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rocky top buzz

New Census information about the 'burbs

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Here is a link to the Fox News Story:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,192415,00.html

And a link to the census data (5.11 MB):

http://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/p25-1135.pdf

Tennessee is in the Top 10 for growth in pure numbers, but it looks like we've slowed significantly from the 90's. And looks like pages 11-12 will give you county data. Thoughts?

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Here is a link to the Fox News Story:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,192415,00.html

And a link to the census data (5.11 MB):

http://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/p25-1135.pdf

Tennessee is in the Top 10 for growth in pure numbers, but it looks like we've slowed significantly from the 90's. And looks like pages 11-12 will give you county data. Thoughts?

I continue to have deep suspicions about the Census estimates. I don't disagree that this flight is occuring, but I don't think their methodology is capturing the counter-trend of people moving into urban centers for lifestyle reasons and to avoid high gas prices, excessive commute times.

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I saw the story linked from Drudge earlier today. What to say? Well it seems from an everyday standpoint that the numbers may be undercounting the net gain for Davidson County. Maybe some long time residents can provide feedback prior to my moving here on 04-05 but a population growth is palpable to me.

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I continue to have deep suspicions about the Census estimates. I don't disagree that this flight is occuring, but I don't think their methodology is capturing the counter-trend of people moving into urban centers for lifestyle reasons and to avoid high gas prices, excessive commute times.

While there are suspicions about the numbers, I would have to agree with the person in the Fox News article that mostly (at least relatively) wealthy individuals and couples (few if any children living at home) are driving the lion's share of the back-to-the-city movement nationally. That is definitely true here in Chicago, where condo buildings are sprouting like mushrooms downtown and throughout almost all of the north and a good part of the near south and west sides. I don't care how city-loving and suburb-hating the trendy 20-somethings are, once they get married and start having children who near preschool age, most of them move to the suburbs. (Both for living space reasons, the presence of a yard, and most definitely in search of reasonable schools that don't cost as much as college tuition.) And the only affordable suburbs are way out there in the cornfields two counties away, where they can still drive to a train stop and get into the city without driving the whole way. And it seems that for every couple who moves into a former apartment in the city that has been rehabbed and sold as a condo, they displace a family with at least two kids and maybe a live-in grandparent. And as buildings are converted or their prices increase, the families with less disosable income get pushed farther and farther out toward the city limits and over the line into the collar suburbs. Then those residents who fled the city 20 years ago move even further out, etc.

With any luck, Nashville will be able to enjoy the in-migration without such a drastic result. As long as average home prices don't go up too much, regular folks will still be able to afford a house in town. Other than home prices, my guess is that schools will be a major factor in deciding whether families with children stay or go. But then again, if most of the jobs are in the suburbs, they will probably follow them out there and buy a house in that affordable new subdivision just beyond the horizon.

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The whole formula is wrong and outdated. It heavily favors suburbs and puts little credit into the actual ability of the government to track and predict populations on a yearly basis. Cities should start funding a private company to come in and do their census counts as opposed to the government doing it.

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I don't care how city-loving and suburb-hating the trendy 20-somethings are, once they get married and start having children who near preschool age, most of them move to the suburbs. (Both for living space reasons, the presence of a yard, and most definitely in search of reasonable schools that don't cost as much as college tuition.)

You had some decent points, but everytime someone says something like the above I just feel the need to stop and correct them. I don't know how long you've lived in Chicago. Perhaps you've lived here longer than I have, but if you are attempting to make the claim that Chicago has no reasonable, affordable, but also urban neighborhoods made up of nothing but single family homes and yards, then you would be completely wrong. I don't know why people always make this claim. The VAST majority of the housing stock of practically every city in this nation is made up of single family homes with yards. True, the homes might not always be gaudy and cheaply built McMansions with half acre yards...but they still exist.

Okay, regarding the census estimates, i've never listened to them. They are fun to look at and compare, but the census estimates are notoriously inaccurate.

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I'm a 20-something, and I've always hated city living, due to several factors. 1- I grew up in the Atlanta suburbs and liked it. 2- When I moved here I lived on Antioch Pike. The schools were dumps and most of my neighbors didn't speak english! Now I know that's not how the whole city is, but first impressions last. Also when you live in the big city, the little guy get's closed out of the politcal operations. Here in La Vergne, I pick up the phone and call any of my aldermen, no problem. I know what's really going on. I just prefer the smaller feel of the suburbs.

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I'm a 20-something, and I've always hated city living, due to several factors. 1- I grew up in the Atlanta suburbs and liked it. 2- When I moved here I lived on Antioch Pike. The schools were dumps and most of my neighbors didn't speak english! Now I know that's not how the whole city is, but first impressions last. Also when you live in the big city, the little guy get's closed out of the politcal operations. Here in La Vergne, I pick up the phone and call any of my aldermen, no problem. I know what's really going on. I just prefer the smaller feel of the suburbs.

When can we expect to see "SuburbanPlanet"? ;) Not everyone is going to like big cities; cool. I like big cities, medium cities, small cities, tiny little towns, and the middle of nowhere country. I just don't like pavement encrusted, car-choked, cul-de-sac filled suburban sprawl. Some folks do, which is cool, except for the question of sustainability and the issue of their lifestyle being subsidized by the rest of us.

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d'town cliff

I have heard this claim before and I am not disputing it just asking for additional details. How is it that suburban sprawl lifestyle is subsidized?

Just curious, thanks.

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People have said that, for example, most of the Nashville area's homeless, poor, and immigrant population locate in the big city. You've got your subsidized housing in the big city, larger per capita police force, and other services that are catered to those who can't afford to pay it.

While I agree that to an extent suburban life is subsidized, I don't think it has to be that way. The larger cities draw more of the poor because you have a larger concentration of liberals who feel like the governement, not the individual, has the right to give everyone a happy life. My own personal opinion is that outside of extreme situations (disability, for example), you don't have a 'right' to anything you don't earn. Most suburbanites share this mentality and therefore don't have section 8 housing.

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d'town cliff

I have heard this claim before and I am not disputing it just asking for additional details. How is it that suburban sprawl lifestyle is subsidized?

Just curious, thanks.

NB, I am talking primarily about major transportation infrastructure projects that make the "affordable" land in the burbs affordable and viable. Also, there are costs associated with being a regional hub for entertainment, government, and commerce. Don't get me wrong, I think the costs associated with being a civil and cultural hub are worthwhile. I must admit that this concept of subsidization is not accepted by everyone, to include some of my peers whose opinions I respect. However, I think it is more accurate than not.

I wasn't actually talking about the poor, but since RTB brought it up, the trend seems to be towards the poor moving out into the affordable burbs as central cities become too expensive. And, by the way, RTB, even toney Franklin has section 8 housing and housing projects. My own thougts on charity and the role of government have more to do with my religious convictions than my political philosophy.

Back to the main line of the topic, I agree with Lexy, BNAbreaker and some of the others that the Census numbers are hinky. I find it curious that Davidson County (and Shelby) is losing large numbers of folks to domestic migration at the same time that student counts are going up, home sales are setting records, and apartment occupancies are high. As I said in the last paragraph, experts are saying that the poor are moving into the collar, or inner-ring, suburbs. In the case of Nashville, many of these are still in Davidson County.

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RTB

I am not sure that is the reason you do not have many projects in the 'burbs. With all the 'flight' (I refuse to say white flight) from the central core the poorest of the poor could not afford to leave and that is why the concentration of public housing in the core. As for subsidized housing that is everywhere even in the 'burbs. I know of complexes in Smyrna, Franklin, Murfeesboro, Hermitage pretty much everywhere.

You ar ecorrect that to some extent the holess problem is self perpetuating. The better the level of service and assistance a city offers to the homeless the more the homeless population grows. They talk and pretty soon the migrate to greener grass.

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You had some decent points, but everytime someone says something like the above I just feel the need to stop and correct them. I don't know how long you've lived in Chicago. Perhaps you've lived here longer than I have, but if you are attempting to make the claim that Chicago has no reasonable, affordable, but also urban neighborhoods made up of nothing but single family homes and yards, then you would be completely wrong. I don't know why people always make this claim. The VAST majority of the housing stock of practically every city in this nation is made up of single family homes with yards. True, the homes might not always be gaudy and cheaply built McMansions with half acre yards...but they still exist.

Okay, regarding the census estimates, i've never listened to them. They are fun to look at and compare, but the census estimates are notoriously inaccurate.

Hey, BNA: I'm not meaning to create a stir, I'm just reflecting on my experience living in the City for 13 years and noticing how much farther and farther out affordable apartments, let alone houses, are getting compared to when I moved here in '93 and had an apartment in Wicker Park for $400 a month. A year ago I went looking for a single-family home in Portage Park or Jefferson Park on the northwest side and was shocked that I couldn't get much of anything for under $300K. I'm also reflecting on my experience working in a professional services firm (I work at one of the Big 4 accounting firms in the loop) and listening to the young people that I work with and where they are buying houses and condos at various points in their lives as they get older and get settled, and particularly start having children. To your point, I do have in-laws who have affordable single-family homes with small yards on the far southwest side, but those areas are pretty far removed from public transportation, and their livestyles are relatively suburban.

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Hey, BNA: I'm not meaning to create a stir, I'm just reflecting on my experience living in the City for 13 years and noticing how much farther and farther out affordable apartments, let alone houses, are getting compared to when I moved here in '93 and had an apartment in Wicker Park for $400 a month. A year ago I went looking for a single-family home in Portage Park or Jefferson Park on the northwest side and was shocked that I couldn't get much of anything for under $300K. I'm also reflecting on my experience working in a professional services firm (I work at one of the Big 4 accounting firms in the loop) and listening to the young people that I work with and where they are buying houses and condos at various points in their lives as they get older and get settled, and particularly start having children. To your point, I do have in-laws who have affordable single-family homes with small yards on the far southwest side, but those areas are pretty far removed from public transportation, and their livestyles are relatively suburban.

I understand. I wasn't trying to create a stir either, it was nothing personal, I just like to note to people who may not realize how many single-family homes exist in the typical city, that they exist. That's all. Clearly you already are aware of that though so I suppose my post was meaningless! haha. You're definitely right though, alot of the larger homes in the city of Chicago are a bit pricy, and we definitely need to work on connectivity in the further out neighborhoods. Hopefully we can increase the supply of solid single family homes in well connected urban style neighborhoods so the price can go down! :)

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To your point, I do have in-laws who have affordable single-family homes with small yards on the far southwest side, but those areas are pretty far removed from public transportation, and their livestyles are relatively suburban.

My cousins all grew up around 79th and Ashland on the Southwest side near Evergreen Park. It was bungalow city, but still pretty urban. We'd walk to the grocery, play cabbage ball in the alleys, and so on. We could hop on a bus and transfer to the El and be downtown in 30 minutes. One of uncles didn't even own a car.

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You're right, I should have said the suburbanites don't have "as much" subsidized housing. But I still think it does all fall to a political level, and vote buying. The liberals in Nashville want to provide governement services to these propective voters who want to depend on the governement to provide for them, while the conservatives in the suburbs know that their prospective voters want people to take care of themselves and not depend on the governement.

Don't get me wrong; I agree that it would be more affordable for a poor person to live in cottontown or some other suburb, but for whatever reason, that's not the case. And I'm not saying we shouldn't have any welfare programs; everybody at some point or another will probably fall on hard times. But these programs should be much more strictly controlled than they currently are. That leads to higher taxes, and suburban sprawl!

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But these programs should be much more strictly controlled than they currently are. That leads to higher taxes, and suburban sprawl!

Welfare payments account for about 1% of the federal budget.

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Welfare payments account for about 1% of the federal budget.

True. I wonder what percent corporate welfare accounts for.

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I think I have posted this before, but I thought I would post it again. A couple of years ago I wrote the Nashville-Davidson Metro Planning Department over a census est. that showed Davidson County hemorrhage residents. It was hard for me then to believe that Davidson County was actually netting a loss in residents just as it is difficult for me to think that more recently more people are leaving the city than moving in--especially when an entire condo building can sell out in 48 hours. This is response I recieved:

Jim,

I apologize for not getting back to you sooner; I have been out of the office for the past 2 days. To answer your question - we do stand by our population projections (+52k by 2010). The amount of growth that we have observed since 2000 closely matches what we have projected. Since the last census was taken we have seen over 10,000 residential building permits issued. If we assume only 2 persons per unit that works out to +/- 20,000 persons. This growth is likely tempered by increased apartment vacancy rates, but the net effect is still strongly positive.

In addition there is a long history of the US Census under-predicting population growth in Davidson County. For example in 7/99 the Census Bureau projected 530,050 persons in Davison County. The next year, when the census was taken, 569,000+ persons were present. We believe that this under-prediction trend continues today and is having an effect on their 2003 estimates.

That having been said, Nashville's suburban counties are experiencing much higher growth rates than Davidson County - largely because their base populations are so much smaller than Davidson County. Only Rutherford County is adding as many total persons as Davidson County.

Recently the UT Center for Business and Economic Research published age cohort based population projections for all Tennessee Counties. Their 2010 Projection for Davidson County is 620,928 - a difference of +/- 1000 persons vs. our projections. See : http://www.state.tn.us/tacir/population.htm

You will need to contact the US Census bureau for information concerning their prediction/projection/estimation methods.

If you have additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Nicholas Lindeman

Planner II

Nashville-Davidson Metro Planning Department

730 2nd Ave. S.

Nashville, TN 37201

(615) 862-7198 phone

[email protected]

http://www.nashville.gov/mpc

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I know a man who is much more reliable than those guys, and he predicts the population of Davidson to be 640,000 by 2010. He's a retired actuary who lives in Monteagle. He's adamant that the 2005 population of the county is 607,000.

His growth benchmark is based on a baseline birthrate and it's compounded by annual growth.

But he said if somebody wants to thumbnail it, then (if the proverbial all things stay the same) the growth rate can be approximated by the year-over-year growth during 2005 (6,800) multiplied by 10 for the decade (570,000 + 68,000 = 638,000).

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My cousins all grew up around 79th and Ashland on the Southwest side near Evergreen Park. It was bungalow city, but still pretty urban. We'd walk to the grocery, play cabbage ball in the alleys, and so on. We could hop on a bus and transfer to the El and be downtown in 30 minutes. One of uncles didn't even own a car.

Ok, I promise that I'll tie this all back to Nashville, but first let me indulge: How cool is that!?? My inlaws also lived in the Ashburn-Wrightwood neighborhood that you describe. Ashland and 79th is still relatively close to the Red Line subway that runs down I-90/94, but my inlaws were about a mile and a half west of there at 81st and California near St. Thomas More Parish. The father of the family (deceased before I came to Chicago) was the Alderman for many years of the 18th Ward, which stretches north-to-south between 79th and 87th (where Evergreen Park begins) and from a little east of Ashland to the western city limits at Cicero avenue. What a tiny planet this is! How cool that there are several of us with Chicago ties, all so interested in Nashville. (By the way, the Chicago discussion thread is very quiet and dead compared to the Nashville site. Congratulation!)

You're right, those Chicago neighborhoods are more urban in lifestyle as long as you are still relatively close to the el. They are geographically far out, too. 79th and Ashland is almost 12 miles from the CBD (10 miles south, 2 miles west). By comparison, the city only goes to 7800 North at the extreme point beyond the Howard el station. So 79th and Ashland is farther south of the CBD than the city goes north, or especially west. But your point does indicate kudos to Chicago's transit system that those commutes are as short as they are. Can you imagine taking the Gallatin bus from Madison to downtown Nashville for work everyday?

Still, going just a bit further west into these neighborhoods, closer to where my in-laws lived, the amount of time spent waiting on a bus, then taking the bus down crowded streets, then transferring to the el at the Dan Ryan, waiting on a train, and riding it downtown can make for a long and unpredictable commute. Going just a few blocks west further west (past Pulaski) and you have the struggling Ford City Mall, which sounds about like the Hickory Hollow mall from the descriptions read here. And these neighborhoods are about the end of feasible public transportation routes to get downtown, even though the city goes further south in some places as far as 138th Street. But just across the city limits from these neighborhoods lie white-flight suburbs like Evergreen Park, Hometown, Oak Lawn, etc. where there are more strip malls, Walmarts, Sam's Clubs, Targetlands, drive-through Walgreens, and McDonalds's than you can count. So those Southwest Side neighborhoods are nestled between the suburbs and some of the roughest neighborhoods in the city only a few blocks to the north, where there are few grocery stores, mostly corner convenience stores with bars over their windows. So within these nicer "bungalow belt" neighborhoods, which always have been and remain nice even as the ethnic populations have changed, the closer you are to the citylimits (and farther from a train), the more likely you are to drive your kids everywhere to/from soccer practice in a minivan, like my relatives, who look at me like I'm crazy for not owning a car. Also, if you are lucky, your kids go to a Magnet School or one of the Catholic Schools, not the public schools.

One thing that has kept these neighborhoods economically stable (and affordable) is that they are largely (or at least historically largely) populated by City employees - police, fire, streets & san, teachers, and especially the blue collar workers who make decent salaries and have stable jobs that are either Union or Government or both. (Those employees who are employed by the City of Chicago are required by law to live in the city limits, so they can't flee to the suburbs but often live just inside the line.) Add in a growing African American middle class, and an increasing Hispanic and South Asian population, and those neighborhoods are solid but quiet. But they are not really a destination for in-migration or back-to-the-city enthusiasts the way the gentrifying Bronzeville neighborhood is or even Bridgeport, both of which are much nearer to downtown on the south side. These bungalows are mostly owned by middle-class people who have lived in the city a long time. Even as there is some stability, a lot of poorer families who got pushed out of the neighborhoods closer to downtown pass through these neighborhoods and end up in some of the poorer collar suburbs like Cicero, so there is still a sizable outmigration among that poor population, too.

Tying this all back in to Nashville, I am doubtful that most if any of the developments immediately in the CBD or Gulch will be "affordable" or will really be geared towards families. I wish that it were different, but I am not holding my breath for the CBD or the Gulch. Maybe nearby, though. Some developments will be affordable for families, at least some units, most likely if there is demonstrated demand and sufficient outcry. But I think that these headline-grabbing tower projects will more likely be geared toward singles or younger couples (35 and under) without more than one school-aged child, or retirees, who have disposable income and seek entertainment outside of the home or school environment often, which can be difficult to accomplish if you are raising children. (Geez, you ought to be home helping them with their homework!) I hope that as these people fill empty spaces downtown, and perhaps displace families in some areas, that the city will be able to hang on to pockets or even large sections of decent, spacious housing that regular working people with kids can afford near decent schools. (I am encouraged that the MTA website has information about how to get help with a mortgage downpayment for families who buy houses close to bus lines and do not own cars!) That way, there can be decent density and walkability, feasible public transportation, and a healthy balance and interaction between socio-economic groups for a better, stronger Nashville.

May you all have a wonderful weekend!

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One thing that has kept these neighborhoods economically stable (and affordable) is that they are largely (or at least historically largely) populated by City employees - police, fire, streets & san, teachers, and especially the blue collar workers who make decent salaries and have stable jobs that are either Union or Government or both. (Those employees who are employed by the City of Chicago are required by law to live in the city limits, so they can't flee to the suburbs but often live just inside the line.) May you all have a wonderful weekend!

One of my uncles was a a city plumber--unionized of course--who lived out around 90th-something around Western or Pulaski. Of course to keep the job he also had to be a precinct captain for Daly.

Your father in law may well have known my uncle.

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