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Thread: The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs

  1. #41
    PM a mod to cement your internet status forever RJKarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strickland33 View Post
    That's why precisely why density and infrastructural improvement have to go hand in hand.
    In a new city, you'd have a point. The problem is we don't have new cities.

    Another issue is the state of our politics. Washington is so disfunctional that the House wouldn't even pass a roads bill that would save money in the long run and have created over a million jobs. What do you think would happen Congress was asked to spend tens of billions to enhance cities (which are hugely Dems)?

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by RJKarl View Post
    In a new city, you'd have a point. The problem is we don't have new cities.

    Another issue is the state of our politics. Washington is so disfunctional that the House wouldn't even pass a roads bill that would save money in the long run and have created over a million jobs. What do you think would happen Congress was asked to spend tens of billions to enhance cities (which are hugely Dems)?
    Cities in Europe and Asia have invested significant funds in upgrading infrastructure in older cities. Ironically, a great example of this in the USA is LA. There is massive infrastructural investment here (not to mention a concerted push toward reurbanization and away from facilitating sprawl) with an eye toward the huge problems that sprawl creates for the allocation of municipal services and public resources.
    We're going to be good again.

  3. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by RJKarl View Post
    Living in the suburbs has little or nothing to do with "upward mobility" as stated in the article.

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by RJKarl View Post
    the reality is without the suburbs almost no one could afford to own a home or even pay for an apartment in cities. The density of putting so many people in so little space would also increase things like crime and poverty.
    Quote Originally Posted by RacerDeac View Post
    This thread is getting dangerously close to


  5. #45
    The kind of crazy thing is that virtually every respected study in urban sociology/public health points toward a positive association between density and social ties and institutions, both of which are positively associated to a range of outcomes from health to occupational and educational attainment, etc. The racial and SES composition of the population within the density matters, of course, but density itself is usually considered a good thing when comparing different types of spatial arrangements to health or attainment-related outcomes.

    There is a lot of 1950s-era armchair pseudo-social scientific assumptions on this here thread.
    We're going to be good again.

  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by WakeandBake View Post
    Without reading the article RJ, the point is that we artificially sprawled unnecessarily for the short-term gain without a view for the long term expense of maintaining the massive infrastructure apparatus we created. Now we don't have the wealth to do so effectively.

    No one is saying we would have never expanded large population centers horizontally somewhat, but just not to the degree we have. I think you are fighting a fight that you need not.
    Isn't this is M.O.?

  7. #47
    Well if we all lived in high rises, this book would make a lot more sense...


  8. #48
    Never have I stumbled into a thread and been as confused as I am now. And that's saying something, considering that I'm one of the top 5 dumbest posters of all time.

  9. #49

  10. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by RJKarl View Post
    the reality is without the suburbs almost no one could afford to own a home or even pay for an apartment in cities. The density of putting so many people in so little space would also increase things like crime and poverty.
    I'll let the urban development experts chime in here, but my understanding is that every part of this post is wrong.

  11. #51
    I disagree with you
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasDeac10 View Post
    I'll let the urban development experts chime in here, but my understanding is that every part of this post is wrong.
    what do you mean? you literally quoted a urban development expert

  12. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon923 View Post
    From Chuck Marohn, one of my favorite writers on urban development issues:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.c...ampaign=buffer
    Thank you for posting. Agree or disagree with the author's premise, the rational and thoughtful comments that follow are very good and provide more insight and nuance to the discussion than usual.

    Having lived in and grown up in small towns and in suburban areas of a large city, as I grow older I prefer the personal economic benefits of small town living but would seriously consider urban life as an option due to the variety of social offerings. At least I, like the posters on this forum, have options.

  13. #53
    I'd say that of my 18 mile drive home probably 1/3 of that is under construction as they try and accommodate the suburbs that were built in the last 7 years.
    Hungry

  14. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by MBStretch View Post
    Thank you for posting. Agree or disagree with the author's premise, the rational and thoughtful comments that follow are very good and provide more insight and nuance to the discussion than usual.

    Having lived in and grown up in small towns and in suburban areas of a large city, as I grow older I prefer the personal economic benefits of small town living but would seriously consider urban life as an option due to the variety of social offerings. At least I, like the posters on this forum, have options.
    Absolutely nothing wrong with options. I lived in a suburban area of GSO for a long time and now live really close to downtown. Both have pluses and minuses. Marohn's basic point is, why are we subsidizing the suburban lifestyle, when it is less productive in terms of property taxes and financially unsustainable in terms of the ongoing maintenance of infrastructure? If people want to live in the 'burbs, FINE - but don't expect other taxpayers to subsidize the extra services, infrastructure, and maintenance that this entails.

  15. #55
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  16. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon923 View Post
    Absolutely nothing wrong with options. I lived in a suburban area of GSO for a long time and now live really close to downtown. Both have pluses and minuses. Marohn's basic point is, why are we subsidizing the suburban lifestyle, when it is less productive in terms of property taxes and financially unsustainable in terms of the ongoing maintenance of infrastructure? If people want to live in the 'burbs, FINE - but don't expect other taxpayers to subsidize the extra services, infrastructure, and maintenance that this entails.
    I agree; there is nothing wrong with options; I am glad I have them. What I have some reservation about from Marohn's article is his postulation that the FHA and the Interstate Highway Act were parts of a "a radical, government-led re-engineering of society, one that artificially inverted millennia of accumulated wisdom and practice in building human habitats". That's a bit too conspiratorial sounding for me, and I don't see those specific and other government acts as instruments used to intentionally create and subsidize suburbia. I don't believe it was or is that simple, and I also realize that some people in all societies are always subsidizing others. For example, those of us who don't live in large cities have and will help subsidize the rebuilding of city infrastructures, too, regardless of the costs relative to the costs in the suburbs.

    That said, I admit I likely haven't spent as much time considering the subject as you have, and I admit I almost always find myself enjoying and agreeing with your well-considered posts on the Tunnels. So, with my extremely limited participation in this forum, I don't choose to be argumentative. I'm sorry if it came across as such.

  17. #57
    No, not argumentative. Just good discussion. Here's another article about productive places that you might enjoy.

    http://designrochester.org/forum/201...ampaign=buffer

    The suburbs often think they are subsidizing the city, and perhaps in some places and at some time periods they were. But math doesn't lie. A Home Depot in the suburbs occupies many acres and probably pays a tenth of the tax per acre of a restaurant in a storefront downtown. The same thing is true of a suburban McMansion vs. a downtown condo. The tax paid per square foot is going to be much in favor of the condo, and the condo requires less in city services (water, sewer, roads, schools, school buses, police and fire protection).

    That's not to say McMansions should be illegal, just that the developers and owners of the McMansions should pay taxes commensurate with the services they are using, not just pay the same taxes as the compact, much more valuable downtown development requiring less services. There's a pretty serious market inefficiency built into our current development pattern.

  18. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by MBStretch View Post
    I agree; there is nothing wrong with options; I am glad I have them. What I have some reservation about from Marohn's article is his postulation that the FHA and the Interstate Highway Act were parts of a "a radical, government-led re-engineering of society, one that artificially inverted millennia of accumulated wisdom and practice in building human habitats". That's a bit too conspiratorial sounding for me, and I don't see those specific and other government acts as instruments used to intentionally create and subsidize suburbia. I don't believe it was or is that simple, and I also realize that some people in all societies are always subsidizing others.
    On this point - Marohn tends toward the dramatic. It makes him more enjoyable to read than others who write on this topic. He has a great blog post called "The Growth Ponzi Scheme" that lays out his theories pretty well. But I think Marohn would agree with you that nobody set out with some grand master plan to reshape the American landscape. It has taken 60+ years of gradual accumulation of one small decision after another, each making us more and more reliant on cars and government to build and fund the infrastructure for cars.

    Another piece of this is that Marohn is a card-carrying Republican and real fiscal conservative who understand the conservative mindset. Part of his rhetoric is to help conservatives understand that the suburbs were not created, and are not maintained, by the sacred invisible hand of the market. The American suburb would not exist in the absence of massive government lending and spending policy. American conservatives have a reflexive instinct toward density = bad and some of them buy into the whole Agenda 21 paranoia thing where they think big gummint is going to make them ride bicycles. Marohn is trying to break through that shell and help conservatives understand that single use zoning and suburban subsidies ARE big gummint. In urban areas, the market actually wants denser, more efficient uses of land, and government and its enablers in the NIMBY class are what is holding back the market.

  19. #59
    Really good article on financial productivity of downtown vs. sprawl. This highlights the work of Joe Minicozzi who is very active in Asheville's downtown renaissance.
    http://www.salon.com/2013/11/10/walm...ampaign=buffer

  20. #60
    PM a mod to cement your internet status forever RJKarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon923 View Post
    No, not argumentative. Just good discussion. Here's another article about productive places that you might enjoy.

    http://designrochester.org/forum/201...ampaign=buffer

    The suburbs often think they are subsidizing the city, and perhaps in some places and at some time periods they were. But math doesn't lie. A Home Depot in the suburbs occupies many acres and probably pays a tenth of the tax per acre of a restaurant in a storefront downtown. The same thing is true of a suburban McMansion vs. a downtown condo. The tax paid per square foot is going to be much in favor of the condo, and the condo requires less in city services (water, sewer, roads, schools, school buses, police and fire protection).

    That's not to say McMansions should be illegal, just that the developers and owners of the McMansions should pay taxes commensurate with the services they are using, not just pay the same taxes as the compact, much more valuable downtown development requiring less services. There's a pretty serious market inefficiency built into our current development pattern.
    If you are comparing tax revenues on a per acre basis, then you must also compare the water, electrical, street and other usages not for one condo but for all the condos in the per acre structure.

    If you build 300 condos on the same acreage as one McMansion, those 300 dwellings will use many, many times more services.

    If taxes are on a per acre basis, to make it apples to apples, then the above must be considered.

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