Monday, June 16, 2008

Re-Urbanism Making a Comeback?

It appears that maybe Americans are changing their ideas about a society in which everyone has one acre of land, two SUVs and a McMansion. Of course this is all prelimaniary and who knows it could just be another yuppie fad that will pass once society deems it's not cool again to live in the cities.

While it's horrible that it seems that Suburbia is slowing disappearing and housing prices may drop rapidly in certain areas just because of poor financial and civic planning. I see a lot of positives coming out of this. It'll be a long time before our urban centers are revived to something coherent of a typical urban center, but this is a positive step. The interesting note is that it doesn't seem to be influenced by gas prices as much as the younger generation that doesn't like the suburban environment. The numbers do show that 40% of some cities want walkable communities.

I grew up in suburbia and I'm still here but once I get a job in the city, I'm going to move back there as it's much cheaper to live in Cleveland than in the suburbs and if I'm in a good neighborhood what do I have to worry about? Cleveland has some historic neighborhoods that are trendy but relatively safe. In fact, the city of Cleveland got it's first Wal-Mart two years ago and made such a big deal about it. The mayor that pushed the deal through didn't get re-elected and the shopping center has largely been unpopular.

We've seen this happening in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and other cities and it should trickle down. What this movement needs is more jobs in cities. As long as jobs stay in the suburbs so will the people. In certain cities, local politicians have had much difficulty getting employers to develop in their city. Which is surprising because in a lot of American cities, the land is cheaper than in the suburbs.

Hopefully, this movement will be sustained and we won't change our minds in a few years when the economy is much better. I hope that suburbs stay put as well because that could be a huge economic issue if our suburbs disappeared. However, I think they need to stop sprawling outwards and start building density like a typical satellite city. Our population will increase to 400 million by 2035 so increasing our city sizes is the best way we can create a sustainable future.


fpteditors said...

For a very small fraction of the money needed to support the auto-and-sprawl system. We could have fare-free urban public transit. This would just be a start in leveling the playing field.

pitch said...

No doubt, the idea that we need personal vehicles for everything we do is absurd. Some people like to claim that cars are a part of being free, I beg to differ. I think once you get in a car it's one step closer to serfdom.

Of course cars have their benefits, but to totally neglect other modes of transit so that we can be so auto-dependent shows that our future is bleak.