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Old 10-23-2007, 09:25 AM
Location: The better side of the Mason-Dixon Line
4,937 posts, read 9,244,683 times
Reputation: 2550


My friend works for the Maryland state government in an agency that does urban planning and rural land preservation and he explained to me a depressing trend I've been noticing. In the areas close to Washington, D.C., almost all the new growth is in high-density development rather than suburban subdivisions. The goal supposedly is to preserve rural land and natural habitat by directing growth to already developed areas. My family hates the effects of this (even as we support environmental protection). The price of single family homes will only increase now that all new growth here is in apartments and condos.

I love small towns and farms, but this program is causing trouble because places already congested become more so. Our streets will only become more cluttered when even more growth is concentrated in a smaller area. They want to promote use of public transport but the DC metro is also used beyond capacity. This kind of development (and the associated problem of homes just not being worth the high prices) are the number one reason I feel pushed out of my hometown, along with the government's tolerance of illegal immigration and how we've been overrun by Yankee transplants from NY and NJ.

It depresses me even further that a lot of regions I'm interested in moving to in the future - Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas - also seem to be supporting this kind of growth. Raleigh wants to promote more growth in its downtown section rather than the burbs. Las Vegas and Phoenix want to build urban areas, loft type housing, etc even though those cities have always been more suburuban than urban. I read that people in these areas actually want more loft housing? I don't know if it is true or if developers are telling lies because they find this more profitable. National Geographic also had an article about Orlando building new housing stock trying to emulate larger, older cities. I don't get it. I just don't.

One of the things that makes America unique is our suburban lifestyle with the 3-4 bedroom house and two car garage and kids playing in the sprinklers in the front yard. If we becoem an urban nation how are we any different from Europe or Asia? Yes, London is a wonderful place to visit but not such a great place to live. Same with NYC and Chicago.

Is there still anyplace where most of the development continues to be in suburban communities and tract housing? I know I'm a hypocrite but I can't help it. I think suburban sprawl is a problem and I support the preservation or rural America, forests, deserts, wetlands and other natural landscapes but when it comes to personal taste I really need to live in the suburbs in a large house and a big yard, preferrably a self-contained subdivision with easy access to dining, shopping, etc. I just cannot look out my window everyday and see concrete and streets everywhere.

I tend to support the New Urbanist model and "new towns", not turning existing suburbs into urban areas. If they want to build new loft housing and condos, do it in depressed, run-down inner city areas, not in existing suburbs whose residents want to remain suburban. Gentrification is a better option, and as for dealing with where the poor people will live, if we deport more illegals this problem won't be as serious. Also, I wonder if most young people across the nation really favor urban living. Here on the East Coast it seems that way and most of my friends don't have a problem living in the middle of DC and Baltimore, but I have my own tastes. If preferring suburbia now makes me a "rebel" in my generation I don't really care because it's the way I want to live my life.
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Old 10-23-2007, 10:57 AM
Location: yeah
5,718 posts, read 12,300,516 times
Reputation: 2759
I think it's coming along with the big wave of "green" trendies who want to ride bikes to work and reject the [former] status quo. Every other advertisement now has some mention of "green" consciousness. That's a negative view of it, for sure, but I welcome the change even if it is superficial.
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Old 10-23-2007, 11:04 AM
5,230 posts, read 11,553,760 times
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The policy makers have realized that the sprawling, auto-dependent post-WWII American suburban development that flouished from the 50s to the 90s just isn't sustainable. However, you'll no doubt still be able to find such developments wee into the future in smaller cities and towns in the less-progressive states.
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Old 10-23-2007, 11:06 AM
2,249 posts, read 5,129,356 times
Reputation: 1992
No. Apparantly people like suburban areas, and until that basic trend changes we'll continue to see sprawling "cities".
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Old 10-23-2007, 11:08 AM
Location: Omaha, Ne
884 posts, read 417,977 times
Reputation: 119
I know Omaha has many large scale urban infill projects going on but they still have many more suburban track housing projects as well.
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Old 10-23-2007, 12:45 PM
Location: Denver, CO
5,549 posts, read 17,336,255 times
Reputation: 4881
"High density" development in Phoenix is such a miniscule amount of the total amount of development going on, it's practically insignificant. And it's mainly in the downtown areas of Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale-- NOT in the outskirts of the suburbs. By and large, development continues to expand outward horizontally, consisting of mainly single family homes. You have nothing to worry about. Now, Las Vegas, I agree, is a different story, because they are running out of land--the Las Vegas valley is hemmed in by mountains, an air force base, Lake Mead, several Indian reservations, nuclear test sites, and other government protected land. So if Vegas wants to expand, they either have to leapfrog past the main city to places like Mesquite, Pahrump, or Laughlin, or simply build up. But whether it's upward or outward, I think Las Vegas is a poor choice if you want to live a normal "suburban" lifestyle. If you want a low-density semi-normal desert city, Phoenix would be a better choice.
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:02 PM
Location: Bronx, NY
2,806 posts, read 13,548,647 times
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I think you are misunderstanding what is going on here to some degree.

Yes there is a trend towards urban infill/high density development, however this is still a fairly small part of the real estate market at the moment. In the vast majority of places throughout the country suburban sprawl is continuing at breakneck speeds.

There is much to be happy with high-density, transit oriented development. Rather than causing more traffic congestion, this type of development is actaully the only real solution to the problem of traffic in this country. The idea is that if you build high density, mixed use, buildings near transportation hubs (whether they be commuter trains, subways, ligh rail, or some type of bus rapid transit) that people will take public transportation to work instead of driving their cars. The creation of high density, mixed use buildings, allows people to walk around their neighborhoods and accomplish things without using their cars (such as going to the local mini-market or out to a restaurant).

I live in a fairly well established urban neighborhood on the fringes of NYC and I rarely use my car, because everything is walkable. If I need to go buy groceries I walk down to the grocery store and carry them back. If I want to go to the local takeout restaurant I walk down there. When I go to church, I walk over there, if I need to pick up a newspaper or a coffe I can walk to a local shop. This is very different from most suburban areas where people are entirely dependent upon their automobiles and it is not possible for the people living there to walk to their local stores or parks, even if they wanted to.

Not only is this type of development good for the environment, but it is also a good way to combat America's growing obesity problem, since forcing people to walk instead of using the car ends up wtih people burning calories (little walks to the store might not seem like much, but it all adds up).

The most important thing about this pattern of development is that it is the only way we are going to reduce dependency on automobiles. Now, I'm not a treehugger (most of my political views are actually quite conservative) but much can be said about using our cars less, and depending less upon foreign oil.

The biggest problem with cities is not high density development or traffic, but rather it is poor public school systems and issues of crime. I think a large percentage of Americans would enjoy living in cities, instead of the suburbs if these two issues could be thoroughly fixed up.
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:32 PM
Location: Austin, TX
104 posts, read 372,750 times
Reputation: 29
I love urban living. -hugs new urban development in Austin-
Seriously though, urban development (at least here) is only a tiny fraction of suburban development.
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Old 10-23-2007, 05:14 PM
2,506 posts, read 6,784,406 times
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/\ You make a good point Mead, it isn't the city environment that people don't like, it is what most cities turned into, crime and education problems. I think that if people didn't want to live in an urban city, the remainder of people would prefer small to medium sized towns. I don't think that very many people like the suburbs for how they are planned (roads, Wal-Marts, large houses), but they value education, safety, generally cheaper price, et. cetera more.
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Old 10-23-2007, 11:30 PM
Location: The better side of the Mason-Dixon Line
4,937 posts, read 9,244,683 times
Reputation: 2550
Actually Minnehahapolitan you're kinda right. Ideally I would live in a small town or a small city but there's an issue with employment. I'm going to be either a dentist or a pharmacist and these professions are best for fast growing areas. Realistically I think of relocating to Phoenix, Las Vegas, Raleigh, or Charlotte but IDEALLY I would relocate to Des Moines, Omaha or Sioux Falls.
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