05 January 2007

Hunting the Snark

In Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, a group of wayward adventurers follow the lead of a mad Bellman in pursuit of a legendary (read: nonexistant) beast.

In Cville, strong argument could be made that our personal snark is affordable housing, and the posse gathered to pursue it has grown to an army over the last few years. The Daily Progress reported on the City Council meeting I mentioned previously in this blog.

What I find most interesting about Tuesday night's debate, however, was Kevin Lynch's discussion about the need to address the wage side of the equation. I don't disagree with his statements. But I doubt that employers will ever find basic burger flipping to be worth $10.50 or more per hour.

Let's say you work in Cville and you had to move to Nelson or Louisa to find a rent or mortgage you could afford. At some point, looking for work in Amherst, Waynesboro, or Richmond suburbs like Short Pump will be very attractive, just because of the shorter traveling distance. The lower-skilled your job, the more incentive you have to look close by, because, let's face it, gas is expensive.

I can not say it frequently enough, apparently: We need economic diversity in this town. Not this regional area, because there's a lot of bleedover to other metro regions once you are living 45 minutes from Downtown in a geographic section designed only for car transit. This. Urban. Area.

I know it seems unfair to ask Charlottesville City to bear the brunt of affordable housing and it certainly makes sense to address the Board of Supervisors for Albemarle County--but, beyond that, really, who else can we ask to take the lead in this kind of urban design? The outlying rural counties are equidistant to other city and town centers. It is our growth which is causing their headaches, not the other way around. So, IMO, we--meaning Charlottesville and Albemarle--have to be the ones who hunt the snark.

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