For Property Owners
The appeal of locating a business in the suburbs is based on the availability of cheap land, usually fueled by a city’s desire to attract more easy horizontal growth. In auto-oriented places, there are usually regulations that require a minimum lot size (perhaps 1/4 of an acre), parking, and perhaps landscaping. Sometimes the business needs to pay for things that are technically part of the street, such as installing and maintaining the sidewalk.
In the walk-friendly traditional development pattern, businesses need only enough space for their building. Parking in the traditional development pattern doesn’t need to be required or banned, because it’s within a business’s best interest to make their business as accessible to as many customers as possible. If the surrounding businesses and streets have an ample supply of parking or if the majority of the customers live close enough that they don’t have to drive, then the property owner may not decide to supply their own parking. Without the need to landscape or supply parking, businesses are only required to purchase, develop, and maintain enough space for their building. The end result of the traditional development pattern is a very fine-grained mix of properties that is highly walkable and takes up minimal space.
Living in a car dependent environment places a financial burden on the individuals that live, work, and go about their daily lives there. These financial burdens are both direct (owning a car) and indirect (taxes).
The average yearly cost of owning a car is between $6,957 and $11,039 (a number that often varies, but it’s usually within the higher half of four digits.) A family of two working adults who live in an auto-oriented place will likely want two cars for commuting and other daily tasks, thus doubling the yearly cost of car ownership for the household. In a family with grown children of driving age, there may even be a need for three or more cars.
In a walkable, people oriented city, many households still own a car as it’s often convenient to have a car around for the few times you need it (to visit family out of town or to help transport large purchases). But in these cases, a car becomes a luxury, not a necessity, and most families could get by with only one or none.
The indirect costs, such as maintaining roads and traffic signals (as mentioned above), is eventually handed down to the tax payer through tax increases and service cuts as the bonds mature and the debt and maintenance of the auto-oriented pattern remains.