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Old 02-13-2014, 03:05 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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I already know that families do live in cities. The title is just shorthand. My real question is if you think cities, assuming massive levels of gentrification, can ever compete against the suburbs as far as attracting families goes?

I posted the following in the DC forum. By way of background, Tenleytown and Georgetown are two very affluent DC neighborhoods that are zoned for excellent schools. Chevy Chase is an affluent Maryland suburb that sits across the border from Tenleytown.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Here's food for thought.

In Census Tract 12 (Tenleytown), 12.9% of the White, non-Hispanic population is 17 and under.

In Census Tract 70.52 (Chevy Chase, MD), 26% of the White, non-Hispanic population is 17 and under.

What do you think accounts for the difference? The difference is even more stark when looking at middle school and high school age children. The MD Census tract has 219 more children between the ages of 10 and 17 despite having 1,040 fewer residents than the Tenleytown tract.

Could it be the schools? Montgomery County Schools are good, but are they really THAT much better than Janney, Deal and Wilson?

It can't be crime. I haven't checked the crime reports, but I don't think the Tenleytown crowd has to worry much about muggings, shootings, etc. I could be wrong though.

Georgetown (Census Tract 1) fares a little better than Tenleytown. 15.6% of the White, non-Hispanics there are 17 and under. But again, there's a dearth of middle and high school age children. Georgetown has 212 fewer children between the ages of 10 and 17 despite having 1,484 more people than Chevy Chase.

Good schools, wealthy people, low crime but fewer children. Any thoughts on why this might be the case?
It's often stated that once the schools are fixed, families will flood back into cities in droves. But looking at the Census data, solidly affluent DC neighborhoods don't have the same number of children as solidly affluent Maryland suburbs.

So...do you think that there's a built-in bias towards the suburbs when it comes to family life (regardless of schools, crime, etc.)?

PS: I understand that not ALL neighborhoods are like the ones I mentioned. They are just examples.
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Old 02-13-2014, 03:59 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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It's not a real question. By far the majority of people live in suburbs. I mean, just pick your metro: Los Angeles has less than 4 million in the city and 16+ million in the metro area; NYC has 8.3 million and the metro is just shy of 20 million. It's in most cases physically impossible for people to flood into the cities. The places that could physically (Detroit, some of the rust belt cities) aren't the ones where families would like to be running to the cities, more like the other direction. Georgetown it's the price that sends people running.

Wealthy people (A) don't have as many kids, and (B) tend to be passed the age of having young kids. Peek earning years are 40-55, which isn't a demographic likely to have young children. That's your demographic who could afford (maybe) to buy into these neighborhoods. Granted, I'm slightly biased by San Francisco where a 3bd apartment goes for over $10,000 in a posh neighborhood and $5k+ in a less desirable one.... San Francisco has the lottery so where you live and schools don't really matter. But basically, there isn't anywhere to flock to. Price would prevent it from occurring.

Last edited by Malloric; 02-13-2014 at 04:07 PM..
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Old 02-14-2014, 06:51 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
It's not a real question. By far the majority of people live in suburbs. I mean, just pick your metro: Los Angeles has less than 4 million in the city and 16+ million in the metro area; NYC has 8.3 million and the metro is just shy of 20 million. It's in most cases physically impossible for people to flood into the cities. The places that could physically (Detroit, some of the rust belt cities) aren't the ones where families would like to be running to the cities, more like the other direction. Georgetown it's the price that sends people running.
I recognize that the absolute number of families will be higher in the suburbs than in the city. But that doesn't explain why an urban neighborhood with low crime and good schools has far fewer children than a suburban neighborhood with low crime and good schools. Chevy Chase, MD is about every bit as expensive as Tenleytown (if not more). Georgetown may be more expensive by the square foot, but a million dollar home is a million dollar home. It's not like Eric Holder is going to browse properties in Georgetown and suffer from sticker shock. By and large, the demographics of both neighborhoods are similar in terms of affluence, educational attainment and race.

The only difference is housing stock. Chevy Chase is largely suburban. Tenleytown is much more urban but also has somewhat of a suburban character. Georgetown is the most urban of the three (even Georgetown has some large residences, however). Given that none of these neighborhoods are plagued by the things that often prevent families from settling into cities over the long-term--crime, bad schools, poverty--is it the case that people have a built-in bias towards the burbs when it comes to raising a family?
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Old 02-14-2014, 07:11 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,252 posts, read 26,220,119 times
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The Woodley Park neighborhood in Washington, DC is another example. It's more urban than Georgetown, Tenleytown and Chevy Chase. It's zoned for the same excellent schools as Tenleytown. I'm sure there's a bit more crime, but that kinda comes along with greater urbanity and density. In 2012, 86.7% of all residents had a bachelor's degree or higher. 59.8% had a graduate or professional degree. In 2000, 82.2% had a bachelor's degree and 59.3% had a graduate or professional degree. So we're not talking about a neighborhood that needed time to gentrify and "get its act straight" before the families could move in. It's been affluent for a while.

Yet we see even fewer children in Woodley Park. White, non-Hispanics in the 17 and under age bracket make up about 8% of the neighborhood's population. The problem does not seem to be cost since there are suburban Maryland neighborhoods that are equally expensive.

If urban neighborhoods that meet the criteria of nearly any urbanist can't attract families (in a metro with many, many young and affluent white families), then what's in store for urban neighborhoods that don't have the best schools, lowest crime, etc?
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Old 02-14-2014, 07:50 AM
 
56,538 posts, read 80,824,285 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
The Woodley Park neighborhood in Washington, DC is another example. It's more urban than Georgetown, Tenleytown and Chevy Chase. It's zoned for the same excellent schools as Tenleytown. I'm sure there's a bit more crime, but that kinda comes along with greater urbanity and density. In 2012, 86.7% of all residents had a bachelor's degree or higher. 59.8% had a graduate or professional degree. In 2000, 82.2% had a bachelor's degree and 59.3% had a graduate or professional degree. So we're not talking about a neighborhood that needed time to gentrify and "get its act straight" before the families could move in. It's been affluent for a while.

Yet we see even fewer children in Woodley Park. White, non-Hispanics in the 17 and under age bracket make up about 8% of the neighborhood's population. The problem does not seem to be cost since there are suburban Maryland neighborhoods that are equally expensive.

If urban neighborhoods that meet the criteria of nearly any urbanist can't attract families (in a metro with many, many young and affluent white families), then what's in store for urban neighborhoods that don't have the best schools, lowest crime, etc?
It may also depend on the educational options these families consider for their children. Some may like the city, but may go the route of private schools, charter schools or even homeschooling their children. This is if they can't or even can get into magnet or good/select public schools within that city.

This is why I think if cities were smart, they would push for county school districts that allow for more public options. They don't necessarily have to be what I call a free for all county school district, but could be a zoned county school district that minimizes things such as long bus rides to schools, for an example.

I also think that there needs to be some incentive that attracts families. For example, here in Syracuse, there is a program called Say Yes to Education, where Syracuse City School District students can get free to a reduced tuition to attend college at a select list of schools. Syracuse | Say Yes to Education

Recent News | Say Yes to Education

Partner Colleges | Say Yes to Education

While the overall results may not be as great as suburban school districts, which are really a different animal altogether, for students that are serious about their schooling, it could be a great opportunity to take advantage of. I think that if more cities had such a program, that would help to some degree as well.
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Old 02-14-2014, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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I think it is imporant to look at problem number 2. The availability and affordability of family sized housing.

In my own neighborhood schools are decent to good. There are families with young children. As soon as the second kid comes around they move. I love in an area that is mostly condo. With sfh mixed in. Obviously I haven't counted every unit, but most buildings follow a similar blueprint in the neighborhood. 20-25 units with 3-5 studios, 12-15 one bedrooms, 3-5 two bedrooms and one larger penthouse with 3 bedrooms. Some people have converted the one bedrooms into two bedrooms but the twos can't be concerted to threes.

A two bedroom condo in the neighborhood is about $450k-650k depending on condition and building. The single family homes are generally very large. Victorians and craftsmans. They start at $750k even for fixers.

I have no idea how the rare 3 bedroom condos are priced. They never go on the market. The one in my building recently sold. The same person lived there for 20 years. A young family moved in and purchases it for about $500k but it needed to be fully renovated. A condo building opened in the neighborhood a few years ago. It didn't sell well, but the 3 or 4 three bedroom units sold even before they officially had the grand opening/open house. The rest of the smaller units ended up lingering after selling 50% and converting to rentals. They sold for $650-700k.

The families I did know who wanted to stay in the city had issues finding the right housing and moved to other suburbs or parts if the city more suburban in character due to home size/availability/price.

All of our new development focuses on singles and couples.
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Old 02-14-2014, 10:01 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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I don't see why not, though I do agree with others, it is important to provide affordable housing for middle class families to help encourage them to live in inner city neighborhoods. There is also an issue with density, I think when inner city neighborhoods feel like small urban towns, it makes it much easier and more attractive for young families to want to move into them.
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
I don't see why not, though I do agree with others, it is important to provide affordable housing for middle class families to help encourage them to live in inner city neighborhoods. There is also an issue with density, I think when inner city neighborhoods feel like small urban towns, it makes it much easier and more attractive for young families to want to move into them.
I live in a denser area, but it is mostly a mix of single family homes and 3-5 story buildings. There are a handful 10-12 story buildings in the general vicinity. It isn't overwhelmingly dense, but dense enough for services and transit. But as I mentioned, there is no inventory. People who move to the neighborhood don't leave. And many people have lived there for 20+ years.
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Old 02-14-2014, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,252 posts, read 26,220,119 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
I don't see why not, though I do agree with others, it is important to provide affordable housing for middle class families to help encourage them to live in inner city neighborhoods. There is also an issue with density, I think when inner city neighborhoods feel like small urban towns, it makes it much easier and more attractive for young families to want to move into them.
Are you saying that families feel more comfortable with less density compared to a hyper-urban environment?
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Old 02-14-2014, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,053 posts, read 29,504,059 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I live in a denser area, but it is mostly a mix of single family homes and 3-5 story buildings. There are a handful 10-12 story buildings in the general vicinity. It isn't overwhelmingly dense, but dense enough for services and transit. But as I mentioned, there is no inventory. People who move to the neighborhood don't leave. And many people have lived there for 20+ years.
That is actually a good thing for a neighborhood. (I wasn't sure if you were trying to say it was a positive or negative thing.)
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