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Old 05-08-2016, 06:45 PM
 
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I think suburbia has it appeals for people looking for a certain things. But I came accross this post by an Atlanta on an Urban Planning forum and it makes some valid critisms of Atlanta-style-suburia:

https://likewise.am/2016/05/08/why-suburbia-sucks/

Quote:
... I don’t mean the abstract reasons why it sucks; I’ve pontificated on that plenty. I mean the physicality. For example, I live in Atlanta, a suburban mega-agglomeration that sucks in the same general way as cities like Los Angeles, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and Phoenix. When someone asks me where I’m from, and I roll my eyes and diffidently groan, “Atlanta…” Why? It’s worth asking what specifically makes Atlanta “[groan] Atlanta”.

...


4. Proximity does not mean pedestrian accessibility


On the other hand, it is not so uncommon in suburbia to live very close to a nearby shopping centre. I’ve had lots of suburban friends tell me, “actually, the grocery store is 1000 ft from me. Very convenient.” Indeed, when we lived in an apartment complex in the Perimeter Mall area in Dunwoody, the nearby Walmart shopping strip was within spitting distance. I could almost see the store entrance from my bedroom window.

But, perversely, that doesn’t mean I could walk to the store, as a normal person from virtually anywhere else on the planet might conclude from that statement. In its fanatical quest to eviscerate the pedestrian realm and make cars exclusive first-class objects, suburbia manages to make far even that which is conceptually close. Building ordinances generally require some sort of “divider” between these adjacent land parcels, like a ditch, a chain-link fence, or a concrete wall or noise barrier. In our case, that means I had to walk out of the apartment complex, go around the divider, and then cross several hundred feet of parking lot to go to the store.

It goes without saying that most normal people would choose to drive the distance. And that’s the idea.

...

12. Lack of regional planning vision


Turning back to Atlanta: Decades of unbridled free-for-all building in Atlanta have led to a widely dissonant, fragmented patchwork that cannot deliver a coherent thesis for future development in the city.

Some individual neighbourhoods in Atlanta, like Midtown (where I live), have made great strides over time to become walkable and present viable in-city living options. The problem is, as soon as you need to leave such a neighbourhood, you still have to get in your car.

The same problem can even play out on the block level. I’ve been to some downtowns of suburban sprawl cities and found them to have a number of blocks or sectors that are actually quite pedestrian-friendly, well-designed and interesting. The problem is, these blocks are like a chessboard; they’re not contiguous! Want to go more than 500 ft? Better start the car.

The point is, Metro Atlanta covers nine counties and untold municipalities, incorporated and not. With all the resources and initiative in the world, there’s nothing the City of Atlanta can fundamentally do to alter the reality of life in 95% of Metro Atlanta. I haven’t seen anything inhabitable constructed in America through a laissez-faire approach to building across such a patchwork. Charge has to be taken at the regional level.

As far as I can tell, the same holds true almost everywhere, since everything in the US that is–gallingly–called a “city” consists of fragments scattered across unconscienable stretches of freeway. I have a special place in my heart for Dallas-Ft. Worth, much of which should be reclassified as a rural area outright if one is to judge by density. But the need for a regional approach to development priorities and transportation probably applies almost everywhere, including places like St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Omaha.
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:01 PM
 
991 posts, read 515,894 times
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Yawn, more myopic musings of someone who chooses to shape their thinking without regard for the reasons why others live their lives the way they do... Nothing new here
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whodean View Post
Yawn, more myopic musings of someone who chooses to shape their thinking without regard for the reasons why others live their lives the way they do... Nothing new here
Well, I am not sure if you read the article but the critism is valid for Atlanta as a whole. These reasons are also why urban areas in Atlanta suck. Fixing these issues would make better suburbs too.
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:47 PM
 
Location: Vinings
5,940 posts, read 2,900,134 times
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I think there is a good way to do cars-oriented suburbia. That would be all these recent and upcoming 'drive-to' mixed-use developments that blend residential with shopping and restaurants and office buildings, like Avalon or The Battery. Imagine if every block in the commercially zoned areas of the suburbs were just like that. With plenty of parking, but at least much of it is concentrated in decks. And with at least some ability to walk around, at least in your immediate area. Like everything designed as an outdoor shopping plaza.

Especially when you blend the residential into the shopping developments, because then it becomes a truly urban node for the people that live there.

The city proper should be defined as nothing but urban, as much as possible. But the suburbs should be defined by pockets of urban village areas, surrounded by quiet single family homes. And you can either walk or drive to those local urban village nodes, spend hours there doing different things, and then from there ideally you should also be able to take transit into the main city.

So almost like mini-cities with lots of parking, surrounded by traditional quiet subdivisions. I believe that's going to be the future of suburbia. Basically putting as many things as possible in walking distance on the block, rather than just build a restaurant with a parking lot, or an isolated office building. That was the mid to late 20th century model. You could sort of walk to more than one thing at shopping strips, but not a lot. And it didn't have residential, and it was huge sea of surface parking, with a little strip of buildings. Definitely think suburbia needs to get away from that.
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:25 PM
 
Location: Savannah GA
13,093 posts, read 15,900,406 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsvh View Post
Well, I am not sure if you read the article but the critism is valid for Atlanta as a whole. These reasons are also why urban areas in Atlanta suck. Fixing these issues would make better suburbs too.
And how would you suggest we "fix" those problems? Just bulldoze everything and start over?

The problem with thread topics such as this is that they completely ignore the history of how and why suburbs grew up like they did. This style development has been going on since the end of WWII in the 1940s. And it didn't start in Atlanta. Every city and state in the country has suburban sprawl dating back for decades.
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Old 05-08-2016, 09:27 PM
 
6,612 posts, read 6,535,632 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsvh View Post
Well, I am not sure if you read the article but the critism is valid for Atlanta as a whole. These reasons are also why urban areas in Atlanta suck. Fixing these issues would make better suburbs too.

From what I understand, there are suburban town centers that are urbanizing all over the Atlanta Metro area, and I hope the goal is to connect them at some point with transit or paths of some kind. There seem to be major attempts to help make the city more cohesive in the future but probably not in my lifetime, so it will take decades to see the results. The long time frame doesn't make it useless tho - if you want to fix something you have to start somewhere.


I don't have a problem with Atlanta is set up now, and apparently millions of others are liking it too. Could it be better? Of course. Are there plans to make it better? Yes. Will it take a LONG time? Yes. So just enjoy what you have for the moment and sit back to watch a city transform...I truly believe Atlanta will completely transform itself over the next 3-4 decades.
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:14 AM
 
2,508 posts, read 1,283,094 times
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I feel terribly sorry for the blogger...being forced to live somewhere where he is obviously in misery.
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:16 AM
 
Location: NW Atlanta
4,994 posts, read 3,474,509 times
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Blogger should've titled his article "Why Sprawl Sucks."
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Old 05-09-2016, 07:28 AM
bu2
 
8,968 posts, read 5,658,755 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsvh View Post
Well, I am not sure if you read the article but the critism is valid for Atlanta as a whole. These reasons are also why urban areas in Atlanta suck. Fixing these issues would make better suburbs too.
Nearly everything in the article was a condemnation of zoning, although the author didn't seem to understand it. The most regulated cities, the ones who most want urbanization, are the ones who have the biggest problems with these issues. You could go Houston's route and not have zoning. Atlanta has 40 or 50 different zoning categories. Its ridiculous. DeKalb County dropped about a half dozen of theirs, but they still have a couple dozen categories.

If people want it, developers will build it if government doesn't try to tell them what to build with zoning. Now the results are not going to be NYC type urbanization everywhere. Not everyone wants that.

BTW, alleys are awful. They were popular in the Dallas area into the 70s.
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Old 05-09-2016, 07:47 AM
bu2
 
8,968 posts, read 5,658,755 times
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Some of his criticisms are very Atlanta-centric. Atlanta takes cul-de-sacism to an extreme. And it takes avoiding building arterial roads to an extreme. That is what leads to the funneling. It also makes the limited number of residential streets that do go through have much more traffic than a different type of system.
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