The Overhead Wire | June 18th, 2024 | Sprawl Anyways

June 18, 2024

Two things we’re thinking about today.

First, we’ve been talking and sharing a lot about the insurance industry and the impacts of climate change on housing markets. We’ve also discussed car insurance and the rising expense of cars and increased exposure to collisions.

So today, Lloyd Alter discusses why cars should be designed for disassembly and ultimately the ability to be recycled. It’s better for the planet but also better for people’s wallets. But in the article he also brings up another interesting fact. Many car manufacturers such as Tesla are looking to build actual cars like die cast toy cars through a process of high pressure die casting (HPDC). This process replaces 50-70 individual parts with one single part.

Sounds great right? Well it turns out that if you get into a collision, it’s harder to fix the problem and in many cases the cost of replacement is more than getting a new car. So in addition to many insurance companies worried about battery scratches totaling otherwise usable vehicles, there’s now a car manufacturing component that could lead to much higher insurance bills.

And as we discussed with Dan Sturges (transcript | podcast), cars just have a lot of parts and in addition to how they aren’t sustainable driving you around, they aren’t sustainable from a mining and manufacturing perspective either. And now more than ever they aren’t sustainable for people’s wallets or even insurance companies profits. I suspect will hit some tipping point where a majority of people start realizing how expensive our transportation system really is.

And second there’s an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about California Forever having a plan B in the strong likelihood they lose their ballot measure in the fall. In addition to the 17.5K acres they own between Sacramento and SF, they also own about 800 acres adjacent to Rio Vista which wouldn’t require a vote to build on. But it seems like they are saying that if they don’t get what they want, they’ll just build more sprawl.

It feels like this whole thing is full of political mistakes. Buying up land in secret. Accusing farmers of price collusion on property they don’t want to sell. Building development that might be sustainable if not for the fact that people need to drive to get out of the district. Also let’s just be honest, people don’t really trust billionaires.

It’s also kind of funny to me that they think the threat of not getting community benefits from the larger project would persuade people to vote with them. No one cares about community solar, schools, or stadiums in communities that aren’t built for them.

So why not build a small demonstration of what the larger development would be like if it would sway people to change their minds on a future ballot that currently is losing heavily in the court of public opinion? Rather than asking people to trust them when they are inclined not to, build something to prove what the end result would be like. Apparently they can build on land in Rio Vista now if they want. But from the article, it seems as if they’ve chosen sprawl.


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