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Old 02-27-2014, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
So that's why I wonder if some people's perception really aligns with reality. Yes, some cities are getting richer. And yes, some cities are getting whiter. A lot whiter. But does that really mean that the tide is turning in favor of cities, or does it really mean that the tide is turning in favor of cities among a narrow demographic? I mean, are we really seeing the big picture when we celebrate bike lanes, farmers markets and smart cars in some neighborhoods while the overwhelming majority of people head out to car-centric suburbia?
Or is it something else, maybe we are only "counting" the changes when it happens among affluent white people, and ignoring the other demographics.

To play the stereotype game for a little while, a lot of immigrants come from places where denser cities and biking are the norm. Maybe they are brining that behavior/preferences with them. It wouldn't be the first time we only thought something was a trend when white people did it.

I was having a chat with my friends day, about the bay area, going to the mission in SF reminded him of home (Cairo). And that was appealing.

The stats on bike riding is that, around 30-35% of the riders aren't white, and the fastest growing demographics are black and latino. But we have a stereotype of you know 20-30 year old white hipster riding their bikes to the brewery. When I am in the bike lane, it looks like the neighborhood. I see all sorts of people in my bike lane, a range of ages ethnicities and family situations. When I go to chinatown, loads of people are on their bikes.

I do think there is a significant demographic that is being ignored.

I've wanted to "live in the city" since I was little. My sister has the same preference. We grew up in suburbia. I know that birds of a feather flock together, and my most of friends black or otherwise have similar preferences for walkable places. To the tune of around 60-65%. Not saying that we all agree, I do have some friends who prefer the suburbs too. But the more I ask around. The more I find people who worry about not being able to find a walkable place and being forced into car-oriented suburbia.

I mentioned earlier that I am volunteering with an organization focussed on transit/walkability/affordable housing (so of course I am a little biased), but what I do find interesting, when I talk about it, so many people chime in with "wow that's an awesome idea, we totally need that." I don't feel like even a decade ago these issues were on anyone's radar.

I went to a planning meeting for a nearby city this week, and this was for a small city (streetcar suburb type) and there was a proposal for a 110 unit building, 8 stories, near the downtown (walkable, close to transit, but it needed to replace the 90 parking spots that would be lost with the development in their garage). There were disagreements about the size of the development and the number of parking spaces. But most of the audience was in agreement with the parcel being an ideal place for development because it was walkable and close to transit, and the sort of project they wanted to see in the city. Only 1 person seemed to not want an apartment complex there.

The meeting was full of grey-hairs. Some people who were 3rd and 4th gen in the community. Other people who only lived there for 30 years. But most were over 50. There were only a handful of people who looked under 40. Most of the speakers matched the "grey-haired" demo as well. It was really interesting to me, because the community was "pro-transit-oriented-development" as long as it wasn't scaled inappropriately. And they certainly weren't of the millennial or Gen X demo.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,164 posts, read 29,645,043 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
How are the burbs maxed out? If you look at DC, which is supposed to be the hottest city in America, most people are still moving to auto-centric suburbia. The Census tracts that have grown the fastest are in places like Germantown, Leesburg, Sterling, Lorton, and Manassas. This is the type of suburbia that would make an urbanist living in a studio apartment in the Haight weep tears of sorrow. Most of these places aren't walkable in the least (unless you consider being able to walk from one house to another "walkable").

When you look at its denser, inner ring walkable suburbs (i.e., Mt. Rainier, Del Ray, etc.), they haven't grown nearly as much. In Del Ray, for example, you have sizable increases in the white population, large increases in the Hispanic population (they are replacing blacks in multi-family housing) and dramatic decreases for everyone else. This has led to population losses in some census tracts as high as -7.0% and gains only as high as 10.8%. When you look at tracts in Lorton or Germantown, you see sizable increases in the white population but also large increases for everyone else.

So that's why I wonder if some people's perception really aligns with reality. Yes, some cities are getting richer. And yes, some cities are getting whiter. A lot whiter. But does that really mean that the tide is turning in favor of cities, or does it really mean that the tide is turning in favor of cities among a narrow demographic? I mean, are we really seeing the big picture when we celebrate bike lanes, farmers markets and smart cars in some neighborhoods while the overwhelming majority of people head out to car-centric suburbia?
I do think DC is unique because its burbs are densifying and becoming more walkable. (Reston, Arlington etc).

I think we have to stop thinking about it so linear as city vs suburb. More like walkable or drivable. They can happen in any place. Oakland has a lot of drivable areas, even though it is a city. Walnut Creek (a nearby burn) is a sprawl-y suburb with a very walkable downtown, and some more walkable development around the transit centers. I'd rather live in downtown Walnut Creek than a drivable part of Oakland (including the posh area of Montclair...not walkable/mixed use enough for me)

Quote:
Originally Posted by blueherons View Post
We lived in one of those new work/live/play neighborhoods in Myrtle Beach (Market Common) and were VERY happy there.
OMG! I was so shocked when I heard about that place, I was wondering if anyone would live there. :P (I went to high school in Myrtle Beach, and let's just say walkability wasn't on the radar of my peers. Glad to hear the project worked)
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:27 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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I'm a GenXer (though I hate that term) and my wife and I prefer a small SFH on a small lot within a walkable community where it is easy for us to drive to where we need, but still be able to safely bike and walk to things as well.

Most of my friends are people who prefer inner city neighborhoods and walkable communities. Many of them have a kid or two and are happy with their choices. Of course I have a few friends that are happy living in a very suburban car centric community, so there will always be a demand for that, I just think the demand for walkable communities doesn't match the current lack of supply, which is why I expect to see a larger amount of these walkable communities being built in the coming years and decades.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Or is it something else, maybe we are only "counting" the changes when it happens among affluent white people, and ignoring the other demographics.
Well, that's what I mean. When someone says "Everybody I know wants to live in a smaller house in a walkable, transit-oriented neighborhood," I take that statement at face value. I think the "everybody I know" part is critical in understanding their perception. For a lot of people, the "everybody I know" includes few people who enlisted in the military directly out of high school, few secretaries, pipefitters, electricians, boilermakers, bus drivers, aviation mechanics, train operators, HR specialists, construction workers, maids, postal workers, Verizon retail store managers, waste disposal workers, water treatment plant workers, ConEdison engineers, HVAC engineers, etc. Even if they grew up around some of these people, these are not the types of people you generally find gentrifying cities.

A HUGE number of Americans have those types of jobs. But if you live in a Creative Class enclave in some American city, those people are largely out of sight and out of mind. From your vantage point, you may see people similar to you that are filling up your neighborhood as well as other gentrifying neighborhoods, but then completely miss the much larger flow of people to the burbs because you don't know many of those people. It's easy even easier to miss this if you're a transplant to a new city and really have no reason to travel far outside of the urban core.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Bothell, Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
The same was also true of Tenleytown. It's swanky and in demand today, but that hasn't always been the case. There was a time (in the early 90s) when a fair number of its white residents were government workers without college degrees. Today, I think the number of people over the age of 25 with a Bacheror's Degree or higher is something ridiculous like 88%.



I didn't say otherwise. I think a big part of what's changed is that more people within that demographic are getting married later. So there's greater demand in cities overall. During my parents' day, it was graduate from high school, get married/go to college/fight in Vietnam, and then get married if you didn't get married before you went to college or Vietnam. By the time my parents' were my age, they already had 3 kids. I couldn't even imagine that.



But has large-lot suburbia really become less attractive? Depending on your source, people are either downsizing and demanding smaller houses in walkable neighborhoods, or people are increasingly moving into larger and larger houses.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/bu...back.html?_r=0

I don't see why both can't be true. I honestly think the preference for one or the other mostly breaks down along class lines. When I worked on the Obama campaign, I can't ever recall seeing a Subaru Outback or a Volvo Station wagon parked in the driveway or garage of a McMansion in the distant exurbs. Or on the flip side, I can't recall seeing a Chevy Tahoe or a Denali parked on the street (or in the driveway) of a walkable streetcar suburb. Now I'm not saying that nobody in the outer suburbs/exurbs drives a Volvo station wagon or that nobody in streetcar suburbs drives a Denali. I'm just saying that the urbanist lifestyle seems to be split along class lines, which often has a lot less to do with money than most people think.
Yeah, it is not a huge trend going towards just urban living. It is true that urban living is getting popular again for a segment of the population, but suburban homes are booming just as always as well. Here in the Seattle area suburban housing developments are going up as fast as builders can get them built- with many outer areas seeing miles and miles of new housing developments. Many of them are large, it seems rare to find many that are under 2000 square feet. So I don't think we are seeing a reversing trend, it's just that things are moving along as they always have, with a new branch being the urban living option for some.
Plenty of people of all age groups still prefer driving- my neighborhood has lots of young couples and even they prefer driving as it suits them best for all of their needs for shopping, taking kids and equipment to school and activities, for going off to the mountains or the beach on weekends, etc. So the old standard of two cars in the garage is not going anywhere- again there is just a new segment of the population that wants to live car free- this is not a huge reversing trend from what I am seeing.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,164 posts, read 29,645,043 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Well, that's what I mean. When someone says "Everybody I know wants to live in a smaller house in a walkable, transit-oriented neighborhood," I take that statement at face value. I think the "everybody I know" part is critical in understanding their perception. For a lot of people, the "everybody I know" includes few people who enlisted in the military directly out of high school, few secretaries, pipefitters, electricians, boilermakers, bus drivers, aviation mechanics, train operators, HR specialists, construction workers, maids, postal workers, Verizon retail store managers, waste disposal workers, water treatment plant workers, ConEdison engineers, HVAC engineers, etc. Even if they grew up around some of these people, these are not the types of people you generally find gentrifying cities.

A HUGE number of Americans have those types of jobs. But if you live in a Creative Class enclave in some American city, those people are largely out of sight and out of mind. From your vantage point, you may see people similar to you that are filling up your neighborhood as well as other gentrifying neighborhoods, but then completely miss the much larger flow of people to the burbs because you don't know many of those people. It's easy even easier to miss this if you're a transplant to a new city and really have no reason to travel far outside of the urban core.

I know our American dream is big house, big backyard and 2 cars in the garage. And people think you are crazy if you don't want that.


I guess this is where our vantage points differ. I don't think that these "walkable aspirations" are only for creative class people. I don't think it is a political or class specific issue. No one loses when more people can find affordable places that are in walkable neighborhoods in their price range (assuming that is what they want). But the problem is, it is not really an option for a large segment of the population due to escalating prices or lack of supply or both. It doesn't only have to be available in large cities.

It is a bonafied trend in smaller places too or organizations like Strong Towns and Better Block Project wouldn't exist. These target those normal places, like the ones typified by the towns in "fly over states." I think there is special "creative class hype."
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:28 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,248 posts, read 26,214,003 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jm31828 View Post
Yeah, it is not a huge trend going towards just urban living. It is true that urban living is getting popular again for a segment of the population, but suburban homes are booming just as always as well. Here in the Seattle area suburban housing developments are going up as fast as builders can get them built- with many outer areas seeing miles and miles of new housing developments. Many of them are large, it seems rare to find many that are under 2000 square feet. So I don't think we are seeing a reversing trend, it's just that things are moving along as they always have, with a new branch being the urban living option for some.
Plenty of people of all age groups still prefer driving- my neighborhood has lots of young couples and even they prefer driving as it suits them best for all of their needs for shopping, taking kids and equipment to school and activities, for going off to the mountains or the beach on weekends, etc. So the old standard of two cars in the garage is not going anywhere- again there is just a new segment of the population that wants to live car free- this is not a huge reversing trend from what I am seeing.
I 100% concur with this. This is why I'm skeptical of large, expensive transit projects in many cities. It's almost like urbanists are standing at the border of their city limits looking at the suburbs saying, "Here it comes. Here it comes. Oh boy, here it comes. Here comes the wave!" Some may not see a wave right now, but believe that a $100 million trolley will eventually bring that wave. What's a tidal wave to them is to me a steady drip at best.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:45 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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A lot of these threads similar to this, not necessarily the OP who has been relatively modest and thoughtful, read as someone who is trying hard to proclaim "triumph of the city". Then ancedotes follow, which usually are useless for this thing.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I know our American dream is big house, big backyard and 2 cars in the garage. And people think you are crazy if you don't want that.
I don't think people think you're crazy if you don't want that. I think people think you're crazy if you think other people don't want that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I guess this is where our vantage points differ. I don't think that these "walkable aspirations" are only for creative class people. I don't think it is a political or class specific issue.
But it is a class issue. The Creative Class is concentrating in inner cities and inner-ring, walkable suburbs. The working and service classes aren't. And it's not necessarily because those classes are poorer. An electrician can make a six-figure salary. It's that they don't share the same tastes as the upper middle class. They prefer to drink different beers, shop at different stores, drive different cars, etc. Tastes and lifestyle are highly bound up with class.

For example, if someone "likes" Trader Joe's on Facebook, has a subscription to the New York Times or the Economist, and drives a Subaru, you could probably narrow down the number of zip codes they likely live in in any metro area rather easily. Marketers have been hip to this for a long time. Campaigns are now hip to it too. If you fit that description, then the Obama campaign is not going to stop by your house. We already know we have 80-90% of those people in the bag. People like to think that they're special, unique individuals and can't easily be "figured out," but the truth is that something as simple as your "likes" on Facebook can tell us a lot about you. And it's usually that your "unique" tastes are also unique to tons of other people with similar levels of education and similar political views who live in similar walkable neighborhoods.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,164 posts, read 29,645,043 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
I don't think people think you're crazy if you don't want that. I think people think you're crazy if you think other people don't want that.



But it is a class issue. The Creative Class is concentrating in inner cities and inner-ring, walkable suburbs. The working and service classes aren't. And it's not necessarily because those classes are poorer. An electrician can make a six-figure salary. It's that they don't share the same tastes as the upper middle class. They prefer to drink different beers, shop at different stores, drive different cars, etc. Tastes and lifestyle are highly bound up with class.

For example, if someone "likes" Trader Joe's on Facebook, has a subscription to the New York Times or the Economist, and drives a Subaru, you could probably narrow down the number of zip codes they likely live in in any metro area rather easily. Marketers have been hip to this for a long time. Campaigns are now hip to it too. If you fit that description, then the Obama campaign is not going to stop by your house. We already know we have 80-90% of those people in the bag. People like to think that they're special, unique individuals and can't easily be "figured out," but the truth is that something as simple as your "likes" on Facebook can tell us a lot about you. And it's usually that your "unique" tastes are also unique to tons of other people with similar levels of education and similar political views who live in similar walkable neighborhoods.
I think the service class is being priced out. I don't think these are creative class only desires. But I do think motivations are different for different people.

Of course i know the Bay Area is a weird place. But for example whole foods is popular with a wide range of demographics, particularly in Oakland and Berkeley. They run bargain shopping classes in our store.

Separately i saw an article about brining biking to the south side of Chicago, in a poorer mostly black area. They started off with a message around reducing obesity rates and being healthy but it didn't resonate. What did work though was reducing the emissions from cars, improving air quality and decreasing asthma issues as that neighborhood had really high rates is asthma.
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