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Old 07-14-2011, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,089 posts, read 45,334,492 times
Reputation: 10960
I know I'm likely the one who is being directly referenced by the OP, and while I don't abhor suburbs in general I personally don't see how the sprawling outer suburbs and exurbs of our area positively contribute to the metro area other than increasing traffic congestion (due to their inherent auto-dependency), increasing air pollution (from all that extra generated traffic), diverting upstanding middle-class tax-paying families from the city proper (jeopardizing the city's efforts to reinforce its rapidly dwindling tax base), creating more issues with flooding (from the eventual runoff from all those new impervious surfaces), etc., etc. Let's not even think of how much is spent by PA taxpayers to subsidize the growth of these newer areas in terms of new infrastructure (sewer lines, street lights, roads, bridges, etc.)

Look, if the city itself was prospering instead of barely treading above 300,000 residents, as reflected in the 2010 U.S. Census, then perhaps I wouldn't feel quite so diametrically opposed to the meteoric growth of our region's outer suburbs and exurbs. However, since our area as a whole is declining in population I view the proliferation of so much new construction and sprawl as being 100% needless and a waste of open space. All this means for me as a city resident is that if I ever want to "get away from it all" some weekend to commune with nature I will have to drive progressively further and further out from the urban core of the metro area each year as more and more land on the periphery is developed.

I have no qualms with those seeking to populate close-in and more well-established inner suburbs, especially those well-serviced by transit. For example, Mt. Lebanon provides one with excellent public schools, safe streets, generously-sized homes, and also has easy access to the "T" (light rail) into the city. Mt. Lebanon would be a model suburb for our area if they could do a better job of connecting neighborhoods to the "T" and to its own central business district via more sidewalks, bike lanes, etc. Dormont, Millvale, Wilkinsburg, McKees Rocks, Stowe Township, Etna, Sharpsburg, Aspinwall, Blawnox, Bellevue, Avalon, West View, Homestead, Munhall, West Homestead, Swissvale, Edgewood, and a few other communities are all acceptable in my mind to embrace and encourage population growth. If and when the Allegheny Valley Railroad materializes I'd also feel confident in promoting transit-oriented development along that corridor all the way up to New Kensington. In the interim, though, if I see a new housing development going up even as close as Indiana Township or Peters Township I just don't pesonally foresee how that is a judicious use of open space while all of these other inner suburbs that are much closer to the city proper and already have existing infrastructure are struggling to stay afloat. You can be like h_curtis and live in a relatively walkable and well-transit-serviced part of Fox Chapel, where you can send your children to great public schools while being very close to shopping (Waterworks/Fox Chapel Plaza) and mass transportation.

In my personal opinion Pittsburgh should be able to easily house 450,000 residents again, at the very least, with minimal changes to existing neighborhood composition other than dense infill of pre-existing urban prairie. When the metro area at-large, though, has seen stagnant population growth, at best, I just don't foresee how we can NOT be discouraged when such a small trickle of those who are relocating here ARE choosing the city as their home. BrianTH lectures me about how Cranberry Township's astronomical growth in all sectors is a positive for the city because, somehow, people moving out of Pittsburgh to be nearer to jobs in Cranberry (I know people who have done this) doesn't detrimentally impact the city's tax base, but I don't quite see it that way. With just about 300,000 residents and dropping the city is already in dire straits financially and can't maintain its infrastructure. Perhaps things are "hopping" in the always-vibrant East End "bubble" surrounding Frick Park (Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Regent Square, Point Breeze), but go to a large chunk of the North Side, the South Hills, the West End, and, yes, parts of the East End like Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, Lincoln-Larimer, and Homewood, and you can see the toll that the city's competition with its suburbs is taking on it. Heck, even supposedly "hip" neighborhoods like my own Polish Hill are replete with urban prairie and blight.

Pardon me for loving this city enough to NOT want to see it become a donut hole with a ring of congested outer suburbs/exurbs all around it.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:22 AM
 
1,897 posts, read 1,684,533 times
Reputation: 800
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
I know I'm likely the one who is being directly referenced by the OP, and while I don't abhor suburbs in general I personally don't see how the sprawling outer suburbs and exurbs of our area positively contribute to the metro area other than increasing traffic congestion (due to their inherent auto-dependency), increasing air pollution (from all that extra generated traffic), diverting upstanding middle-class tax-paying families from the city proper (jeopardizing the city's efforts to reinforce its rapidly dwindling tax base), creating more issues with flooding (from the eventual runoff from all those new impervious surfaces), etc., etc. Let's not even think of how much is spent by PA taxpayers to subsidize the growth of these newer areas in terms of new infrastructure (sewer lines, street lights, roads, bridges, etc.)

Look, if the city itself was prospering instead of barely treading above 300,000 residents, as reflected in the 2010 U.S. Census, then perhaps I wouldn't feel quite so diametrically opposed to the meteoric growth of our region's outer suburbs and exurbs. However, since our area as a whole is declining in population I view the proliferation of so much new construction and sprawl as being 100% needless and a waste of open space. All this means for me as a city resident is that if I ever want to "get away from it all" some weekend to commune with nature I will have to drive progressively further and further out from the urban core of the metro area each year as more and more land on the periphery is developed.

I have no qualms with those seeking to populate close-in and more well-established inner suburbs, especially those well-serviced by transit. For example, Mt. Lebanon provides one with excellent public schools, safe streets, generously-sized homes, and also has easy access to the "T" (light rail) into the city. Mt. Lebanon would be a model suburb for our area if they could do a better job of connecting neighborhoods to the "T" and to its own central business district via more sidewalks, bike lanes, etc. Dormont, Millvale, Wilkinsburg, McKees Rocks, Stowe Township, Etna, Sharpsburg, Aspinwall, Blawnox, Bellevue, Avalon, West View, Homestead, Munhall, West Homestead, Swissvale, Edgewood, and a few other communities are all acceptable in my mind to embrace and encourage population growth. If and when the Allegheny Valley Railroad materializes I'd also feel confident in promoting transit-oriented development along that corridor all the way up to New Kensington. In the interim, though, if I see a new housing development going up even as close as Indiana Township or Peters Township I just don't pesonally foresee how that is a judicious use of open space while all of these other inner suburbs that are much closer to the city proper and already have existing infrastructure are struggling to stay afloat. You can be like h_curtis and live in a relatively walkable and well-transit-serviced part of Fox Chapel, where you can send your children to great public schools while being very close to shopping (Waterworks/Fox Chapel Plaza) and mass transportation.

In my personal opinion Pittsburgh should be able to easily house 450,000 residents again, at the very least, with minimal changes to existing neighborhood composition other than dense infill of pre-existing urban prairie. When the metro area at-large, though, has seen stagnant population growth, at best, I just don't foresee how we can NOT be discouraged when such a small trickle of those who are relocating here ARE choosing the city as their home. BrianTH lectures me about how Cranberry Township's astronomical growth in all sectors is a positive for the city because, somehow, people moving out of Pittsburgh to be nearer to jobs in Cranberry (I know people who have done this) doesn't detrimentally impact the city's tax base, but I don't quite see it that way. With just about 300,000 residents and dropping the city is already in dire straits financially and can't maintain its infrastructure. Perhaps things are "hopping" in the always-vibrant East End "bubble" surrounding Frick Park (Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Regent Square, Point Breeze), but go to a large chunk of the North Side, the South Hills, the West End, and, yes, parts of the East End like Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, Lincoln-Larimer, and Homewood, and you can see the toll that the city's competition with its suburbs is taking on it. Heck, even supposedly "hip" neighborhoods like my own Polish Hill are replete with urban prairie and blight.

Pardon me for loving this city enough to NOT want to see it become a donut hole with a ring of congested outer suburbs/exurbs all around it.

great points of view here! i've never lived an urban lifestyle, so i need your point of view to relate to folks like yourself.

also, i can honestly say i wasn't directly referencing anyone on this forum...just plain old curiosity, that's all!
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:25 AM
 
1,897 posts, read 1,684,533 times
Reputation: 800
i don't know how much relation i can bring to the discussion with talking about Fort Worth, Texas, but it's downtown area is being revived by the building of apartments and condos...i'm not sure what caused this recent boom, but i don't see why that can't happen here in Pittsburgh.

please excuse my ignorance, but i'm sure there are those of you who can do some legwork or research on what i'm talking about in regards to Fort Worth...
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:29 AM
 
Location: Crafton, PA
960 posts, read 961,249 times
Reputation: 481
The idea that the suburbs are exploding while the city is declining in population is untrue. Sure, there are specific suburban areas that are booming but you'll find the same anywhere. As a whole, the population of the Pittsburgh metro is not exploding. The city population trends seem to have bottomed out and may be on the upswing as well.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:47 AM
 
1,307 posts, read 773,210 times
Reputation: 815
Quote:
Originally Posted by trlstreet View Post
I just don't get how so many city dwellers can be so dismissive of a lifestyle that the majority of our population prefers. I'm a city dweller but can certainly appreciate the benefits of a driveway/garage, quiet, tree-lined street, open floor plans, big backyard, etc than my suburban friends have. And yes, there are a lot of crappy, cookie-cutter developments out there. But there are a lot of nice suburbs, too.

Actually, everything you described already does exist in the city and other urban neighborhoods in some form or another. Heck, the Southside even has places that meet all of those criteria outside of a big backyard. (Yes believe it or not there are actually some relatively quiet streets in the Southside)

Specifically, I am describing the horrid winding street design, gated communities, and spaced out development that is prevalent in the burbs. The quality of construction and bland appearance/inflated artificial value of many of these Mcmansions is terrible, its not necessarily their size, floor plan, or the fact that they have a garage that is an issue.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:51 AM
 
1,398 posts, read 798,226 times
Reputation: 1050
Quote:
Originally Posted by trlstreet View Post
I just don't get how so many city dwellers can be so dismissive of a lifestyle that the majority of our population prefers. I'm a city dweller but can certainly appreciate the benefits of a driveway/garage, quiet, tree-lined street, open floor plans, big backyard, etc than my suburban friends have. And yes, there are a lot of crappy, cookie-cutter developments out there. But there are a lot of nice suburbs, too.
There are big chunks of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods that have all of those except for maybe the open floor plan but if it's your house you can fix that.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Crafton, PA
960 posts, read 961,249 times
Reputation: 481
Quote:
Originally Posted by airwave09 View Post
Specifically, I am describing the horrid winding street design, gated communities, and spaced out development that is prevalent in the burbs. The quality of construction and bland appearance/inflated artificial value of many of these Mcmansions is terrible, its not necessarily their size, floor plan, or the fact that they have a garage that is an issue.
Bad construction and poor design, I agree with...there is plenty of it. I don't see the problem with spaced out development and large lots. I don't see the harm if someone wants to live on a half acre with some room to breathe.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:57 AM
 
1,467 posts, read 856,836 times
Reputation: 956
Quote:
Originally Posted by airwave09 View Post
Specifically, I am describing the horrid winding street design, gated communities, and spaced out development that is prevalent in the burbs. The quality of construction and bland appearance/inflated artificial value of many of these Mcmansions is terrible, its not necessarily their size, floor plan, or the fact that they have a garage that is an issue.

I know that where I grew up (development from the late 60s/70s), our house was about thirty feet from a house on either side, houses everywhere, but still no grocery store or any other business within about a mile and a half. Nothing at all was within a reasonable distance. So you get all of the annoyance of close neighbors with no convenience. It's as if someone combined private country living with city/town living and kept the worst aspects of each.
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:07 AM
 
Location: Hempfield Twp
782 posts, read 451,914 times
Reputation: 210
Some of us just want our space. I am not in my "final" location in the burbs but I will get there eventually. I really want to buy an existing house that has 10+ acres that go with it. I hate unplanned "sprawl" just as much as the next person but, with a family, neither myself or my wife want to live in the crowded conditions or high taxed areas currently provided within city limits. School quality is also a HUGE concern. Additionally, I live in one suburb in Westmoreland Co. and commute to work in a suburb in Allegheny Co. so it makes no sense for me to move within the city limits. Our recreation is 90% outside of the city. The 20-30 min. drive to the zoo, K-wood, Children's museum, Science Center, Carnegie museum, Aviary or the stadiums is not difficult at all for us to do when we decide to do it. For other people, living within the city makes sense. For me, not so much.

As an outdoorsman, I like having the space to store my boat and I am grateful I can pick up my bow and head out into the woods for an evening hunt right down the road. I couldn't do that in the city. Not to mention, I would be taking a 4-5% "pay cut" due to increased taxes if I were to live in a similar sized house within PGH city limits.

With close to a million hunters and probably triple that in fisherman in PA, I bet the majority of them feel exactly the same as me.
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:09 AM
 
Location: Crafton, PA
960 posts, read 961,249 times
Reputation: 481
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneW View Post
There are big chunks of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods that have all of those except for maybe the open floor plan but if it's your house you can fix that.
How many city neighborhoods REALLY meet those criteria? Quiet, tree-line streets, decent yards, etc..? Of the ones that do, which ones are both safe AND affordable? Add to that which schools these areas route to and you really start to narrow down the options for families. I seem to argue the same point every time one of these discussion comes up because many city people seem so dead set against anyone living in the suburbs. And I DO live in the city, so I see the benefits of both sides.
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