Suburbia has been a favorite whipping boy of urbane intellectuals, who have foretold its decline for decades. Leigh Gallagher's "The End of the Suburbs" is the latest addition to this tired but tireless genre. The book lacks the sparkling prose and original insights one could find in the works of, say, Jane Jacobs or Lewis Mumford. Indeed, Ms. Gallagher's book is little more than a distillation of the conventional wisdom that prevails at Sunday brunch in Manhattan.
The author restages many of the old anti-suburban claims, and her introduction's section headings easily give away the gist of the argument: "Millennials hate the burbs"; "Our households are shrinking"; "We are eco-obsessed"; "The suburbs are poorly designed to begin with"; and so on. read more »
Urban form or urban consumers? If we want to reduce the environmental impacts of modern society let’s prioritize consumption, not city form. The evidence suggests that large cities (and especially city centres) are associated with a bigger environmental footprint than modest cities or suburbs.
This post looks at incomes and consumption, especially the consumption of housing and transport services, asking how far can local regulation really influence environmental impacts? read more »
The San Francisco area’s recently adopted Plan Bay Area may set a new standard for urban planning excess. Plan Bay Area, which covers nearly all of the San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Vallejo and Napa metropolitan areas, was recently adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). read more »
Public transit systems intend to enhance local economies by linking people to their occupations. This presents problems for many low-income families dependent on transit for commuting. With rising prices at the gas pump, much hope has been placed on an influx of investment into public transit to help low-income households. But does public transit really help the poor? read more »
“There is a secret at the core of our nation. And those who dare expose it must be condemned, must be shamed, must be driven from polite society. But the truth stalks us like bad credit.” – Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates
With the recent Supreme Courts strike down of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was created to protect minority representation, the headline in the Huffington Post read “Back to 1964?” While some contend the title hyperbolic, the HuffPost lead, if not the strike down itself, reflects the reality of a country still tethered to its discriminatory past. read more »
In May 2013, the district of Husby in suburban Stockholm, Sweden was shaken by “angry young men” engaging in destructive behavior for about 72 hours,1 including the burning of automobiles and other properties and attacks on police officers (over 30 officers were injured). The violence spread to the nearby districts of Rinkeby and Tensta as well as to other parts of Sweden. read more »
Planners and parents have been concerned about two widely reported, and most likely related, trends: the increasing percentage of overweight children, and the growing number of hours that kids spend looking at a screen, be it a television or a laptop. These two activities take up most of the free time kids have after school. Add on the tendency for kids to be driven or bussed to school, and the result is what has been called a “nature deficit” — a disconnect to natural surroundings. read more »
In the seventeen years since my last visit, Florida's Pinellas County hasn't much changed. It's still a low-grade carpet of commercial junk space from coast to coast, and the edges - where the value really lies - aren't very different than they were in the 1990s. There's more, but not better. A county that has consistently avoided growth regulation, Pinellas could have been a model for cooperative public/private real estate development, unimpeded by pesky government regulations. Instead, it is a living example of the atrocious results when leaders focus on quantity, not quality. read more »
This is the introduction to "Retrofitting the Dream: Housing in the 21st Century," a new report by Joel Kotkin. To read the entire report, download the .pdf attachment below.
In recent years a powerful current of academic, business, and political opinion has suggested the demise of the classic American dream of home ownership. The basis for this conclusion rests upon a series of demographic, economic and environmental assumptions that, it is widely suggested, make the single-family house and homeownership increasingly irrelevant for most Americans. read more »