Tidepool‘s top story today offers a local angle on the headline dominating the news: “$3 a gallon.” The Oregonian examines the current energy policy debate in Congress, highlighting the roles Republican Gordon Smith and Democrat Ron Wyden are playing in the U.S. Senate. There are plenty more “$3-a-gallon” articles today. The Los Angeles Times publishes a dispatch from Alaska, where oil greases government, industry and residents’ pocketbooks. In the commentary section, a member of Portland Peak Oil argues that cities need to play a role in keeping consumer costs down by investing in housing density and mass transit.

I recommend a national article with some eye-opening findings on a regional trend: The New York Times discovers that California is full of horribly unaffordable places to live. In fact, Santa Rosa, California makes the no. 3 most-expensive spot on the list. (There’s great map with the article, FYI). This is not just a California problem, of course. The Post-Intelligencer reports that home prices have hit record highs in Seattle. And let’s not forget that Vancouver has the highest housing prices in Canada. Hmmm … Kansas City is sounding more appealing to this Northwest transplant—I know someone who bought a house in there (needing serious work) for $25,000. Of course, you can forget about density and mass transit in that city.

Perhaps some of our region’s walkable and public-transportation-friendly cities, like Vancouver and Seattle, are more affordable than you might think if you don’t have to drive or own a car.