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Old 04-22-2010, 11:17 PM
 
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the city: There isn't a "new suburbanism" movement in the same sense as new urbanism, it's just a term coined by Joel Kotkin to describe why he thinks suburbs are better than cities and new urbanists are bad for not liking suburbs.

He, and you, are assuming "it's like this now, so it will be like this forever" but fails to take into account that things historically were NOT this way. Suburbs have no obligation to follow Kotkin's ideas, just as cities are under no obligation to follow New Urbanist ideas. I think you are also assuming that a "suburb" is just another word for "small city." You're wrong about that, too.

I know there are those who assume that gas will stay cheap and the government will always be able to pay for more freeway lanes, but personally I don't agree. Without cheap gas and subsidized highways, the current "live in one city, work in a city an hour away, shop in another city" model simply will not work anymore. Personally I don't think the "new urbanists" have it quite right either, and many of their experiments have gone very badly, but they're closer to the mark than Kotkin.
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:59 AM
 
Location: In a room above Mr. Charrington's shop
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Originally Posted by the city View Post
Yes, I know there is a difference between new suburbanism and new urbanism. People differ on which is more useful. I believe new suburbanism will continue and so will new urbanism. Some people prefer larger cities and some prefer smaller cities. Most of the USA is suburban, so more new suburbanism will follow. The major cities and larger cities will incorporate new urbanism and the smaller cities and un-incorporated communities will incorporate new suburbanism.
The only reason the suburban living arrangement is possible is because of cheap oil. Take that away and the whole system crumbles. I believe we're staring to see that now with the housing crash and people finding themselves with more debt than they can ever repay. (There will be no bailout for ordinary Janes and Joes, except where the individual defaults on loans and taxes.)

What's next? A living arrangement that depends less on driving everywhere. A living arrangement where destinations are much closer. Some call it "new urbanism," which really is a term for a transition from car-based suburban living to a less-car based living arrangement. I prefer the term "traditional neighborhoods," which means that the city is mixed in many ways: zoning, income levels, professions, establishments, etc. Also traditional neighborhoods have a focus point. Sometimes a town square, a church, the courthouse. Suburbs have no such focus. A suburb is a meandering organism without focus. It needs cars to survive, and cars need oil. For this arrangement to work for most people, the oil must be cheap, and those days are over.
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Old 04-23-2010, 01:14 AM
 
Location: RSM
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As long as the US continues to have the room to grow out, it will continue to have growing suburbia. Families don't want to live in rowhomes or abutting up to commercial buildings, which is why suburbs became popular in the first place. New urbanism, just like every other kind of urbanism, will continue to be the domain of the yuppie until they get married and have children and realize that raising a child requires schools that urban neighborhoods don't provide and that kids benefit greatly from the extra space and safer play areas(not just safer security wise, but much less car traffic and such).

There is a place for both, and parents accept the increased cost of the commute and all that entails, while on the flip side urbanists accept the cost of more expensive HOAs(if they live in a managed community/building), less parking(again depending on whether you live in a home and whether that home has a garage), more traffic(increased density means increased traffic), proximity of business brings issues with commercial traffic(like the big rig idling out in the street at 4am dropping the produce load the same time the dairy load is taking up the loading dock), higher price per square foot, etc.
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Old 04-23-2010, 01:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by bhcompy View Post
As long as the US continues to have the room to grow out, it will continue to have growing suburbia. Families don't want to live in rowhomes or abutting up to commercial buildings, which is why suburbs became popular in the first place. New urbanism, just like every other kind of urbanism, will continue to be the domain of the yuppie until they get married and have children and realize that raising a child requires schools that urban neighborhoods don't provide and that kids benefit greatly from the extra space and safer play areas(not just safer security wise, but much less car traffic and such).

There is a place for both, and parents accept the increased cost of the commute and all that entails, while on the flip side urbanists accept the cost of more expensive HOAs(if they live in a managed community/building), less parking(again depending on whether you live in a home and whether that home has a garage), more traffic(increased density means increased traffic), proximity of business brings issues with commercial traffic(like the big rig idling out in the street at 4am dropping the produce load the same time the dairy load is taking up the loading dock), higher price per square foot, etc.
Suburbs don't just happen by accident, they are driven by the mode of transportation. We had suburbs 100 years ago, but they looked like row houses and small-lot homes and often abutted commercial buildings. They were still suburbs, but they were streetcar suburbs. There were cars then too, and through the 1920s a growing number of roads, but suburbs were still pretty compact by modern standards. It wasn't until the federally funded highway system that the exoburb or the edge city was even possible.

"New urbanists" aren't talking about having everyone live in high-rises or super high density housing--the idea is more along the lines of what suburbs used to be until the 1920s. There are present-day, real-world examples of these neighborhoods to learn from. They aren't the exclusive land of the yuppie, nor should they be. Most are a mixture of free-standing single family houses, multi-unit houses, and small apartment buildings, with retail located on the streets closest to transit, and apartments above the retail units. This means many housing choices within a single neighborhood, and many retail options too, not huge swaths of single-family homes or enormous complexes of identical apartments, or "power center" shopping areas far removed from homes.

One criticism of "new urbanists" like Andres Duany is that they don't have sufficient reasonably-priced housing for working people, but that is a problem of design--Duany didn't bother putting in the kind of housing where working-class people used to live, like alley units, residential hotels and efficiency apartments, as well as small detached cottages. The solution, pretty obviously, is to include those places, so people who work at a coffee shop can live near it, instead of commuting in from another city.

Maybe a better term than "new urbanism" is "old suburbanism."

Of course, there are tradeoffs--living like this means less physical mobility, smaller yards, and smaller houses, and occasionally seeing your neighbors up close. It means your kids might play in a nearby neighborhood park instead of your personal backyard, where they might meet other neighborhood kids instead of pre-arranged play dates. But there just isn't enough room to keep expanding highways in length and width indefinitely, nor is there the political will to pay for them until we run out of that room, and the era of cheap gas is coming to an end. We can either plan for the future or pretend it isn't happening.
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Old 04-23-2010, 08:16 AM
 
Location: On the "Left Coast", somewhere in "the Land of Fruits & Nuts"
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
Again, a post by "the city" demonstrates a sort of uncomprehending clueless wonder that nearly borders on genius--I imagine him to exist in some kind of near-Zen state of contracted consciouslessness.

"New Suburbanism" is a term coined by suburban apologist Joel Kotkin, and is obviously a play on New Urbanism. He thinks that suburbs are the wave of the future, and that New Urbanist experiments have been fruitless except for certain features that could be utilized to build future auto-centric suburbs. I'm not sure whether "the city" is referring to Kotkin's term or he really meant New Urbanism, but he probably isn't sure either.

"Edge cities" are places well outside of actual cities that function primarily as employment centers rather than residential suburbs. They are the employment counterpart of the "exoburb," a very remote suburb that is markedly physically separate from its parent city. Industry, California is a good example of an edge city: 80,000 people work there at 2200 businesses, but less than 1000 people actually live in the city of Industry. Thousand Oaks and Irvine are exoburbs, as they are primarily residential, but they are not edge cities. The retail counterpart of these two places is the "power center": dwarfing even modern shopping malls, a power center is a collection of big-box stores so big that you need a car to get from one end or another.

These divisions between workplace, residence and shopping are unique in human history, and are the result of the automobile and the taxpayer-funded highway and road system. Without a big, well-funded government to pay for roads, and cheap gas, all of these cities would die or have to be changed radically in order to survive. Unfortunately, we seem to be running out of both.

Experiments like Arcosanti are interesting, but it seems unnecessary when there are plenty of good examples of mixed-use, walkable, dense but comfortable cities in America's old urban cores--it is, after all, how we used to build cities as a matter of course. It doesn't have to mean big cities, though: there are plenty of good examples in small towns, at least those still sufficiently far from a Wal-Mart that their downtowns have not been totally abandoned.
So "ex-urban", "edge", "new suburban", whatever (and your gratuitous insults towards the OP aside), are you aware of any specific alternatives that do provide it all... housing, retail shopping, and substantial employment at all levels (not just the affluent).... without depending on extensive commuting? And if so, why do you think they work, compared to the others?

The few I'm aware of either still seem to depend heavily on autos, and/or the lower-wage folks (i.e. services) can't afford to live there.
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:01 AM
 
8,674 posts, read 17,328,401 times
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Originally Posted by mateo45 View Post
So "ex-urban", "edge", "new suburban", whatever (and your gratuitous insults towards the OP aside), are you aware of any specific alternatives that do provide it all... housing, retail shopping, and substantial employment at all levels (not just the affluent).... without depending on extensive commuting? And if so, why do you think they work, compared to the others?

The few I'm aware of either still seem to depend heavily on autos, and/or the lower-wage folks (i.e. services) can't afford to live there.
My own personal example, which I tend to discuss a lot in the Sacramento subforum, is Sacramento's central city area--primarily the 95814 and 95811 ZIP codes, and the western half of the 95816 ZIP code. It's not a perfect example, because, like most such places, these areas were often partially or totally destroyed in the mid-20th century by urban renewal projects and freeways. But enough components are there to provide a good example.

The central city has kind of a split personality--some consider it the exclusive domain of the yuppie, while others don't like it because the people there are too poor. The truth is neither and both: there are very expensive homes in the central city, and also a lot of cheap apartments. The central city is almost 90% multi-unit housing, mostly rentals, with a higher percentage of affordable housing than any other part of the city. Average income is lower than the surrounding affluent suburbs, because of the wide mix of incomes.

But it's hardly an environment most people would think of as "urban." Except for the downtown core, streets in the central city are tree-lined, buildings mostly 2-3 stories tall, with public parks every few blocks. Traffic is busy on the commuter routes during rush hour, pretty quiet otherwise, unless there is a street fair or festival going on (during warm months, that's pretty much every weekend.)

Shopping in the central city seems a little skewed--the shopping area most people outside the central city know about is Downtown Plaza, the retail part of the old K Street mall, but central city residents don't go there very often. Shopping is interspersed throughout the neighborhood on business corridors. Businesses tend to be small and local, with a few big chains (Rite-Aid, CVS, Safeway, Target) in limited and strategic locations. Other retail is a mixture of boutique, retail, and convenience store type places. Now, prices aren't necessarily as low as a big-box store--the tradeoff is convenience and environment. There are also services--doctor and dentist offices, hospitals, attorneys, accountants etcetera. I consider a pleasant walk of a few blocks along tree-lined streets vs. an annoying drive to a big parking lot, not to mention supporting a small business vs. a big box, to be worth a few cents at least. I can walk to my dentist's office, the post office, the supermarket, bookstores, restaurants, etcetera. Occasionally I need to drive to carry big things or go to something that isn't in the central city, but generally I fill my gas tank about once every 6 weeks.

The job mix is, admittedly, unbalanced: there are about 200,000 jobs in the central city, and only about 30,000 residents, so every day there is a flood of commuters in and out. The result is that a lot of people in the central city work in the central city--thus they are mostly close enough to work to walk or bike. Sacramento's public transit system is pretty rudimentary--except in the central city, where it works pretty well for commuters. Now, because freeways work just as well for those driving to the suburbs as from, there is nothing to stop people in the central city from working outside it, but it is frequently more convenient to live close to work, if not cheaper.

As a result of that job unbalance, I tend to characterize Sacramento's central city as underpopulated. That was deliberate--the central city was a much bigger, denser population center before the 1960s. Now, some of that population loss was because of people moving to the suburbs. But most of it was because neighborhoods were forcibly demolished to make way for freeways and office buildings. There was a deliberate, conscious effort to destroy low-income housing and move populations out of the central city. This was far from unique: it happened all over the country. Recent efforts at infill, as well as the growing interest in central city living, seem to be reversing that.

Here are a couple of old posts where I flame about Midtown at great length that you might find helpful:

//www.city-data.com/forum/sacra...l#post12911060

//www.city-data.com/forum/sacra...l#post13308389

Places similar to Sacramento's central city can be found in other cities--just look for a medium-large city that was well-established before World War II, and generally it will have some semblance of an urban core, with "streetcar suburb" neighborhoods like Sacramento's. Often they are in kind of rough shape, thanks to urban renewal, but many still retain a lot of character as mixed-income, walkable neighborhoods.
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:59 AM
 
Location: In a room above Mr. Charrington's shop
2,916 posts, read 11,092,682 times
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Originally Posted by bhcompy View Post
As long as the US continues to have the room to grow out, it will continue to have growing suburbia. Families don't want to live in rowhomes or abutting up to commercial buildings, which is why suburbs became popular in the first place. New urbanism, just like every other kind of urbanism, will continue to be the domain of the yuppie until they get married and have children and realize that raising a child requires schools that urban neighborhoods don't provide and that kids benefit greatly from the extra space and safer play areas(not just safer security wise, but much less car traffic and such).
I think the determining factor will be oil and its availability. Imagine doubling the cost of gasoline (and all associated costs for food and other things), natural gas, home-heating/cooling, etc. Then try to imagine the average family continuing to afford a 50-mile round-trip commute to/from a 3,000 square-foot McMansion (that many are upside-down in even as I write this) that can no longer be lit, heated and cooled on the cheap. Double the fuel cost to drive the kids around to every event. The drive to go shopping and all of those incidental car trips are suddenly twice as costly. Consider all of this in the face of job losses, suppressed wages, skyrocketing healthcare costs, and suburban living becomes a diminishing return, to say the least. This is what we are on the cusp of now.

The idea that living in a traditional neighborhood is only for "yuppies" is a very suburban notion. The traditional-neighborhood living arrangement is the norm all over Europe and other places. It's also the norm in many places in the U.S. We are returning to this -- not out of choice -- but out of necessity as oil is removed form the suburban equation. Suburban living (as we think of it today) is a modern-day aberration that was born with the automobile age, mainly in the U.S. and mainly post WWII. It can only continue as long as oil is cheap. Oil will not be cheap going forward.

Another angle that has not been touched on yet is how heavily subsidized suburban living is by way of municipal roads, water and sewer infrastructure, etc. As municipalities become poorer due to loss of tax revenue, building all of those roads and sewer lines out to far-flung low-density suburbs won't be possible.
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:29 AM
 
Location: Northern Colorado
4,932 posts, read 12,785,103 times
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
the city: There isn't a "new suburbanism" movement in the same sense as new urbanism, it's just a term coined by Joel Kotkin to describe why he thinks suburbs are better than cities and new urbanists are bad for not liking suburbs.

He, and you, are assuming "it's like this now, so it will be like this forever" but fails to take into account that things historically were NOT this way. Suburbs have no obligation to follow Kotkin's ideas, just as cities are under no obligation to follow New Urbanist ideas. I think you are also assuming that a "suburb" is just another word for "small city." You're wrong about that, too.

I know there are those who assume that gas will stay cheap and the government will always be able to pay for more freeway lanes, but personally I don't agree. Without cheap gas and subsidized highways, the current "live in one city, work in a city an hour away, shop in another city" model simply will not work anymore. Personally I don't think the "new urbanists" have it quite right either, and many of their experiments have gone very badly, but they're closer to the mark than Kotkin.
I am not assuming suburbs are another word for small cities. I am saying most of the USA is suburban, and small cities tend to be more suburban. Other than downtowns, most parts are suburban.
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Old 04-23-2010, 01:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by the city View Post
I am not assuming suburbs are another word for small cities. I am saying most of the USA is suburban, and small cities tend to be more suburban. Other than downtowns, most parts are suburban.
Okay, so you're considering any residential neighborhood a suburb. Small cities don't necessarily tend to be more suburban--often, small cities have really good examples of just the sort of things that "new urbanists" look for, like high degrees of walkability. Just because a neighborhood consists mostly of single-family homes or small apartments doesn't make it suburban.
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Old 04-25-2010, 09:00 AM
 
Location: On the "Left Coast", somewhere in "the Land of Fruits & Nuts"
8,852 posts, read 10,482,374 times
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
Okay, so you're considering any residential neighborhood a suburb. Small cities don't necessarily tend to be more suburban--often, small cities have really good examples of just the sort of things that "new urbanists" look for, like high degrees of walkability. Just because a neighborhood consists mostly of single-family homes or small apartments doesn't make it suburban.
Like the downtown parts of Sacto you've indicated, the urban/suburban environments that can maintain "walkability" and avoiding being unduly bisected by freeways, do seem to work best. Although there also needs to be some balance struck with maintaining "accessibility" to freeways and main arterials. Alot of "one-way streets" try to balance all this, though they often seem counter-productive.

A related aspect is the importance of maintaining "human scale" (http://americancity.org/magazine/article/respect-for-the-human-scale/ - broken link), which is now often routinely "violated" for the sake of "other priorities":

For aesthetic effect. Many architects, particularly in the Modernist movement, design buildings that prioritize structural purity and clarity of form over concessions to human scale. This became the dominant American architectural style for decades. Some notable examples among many are Henry Cobb's John Hancock Tower in Boston, much of I. M. Pei's work including the Dallas City Hall, and Mies van der Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.

"For monumental effect. Buildings, statues, and memorials are constructed in a scale larger than life as a social/cultural signal that the subject matter is also larger than life. The extreme example is the Rodina (Motherland) statue in Volgograd (Stalingrad).

To serve automotive scale. Commercial buildings that are designed to be legible from roadways assume a radically different shape. The human eye can distinguish about 3 objects or features per second. A pedestrian steadily walking along a 100-foot (30-meter) length of department store can perceive about 68 features; a driver passing the same frontage at 30 mph (13 m/s or 44 ft/s) can perceive about six or seven features. Auto-scale buildings tend to be smooth and shallow, readable at a glance, simplified, presented outward, and with signage with bigger letters and fewer words. This urban form is traceable back to the innovations of developer A. W. Ross along Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1920."


Human scale in architecture
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