Comment of the Day: You Go to Work with the Sprawl You Have, Not the City You Might Want or Wish To Have at a Later Time

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOU GO TO WORK WITH THE SPRAWL YOU HAVE, NOT THE CITY YOU MIGHT WANT OR WISH TO HAVE AT A LATER TIME “. . . The ExxonMobil development is right in between The Woodlands and Spring. Residents of these communities would cut 30-80 minutes off their round trip commute by working at the new facility versus going downtown. That is a very significant reduction in smog forming vehicle emissions. If a business doesn’t need to be in Houston’s central business district, then it is actually better to have them build closer to the work force than to cram more people on the highway for longer commutes. You can’t beat sprawl that is already here. The best you can do is mitigate it by creating smaller city centers in places like The Woodlands, Sugar Land and Clear Lake.” [Old school, commenting on Comment of the Day: ExxonMobil Takes the Forest]

19 Comment

  • You are making a big assumption in your argument that most of the people that will be working in the new headquarters already live in the Woodlands/Spring or will naturally want to live there even if they move to Houston. That may not be true. I have heard from a friend inside the company that they will in fact move their Downstream Operations workforce from their large Fairfax, VA office to Houston and eventually close the VA office down. That means these are additional people moving into Houston that, setting aside work location, should be indifferent to whether they move downtown or to the Woodlands. I would say that Greater Houston is a poly-centric region with multiple centers of development that are in a fierce competition with each other. If one regional “pole” (Woodlands) manages to attract a massive employer such as Exxon, it is gaining at the expense of others (Houston Downtown).

  • I love when the comment of the day is a comment from another comment of the day :)

  • I totally agree with Old School.
    I like the idea of ‘live where you work’ and I personally couldn’t live in the burbs. However in the case, Exxon is ‘chasing’ the homeowners. They’re doing what the home owners didn’t do.
    Sort of an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” kind of thing.

  • “Chasing the homeowners” is also an assumption. Exxon bought where they could get the amount of land they wanted at a price they wanted and that sure wasn’t going to be close in.
    Houston has long been a city where people commute in every which way, though I would love to see data on where the employees live. Feel sorry for the Pearland/Clear Lakers, et al.

  • We recently posted about what happens when the sprawl contracts. It seems to happen as part of the life, grow to far, contract back in, grow again… This trend is happening in Europe already.

    Check out our post –

  • Old School for the win.

  • BS!

    Time to post regional population density maps again.

    Infill is the answer.

  • Well, as far as `these` comments go, I think finness wins. If Exxon had been able to find a land mass in west Houston or Katy, one that would fit their campus requirements, do you really think they wouldn’t be there in a heartbeat?

    While they may be considering their current employees and their situations “to a degree”, the bottom line for ExxonMobil is in the first person, upper echelons.

    I agree, it would be interesting to see the numbers on exactly where the current employees live.

  • There’s good commuter bus service to downtown and most of the downtown workers who live as far as the Woodlands use it. Their emissions are probably not as high as you might expect. The non-Woodlands Exxon workers will be making a big trek.

  • “Live where you work”…. Hmmm…does that mean I should live in a chemical plant?

  • Bronwyn: that’s exactly what the quote means. So also if you work at a Starbucks you should live in a Starbucks. If you work at a bank, sleep in the vault
    *eye roll*
    It’s an expression of a desire for people to think about their living choices and maybe take the impact to the enviroment into consideration. And honestly, I realize there is a desire to have a 5000SF home even if it’s in the middle of no where, but is it really worth all the extra hours of life wasted every day on the road?
    I don’t drive much but I know if I happen to catch myself on the wrong direction with a bunch of commuters I want to run my car off the road. I’ll live in a shoebox house before I live in my car as a commuter

  • Bingo, Cody.


  • Cody, I’ll just live in the 5,000 sq ft home and not commute. That’s my plan one day.

    Like has been stated so many times already, many people who work for Exxon live up 290, Katy, Sugar Land, Pearland, etc. The Woodlands works because they had the land and it’s close to IAH (I’m sure dozens if not 100s of people from XOM are on flights every day). I seem to run into a few every time I fly out of IAH.

  • My point was not about ExxonMobil’s motivations, but about the result of their actions and why I disagree with calling the development “sprawl”.
    I am sure ExxonMobil put price first and highly doubt that they considered air quality in their decision to locate where they did. And, as I have said before, my point is also a “lead the camel to water” point. The location will give people the option to live close to their work and seriously reduce their commute time as opposed to putting the development downtown. I believe that has good potential to mitigate the existing sprawl north of Houston.
    Will people still drive in from all over Houston to work there? Sure. I work downtown with people from New Caney, Pinehurst, Cypress and Crosby. But, when gas prices hit $5+ (they will sooner than later), it will become a necessity for many to live close to where they work. And considering that many in the energy biz are tossed from the UK to Malaysia to Khazakstan to Dubai and back again, a move from Pearland to Spring isn’t going to be much. Thus, the ExxonMobil development will certainly reduce the impact of sprawl on those already living in Spring and the Woodlands and will provide other employees the chance to live very close to their employment, more so than had the development been placed centrally.

  • I would also guess that access to the airport was a factor.

  • Cody,
    Not everyone works in downtown environments. Most posters here seem to think that’s the case. But some of us DO want downtown amenities. And I plan on doing my ‘reverse commute’ in order to get them.

  • For those of you who want to see where employees in Greenspoint commute from, that data is available from the Census’ LEHD program.

  • With so many ExxonMobil office locations around Houston I know several employees that end up with very long commutes as they get transferred to offices not near where they live – they bought a house assuming they’d be working at a certain office location.

    Having a central campus will eliminate this as employees know exactly where they will be working Houston, except for the case where employees may get transferred to Baytown.

  • I’d love to see oil back to $10 a barrel…