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"The War Against Suburbia"

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Politics “The War Against Suburbia”

Viewing 15 posts - 151 through 165 (of 182 total)
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  • #343009

    gramarye
    Participant

    HeySquare wrote >>

    One of the reasons why I personally respond so negatively to both Kotkin (and frankly to Gramarye’s comments :) is this narrow either/or proposition that a denser mode of development means soviet bloc high-rise living combined with the loss of independence provided by the automobile. Dense multi-use communities don’t mean everyone lives in a high-rise. It means that you have a variety of building uses: typically starting with a core of commercial buildings (grocery, movie theater, restaurant, small shop), and community buildings (government, library, churches), layering mutli-famly residential (i.e. apartments, condos for single prople, or families looking for lower cost of living), and single family residential.

    Soviet? Kotkin singled out those who were talking about Manhattan as the model, not Volgograd. For myself, I have nothing particularly against that kind of community you describe. What I oppose is the notion that that kind of environment is for everyone, and that other environments should be squelched out by legislative action (either direct regulation or through starving the latter of funding).

    #343010

    HeySquare
    Participant

    gramarye wrote >>
    I fully agree with this. I don’t think you’re the bogeyman that Kotkin has in mind, though. HeySquare is.

    Yep. That’s me… the bogeyman trying to eliminate some stupidity that arises from geographic segregation and the goverment policies that arise from it, and the hundreds of millions of dollars that get thrown at the problems that arise from these issues. How much public money have we thrown at schools, and bussing, and affordable housing? You want smaller government, but you support public policy that creates ever larger government.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Laurel_doctrine

    #343011

    agtw31
    Member

    HeySquare wrote >>


    Yep. That’s me… the bogeyman trying to eliminate some stupidity that arises from geographic segregation and the goverment policies that arise from it, and the hundreds of millions of dollars that get thrown at the problems that arise from these issues. How much public money have we thrown at schools, and bussing, and affordable housing? You want smaller government, but you support public policy that creates ever larger government.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Laurel_doctrine

    +1

    #343012

    berdawn
    Member

    Andrew Hall wrote >>

    berdawn wrote
    I didn’t realize this discussion was only regarding Columbus suburbs.
    I just don’t see anything you’ve written that disputes the necessity of a car to remaining in the suburbs.
    Far more than anything, the ability of a senior with restrictions to function is going to be dependent on their family and/or their means, not their location.
    Unless of course, their location is one that does not require a car to meet basic needs.

    It was an example. Unlike some, I speak to what I know. In this case, I am familiar with the services and features for seniors in our suburbs and with the lack of same in the city. I don’t think Columbus is exceptional, so the same is likely true elsewhere. I don’t have specifics though.
    If someone is disabled, they require some form of transportation regardless of where they live. The suburban communities developing to meet senior’s needs are providing that. As this demographic grows, smaller municipalities are better situated to provide flexible and directed services than larger cities.
    Our particular urban setting would require some major investment in public transportation and other services in order to meet seniors’ needs. ( As well, I suspect that a grocery story is closer and easier to walk to in some of the suburbs than in part of the city.) There is no a priori case as to why it should be done in a urban setting.
    A.

    I, too, speak to what I know and as the daughter of a woman no longer able to drive who lives in a non-Columbus suburb I know that she would be much better served by living in an urban area. I can’t imagine trying to get to a medical appointment using the current suburban express service; the system in place in the city now, tho, works pretty well for the core areas. What sort of major infrastructure do you think would be needed that the suburbs have in place? As for the grocery stores, I suppose it comes down to what is built around a particular development. I don’t see my mom pushing her bas-cart-thing down Hamilton Road or 23 in Delaware, but then, she’s not a very adventurous woman; the lack of sidewalks in most suburban areas would make getting to and from any grocery store exciting.

    #343013

    gramarye
    Participant

    HeySquare wrote >>

    gramarye wrote >>
    I fully agree with this. I don’t think you’re the bogeyman that Kotkin has in mind, though. HeySquare is.

    Yep. That’s me… the bogeyman trying to eliminate some stupidity that arises from geographic segregation and the goverment policies that arise from it, and the hundreds of millions of dollars that get thrown at the problems that arise from these issues. How much public money have we thrown at schools, and bussing, and affordable housing? You want smaller government, but you support public policy that creates ever larger government.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Laurel_doctrine

    I am aware of the Mt. Laurel doctrine, and as you might imagine, I strongly support overturning it. However, I am not entirely sure why that supports your position that my positions would mean larger government.

    Municipalities should not be legally required to spend a dime for “affordable housing,” however defined. It should be their free choice. As far as busing goes, well, it definitely stank getting up well before dawn to be the third kid picked up on a 55-minute school bus circuit out in farm country. I’ll give you that. Concern for saving time and money on buses hardly amounts to an argument for eliminating suburbs (or rural communities), though. At least at the end of the overly-long ride, the school I went to was better than any in the Columbus Public Schools system except for CAHS and perhaps Centennial.

    #343014

    HeySquare
    Participant

    gramarye wrote >>
    For myself, I have nothing particularly against that kind of community you describe. What I oppose is the notion that that kind of environment is for everyone, and that other environments should be squelched out by legislative action (either direct regulation or through starving the latter of funding).

    The current mix of prosrciptive zoning laws, building code, building methods, and other crap like the affordable housing laws mix together to essentially make it impossible to build anything BUT isolated cookie-cutter automobile dependent suburban development. Why do you think the City of Columbus developed the Downtown Commission? It was hell trying to get anything built. New builds had to get expensive variances and wait months for review of projects not supported by the then-current zoning overlay, and had to meet building codes designed for new construction. The systems of building laws are incredibly complex.

    New urbanism attempts to reinterpret some of these building and zoning laws to allow (and yes, I agree in some cases to encourage or favor) a different mode of development than the path of least resistance that most developers are currently mandated to build.

    You imply that I am proscribing where or how people can live, and that enrages me. Regardless of what flimsy argument Kotkin makes, the existing system proscribes that: the city, the suburbs, all segregate people by class and race and income, and the reality of demographic information proves that. We spend an inordinate amount of public resources (and private resources too, as Mount Laurel evidences) trying to eliminate the problems and conditions created by that segregation.

    #343015
    rus
    rus
    Participant

    HeySquare wrote >>
    The current mix of prosrciptive zoning laws, building code, building methods, and other crap like the affordable housing laws mix together to essentially make it impossible to build anything BUT isolated cookie-cutter automobile dependent suburban development. Why do you think the City of Columbus developed the Downtown Commission? It was hell trying to get anything built. New builds had to get expensive variances and wait months for review of projects not supported by the then-current zoning overlay, and had to meet building codes designed for new construction. The systems of building laws are incredibly complex.

    Isn’t that more an argument for streamlining building codes, zoning regulations, et al?

    If the underlying supposition is people really want what new urbanists are selling, so to speak, but zoning regulations and building codes are forcing developers to only produce “isolated cookie-cutter automobile dependent suburban development”, then removing / streamlining the pertinent regulations should allow people to get more of what they want… right?

    #343016

    Andrew Hall
    Member

    HeySquare wrote the existing system proscribes that: the city, the suburbs, all segregate people by class and race and income, and the reality of demographic information proves that.

    Isn’t one of Kotkin’s points and references that the suburbs are rapidly becoming less segregated on racial lines than the urban areas?

    When I travel, I certainly see a lot more ethnically integrated and mixed commercial zones in the suburbs than in the urban areas. Morse Road, for example, is the kind of environment I see more and more away from the urban cores. The enclave mentality that gave us NNNN-town within cities seem to be on the wane in favor of a strip mall with a Halal butcher abutting an Indian grocery abutting a Vietnamese restaurant with a comic book shop at the end.

    Admittedly, that is a subjective impression and I haven’t followed up Kotkin’s references. I do think the 2010 Census is going to reveal some surprises.

    A.

    #343017

    michaelcoyote
    Participant

    When I hear “New Urbanisim” I also think suburb (circa 1910). Granted the new urbanist developments I’ve seen are pretty dense, but they look pretty suburban. Will people used to newer suburbs buy them? I’m guessing that some will. Especially if you give them enough room to keep their car, but still make it possible to get around on foot. I could see communities like this being very attractive to older people who might be more comfortable being closer to stores and services without having to rely on a car or others to drive them (that is to say “more independent”).

    Conversely, many of the newest cul-de-sac suburbs seem to have links into multi-use paths and sometimes develop in their own paths. This seems like a trend that will only continue. I believe that the suburbs of 20 years from now will be denser. They may still contain things like cul-de-sacs, but I expect that they will also feature a multi-use path running through the center of it to a busway or rail station. As commercial development can be changed more quickly and easily than residential development, stores/commercial areas around these stations will probably become more dense before we see an actual change in suburbs themselves.

    One thing that hasn’t been discussed is what happens as the 50s-80s suburbs start to age and the infrastructure starts to deteriorate? Will the suburban municipalities be able to keep up with maintaining this infrastructure? I haven’t looked into it, but I bet that with density of development, the services cost per person goes down (within reason). Will they push for denser development?

    #343018

    gramarye
    Participant

    HeySquare wrote >>

    gramarye wrote >>
    For myself, I have nothing particularly against that kind of community you describe. What I oppose is the notion that that kind of environment is for everyone, and that other environments should be squelched out by legislative action (either direct regulation or through starving the latter of funding).

    The current mix of prosrciptive zoning laws, building code, building methods, and other crap like the affordable housing laws mix together to essentially make it impossible to build anything BUT isolated cookie-cutter automobile dependent suburban development. Why do you think the City of Columbus developed the Downtown Commission? It was hell trying to get anything built. New builds had to get expensive variances and wait months for review of projects not supported by the then-current zoning overlay, and had to meet building codes designed for new construction. The systems of building laws are incredibly complex.

    This is not the fault of the suburbs. In fact, these same premises you’re using sound like the basis of my argument, not yours. Nothing is stopping Columbus from making its zoning and permitting laws less byzantine and more density-friendly. If a variance from a given zoning law is routinely granted, that zoning law should simply be repealed.

    New urbanism attempts to reinterpret some of these building and zoning laws to allow (and yes, I agree in some cases to encourage or favor) a different mode of development than the path of least resistance that most developers are currently mandated to build.

    You imply that I am proscribing where or how people can live, and that enrages me.

    Regardless of what flimsy argument Kotkin makes, the existing system proscribes that: the city, the suburbs, all segregate people by class and race and income, and the reality of demographic information proves that. We spend an inordinate amount of public resources (and private resources too, as Mount Laurel evidences) trying to eliminate the problems and conditions created by that segregation.

    I hardly think that Kotkin was opposed to cities amending their own zoning laws to make mixed-use, high-density development easier.

    #343019

    gramarye
    Participant

    michaelcoyote wrote >>
    One thing that hasn’t been discussed is what happens as the 50s-80s suburbs start to age and the infrastructure starts to deteriorate? Will the suburban municipalities be able to keep up with maintaining this infrastructure? I haven’t looked into it, but I bet that with density of development, the services cost per person goes down (within reason). Will they push for denser development?

    A good question. I imagine that in suburbs where the tax base begins to deteriorate, they will indeed push for higher density in order to consolidate services. However, keep in mind that most suburbanites, at least as of today, like their single family homes on reasonable-sized lots. Therefore, those that are able to maintain that will be inclined to do so. Will all of them be able to do so? I don’t know. Maybe they will. As I said earlier in this thread, I fully expect technology to make suburbs more sustainable in the future, not less. Maybe they will have ways of providing for services like street sweeping and snow removal more cheaply than is possible today. Maybe they will simply end up scrimping on those services and suffering the consequences, finding them still better than accepting higher density. And maybe they will indeed bring in higher density development.

    #343020

    Columbusite
    Member

    Andrew Hall wrote >>

    Columbusite wrote >>
    What I don’t like about suburbia are the vast amount of finite resources that they mindlessly consume. Should we use oil to encourage people to live miles from where they work and shop and eat when they don’t have to or should we not waste it and ensure that we can transport things like food and keep our national defenses fueled?

    Isn’t that an argument for electric vehicles, telecommuting or developing suburban centers which combine work/shop/eat? Instead of a generic pro-urban meme, why not promote the specific memes you list combined with the lower density, ownership at reasonable costs and the other things that are desirable about the suburbs?
    A.

    Well, myself and others have already done that in several other threads. As I mentioned before, the sprawl-crazy attitude in Columbus is especially puzzling. We aren’t full of ten story buildings charging high prices for a 400 sq ft apartment. This city was built with low-density in mind and that is evident in our downtown (which used to be filled with single-family homes) and urban neighborhoods (also chock-full of single-family homes). The urban neighborhood in Columbus already offered what was being sold in the sprawling burbs: affordable single-family homes with greenspace.

    The problem is that a good number of urban neighborhoods were left to rot and now it’s a lot more work to turn them around as a result. Efforts to crackdown on bad absentee landlords along with other causes and symptoms of decline are virtually non-existent. This is where I have to admit that we need to follow in the footsteps of some suburbs. They would not, for example, ever allow landlords to operate as they do in neighborhoods like Weinland Park and likewise would never allow the dumpy carry-outs that permeate these neighborhoods and help sustain blight. Of course, there’s much more to improving a neighborhood than that, but steps like these would help to make these neighborhoods full of affordable single-family homes a more attractive option.

    #343021

    gramarye
    Participant

    Are we seriously about to revive the Great Carryout Debate of Yesteryear?

    #343022

    michaelcoyote
    Participant

    gramarye wrote >>
    A good question. I imagine that in suburbs where the tax base begins to deteriorate, they will indeed push for higher density in order to consolidate services.

    Exactly

    gramarye wrote >> However, keep in mind that most suburbanites, at least as of today, like their single family homes on reasonable-sized lots. Therefore, those that are able to maintain that will be inclined to do so. Will all of them be able to do so? I don’t know. Maybe they will. As I said earlier in this thread, I fully expect technology to make suburbs more sustainable in the future, not less.

    I think “reasonable size” varies with the age and era as much as it does with the people you ask. As for technology making it easier to work from remote locations, that is true, but I don’t see the fall of the office or office worker any time soon.

    Additionally, remote work technology isn’t the only factor here. I see energy prices affecting this as well. However efficient we make our vehicles, it’s still going to become a factor in how far away from the CBD we want to go. Energy costs are also going to affect what people want in a home. Energy efficiency will probably be even more of a factor than it is today. I’d imagine that when some of these 2500+sft. outer ring houses go up for sale in 10 years, they’re going to go without buyers, and a condos in a building closer in are going to start to look more attractive.

    gramarye wrote >> Maybe they will have ways of providing for services like street sweeping and snow removal more cheaply than is possible today. Maybe they will simply end up scrimping on those services and suffering the consequences, finding them still better than accepting higher density. And maybe they will indeed bring in higher density development.

    Who knows. I’m guessing that services will be reduced and new develop will be denser. How’s that for covering my bases? :-)

    Andrew Hall wrote >>

    HeySquare wrote the existing system proscribes that: the city, the suburbs, all segregate people by class and race and income, and the reality of demographic information proves that.

    Isn’t one of Kotkin’s points and references that the suburbs are rapidly becoming less segregated on racial lines than the urban areas?
    When I travel, I certainly see a lot more ethnically integrated and mixed commercial zones in the suburbs than in the urban areas. Morse Road, for example, is the kind of environment I see more and more away from the urban cores. The enclave mentality that gave us NNNN-town within cities seem to be on the wane in favor of a strip mall with a Halal butcher abutting an Indian grocery abutting a Vietnamese restaurant with a comic book shop at the end.
    Admittedly, that is a subjective impression and I haven’t followed up Kotkin’s references. I do think the 2010 Census is going to reveal some surprises.

    New immigrants have usually congregated to poorer neighborhoods for economic reasons. This is nothing new. Nor is it that new that they share their neighborhoods with other poor/frugal immigrants. My favourite American food story is the story of how the Irish adopted corned beef from their Jewish neighbors in New York. I think that smaller cities like Columbus are going to continue to have these kinds of multicultural neighborhoods.

    OTOH, saying the enclave n-town neighborhood is dead is another thing altogether. There are parts of San Jose that are essentially Vietnamese. Another place that flipped my lid was driving through Bellaire,TX and seeing miles of strip malls with not an English language sign in sight (aside from some roadsigns). All the stores and restaurants there are Chinese. Enclaves will be around for a while, especially near big cities because people like the familiar foods, music, media, etc. of home.

    As for moving out of urban areas, it’s sheer economics. It’s recently become more attractive to many people to live closer to the CBD and in more walkable neighborhoods, which is driving up the costs of those neighborhoods. If living in $URBAN place costs x, and $SUBURB costs x-n, the poor and frugal are going to move. If they bought in $URBAN place, all the better. They can sell and get a nicer spot. Welcome to America huddled mass, here’s your dream.

    #343023

    HeySquare
    Participant

    gramarye wrote >>
    I hardly think that Kotkin was opposed to cities amending their own zoning laws to make mixed-use, high-density development easier.

    I have no such faith. It is hard to me to believe that when I mostly know him for these types of sentiments:

    http://www.joelkotkin.com/content/0056-smarth-growth-must-not-ignore-drivers
    “It is not difficult to imagine such bureaucrats intruding on how communities and families function on the most basic levels. Traditions governing local land use that have existed since the beginning of the republic would be overturned. The preferred lifestyles of most Americans would come under siege.

    This agenda has been widely promoted for decades, first by the Carter administration and, more recently, by both environmentalists and new urbanists. The recent concerns over global warming have provided an additional raison d’être for a policy promoting both higher transit use and denser housing patterns.”

    This commentary sums up pretty much exactly the sentiments I feel.
    http://www.cp-dr.com/node/1758
    “Mostly, however, the piece was little more than a variation on the current Kotkin stump speech, in which he basically argues that Los Angeles is suburban by nature and anybody who wants to create more density in L.A. is trying to turn it into Manhattan. This, of course, is a classic “straw man” argument. It allows him to characterize advocates of higher density – especially planners subscribing to the New Urbanism – as Neanderthals tethered to the outmoded idea that all cities should be overly dense and mononuclear, as New York was in the industrial age. …

    There’s nothing here for even the most passionate New Urbanist to disagree with. In describing New Suburbanism, Kotkin was just setting himself up up as a 21st Century Ebenezer Howard. Long a fan of smaller cities anyway, he essentially staked a claim to the Garden City. This is no different than most New Urbanists and smart growthers, who understand that most cities are polycentric and that development must be concentrated into a series of villages. Hardly anybody is arguing that an extremely dense mononuclear city – New York, circa 1930 – is the solution. In fact, when New Urbanists have been criticized (by everybody except Kotkin), the argument has usually been that they aren’t really urbanists at all but simply architects who want to build better-designed suburbs. In other words, the rap on New Urbanists is that they are nothing more than New Suburbanists.

    Yet Kotkin keeps setting up these folks as his straw-man opponents – obsessed with overcentralized overdevelopment in downtown areas and therefore in bed with big-time developers. “

    Here is another good discussion
    http://www.cnu.org/node/716

    I also find it interesting that several of the cities that Kotkin celebrates are also cities that are either in the process of establishing new transit systems, or have successful lines in place. Houston is one of his favorite subjects, yet they are experiencing major issues– I’ve linked some recent studies on projections for highway expenditures in Houston. Also Charlotte– as we all know, they now have a pretty successful streetcar line. http://www.keeptexasmoving.com/index.php/congestion_relief
    http://www.votebusinesslittlerock.org/index.php?ht=display/ContentDetails/i/828227

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