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Old 03-02-2015, 02:12 AM
 
312 posts, read 360,180 times
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Listen, I am from THE city (NY). It's a cool place to live if you're into that.

Some subset of the population likes cool architecture, and walking around/taking the bus, they like lights and bustle and crowds.

However, lots of people like me also like what you call "wasteful sprawl". I could live in the city if I wanted too, I held onto the apartment my parents had and its rent controlled, I choose not too. I like driving, I don't want people lingering at the corner waiting for the bus. I like getting in my car and parking at a strip mall to shop. I like gated communities with yards and newer homes that were built for size not some notion of architectural merit. I love walking around the indoor mall and then taking my recently bought items and putting them in the trunk and driving home. I don't wanna look out my window and see pedestrians besides some dude walking his dog and maybe a jogger.

Most people that I know who lived in the city feel similarly. We want space! We want low density! We want communities called something - "pointe" or "woods" or "pines" that require passing through a guard gate. We don't want our children (future or existing) to be able to hop on the bus and go somewhere without our knowledge like we did. We want our kids to only be accessible to places that we can drive them too, and know that they can't leave school during 4th period and hop on the bus to go somewhere and buy a dime and smoke a fattie. Diversity and vibrancy are priority number 999 for us types. And by diversity I'm not talking about color, I have no issues with a middle class black neighbor, I don't wanna live around poor people of any color or people who just got here and can't hold a coherent sentence in my language..absolutely not. I avoid "economic" and "linguistic" diversity. You can be purple if you want but have a similar economic status (or appear too) and speak English.

It seems the kind of people who value urban living are the kind that grew up in Dubuque, and that's fine..walk to your indie coffee shop. But the kind of people screaming "the suburbs are declining" are engineering it. When people say something enough it becomes true. The only reason the Bronx is so ghetto (yet in the best location relative to Manhattan) is because people said for years that the Bronx is a horrible dangerous place.

When urban planner types who value urbanism talk constantly about the anticipated suburban/exurban decline it discourages investment and that is what leads to decline. 10 years ago the area adjacent to me here in Long Island was quite nice and middle class, however media referred to it as if it was becoming New Jack City, thus what happened is people don't buy homes there, prices decline, someone buys up half a block and rents them section 8 or allows immigrant tenants to live 12 to a home, this causes real problems and people leave while they can and sell to section 8 land lords. That little town is patchogue New York..

It really almost seems like there is an agenda to make suburbs go south, so that people who have to be in proximity to a city for work have no other option than living in the city unless they're a millionaire..I have even read people in this forum talking about their great idea that gas prices should be arbitrarily raised via taxes to encourage people to live by transit in "higher density" because they won't be able to afford to drive anymore...sounds pretty much like an agenda to me.

I'm trying to find a nice suburban community in a cheaper state to start my family with my fiancé, but this suburban decline bunk is making me uneasy about purchasing, what if in 10 years my mall is half dead and half my neighbors are section 8 and the schools are failing with half the kids on free lunch..
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Old 03-02-2015, 07:44 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,436 posts, read 11,941,006 times
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Obviously perceptions play a role in decline (or success) of areas, but they do not play the only role.

The fact is, the actual built environment of a lot of first-ring suburbs isn't very attractive to people today. Houses built between around 1920 and 1960 or so are significantly smaller than the housing stock built earlier and later. Older housing progressively has more maintenance needs, and if it's become unfashionable, many people will think it needs major cosmetic changes as well. All of these mean that for people who like suburban things, "dated" suburbia is simply less attractive.

In areas which maintain high desirability for other reasons (such as the school system) small, dated housing is worked around. As property values are so high, people just buy old Cape Cod's, knock them down, and build McMansions in their place. This is very common in parts of New Jersey for example. But otherwise, it's pretty much inevitable that older first-ring suburbs are going to go downscale. This doesn't mean they'll become ghettos invariably, but the next generation of residents will come from a lower economic background than the one that left.

Add to this the "push" factor of gentrification. Core city neighborhoods are perpetually getting more expensive. Not only that, but the same basic pattern is appearing with jobs as well - the white-collar jobs are shifting back into the City, while there are always some blue-collar (or low-level service, at least) positions which are in need in the suburbs. In a lot of metros (less so NYC), many of the outer city neighborhoods are still blighted as well, meaning if you're gentrified out of the core of the city you basically need to leapfrog right out of the city, since all the neighborhoods between you and city limits are seeing a decrease in available housing units as well.
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:03 AM
 
1,998 posts, read 2,935,347 times
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Who in the U.S. is being pushed into the city who doesn't want to be there? The city is usually more expensive than the suburbs, at least the non-ghetto parts. No one is going to take on those higher costs unless they want to. It seems to me like anyone who wants to live in suburbia can easily do so. I don't see any "decline" in the suburbs.

There is far more "artificial engineering" that favors the suburbs than that favors the cities. Most places around the country, be it at the town, city or county level, have various zoning and/or minimum parking regulations in place that make it difficult if not impossible to build high-density developments. In most metro areas the vast majority of residential neighborhoods are suburban. If you want to live in a more urban environment, you have far fewer choices.
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:13 AM
 
1,998 posts, read 2,935,347 times
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Also, if you think about, most of the places people live are due to "artificial engineering." How many suburbs wouldn't exist (or at least not exist in anything like their current form) if not for the federal highway system? How was building the federal highway system not "artificial engineeering," and if that's ok, what is so bad about "artificial engineering"?
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:25 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
1,954 posts, read 4,507,900 times
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If anything sprawl has been artificially encouraged by the government for decades at the expense of cities. It's only in the past 15-20 that we have seen the return to the city movement.

If you lean conservative you should give this a read:

Metropolitanism

Eventually things will even out, and you will have a more even distribution of crap areas in the suburbs; whereas is the past all of the rough neighborhoods were confined to the inner cities.

I also find it amusing that you reference Dubuque, since it's an urban, blue collar city.
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:37 AM
 
Location: Chicago - Logan Square
3,396 posts, read 6,186,112 times
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There's no "agenda" or effort by anyone to sabotage suburbs. That said, all suburbs face problems as they age and mature, and many aren't equipped to handle those challenges.

Many suburbs have funded themselves through growth - with fees associated with land sales and new construction paying for a large part of their services. Once the land has all been developed, that model has to change. At the same time that is happening the infrastructure is also aging. New infrastructure (paid for by developers) can go for a few decades without requiring upkeep, but eventually it will need to be repaired/replaced, and many suburbs have reached an age where they're having to invest more in their infrastructure.

Another infrastructure issue is traffic congestion. Intra-suburban commutes can be worse than city/suburb commutes, and since there usually isn't any form of mass transit available for that sort of commute, growth is capped at the capacity of the roads. This makes urban centers more attractive, since they are usually at the center of the region and can have more convenient commutes from all directions. If they also have mass transit available they have yet another advantage.

I don't think this means the death of all suburbs, but suburban growth will slow down and many suburbs will need to be better managed if they want to remain attractive places to live.
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:02 AM
 
312 posts, read 360,180 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5Lakes View Post
If anything sprawl has been artificially encouraged by the government for decades at the expense of cities. It's only in the past 15-20 that we have seen the return to the city movement.

If you lean conservative you should give this a read:

Metropolitanism

Eventually things will even out, and you will have a more even distribution of crap areas in the suburbs; whereas is the past all of the rough neighborhoods were confined to the inner cities.

I also find it amusing that you reference Dubuque, since it's an urban, blue collar city.
Fiscally yeah. I'm a believer that markets aren't the realm of the state (socially, I'm pretty much a heathen..) and if gentrification of the city pushing poor people to the burbs was a market driven organic thing that would be one thing. You have developers looking to concentrate the spending power of young childless upper class white people (who have money to spend) in one area, pushing through things like rezoning initiatives and "redevelopment districts" where land is basically targeted to be gentrified unnaturally. A place like Williamsburg didn't go from what it was to what it is because some some guys with bangs moved in. It's because it was rezoned and targeted specifically..which is why 1/3 of the neighborhood (the Hasidic part) remains the same, because they had the political clout to keep their area from getting rezoned.

I used Dubuque as a catch all term for the Midwest.
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:35 AM
 
Location: Hamburg, NY
1,172 posts, read 2,389,535 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clampdown69 View Post

I'm trying to find a nice suburban community in a cheaper state to start my family with my fiancé, but this suburban decline bunk is making me uneasy about purchasing, what if in 10 years my mall is half dead and half my neighbors are section 8 and the schools are failing with half the kids on free lunch..
Just do your homework, the suburbs that are at risk of becoming "total ghettos" in the future are already in significant decline today, so it won't be a surprise.

There are and still will be middle income suburbs 25 years from now, just a whole lot less of them, as many will either drift up or downward socioeconomically.

I can tell you that you don't need to even leave New York State to find fairly stable middle income suburbs. The suburbs of upstate cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany have MANY stable middle income suburbs. I'm moving to one myself from Long Island in 2 weeks!!! Not as many "gated" communities, but that really is more of an upper income suburban thing, not a middle income thing.

I'm getting a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house zoned for a 9/10 Great Schools rated school for only 150K! Selling my house on Long Island and paying cash. There are places left where you can have the life you want, you just have to get away from the crowded, trendy east coast. Seriously, Long Island is a living hell, I would never recommend it to any middle income person, maybe upper but not middle income.

I will be only 9 miles from the downtown of the upstate NY city I'm moving to, so it's not like I will be driving for miles and miles to reach urban amenities, though the immediate neighborhood of where I will be living is auto dependent. A walkable village center with a traditional Main Street is only 1.5 miles from the neighborhood (just beyond walking distance).

Just do some research before you buy and you should be fine.

Last edited by Port North; 03-02-2015 at 09:47 AM..
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Old 03-02-2015, 10:28 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
1,954 posts, read 4,507,900 times
Reputation: 1817
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clampdown69 View Post
Fiscally yeah. I'm a believer that markets aren't the realm of the state (socially, I'm pretty much a heathen..) and if gentrification of the city pushing poor people to the burbs was a market driven organic thing that would be one thing. You have developers looking to concentrate the spending power of young childless upper class white people (who have money to spend) in one area, pushing through things like rezoning initiatives and "redevelopment districts" where land is basically targeted to be gentrified unnaturally. A place like Williamsburg didn't go from what it was to what it is because some some guys with bangs moved in. It's because it was rezoned and targeted specifically..which is why 1/3 of the neighborhood (the Hasidic part) remains the same, because they had the political clout to keep their area from getting rezoned.

I used Dubuque as a catch all term for the Midwest.
Politically I'm similar to you then; however, I don't see how there is some sort of scheme to encourage gentrification. Yes, cities do and should encourage it to some extent since it brings in tax revenue. Developers are just answering the market demand for city living. In my mind it's better to rezone for condos then to have some obsolete industrial area wasting away on the waterfront.

Williamsburg gentrified because people got priced out of the East Village and it was the next stop out on the subway. If not for gentrification it probably would have gone the other way and turned into a ghetto. Demand for urban living is a good thing and it beats the alternative of decline. I say decline is the alternative since most of these urban neighborhoods could not have continued to exist as blue-collar areas because our urban policies from the past dumped poor people in our inner cities and created horrible school districts.

Hyper gentrification is not good IMO, but most cities are not like NYC in this regard. Many cities would love to have this problem. I grew up in the rust belt so I know there are lots of cities with good bones that could use some investment. I now live in Chicago, which is also gentrifying a lot. Not to NYC levels, but the same patterns exists here.

As far as finding an affordable suburb that won't decline; it's not a problem in most cities. I know what you're getting at with a place like NYC, as many suburbs that are currently affordable are suspect to decline. It's the same in Chicago, and good bets for stability are often based on school distinct performance. In a city like Cleveland or Milwaukee though, most suburbs are affordable and the decline usually follows a trajectory from the rough areas in the inner city. These places are just not as polarized between the haves and have-nots like more expensive metro areas are.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Littleton, CO
3,111 posts, read 4,909,371 times
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You have many preconceived notions about cities and unrealistic expectations for the suburbs.

Urban centers are gentrifying and becoming expensive. Why? Because no city wants the expense of housing all of the poor and paying for the enormous police presence needed to keep the order. You see it as some sort of pre-ordained order that the poor must live in the city so that the middle and upper class can live in the suburbs. The automobile that you love so much has caused so much congestion, that many people are moving back into the city to take advantage of shorter commute times and public transit.

The decline of the suburban things that you want so badly has many causes. First of all, it costs too much money to heat and cool a large mall. As a result, indoor malls are dying. Only 1 or 2 have been built in recent years in the entire U.S. Combine that with the loss of sales due to the internet, suburbs have a large problem on their hands.

Secondly, if you don't think that suburban kids from gated communities don't smoke fatties, then you need a reality check. Many graduate to much stronger things like cocaine and even heroin. Drugs are not an inner city problem.

Additionally, you should realize that suburban growth does not pay for itself. The day of reckoning has come for many of them as the infrastructure starts to fail and more miles of sewer lines, water lines, etc will be replace by fewer people because of the lack of density.

Finally, understand that people of all incomes are moving to the suburbs, because commuting from the city to take a low paying job cleaning offices or schlepping fast food is not viable. Their children WILL go to school with yours, and, yes, many will qualify for Section 8 housing.
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