to that population growth. Thus, the end result should hopefully remain the same. I doubt the overall number of cars will decrease at all due to the commuter line, but it will help to curb the steady increase.

While more efficient vehicles are making it more justifiable to drive, the ignorant American dependence on gasoline will only subside a little over time. The vast amount of the public continues to purchase sports cars, minivans, trucks, and suvs that get <15 city miles to the gallon. Yes, there is a rise in the number of Prius's and other various hybrids on the road, but how many of those do you see in comparison to new pickup trucks and Suburbans? Hybrids and super-efficient cars have been out for quite awhile now and still haven't really caught on in America as much as we'd like to think. Yes, they will steadily increase, but I wouldn't put my money on alternative fuels sweeping America in the next decade or two. Therefore, if gas reaches $7/gal before this alternative fuel becomes economically viable, then I see a lot of people making lifestyle changes in favor of saving money.

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.... The vast amount of the public continues to purchase sports cars, minivans, trucks, and suvs that get <15 city miles to the gallon. .....

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Instead of giving up the big ol house with the big ol yard in the 'burbs, they'll seek out cheaper transportation.

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People did not go running back to the cities, in fact they continued to run in the other direction. It is very expensive to live in these places being described and as I mentioned above, one has to look at the total cost to live vs just gas money. This was certainly evident in Charlotte which at that time had more living space downtown than it does now. (I-277 removed a lot of it)

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^So I take it your point is that people are moving to cities not for reasons having to do with gas prices.

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^So I take it your point is that people are moving to cities not for reasons having to do with gas prices.

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I guess it would depend on how you look at it. While a side effect of the move may (and probably is) spending less on gas, I think the main factor in most people's move downtown is convenience.

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i think if every person in Charlotte (or suburbia residents anywhere in the US) were to visit Europe, anywhere in Europe just once they would come back and think twice about driving a gigantic SUV and living in a gigantic house that they know they dont need because they only have 1.7 kids. It's funny how in Europe people spend their money on fashion, culture, and nightlife, and here people spend it on houses and gasoline.....oh America which direction are you going??

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I guess it would depend on how you look at it. While a side effect of the move may (and probably is) spending less on gas, I think the main factor in most people's move downtown is convenience. Do you consider a shorter commute time just a convenience or is it also related to increased gas prices? I wouldn't think someone would buy a $300,000 condo downtown just because gas went up a dollar.

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These are all very valid points, and I now realize that I am viewing the question from the wrong point of view. I purposely moved within a two minute drive (unfortunately UC doesn't provide me the opportunity to walk safely, otherwise I would) of work and class in order to stay away from the pumps in general. I now fill up once every two weeks when I do a lot of driving, instead of once every three days because I rarely sit in traffic anymore. If that cuts my gas consumption by basically 75%, I consider it a worthy investment. At the same time though, I realize I am actually paying more for the convenience and time saved during my "commute" rather than the money saved on gas, but it is a nice plus that I can help myself rationalize my move. Heck, I'd probably use mass transportation if it made economic sense to me. However, due to the nature of the lines in this area, it would both cost me more money than driving and take at least ten times as long to get to work.

I really should be looking at it as a suburbanite commuting to work uptown. Would a rise in gas prices cost more than living expenses within the city? That's where the dilemma is. As long as you have a semi-economic car such as a accord or corolla (among many others,)

And met, when I said that the vast majority of the population was still purchasing sports cars, suv's and the like, I really should've chosen better wording. I meant to say that automobile manufacturers are still selling these vehicles here, so they must have demand for them still. My point was comparing the US to other countries like France, UK, etc where those types of vehicles are much, much less common (from personal observation.) From my stay in Australia, the only large personal vehicles were the occasional Honda Odyssey and "maxi-taxis." Places where gas prices are higher obviously should have proportionally fewer inefficient vehicles. I wonder if there will a tipping point here.

One way to counter this is increasing the awareness of the benefits of public transport, which I think CATS is only just now beginning to effectively do. I see more and more people at the bus stops around this side of Charlotte every day it seems. A year or two ago there may have been one or two people at the stops, now I see at least a dozen at each on a regular basis. Thus, even though a lot of people won't flock to the cities just because of gas prices, at least we'll see an increased interest in public transport.

EDIT: I guess it would've made a clearer point if I had said I only ever fill my tank up halfway to save gas mileage unless I'm driving a long distance. So it probably would be about a month per tank after moving to my new apartment. And I'll be the first to say that even though my car is nice and small, it is rather inefficient. So I'm really just a hypocrite. :blush:

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....

I really should be looking at it as a suburbanite commuting to work uptown. Would a rise in gas prices cost more than living expenses within the city? That's where the dilemma is. As long as you have a semi-economic car such as a accord or corolla (among many others,) ......

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