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iuri99

Sprawl, friend or foe ?

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To start the discussion, a definition from wikipedia: 

" Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a multifaceted concept, which includes the spreading outwards of a city and its suburbs to its outskirts to low-density and auto-dependent development on rural land, high segregation of uses (e.g. stores and residential), and various design features that encourage car dependency.[As a result, many urban planners, government officials, and social scientists contend that sprawl has a number of disadvantages, including:[High car dependence

Notwithstanding these disadvantages, some government officialsand private business employers contend that sprawl has certain advantages, such as more single family residences on larger lots, lower land prices, and higher profits for businesses due to the lack of laws limiting urban sprawl.

Discussions and debates about sprawl are often obfuscated by the ambiguity associated with the phrase. "The aim of creating sustainable and compact cities is inhibited by urban sprawl as development is uncontrolled." (K.H Sebonego) For example, some commentators measure sprawl only with the average number of residential units per acre in a given area. But others associate it with decentralization (spread of population without a well-defined center), discontinuity (leapfrog development, as defined below), segregation of uses, etc.

Urban economists have entered the debate relatively recently. They tend to examine urban sprawl as the aggregate extent of urban land use or as the average urban land use density. It has been shown that urban sprawl can increase the aggregate urban land use and lower the average land use density while at the same time lowering average commuting travel times and increasing discretionary mobility. "

In my opinion suburban life it's a good choice to urban planning.  I loooove the suburbs in Toronto Area.

Well, WHY i think is good?

(English ins't my mother tongue, please tell me if the phrase no make sense.)

- Low density improve more housing space and lower noise, improving better leisures.

- More space to green areas, parks and recreation, stimulating the sport activity. ( I ride my bike much more time now, when i live in house, than when i was been in apartment.)

- The car dependency stimulate to build of parking lots, and better public transportation 

  (trying avoid the long commmutes), creating better transportation web, improving the mobility.

The Negatives Points are:

- Larger distances use more petroleum and natural resources to move the vehicles.

- Hard to distribute the land in high population areas,look like China, India or Japan. The bad distrubution can make a marginalization of great part of population.

- Need a strong development in transportation structure of community, if part of population have not easy acess to education or other public services, cause poverty.

My Conclusion: "Sprawl is good, but need strong planning."

Whats your opinion about Sprawl urban planning ?

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I don't see many advantages to sprawl. Sprawl uses up more land than necessary, it makes us car dependent which costs us money, uses up resources and creates pollution, and wastes our time because of nonsense road planning.

And another consequence of sprawl that nobody thinks about is that sprawl gives businesses too much control. When sprawl happens, businesses move from their current locations to the sprawl, which leaves whole commercial complexes abandoned, which then affects the local economy and creates suburban ghettos. It's similar to what happened with the White Flight of the 50's and 60's.

I think that instead of creating more sprawl, we should be encouraging infill and gentification in rundown urban areas. These areas have tons of potential, already existing transportation networks and services, and are closer to more amenities.

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The simple reality is this: low-density suburbs exist for one reason - because people want to live in them. If there weren't demand, they wouldn't exist. They aren't a failure (or success) of planning or policy, they are a conseqence of culture.

People like to own their own property rather than rent (and, if you can afford to, it is definitely a better investment). People like having a little bit of space between themselves and their neighbors for privacy's sake. People like living in places where it's reliably quiet at night. People like living in places where crime is lower. People like living in places that are cleaner. People like being able to drive around without worrying too much about traffic rather than having to rely on public transit.

The only demographic that reliably doesn't want to live in the suburbs is young single 20-somethings.

The inefficiency inherent to this style of living is definitely real, but I would counter with "okay, what do you intend to do about it?". Forget dreams of tearing down suburbs and rebuilding them to be more dense, that isn't happening. And forget trying to discourage their development, that just pisses off the people who want to live in them and the developers who stand to make money off of them.

The debate over whether sprawl is good or bad is moot. It isn't going away either way.

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I think it as a bulls-eye, the inner city has residents a couple blocks away is abandoned builds or in some cases whole neighborhoods, than more close residents, this cycle can go on and on, than you have new neighborhoods being built on farm land.

I agree it is a waste of space, look at the town closet to you or the one your in, count the abandoned property and than the new house on farms or woods, I think the number is pretty close, they are where I live.

@Duke87 if people like space why do they move into neighborhoods, or they make the country their neighborhood. Where I live there were 5 houses, now there are 10-15, I like it when they build 2 or 3 house on one piece of land not.

Zanesville, Ohio has whole neighborhoods where only a couple people live, yet they build apt. and houses all around Zanesville all the time. pretty nice houses I am friends with a couple bothers that have at least 6 houses in every direction with no one living them, thats just one neighbor hood like that there are alot more neighborhoods like that.

Newark, Ohio is a little better not whole neighborhoods but still enough houses with no one in them where it really does matter when they build new apt. or house

My mom had squatters on her property when she was a kid, believe me there were no one else around for miles, but some how the squatters were at the end of her drive way. People need people, thats why they move so close to each other. Where I live which is not far out at all, there's a time of day when you think your head will burst because there is no sound.

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Originally posted by: Finkle

My mom had squatters on her property when she was a kid, believe me there were no one else around for miles, but some how the squatters were at the end of her drive way. People need people, thats why they move so close to each other. Where I live which is not far out at all, there's a time of day when you think your head will burst because there is no sound.quote>

People need people, but that doesn't mean they need neighbors. Indeed, not everyone is "neighborly". There are a lot of people who have their friends and family but couldn't care less who lives next door so long as they never have to see them or hear from them.

Most of the people in my neighborhood don't know each other. There is little reason for them to interact and they prefer not to. It was a bit different years ago when there were young kids in the neighborhood who'd play with each other, but now there aren't.

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@mightygoose--The UK does have problems with sprawl. The UK is different from the US and Canada in that there's a lot less land available for it and British local governments have powers that that would be considered tyrannical in the US by most of the political spectrum. There's also a cultural thing: "The British Dream" isn't to own a two storey house in a cul-de-sac with a wide backyard and a white picket fence.

I confess that I detest urban sprawl. It's the difference between a healthy body and a cancerous tumor. It has aesthetic problems, for one thing--most of it is just plain ugly and often involves paving over a beautiful spot. There's also a property I call "artificiality"--in a healthy city, things develop organically: you get a mix of architechtural styles, building materials and zoning, so there's a brick house next to a small apartment building next to a store next to a bunch of row houses. With urban sprawl you get housing developments with names The Lakevalley Serenity Village where everything was planned by advertisers, everything is segregated and all the houses are the same. It's not a growth of the city, it's expansion for the sake of expansion.

Duke87 said "People like to own their own property rather than rent (and, if you can afford to, it is definitely a better investment)."

That's another problem with sprawl: unless you're a real estate developer, it's financially unsound. Sprawl is fuelled by "easy money"--banks loaning money in an economic bubble at cheaper interest rates and to people with poorer portfolios than they would during a slowdown. When the bubble bursts, you get lots of foreclosures. Whole swaths of California's Inland Empire are being emptied out because people bought homes they couldn't afford.

It's economically unsound, aesthetically displeasing, culturally void, ultra-conformist and bad for the environment. Suburbia is Satan's Sim City.

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Originally posted by: DragonofRobare

With urban sprawl you get housing developments with names The Lakevalley Serenity Village where everything was planned by advertisers, everything is segregated and all the houses are the same.quote>

This is typical of newer subdivisions, built maybe after 1980 or so, and is a consequence of the newer mass production method of developing neighborhoods where the previous owner of the land sells it all as a huge chunk to a developer who then quickly and on the cheap builds a bunch of cookie cutter houses on it.

Older subdivisions from the postwar era up into the 70's are not like that. In the old days, this streamlined development process hadn't been come up with they and the way of doing things was to sell off individual plots one by one to separate people who would then each build their own houses on them. As a result, the houses in such neighborhoods are all very different in architecture, and may even have as much as a decade of variation in age rather than having all been built at the same time.

Prewar suburbs, of course, are denser and not quite as car-dependant. Postwar prosperity balooned the amount of land people wanted to live on.

Duke87 said "People like to own their own property rather than rent (and, if you can afford to, it is definitely a better investment)."

That's another problem with sprawl: unless you're a real estate developer, it's financially unsound. Sprawl is fuelled by "easy money"--banks loaning money in an economic bubble at cheaper interest rates and to people with poorer portfolios than they would during a slowdown. When the bubble bursts, you get lots of foreclosures. Whole swaths of California's Inland Empire are being emptied out because people bought homes they couldn't afford.

It's economically unsound, aesthetically displeasing, culturally void, ultra-conformist and bad for the environment. Suburbia is Satan's Sim City.quote>

I'm not talking about bubble riders. When I say that it's a better investment if you can afford it, I mean if you can afford it. Many people actually can. Others can't but would like to think they can. Which says something about the desirability of the idea, doesn't it?

As for the "culturally void, ultra-conformist" assesment... well, yes, but depending on your perspective that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Young people will find suburbia to be an unfulfilling environment because it is the sort of place that is really designed for family life, and only provides for the needs of young children and their parents. When you're 25 and single, you need a social scene of the sort only a city can provide. But when you're 35 and married, you want to get away from it, and the suburbs all of a sudden don't look so bad.

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My Uncle and grandma live in a post pre1970 neighborhood, they are all different, the one I lived in were all different; I do see or have seen the cookie cutters around, the past couple of years they have changed to a more advance cooking.

@Duke87, my grandma and uncle knows everyone and everyone knows them, I know I have a sheep farmer, Dave some guy with kids, and the neighbor in the back how is always shooting guns ass. Other then that I am not sure of anyone, besides the lady across the street that looks younger than me with 3 or 4 kids and she's lived there for a while. I think it would be nice to know the neighbors more, but every time I ask for a tool they don't have any, was offered some lamb.

@Duke again.... I would still want to live in the country I'm 27 no kids, I would hate an apt., with the money for rent I could buy only needing money for taxes, I know a guy that makes 400 a month (non welfare) hunts and fish's for food

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I think this subject isn't what people think it is. In the US and many other countries, there is a lack of healthy urban alternatives to living in the suburbs and we have public policies that both mandate and subsidize sprawl at the expense of other types of development. It is exactly the reverse of what some reactionaries believe "big government" is trying to do.

With that said, whether you want to live in a city or suburb is a choice, and ideally there would be a wide variety of communities out there catering to different lifestyles. Planning would go back to it's roots of protecting health, safety, and welfare but for the most part roll back the unnecessarily strict euclidean zoning measures that have come to characterize it as a bureaucratic exercise.

Personally I appreciate urban areas and towns that have a more traditional form over suburbia, and this form is more important than density. Density should be seen as a product of demand for living in a certain locale, and not limited(NIMBYism) or mandated(flawed economic thinking). At what point do you end up with a mere vertical suburb that may have skyscrapers but no character, and is it also possible to have a vibrant urban district at suburban densities? These should be worthy questions.

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Also, remember the situation varies depending on location. In a place like the USA, Canada, Argentina or Australia, land is plentiful, and despite the suburban sprawl, urban land is still well below 10%. Now, if you compare it to a place like Puerto Rico (9,104 sq km ~ 3,516 sq miles, vs. the 9,000,000something sq km of Canada and USA each, or the 8,000,000something sq km of Australia), where urbanized land already makes for about 25% of the total land use, especially when only about 20% of the food consumed is produced locally, using land efficiently is a NEED, and that is not happening here!

Puerto_Rico_ecosystems_map-en.jpg This map dates back to May 2009. Red areas correspond to built-up land, medium and dark green corresponds to forests, light green corresponds to grasslands, agriculture is practiced on the beige lands.

Only halting suburban sprawl would ensure a more sustainable future in the case of Puerto Rico and similar settings.

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I've lived in rural and suburban areas all my life. The only advantages I can think of are the lower crime rates and the higher level of peace and tranquility, plus it's less crowded. In fact I live in a far suburb of Chicago right now. It's definitely for people who have higher income. For many though, living out here is cheaper than living in the city, where the taxes and rent are much higher, which is why poorer and richer people alike chose to live out here so they don't have to pay higher tax rates. Also, my city's main street is located on an arterial state highway, it's a 4-lane avenue. So when the commuters from Chicago come back it couples with the high school students trying to get home from club activities and it's just an absolute mess. All that makes road maintenance and reconstruction very difficult.

Out here, I have to depend on my car to get anywhere and do anything. With gas prices going higher it makes me wish I either had an electric car or lived in a big city. I have to use my car just to get to the Walgreens up the road to get some milk. The amount of public transportation out here is so low it's pathetic. There used to be inter-urban train routes going between all the cities around here but they got rid of that because people preferred to drive. There are some bus routes but hardly anyone uses them. There are Metra lines that stem out from Chicago though, but they don't connect between the other cities unless the line is going east or west. What I REALLY wish I could do is catch a train from my town and take it up to Elgin for my college and walk to campus from the station. Unfortunately everything is way too spaced out for that.

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Personally, I don't like sprawl. I don't think it's ecologically-friendly. I understand why some people may prefer living out in a suburb or exurb, but I don't like hearing them complain about commute times and gas prices because they made their choice to live out there.

@ Duke87: Not everyone in a city rents. Also, have you heard of Levittown? It was started right after WWII, so the bland sameness of car-oriented suburbia is a lot older than you think: Levittown, NY

You also make some generalizations about who prefers to live in cities. I address some of those points below in describing my neighborhood in Chicago.

@Topgun232: Maybe it's my skewed point of view having lived on the other two coasts before, but I think Chicago is less expensive and more livable than the other cities I've lived in (NYC metro, San Diego, and San Francisco). I also lived in a small town in Upstate New York when I was in college. Cute place, but I'm definitely a city boy.

I live on a main thoroughfare here in Chicago, Ashland Ave., but I can't hear noise from the street in my bedroom (in the back of the apt.). The side streets off Ashland are very quiet, and are tree-lined and landscaped. My neighborhood has a mix of rental apartments, condominiums to own, and single family houses (to rent or own). Lots of families, couples without children, single professionals, elderly people, and college students live here. I know some of my neighbors from walking my dogs around the neighborhood, or from just stopping into local stores. Hey, our new mayor-elect is a neighbor.

I can walk to restaurants, cafes, bars, pharmacy, and take a short bus or "L" ride to the supermarkets, or the gym. There are also a couple of parks nearby, five or six houses of worship, an entire art district along the Metra railroad tracks, two large cemeteries (best place to get peace and quiet), and a library. When the weather's nice I walk my dogs to and from the lake shore (about a mile away) so they can run and play.

I enjoy not owning a car. I have a valid driver's license, but I've never actually owned a car anywhere I lived. I had to be more strategic in San Diego because that's a more car-oriented city but I made it around without a car.

By the way, I'm 37.


  Edited by diamonddog_74  

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Personally, I don't like sprawl. I don't think it's ecologically-friendly. I understand why some people may prefer living out in a suburb or exurb, but I don't like hearing them complain about commute times and gas prices because they made their choice to live out there.

I may live in the suburbs, but it definitely wasn't my choice. When I get enough money, I know where I'm moving :D

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I've lived in the NYC metro area all my life. Specifically on Long Island, one of the country's most densely populated suburban areas. The problem with suburban sprawl on Long Island is that there is simply no more land to build on! Nassau County is extremely dense and the suburban sprawl on Long Island continues well into Suffolk County, probably 30-35 miles of straight dense suburb. Many architects and rich business owners are proposing building upwards rather than outwards now on Long Island. Charles Wang, the majority owner of the New York Islanders, has proposed building a 60 story tower right in the heart of suburbia in Nassau County. The project has been heavily funded and advocated but problems with zoning, building height requirements, and the county's inability to approve variances have stymied its development.

Out on Eastern LI (Suffolk County), the suburban sprawl dissolves into a more rural landscape, approximately 65 miles east of Manhattan! This point eastward, Long Island splits into the two forks and these two forks are completely rural, with lots of farms. The threat for development and sprawl is a clear issue out there. My grandmother lives on the North Fork, and the area is absolutely gorgeous. I am totally against future development on Eastern Long Island, because the area is too beautiful and the population density is like 280-500 people per square mile. This area of Long Island is Wine Country, and is known for its beautiful beaches and natural marshland. To develop this land and ruin the fragile ecosystem would be a horrible decision by the legislature. Over the past few decades there have been proposals to create a new county on Eastern Long Island called Peconic County. If this new county somehow gets approved (which it probably won't, even though the support for its creation is high), this would allow local governments to control and create zoning laws to prevent future development! I'm hoping that happens.

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I've lived in the NYC metro area all my life. Specifically on Long Island, one of the country's most densely populated suburban areas. The problem with suburban sprawl on Long Island is that there is simply no more land to build on! Nassau County is extremely dense and the suburban sprawl on Long Island continues well into Suffolk County, probably 30-35 miles of straight dense suburb. Many architects and rich business owners are proposing building upwards rather than outwards now on Long Island. Charles Wang, the majority owner of the New York Islanders, has proposed building a 60 story tower right in the heart of suburbia in Nassau County. The project has been heavily funded and advocated but problems with zoning, building height requirements, and the county's inability to approve variances have stymied its development.

Out on Eastern LI (Suffolk County), the suburban sprawl dissolves into a more rural landscape, approximately 65 miles east of Manhattan! This point eastward, Long Island splits into the two forks and these two forks are completely rural, with lots of farms. The threat for development and sprawl is a clear issue out there. My grandmother lives on the North Fork, and the area is absolutely gorgeous. I am totally against future development on Eastern Long Island, because the area is too beautiful and the population density is like 280-500 people per square mile. This area of Long Island is Wine Country, and is known for its beautiful beaches and natural marshland. To develop this land and ruin the fragile ecosystem would be a horrible decision by the legislature. Over the past few decades there have been proposals to create a new county on Eastern Long Island called Peconic County. If this new county somehow gets approved (which it probably won't, even though the support for its creation is high), this would allow local governments to control and create zoning laws to prevent future development! I'm hoping that happens.

This is precisely what I meant. I'm very familiar with LI because when I lived in the NYC area, I used to go out there to the beaches.

The problem with sprawl in the main land is that people keep thinking they can just build out indefinitely. Look at what's happening in the Central Valley in North CA, or in the Inland Empire in South CA. It's like a spreading cancer, and out into a desert no less! I think it's gross.

Americans still buy into a 19th century mentality of outward expansion. That was cute then, except for the Natives who got displaced. It isn't cute anymore.

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have you heard of Levittown? It was started right after WWII, so the bland sameness of car-oriented suburbia is a lot older than you think

Yes, I have heard of Levittown. Yes, I am well aware that sprawl as we know it took off in the postwar era. I even said it before:

Prewar suburbs, of course, are denser and not quite as car-dependant. Postwar prosperity balooned the amount of land people wanted to live on.

Did I push you to into TLDR mode? :P

I enjoy not owning a car.

I didn't own a car in college. I got along fine.

But now that I have one, I'm never giving it up. I like driving places.

To develop this land and ruin the fragile ecosystem would be a horrible decision by the legislature.

What does the legislature have to do with it? It's the zoning boards you have to worry about...

The problem with sprawl in the main land is that people keep thinking they can just build out indefinitely.

Which, for practical reasons, obviously doesn't work, but if it is still happening, then the limit has not been reached.

Americans still buy into a 19th century mentality of outward expansion. That was cute then, except for the Natives who got displaced. It isn't cute anymore.

Well, building out is easier than building up. Path of least resistance.

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The problem with sprawl in the main land is that people keep thinking they can just build out indefinitely.

Which, for practical reasons, obviously doesn't work, but if it is still happening, then the limit has not been reached.

Americans still buy into a 19th century mentality of outward expansion. That was cute then, except for the Natives who got displaced. It isn't cute anymore.

Well, building out is easier than building up. Path of least resistance.

Duke, so all these ever extending exurbs engulfing productive farmland or natural wilderness are OK with you? I've seen your comments in similar threads where you always defend sprawl and horizontal urban expansion. Maybe you do actually like carpeting the entire countryside with Levittowns. But perhaps you play devil's advocate in these discussions to keep things interesting.

What's TLDR?

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  • Original Poster
  • I'm 18 and prefer live un Suburb.

    It's a mistake rotule suburban with familiar and mature living style, and apartment life a young lifestyle.

    I live in a 300,000 habitants good town in Brazil. A var is necessary to live here, no one want go to mall in that bad public transport.

    (here is not Rio, have quite poor people, but no favela and no drugs war).

    I lived in apartments twice, once in Salvador, 3rd major city in my country. That sucks. A luxury apartment in front to the sea bay ( called bay of all saints ).

    The skyline is amazing. But, now i think i can live better.

    When i'm bored, i call my frieds, get the car and go. Its simple, the traffic sucks only in rush hour, in the night its a 'sunday driving'.

    'People need people' - YEah, when i lived in apartment i meet just 2 or 3 neighboors, now i meet the same. haha

    But i think in suburban lifestyle you could know you neighboors better, you find then when you are cutting the grass, when you coopering, or when you are going to buy bread.

    In aparment life, people prefer still in your computers, in facebook and chatting with your friend in other side of city. Quite neighboors never said anything when met me.

    I like big cities, apartment life is confortable, but you need focus to keep a 'friendly guy'. I have friends who love live in apartments, but i think i can be a cool and youg guy living in suburb too.

    I will move to Toronto soon, but i wanna live in Mississauga; no matter if I net drive more than half hour to work, or spend 200 dollars in gas ,its a price i'm disposed to pay.

    Sorry about my English mistakes guys.

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    ON the radio, the host went to Chicago I believe and they were wanting to do something with their city, model it after the short-north part of Columbus, Oh.. I don't know very much about the SN but it sounds like Chicago has the same problems I notice in my little towns I go to, to much waste, empty lots abandon building. That my beef with the world, wasting land.

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    What's TLDR?

    A quick google gives "Too long; Didn't Read"

    Well, if that's what it means, and Duke thought I didn't read his entire post, well no. My mention of Levittown was in direct response to this passage in his post:

    "This is typical of newer subdivisions, built maybe after 1980 or so, and is a consequence of the newer mass production method of developing neighborhoods where the previous owner of the land sells it all as a huge chunk to a developer who then quickly and on the cheap builds a bunch of cookie cutter houses on it.

    Older subdivisions from the postwar era up into the 70's are not like that. In the old days, this streamlined development process hadn't been come up with they and the way of doing things was to sell off individual plots one by one to separate people who would then each build their own houses on them ..."

    Levittown was a subdivision constructed right after the war with all the elements that he said didn't really start until after the 70's.

    Luri: A town of 300,000 is a good-sized city. It's too bad that your town doesn't have good public transportation to serve the population.

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    Well, if that's what it means, and Duke thought I didn't read his entire post, well no. My mention of Levittown was in direct response to this passage in his post:

    I believe that the suggestion was that Duke87 was rambling. No indication that anyone was referring to your post at all.

    Please note that I do not agree that his post was too long; I'm just trying to explain the term TLDR.


      Edited by Mootilda  

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    The simple reality is this: low-density suburbs exist for one reason - because people want to live in them. If there weren't demand, they wouldn't exist. They aren't a failure (or success) of planning or policy, they are a conseqence of culture.

    They are a consequence of culture, but it's was a culture that was enabled by a pretty much roads-only policy for decades. As people escaped to the burbs to live the so-called American dream they began to live more and more isolated lives. Everything had to be gotten to by cars, everything became a big box store, tons and tons of wasted space. Then as the burbs became crowded we built more roads to reduce the congestion, but all we did was encourage even more flight away from the cities. And in doing so even our health deteriorated because hell we can just drive to get to everywhere.

    People like to own their own property rather than rent (and, if you can afford to, it is definitely a better investment).

    Questionable. If you live somewhere where a house can be obtained for $200,000 or less it would be compared to rent, but as the prices go higher the value of owning a house is less and less. Plus you deal with all the stress of ownership. Again that American dream that was sold to everyone

    People like having a little bit of space between themselves and their neighbors for privacy's sake. People like living in places where it's reliably quiet at night. People like living in places where crime is lower. People like living in places that are cleaner. People like being able to drive around without worrying too much about traffic rather than having to rely on public transit.

    True but there are a lot of studies showing public transit to be more efficient and cost effective.

    The inefficiency inherent to this style of living is definitely real, but I would counter with "okay, what do you intend to do about it?". Forget dreams of tearing down suburbs and rebuilding them to be more dense, that isn't happening. And forget trying to discourage their development, that just pisses off the people who want to live in them and the developers who stand to make money off of them.

    Not quite true. There are a lot of near-city neighborhoods like White Flint MD that are revamping their whole area into a New Urbanist model.

    I think it as a bulls-eye, the inner city has residents a couple blocks away is abandoned builds or in some cases whole neighborhoods, than more close residents, this cycle can go on and on, than you have new neighborhoods being built on farm land.

    Quite true, but then some places they do try to revitalize. In DC they took a real run down area of North East (high crime too) and redid it and rebranded it NoMA.

    Personally I appreciate urban areas and towns that have a more traditional form over suburbia, and this form is more important than density. Density should be seen as a product of demand for living in a certain locale, and not limited(NIMBYism) or mandated(flawed economic thinking). At what point do you end up with a mere vertical suburb that may have skyscrapers but no character, and is it also possible to have a vibrant urban district at suburban densities? These should be worthy questions.

    Every city/region needs to find the right balance.

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    When I went to DC in the 6 grade, some time ago I remember seeing the bad part of town, I have some family that live there my cousin lives in an old historic part of town and my aunt lives in a 1960's type suburb. I have only seen my cousins house through pictures.

    In Newark the post war lots are "small" big enough to grow a graden and have a play house, the house themselves look tiny, but as I remember was about 4 they were normal size on the inside. My great grandparents lived in one, they had about 3 beds, 2 baths, and a little living room, with a big kitchen in the back, and the basement was large with a little side room, where she keep a swing hanging for the kids, it was pretty cool, you could get pushed very much, one hand deal, but you would think you would hit the wall, my older sister kicked the window out.

    It seems the yard are very wasteful, being a poor kid, are 4 or 5 acre yard doesn't get mowed all the time, I could image living where you have to keep a yard that big, any thing bigger then 60' squared seems like a waste which most modern subs are.

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  • Original Poster
  • We find the solution:

    Every city/region needs to find the right balance. [2]

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    Duke, so all these ever extending exurbs engulfing productive farmland or natural wilderness are OK with you?

    Yes and no. I'm not going to defend it as though it's something amazing, but I am not going to get worked up about it and consider it a scourge, either. People can live as they please. To each his own. I have no interest in being critical of someone based on the sort of place they choose to live.

    Personally, I'm in between. I see plenty to like and dislike about both the city and the suburbs.

    ...but yes, I will confess to tending to take the side of suburbia in these sort of discussions because pretty much everyone else seems to take the side opposing it. Agreeing with people is no fun. No debate that way! :D

    Levittown was a subdivision constructed right after the war with all the elements that he said didn't really start until after the 70's.

    Yes, "didn't really start". Not quite the same thing as "didin't start".:read:

    Levittown was an early example, yes. My point is more that older suburbs are, in general (this is not an absolute rule!) less cookie-cutter than newer suburbs.

    They are a consequence of culture, but it's was a culture that was enabled by a pretty much roads-only policy for decades.

    Yes, well, there was a time in this country where the greatest minds in planning believed that trains were going to become obsolete technology while cars were the way of the future. And, honestly, I can completely understand why they thought that. The now-obvious flaws with the idea had not yet been discovered, so it seemed all good.

    People like to own their own property rather than rent (and, if you can afford to, it is definitely a better investment).

    Questionable. If you live somewhere where a house can be obtained for $200,000 or less it would be compared to rent, but as the prices go higher the value of owning a house is less and less. Plus you deal with all the stress of ownership.

    You have to consider owning a house to be an investment. Mortgage might not be less than rent, but in exchange for that money, the house is yours. When you sell it, you make the money back. Meanwhile, money that goes to rent is money you will never ever see again. It is purely an expense.

    As for stress of ownership, there's another side to that coin: freedom of ownership. If it's your house, you can do whatever the hell you want with it. The same cannot be said of an apartment you're renting. There you have to abide by your landlord's terms and listen to the concerns of your neighbors, and your ability to physically modify it is minimal.

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    You have to consider owning a house to be an investment. Mortgage might not be less than rent, but in exchange for that money, the house is yours. When you sell it, you make the money back. Meanwhile, money that goes to rent is money you will never ever see again. It is purely an expense.

    As for stress of ownership, there's another side to that coin: freedom of ownership. If it's your house, you can do whatever the hell you want with it. The same cannot be said of an apartment you're renting. There you have to abide by your landlord's terms and listen to the concerns of your neighbors, and your ability to physically modify it is minimal.

    Unfortunately, treating houses as if they're an "investment" is what got us into the economic mess we're in. A house is not stock in a company, but many people treated it like that and then look what happened. I read an article a couple of weeks ago where this guy said he wanted to buy a condo and live in it for a couple of years, make some money and go somewhere else. People still haven't learned. It's obscene the way some people think about property ownership.

    Also, remember that the house really isn't yours until you've actually finished paying for it. The bank that facilitated the loan is really the owner until you pay back the loan they gave you. This can take as much as 30 years with some loans. Why do these loans take so long to be paid off? Well, the banks need to make money off you in interest, but also so your money (taxes) can stay in the community long enough to be beneficial to the community (schools, services, etc.). So it's really a long term investment in the neighborhood/municipality you buy property in.

    What happens when you lose your job and you can't make the mortgage payments? Foreclosure, where you end up with nothing. Not even your initial deposit. THAT is far more traumatic than knowing your rent is purely an expense.

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