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monsoon

Against Density and Sprawl

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My Very Own Monorail

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That was fotally hucking tilarious. I have noticed that the activist atitude of the day in most cities is no linger NIMBY, but BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

Suburbanites hate density, but they are increasingly "nature conscious" and don't want developers creating endless subdivisions like their own which will come between them and the countryside they thought they moved out to. Urbanites hate sprawl, but tend to be wishy-washy about every new development, especially housing, and *especially* high-end housing or public housing. In SF, it seems the only acceptable development to most residents is low-rise non-market-rate pseudo-Victorians, which no one but qualifying applicants will be allowed to *rent*.

Condos are bad because poor people can't afford them. High rises are bad because they cause permanent shade and block views. Office buildings are bad because they create off-hour vacuums. Therefore, the only people allowed to increase in population in the city are low-income residents, who ultimately can't even afford the below-market-rate housing because all these restrictions make it still too expensive. People who want to own their home are driven to the 'burbs to participate in the debate from that perspective.

I'd argue that any amount of urban improvement has to have some increased density and some increased sprawl. Otherwise we assume that populations will not increase and lifetyles and workplaces will not improve. If either of the latter are to happen, you need both density and sprawl.

Sprawl is such a loaded word in most circles these days I'm almost reluctant to use it...

MM

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Therefore, the only people allowed to increase in population in the city are low-income residents, who ultimately can't even afford the below-market-rate housing because all these restrictions make it still too expensive. People who want to own their home are driven to the 'burbs to participate in the debate from that perspective.

It is unfortunate, but poor people need a place to go. If they remain homeless, with nothing to lose, then you can expect the crime rate to increase dramatically. I favor mixed income areas, which include both the condos, and affordable housing for those with lower incomes. Sprawl is an issue, because suburbs take up what used to be good farm land. It's an OK idea for places like Phoenix and Los Vegas, but good crop land needs to be preserved and used in a responsible manner. Sprawl is not necessarily good for the Midwest.

MrCoffee

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Suburbanites hate density, but they are increasingly "nature conscious" and don't want developers creating endless subdivisions like their own which will come between them and the countryside they thought they moved out to. Urbanites hate sprawl, but tend to be wishy-washy about every new development, especially housing, and *especially* high-end housing or public housing. In SF, it seems the only acceptable development to most residents is low-rise non-market-rate pseudo-Victorians, which no one but qualifying applicants will be allowed to *rent*.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You couldn't be more right....This is happening in Providence right now. Every new development coming into downcity is becoming a huge issue for some residents, who in some cases seem as though they would rather keep the vacant trash-strewn lots (they see them as "parks" sometimes...) that the developments will be built on.

Meanwhile, you have the suburbanites who complain that open space is being gobbled up and say things like "I remember when this road was just trees and fields"---yeah, until you moved there in the 70's and brought a whole bunch of other people with you, thus creating another land consuming suburb. Then, you even have the suburbanites who commute to the city for work, and complain that new development in a downtown will further congest the area, adding to their painful automobile commute into work everyday.

Everyone needs to take responsibility for the living choices that they make-- if you wanna live in the suburbs then you need to be ready for a god-awful rush hour commute and not beotch about more people moving into your area, after all, do you think the people who originally lived there were happy about you movin there?

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Everyone needs to take responsibility for the living choices that they make-- if you wanna live in the suburbs then you need to be ready for a god-awful rush hour commute and not beotch about more people moving into your area, after all, do you think the people who originally lived there were happy about you movin there?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Absolutely, and also they should be made to pay for the increased cost of services. You know why postage rates keep going up? These yuppie types that live out in the "contryside" and require a special mail delivery service to reach their distant location. And who pays for their lifestyle? Everyone.

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I think you "hit it on the nose". We need density and sprawl. It is inevitable, to minimize traffic, yet allow affordable places to live to employees who will provide services. Cities in places with cheap land can afford to sprawl out. But I don't see in your comment that you have considered the best approach to regions whose supply of land has run out and have no option but density as the primary growth engine (such as Miami-Ft Lauderdale and SF). These regions will have no choice but to 1.) make density work to provide residential solutions to a broad range of income levels or 2.) find another transportation option that lets them cheaply import labor.

We may need density and sprawl, but for some regions there is no choice.

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I've noticed in many midwestern cities (Des Moines, Omaha, the Twin Cities) that the sprawl is changing. The hottest thing in Minneapolis right now is to live down town with new high rises and low rise loft condos going up everywhere.

But north of downtown there are urban renewal projects. Houses are being torn down and replaced with new homes. Of course this urban renewal for Minneapolis is pushing the ghettos into the inner ring suburbs like Richfield and Brooklyn Park.

Meanwhile on the fringes, new developments are taking place. Row housing is becoming popular in developments. I saw one such development in Iowa where the garage is directly below the house. You enter the house through the garage and walk up to the living area (which is 3 stories or so). This is more dense. This is taking place in Minneapolis too and then more area in the development can be devoted to green space for everyone to use.

ALso, suburban renewal projects are gaining ground and many suburbs are creating "down towns" with mixed use housing/retail.

The problem with these new developments completely ignores one portion of the scale: Industrial development. We can have all the pretty little trendy retail outlets and trendy upscale housing we want... but what about those that can't afford it or those who simply have no interest in that lifestyle? What about thsoe that still have blue collar jobs? Should they be forced to commute by car out to the suburbs where industrial land is more available?

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I think Minneapolis is seeing a shift which has occurred all over Europe and in older US cities as well. The cities become the high rent areas and some suburbs end up with many of the poor.

Unlike a previous posting, I don't believe the midwest can afford sprawl --we simply are not, nor can we afford to continue to provide more driving lanes. As a result the richer suburbanites decide to move back to the city to avoid the commutes and traffic. Factories and industial uses (such as the saint Paul Post office) move out of the city for cheaper land in the outlying areas -- and their work force follows.

This switch, however, becomes very painful because current city residents feel they are being displaced and the word "gentrification" is thrown around a lot. They start to oppose the high priced condos and density. But suburbanites also fight the changes because they don't want factories or poor and they hate what is happening to all the available land. So you find people hating both density as well as sprawl.

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I like the mentioning of Minneapolis in here. The city has changed so much in the past decade. That are now regular commutes to and from the city, used to be short trips out to small town in rural MN. Minneapolis and St. Paul have caused the little town that used to have a little city life to transform into another bland suburb without its own identity.

I love the idea of building up. Up, not in the sense of skyscrapers, but as in 4-10 story buildings. You don't need a highrise to have a city, you just need population density. Sure, there are your down sides to ihgh population areas, but I believe that the good features come out on top. Less power consumption, less travel time, people actually interact with people (I know people who live in a suburb and have not talked to their neighbors more that 5 times a 5 years). Overall I think that density is the way to go.

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Overall I think that density is the way to go.

Couldn't agree more. Perhaps this is just my perception of the stereotypical suburbanite, but it seems they are actually afraid (or perhaps merely threatened) by people who are different than themselves. Density allows one to mix it up with different types of people during everyday life. In my opinion, it's not only fascinating but truly rewarding.

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It seems that the older suburbs from the fifties are becoming low income neighborhoods and becoming quite run down as the sprawl lovers move to the "Exurbs" and the new urban dwellers are driving the poor out of the city centers by driving up property values in the urban cores. Are we just shifting the problem around and not dealing with the real problems?

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Couldn't agree more. Perhaps this is just my perception of the stereotypical suburbanite, but it seems they are actually afraid (or perhaps merely threatened) by people who are different than themselves. Density allows one to mix it up with different types of people during everyday life. In my opinion, it's not only fascinating but truly rewarding.

Ironically, I think there are many suburbanites and exurbanites who think the very same thing of city people. For them, the city is very cold and unfriendly, everyone lives in their own little bubble unless they have to yell at someone.

The real issue is that there is not one type of person, so you are not going to find one straightforward solution. Everyone has different needs and desires. Some people love the excitement of the city, the ease of getting around, the wealth of offering and the city culture. Other people like the privacy of the country and the slower pace of life and the sense of a local community that they feel lost in the city. And there are people in between.

People also have to live, and for some people, they are a heck of a lot more reliant on the big department stores and Best Buys than the boutique clothing shop and Starbucks. In this country, what unfortunately is going to be the ultimate driver is business, and business is going to respond to what the average public is after, not certain groups.

Ironically, I think in some ways as we start increasing density we are creating sprwal. The one large houselot, when sold with higher density in mind, then becomes a development. The problem is, I think, that we have to find better ways of addressing the needs of the developer versus the needs of the community. And findsing a way that we can live with a more diverse set of environments - some nice dense cities, some sprawling suburbs. There's a place for both, we just have to find a way to balance them out.

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