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Old 07-30-2014, 07:54 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,456 posts, read 11,963,283 times
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Keep in mind there are all sorts of structural ways that suburban living is currently forced in a much more concrete way than just talking about "urban living."

Say, for example, I'm a property owner, and I want to build an urban-style development within a suburban environment. I generally can't. There are usually property setback rules which mean I can't have the building front on the street, or go right up to the property line in a residential area. I can't build multi-unit in an area zoned for single-family housing. Without special zoning, I can't put a storefront in with apartments over top. I can't even put a commercial business within a residential area. And no matter what I build, I'd be forced to provide off-street parking, which could require a large, pedestrian-unfriendly parking lot. All of these are restrictions on my rights as a property owner to develop as I wish, which force me to "build suburban." Some of these rules (particularly the parking minimums) may apply even within urban city neighborhoods!

Or, let's look at it another way, from the perspective of a potential homeowner. Let's say you're someone like me - a parent who prefers living in walkable, urban-style neighborhoods. The problem is, virtually everywhere in the country, these neighborhoods are expensive, provided they aren't ghettos. You spend significantly more money for the walkability, so that if you want to live in the area, you'll probably need to compromise and buy a smaller, or a less nice house. We've hit that juncture personally, and while we're staying in the city we're putting in an offer on an older house (built in 1908) in a "streetcar suburb" part of the city where it will take us 15 minutes to walk to the nearest business district. We don't want to live there, but we just can't afford the "walkable premium" with family-sized square footage.

Why are the walkable areas more expensive? Because there is a high demand for them in the modern era, but limited supply. If the supply of walkable areas met demand, prices would fall, and be roughly equal. But since prices are high, there are a large number of homebuyers who really wish they could live in a more "urban" environment, but can't afford to, so make do with a less "urban" one.

All "urbanists" suggest is that some of the development restrictions which have historically forced most new development to be done in a suburban style to be relaxed. With more even development, including restoring historic urban neighborhoods and building new "urban villages" within the suburbs, prices should begin to come down as we have something more approaching a free market.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,324 posts, read 6,992,048 times
Reputation: 3504
Quote:
Originally Posted by luzianne View Post
It looks like a lot of the focus here is on getting people to move to urban areas instead of suburban areas. Why? I know those of you who are younger think people should flock back to urban areas and you think that is the wave of the future. Maybe it is the wave of the future in the short term, but I think it will come full circle again when YOUR children decide they don't want to live in a population dense area and want room to spread out like their grandparents did.

I really don't understand the current push for urban living. The majority of the population is still going to live in the suburbs. A lot of the population never has and never will like urban living. I just don't understand trying to convince everyone that urban is better. To me, it's definitely not.
I do agree that perhaps this is somewhat cyclical and the urban movement isn't entirely a permanent lifestyle choice by the majority of the younger generation. HOWEVER, to answer the basic gist of your question, the problem is that suburban areas as we've come to imagine them over the last several generations are unsustainable and won't survive moving forward. Municipalities are going bankrupt and can't afford to maintain the amenities/necessities all across the country, and while there are many factors for this there's no denying the higher cost of subsidizing sprawl. Here in Jacksonville we've seen this unfold slowly and force a 95% suburban population to slowly repair the damage. It takes lots of wealthy people willing to pay a larger share to support and sustain a nice suburban lifestyle.

That said...I want to be clear that "suburban" can also be developed in a much more sustainable design, as has been happening in a handful of areas. So I'm not intending to throw the baby out with the water...I'm just speaking of the traditional suburban sprawl that we've gotten used to over many decades.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:17 AM
 
Location: Bothell, Washington
2,704 posts, read 4,679,702 times
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I see a few things mentioned here that are not totally accurate. First of all, the traditional suburban development is not on its last legs- that type of development is alive and well now as it always was- just drive around almost any suburban area these days where there is new construction- it is everywhere.

And someone mentioned people living in the suburbs are in a bad situation because they "need" to have cars. The fact is people will have cars anyway to get around- most do not only go where public transportation goes on public transportation's schedule- people have too much running around to do going to/from all kinds of random places, and so for the vast majority of people even if they may ride a bus or train to work, they will still have cars to do other running around. So living in the suburbs doesn't seem to mean that people begrudgingly need a car, it just fits because people have cars anyway. In the suburbs they have parking places and garages making it easier to take care of their cars than in a more dense area.

And government did not encourage or force people into suburban living as was mentioned as a counter argument- it was the desire of the people to start moving into suburban types of areas and so the government went along with that in how areas were developed.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:22 AM
 
358 posts, read 360,503 times
Reputation: 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by luzianne View Post
I really don't understand the current push for urban living. The majority of the population is still going to live in the suburbs. A lot of the population never has and never will like urban living. I just don't understand trying to convince everyone that urban is better. To me, it's definitely not.
Many urban areas have rebounded and are really nice now. People want to live in them. These people don't share your preference. Simple as that.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:33 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,456 posts, read 11,963,283 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jm31828 View Post
I see a few things mentioned here that are not totally accurate. First of all, the traditional suburban development is not on its last legs- that type of development is alive and well now as it always was- just drive around almost any suburban area these days where there is new construction- it is everywhere.
There's always going to be a market for new suburban development, because a lot of people look at houses like cars these days. But the problem with many suburban developments is they have aged poorly. Unless the school district continues to be top-performing, older suburbs can depreciate in terms of total value considerably. A lot of first-ring suburbs are currently in dire shape, insofar as they have the worst of all worlds: Small, dated houses which don't appeal to contemporary suburbanites, and built structures which don't appeal to people who like cities.

It does need to be said, however, that in a lot of major metros the construction market for apartments and townhouses is much, much hotter now than for detached single-family housing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jm31828 View Post
And someone mentioned people living in the suburbs are in a bad situation because they "need" to have cars. The fact is people will have cars anyway to get around- most do not only go where public transportation goes on public transportation's schedule- people have too much running around to do going to/from all kinds of random places, and so for the vast majority of people even if they may ride a bus or train to work, they will still have cars to do other running around. So living in the suburbs doesn't seem to mean that people begrudgingly need a car, it just fits because people have cars anyway. In the suburbs they have parking places and garages making it easier to take care of their cars than in a more dense area.
I agree with this broadly. Unless you live in NYC, generally you create more hassles than you solve by not having a car, even in a city. There are many more cities where you'd only need a car occasionally, and a family of four can get away with just one car, which would be unheard of in the suburbs.

But, I think this is missing an important part about the lack of car dependence, as it's as much about walking replacing driving as anything. Sure, you'll take mass transit to work (or school), but the ideal is you live in a neighborhood with a business district where you can deal with your shopping essentials by walking 5-10 minutes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jm31828 View Post
And government did not encourage or force people into suburban living as was mentioned as a counter argument- it was the desire of the people to start moving into suburban types of areas and so the government went along with that in how areas were developed.
I would call urban renewal practices which leveled entire city neighborhoods as forcing people out of cities. Bank practices which "redlined" urban neighborhoods (not only black ones, as is commonly known, but many working-class white ones as well) meant you couldn't get a mortgage. FHA-backed mortgages basically required suburban-style housing in the mid 20th century. Plus the U.S. government subsidized highway development. And as I said, modern zoning codes forced new development (at that time, even in most cities) to be done in a suburban fashion. Many of these could be seen as "promoting" rather than "forcing" but there was still a thumb put on the scale nonetheless.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:55 AM
 
358 posts, read 360,503 times
Reputation: 306
"You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to eschaton again".

Fantastic post, eschaton.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,324 posts, read 6,992,048 times
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I was gonna respond to jm, but I believe eschaton did an excellent job with that. 100% approval!
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Old 07-30-2014, 10:10 AM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
15,568 posts, read 17,788,959 times
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I like broccoli. I think more people should eat broccoli because it is good for you and, personally, I think it tastes good.

Feeling forced to eat broccoli?

The discussion of the maintenance and development of urban areas (as well as suburban and rural areas) and the expression of viewpoints for or against different lifestyles vis-a-vis infrastructure do not force anyone to do anything.

Enforcable policies that restrict where you are permitted to live might be considered a way of forcing someone to live in an area they would not prefer, but who is arguing for that?

Sometimes a persecution complex, something to discuss with a therapist or psychologist, can give someone the impression that they are being pressured to do something against their will, but that is a topic for a psychology forum, not an urban planning forum.
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Old 07-30-2014, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Mt. Airy
5,311 posts, read 5,345,135 times
Reputation: 3562
Quote:
Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
I like broccoli. I think more people should eat broccoli because it is good for you and, personally, I think it tastes good.

Feeling forced to eat broccoli?

The discussion of the maintenance and development of urban areas (as well as suburban and rural areas) and the expression of viewpoints for or against different lifestyles vis-a-vis infrastructure do not force anyone to do anything.

Enforcable policies that restrict where you are permitted to live might be considered a way of forcing someone to live in an area they would not prefer, but who is arguing for that?

Sometimes a persecution complex, something to discuss with a therapist or psychologist, can give someone the impression that they are being pressured to do something against their will, but that is a topic for a psychology forum, not an urban planning forum.
Good post. And I think that more often than not, this type of complaint is indicative of change in motion. Where there's change, there's someone trying to stop it.
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Old 07-30-2014, 10:24 AM
 
1,998 posts, read 2,938,496 times
Reputation: 2150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Maine Land Man View Post
"What does "promote" mean? Talk about? Write articles about? You're being very vague. What does "force it down our throats" mean?"

OK, I'll explain it. At the 1992 Rio conference on biodiversity, they published an agenda for the next century. The UN stated how they wanted the world to be in the 21'st century. They planned how our lives would be and if we don't like their agenda we are out of touch and non-compliant. From their viewpoint we have no choice, but to comply. Agenda 21 is not the 21'st agenda in a long line of agendas. It is their agenda for the 21'st century.

There are people who don't believe there is such a thing as Agenda 21. I have the book published by the UN. It came from Geneva, Switzerland. You won't find it in your local book store. Part of the agenda is something called "rural cleansing". There are large financial and regulatory incentives to leave rural areas and move to government approved "core service areas". There are several books on the subject. The best I have found is:
"Trashing the Economy
How Runaway Environmentalism is Wrecking America:
by Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb
ISBN 0-939571-17-X

Published in 1994
The UN published an agenda? That's the best evidence you have of cities being forced down people's throats? A body with no real ability to enforce anything publishing a document? Very weak stuff.
Even if this document was binding, the US defies the UN all the time.
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