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Old 02-02-2015, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by OuttaTheLouBurbs View Post
Whenever we discuss density on this forum, it always seems like our only options are either rowhomes and highrises or sprawled-out McMansions. Arguments against urbanism on this forum often are critical of environments like this where everyone is "packed in like sardines." Frankly, I totally understand that-rowhome and apartment-type settings are crowded, and they are certainly not for everyone, only those who really, really want to live close to or in a certain area. In otherwords, they're great if you have very little land and a lot of demand, but that's usually not the case outside San Francisco, DC, NYC, Boston, or other similar cities. However, this kind of built environment isn't even close to being the most common type of urban development for US cities. I feel like both urban opponents and proponents ignore moderate-density urban environments (think streetcar suburbs). This kind of development is frankly the most common type of housing in all cities, so it's not like these aren't common-it is the typical urban environment for all cities not on the East Coast or in San Francisco. Why don't we pay attention to built environments like this, or this, or this, or this, or this, or this? Notice that not only are these all single-family homes, very well spaced apart (not "packed like hamsters"), and they come with good-sized lots and yards, but they also are in very walkable, urban environments that are amicable to mass-transit development. And some of those homes even have space for driveways and garages! It's the best of both worlds. Why are we as a forum not giving built environments like these more attention, and why are developers not building more infill like this?
Inside this forum or in the real world, I think people tend to view subjects in contrasts, not in gradations, and our conversations and policies tend to reflect this. Go over to P&OC and you'll see this plain as day.

Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to discuss real world built form examples because any change in density, even a marginal change, is treated as a shift from something bucolic to 1980s Manhattan. Oh, the traffic! Oh, the crime! Oh, there goes the neighborhood.
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by T. Damon View Post

I can definitely see the point of a urban sized lot right in the heart of the city, especially a street car suburb as the OP suggests and as mine is defined as. Our neighborhood density is about 11,000/mile with a vibrant shopping and entertainment district a three minute walk from my house. A bus line going uptown and downtown every 12 minutes the same three minute walk away and all the amenities of a large downtown and the bay a 15 minute bus ride, 5 minutes by car or a 35 minute walk. It's a perfect density and lifestyle for us-garden and woods in the back, village and downtown mere minutes out your door- you couldn't give us a Mcmansion in the suburbs.

If I'm packed in like a rat call me a joyously contented one with lots of friends close by.
This is quite common in CA and not uncommon in older suburbs in the northeast and midwest and if we kept building neighborhoods like that through the 60s-80s we'd be in a much better place right now.

It's tough to live in neighborhoods like these though and still be close to shops. It's possible but the housing inventory is small and a lot of that is because household size fell by more than half since the 1950s. There are the same amount of houses but only half the population within a 10 minute walk to support the stores.

In some cases in the Bay Area the housing density has increased enough to maintain the population density but in most other parts of the country the housing density decreased which led to a further decline in density. At that point strip malls become the only option for viable retail. People just live too far to be able to walk.
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