Car-centric Houston tends to be one of our go-to examples for everything that can go wrong with a city, ever. But we may not be able to use the city as a whipping boy much longer. According to a new survey, Houstonians are seeing the light on walkable and transit-accessible neighborhoods. More than half of the people surveyed said they would settle for a smaller home if it meant living near offices, restaurants, and stores.
Yes, this is in Texas! To be fair, Stephen Klineberg, who created this survey in 1982, sounded as surprised as we are. He told the Houston Chronicle that Houston residents’ desire for “a less car-centered, more urban lifestyle” was “the most dramatic change” in this year’s survey. In 2010, only 39 percent of people surveyed opted for the smaller house over a single-family home with a big yard that required total car-dependency. This time around, 51 percent chose the smaller, better located house.
In another totally un-Texan shift, the majority of people surveyed also said they supported mass transit and would rather have transit taxes be spent on transit, instead of street or landscaping projects. Seriously, did the Obama campaign spike the Houston water system or something? If this keeps up, America’s cities might start looking less like sprawly monsters and more likely some pleasantly dense (shudder) European capital.