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SgtCampsalot

Urban Rise => Suburban Decline

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At the risk of creating another topic that will get lost in the Coffee Shop, I love discussing this as it is an overlooked topic that is in conjunction with the meteoric rise of urban core areas. Overlooked likely because there is no simple answer, and it is not yet politically convenient to discuss, especially because so many people don't see this relationship yet, and still think "suburban = comfortable/well-off."

There's been plenty of talk about this on UP. Basically, as the market increasingly goes toward urban/mixed-use living, financing will increasingly move away from conducting suburban business.

One interesting blogger is a planning consultant in Chicago, who has a blog that often veers into this territory. Two relevant posts are: How "Black = Urban" Ends, and On the Outside, Looking In (a very data-driven article)... both focusing on how this effect relates to African-Americans' potential decrease in political efficacy as they increasingly flee to the Suburbs. As a demographic, they maintain the mentality that previous White American generations had, in viewing the suburbs as the ultimate goal, also that Black Americans often have understandable family trauma in the inner-cities and still seek to "get out." Then, when we eventually reach a glut of housing in urban areas, and there is a slow down, it will hurt suburban areas doubly so.

A less fatalistic take is this article, The New Mythology of Rich Cities and Poor Suburbs makes the valid point that this will not be a binary effect. There will still be suburbs that do well, and we can perhaps parlay the current urban trend to focus improvements to adjacent suburban areas.

Strong Towns in general highlights the "tragic, inevitable necessity" that some communities "will fail," and we can't get around it. But, if we focus on small, incremental improvements to these areas (like allowing by-right construction of "one level of intensity up" of density) we can mitigate the decline in many areas that have a fighting chance.

Anyway there's your jumping off point. What solutions could we move toward to mitigate detrimental effects for communities that are investing themselves in suburban communities that don't have a guaranteed financially viable future?

 

Edited by SgtCampsalot
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The suburbs need to invest in more road connectivity. As the poor as slowly pushed further and further out of the city, public transportation will become more constrained, especially on poorly connected roads.

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On 9/22/2017 at 1:00 PM, SgtCampsalot said:

Strong Towns in general highlights the "tragic, inevitable necessity" that some communities "will fail," and we can't get around it. But, if we focus on small, incremental improvements to these areas (like allowing by-right construction of "one level of intensity up" of density) we can mitigate the decline in many areas that have a fighting chance.

Anyway there's your jumping off point. What solutions could we move toward to mitigate detrimental effects for communities that are investing themselves in suburban communities that don't have a guaranteed financially viable future?

 

I really enjoy Pete Saunders' work, and his conversation with Chuck Marohn on the Strong Towns podcast was excellent. It is sadly ironic that so many Americans, many of them minorities, were sold this image and dream of suburban life, and right when they leave the urban centers for the American Suburban Dream, the Professional Class (or Creative Class, to borrow Richard Florida's term from "The New Urban Crisis") flocks back to the city, taking with them the living standards that for many years only existed in the suburbs. We are left with disappearing Middle-class neighborhoods, as both suburbs and urban cores are filled with small areas of wealth and privilege surrounded by the poverty and disadvantage of the Service Class and Working Class neighborhoods (again, Richard Florida's terminology).

There is no way to save all suburbs, or cities for that matter, but we can face the problem head on.  Jobs and employment opportunities are leaving the suburbs, so the suburbs have to be better connected to the cities; this means better transit, transportation, and infrastructure to get people to jobs faster, safer, and with less carbon consumption. There has to be more affordable housing, both in the cities and suburbs. The zoning issues and NIMBYism that keeps affordable housing out of "desriable" neighborhoods has to go away. The people that work in a neighborhood need to be able to live in the neighborhood. Perhaps the biggest issue of all is wages and living standards. The jobs and industries that created the American Middle Class are gone, and in its place we have a very high-paid Professional and Creative Class and low paid Service and Working Classes. I'm no economist, but how we address the growing wage disparity may be the single most important economic challenge of our time. 

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^Yeah, there is no one answer. It will be a wide range of things we will need to address.

2 hours ago, JoshuaDrown said:

 I'm no economist, but how we address the growing wage disparity may be the single most important economic challenge of our time. 

It is. And since you're not an economist, you stand as one of the better people to determine how we move forward: Economics is a Form of Brain Damage

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