Imagining a sustainable future for the Houston Gulf Coast region

crossleyDavid Crossley is a busy man. He’s on the board of Smart Growth America and serves on the National Committee of America 2050. His organization, Houston Tomorrow, a SGA coalition partner, works within the Houston region to promote livability, transit, efficient infrastructure, and planning decisions that would benefit the environment. Their ambitious motto: “To improve the quality of life in the Houston Gulf Coast region.”

So what do they mean by “improving the quality of life” for Houstonians?

Crossley was recently featured in a cover article in a local Houston magazine about his vision for the Houston of his grandchildren, and what will need to change:

“So, what does this mean for those of us living here in Houston and the Gulf Coast area?  To begin with, the latest population forecast for our region is between 11 and 12 million people by 2050.  That’s more than twice what we have now, more than Mexico City today, and approaching greater Mexico City, which is the most populous region in all the Americas.

As Crossley says, the challenge is to figure out how to absorb all these people without wrecking the place.  Right now, Houston eats massive quantities of land to accommodate the public policy of basing nearly all development on people driving cars further and further every year.  This 60-year sprawl binge has produced all manner of familiar issues including air pollution, stress, family friction, lower productivity, and financial distress of many kinds.  The clear solution, obvious everywhere in the world, is to use less land for development while providing more amenities for people in walkable, high quality neighborhoods of many sizes and character.

But Houston lags behind many large metropolitan centers in areas like mass transit, walkable neighborhoods, and sensible urban planning.  If we want growth, then we need to focus on how to make it occur in a healthy manner; we need to start making some significant changes to the way we view and implement future development.”

Just like other metro areas across the country, Crossley sees signs of a market-driven movement toward more walkable, sustainable growth patterns helping to change future development in Houston.

“In Houston,” he says, “we can expect to see huge movement toward walkable urbanism by 2013 or 2014 when we will suddenly have a very large light rail transit system with service to destinations in 65 neighborhoods.

And just like other major metros, the task will become one of breaking down the barriers and outdated regulations that make it too difficult or illegal to meet this burgeoning demand.

Kudos to David Crossley and Houston Tomorrow for the solid local ink recognizing their important work on the Gulf Coast. Download a PDF of the full article from us, or use the e-reader on the Change Magazine site.