spreading like a virus...(discuss)


Hope the link works boys and girls!

Aug 7, 07 11:58 am

San Bernardino Sucks ASS....Would not want to live there...

Aug 7, 07 12:01 pm

yeah but it seems that Arizona is quickly catching up to us here in Southern Cali....scary! (and my sister just moved to Tempe, yikes!!!)

Aug 7, 07 12:06 pm

a lot of people are predicting a return to city centers as the cost of oil continues to rise. living in the suburbs won't be much less expensive if it involves a 45 commute every day.

Aug 7, 07 12:10 pm

interestingly enough Paul, I don't know if you heard of the hub-bub that was going around (& in the paper) about Koreatown here in LA, whereby developers are building 5 new highrises all (or mostly all) residential condo types to densify, and the reality is that many people are cosidering it because the 1 hr commute of yesteryear, is now tripled (and only 1 way ) from the 'burbs.

I found that rather interesting. + they already have a metro stop nearby (wilshire and Western I believe)

Aug 7, 07 12:15 pm

I agree with difficult FIX

Arizona (Phoenix) sucks ass as well

Aug 7, 07 12:17 pm
liberty bell

But will it be a return to city centers, or the establishment of more job-centers scattered around throughout the sprawl?

I don't see the traditional morning in/evening out commutes working anymore - it's really all service jobs scattered all over the place, no?

Aug 7, 07 12:21 pm

it may be a "ReDefinition" of what the city centre is! You know?

Or it may become the idea of an ever growing "downtown" or core city centre, because of the infrastructure already in place. Since as LB said, there are loads and loads of service jobs and they are all over the place (in the city centre).

Aug 7, 07 12:29 pm

squirrelly - thanks, i haven't been following that development, but i'm not surprised.

lb - good point. it should also be noted that more and more people are working from home too, justifying an existence in the cheaper suburbs.

Aug 7, 07 12:31 pm
vado retro

the fact is that most people who live in these megalopolitan areas don't work downtown. they work in the places where the office park, industrial park, medical parks are and that aint downtown. you made your suburb, now lie in it.

Aug 7, 07 12:31 pm

vado - judging by the traffic on the 101 and 10 here in la, there are still a few people making the daily commute from the burbs.

Aug 7, 07 12:34 pm

Regardless of whether or not people want to make the long commute, they are "forced" to, whether by the need to have a certain sized house, with backyard, etc. etc., or by rising housing prices within the city. So the question is not really "why would people do such a thing?", as much as "how can we combat this problem?". Now, obviously the green belt/growth restriction strategies only work in certain cases, before the population reaches a certain tipping point. This is why I often don't understand the heaps of praise showered upon Portland all the time. Sure, they did a good job for the time being, but is that a truly sustainable strategy?

The case of the Boston suburbs presents a situation in which zoning controls the expansion of the city, but it does not keep people themselves from moving. The problem remains, it is just moved further away, out of sight. This seems to be the general mentality even within cities. I'll probably get my head chewed off for this, but I think the idea of building mid-rises in Brooklyn (in and of itself) is not a bad one at all, for adding a certain amount of density to the city is much more favorable in my book than just pushing people away. I understand that opponents of Atlantic Yards and others take that position for a variety of reasons, but I doubt most of them don't think "i want to preserve the feel of my neighborhood". While this is a reasonably good cause, it is a selfish one, protective of a specific location just as much as any sprawling suburb.

So, to end this babble (for now), I pose a few very open ended questions:

-what is worse: suburbs near the city, or farther away?
-are the people who propose the elimination of the suburbs the same ones that oppose changes in their neighborhoods?
-what new strategies for curtailing suburban growth are there?
-when/if these suburban problems are solved, will we have created a new, megalopolis-type problem, as in the third world?

Aug 7, 07 12:55 pm
"they are "forced" to, whether by the need to have a certain sized house, with backyard, etc. etc"

That is not a need. A whole chunk of the problem is that people THINK they need these things, and they don't. Learn to distinguish a need from a want.

Aug 7, 07 2:17 pm
liberty bell

ponce, addressing your last point (not the empty point-holder): will it be a new megalopolis problem?

Yes and no. Based on suburban Indianapolis, where I live: Forty years in the future, I can see the downtown core staying as a core destination, with governmental offices (state capitol) and large-scale entertainment (stadiums) and traditional culture (museums). Then the outer burbs - which used to be outlying towns - becoming denser (shopping, entertainment, jobs) within their own cores, so the Indy region becomes a multi-center "city". First ring around all of these centers, within easy driving distance, would be desirable housing, while the areas equidistant from those centers become essentially slums, or at least low income, non-gentrified, old neighborhoods.

Ideally the several centers would then be linked by light rail (or whatever version of light rail might be available in 40 years), so housing along the rail lines would stay up in value.

Maybe the loop freeways around all our Midwestern cities will become maglev lines?

Aug 7, 07 2:18 pm
vado retro

also, the average amerikan has a lifestyle that is so dependent on the car just in the every day goings on of their latecapitalist consumerist gogo "lifestyle" errands must be run, kids must be picked up and dropped off, meetings must be attended etc, which is another cause for all the congestion. thank god you can listen to a dr. dyer cd in your car and learn about the tao of not needing so much shit in your life.

Aug 7, 07 2:25 pm
vado retro

also, the average amerikan has a lifestyle that is so dependent on the car just in the every day goings on of their latecapitalist consumerist gogo "lifestyle" errands must be run, kids must be picked up and dropped off, meetings must be attended etc, which is another cause for all the congestion. thank god you can listen to a dr. dyer cd in your car and learn about the tao of not needing so much shit in your life.

Aug 7, 07 2:25 pm
vado retro

also, the average amerikan has a lifestyle that is so dependent on the car just in the every day goings on of their latecapitalist consumerist gogo "lifestyle" errands must be run, kids must be picked up and dropped off, meetings must be attended etc, which is another cause for all the congestion. thank god you can listen to a dr. dyer cd in your car and learn about the tao of not needing so much shit in your life.

Aug 7, 07 2:25 pm

which came first the car dependent lifestyle or the place where this occurs?

Aug 7, 07 2:33 pm

rationalist- i meant to put "need" in quotes also...

Aug 7, 07 2:39 pm

dammson- the places where it's the worst developed parallel. Look at the two big examples used here- the greater Los Angeles region, and the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix and extended suburbs). These are both young enough cities that great portions of them were planned with and around automobiles, so now it's exponentially harder to break one's dependence on cars because of that design.

Aug 7, 07 2:44 pm
Ms Beary

I propose the new frontier should be those smaller liveable, affordable cities whose population is about 150k or less which have OK airports, potential for culture, and are, say, less than 2-3 hours from major metropolitan areas. With the web and "improved" communications we've already decided that a 'place' to do business aka the city center is less important.

agreed, phoenix is wie-erd!

Aug 7, 07 2:46 pm

liberty bell-

Good principles,and ideas, but what quality of life will the people in the "equidistant areas"? And who will be able to live there? I went to school at UT-Austin, where a big issue is the planned development of TOD's along a new rail line, connecting emerging suburb-satellite cities to the center. The line is proposed to run along the east side of town, so in addition to stimulating growth in the satellite cities, it (even before any concrete plan is formulated) raises the property value nearby. The east side of Austin is where the lower-income range of citizens that want to be close to the center live, but they are bound to get pushed away. The areas between the larger nodes of the line (comparable to the interstitial zones you mentioned), are not only quite far from the center, but are bound to have their value go up as well. I don't really want to keep shooting down possible solutions, and I certainly don't have a lot of my own, but I think the essential quesiton becomes, "how do we keep any progress in curtailing sprawl from furthering the imbalance of city demographics?"
..or something along those lines...

-I do like the idea of transforming existing highways into something better :)

Aug 7, 07 2:55 pm

not sure if you heard this too Rationalist (since you are bike friendly) but City of Pasadena (as in California) is trying to pass an ordinace now (currently) to disallow 2 or more riders (on bicycles) from riding parallel (hence, no more cycling on city streets) and if you choose to do so, you must obtain a permit!

WTF is what I say......

And this continues to add to the ever present problem and or question that dammson asked.

Futhering that thought, why do we (society) refuse to change with life, to allow ourselves to become dense (as in the city) and therefore find more viable modes of transportation, or allow those that wish to alter their lifes (and also help the environment - reduce congestion) to do so without having to get a "PERMIT".

I can say from my recent trip to Tokyo, that their city identity continues to work, even though there is a flux of people coming in and out of the city and more born into the city. Subneighborhoods are created....I think this too could work here in america, but will the powers that be allow it....that's the question.

(sorry if I went of on a tangent)

Aug 7, 07 3:10 pm
vado retro

you must consider also, that people love their cars. they love the "freedom" it gives them. even if the freedom is sitting in traffic. people have very little power in their lives. 99.9 percent of us work in soul crushing occupations where we serve as cogs in the creaky machine of capitalism. the only power that most people manifest is the power they get with their foot on the pedal.

Aug 7, 07 3:16 pm


true...but mostly sad.
In Washington heights, and other poor neighborhoods, the car also becomes a status symbol. these people spend all their money on buying and pimping their rides, which sit parked on streets except for the occasional joyride. Maybe not even so occasional.
Can we do the same for bikes?

Aug 7, 07 3:20 pm
liberty bell

Basically, ponce, I think the "equidistant" areas will suck, and the people who live there will be the people who don't have any other choice. And maybe, eventually, those areas will become almost completely abandoned, then revert to agricultural land. Small-scale local organic farming, anyone?


I don't understand why the areas you mention - The areas between the larger nodes of the line...are not only quite far from the center, but are bound to have their value go up as well - that are far from anything will have their value go up? It seems to me places close to other things will always be more valuable, especially as (if) the mode of transport changes from single-occupant car to mass transit.

Aug 7, 07 3:21 pm
vado retro

i like my car.

Aug 7, 07 3:22 pm

liberty bell-

I should have specified: i visualized your ideas about transforming highways into other transportaion modes in conjunction with your vision of interstitial areas. The density of this transportation web would then creat lots of prime real estate along each branch, which to me seemed like it would pretty much encompass all of this interstitial zone. But maybe I'm thinking too densely. or am just too dense today.

Aug 7, 07 3:28 pm

my point is.. ...if everything is closer, isn't everything of higher value?

Aug 7, 07 3:29 pm
vado retro

value in quality or value in monetary terms?

Aug 7, 07 3:37 pm

for the sake of the argument, in monetary terms

Aug 7, 07 3:42 pm
vado retro

so if its more valuable in monetary terms ie it is more expensive. which is why mr. and mrs. amerikan buy a tract house in whispering meadows and drive over to the business park.

Aug 7, 07 3:46 pm

right, so how does one devise a solution that remains affordable?

Aug 7, 07 3:50 pm

and yet desirable?

...phew, posting from work is do you guys do it?

Aug 7, 07 3:53 pm
vado retro

well, who says its not desirable to those who buy into it? not everyone wants to live downtown and take the bus. frankly, most people don't want their neighbors too close. they want space to ride their atv's and shoot their 22's. their kids need garages and basements to start bands in. name a good band that was started by someone who grew up in a big city? the suburbs are needed to fuel the fire of teen angst.

Aug 7, 07 4:01 pm
liberty bell

ponce, I'm lost, what are we talking about?

What "solution" are you looking for, ponce? A world without poor neighborhoods?

Aug 7, 07 4:03 pm
Sarah Hamilton

Ok, not to underrate your discussion, but I just want to say that I am number 8 on the list. It sucks. I live in a house built in 1981, but new, empty houses go up everyday. I actually went to a PZ meeting to fight one development. Just so you know WHY I live where I do...

It HAD a small town feel (it is its own actual city since 18something), and since Husband and I are from a tiny town, we liked the quiet, grasses, and cows I can see from my front porch. Unfortunalty those things are fast changing, and we will be stuck with either moving FURTHER from Dallas (where I work) or losing our small-town close enough to metropolitan culture. For now, we are just going to keep fighting when we get notices, but those developers are sneaky, and only send notices to people they are required to.

We just got our first starbucks this week. Its definatly going down hill.

I promise, I will read the other coments later.

Aug 7, 07 4:08 pm

My problem:

When im in the NYC subway i wish i was in my car in Atlanta.
When im in my car in Atlanta I wish i was on the NYC subway.
Ain't no happiness nowhere.

I like wonderK's idea of smaller cities with better connections. I'd really like to live somewhere where i could drive 15 min in the morning to a train station and then ride 15 min to work. Sounds like the best of both worlds.

Aug 7, 07 4:11 pm
vado retro

happiness doesn't come to you. you must bring the happiness to your environment.

Aug 7, 07 4:42 pm

I wanted to bring the discussion away from just an analysis of the suburbs themselves, but towards alternatives to sprawl, and how these alternatives migh have positive or adverse effects on the city/suburbs/citizens.
Obviously, there is no want for a solution to most people that do live in suburbs. They are happy as they are. But as we all know, commuting can lead to a lot of wasted money, energy, hours, and contributes to a great deal of the negative effects on societies, humanities and the world today. Not just the pollution side of things, but the economic draining of a city, in which the money made there is transplanted to an outside area. Fine, so these effects tend to be appeased by a global economy, and people working out of their homes, but they're still there.
However, as we look at alternatives that trend to densification of cities, creation of new cities, intense interconnectivity of existing nodes, we begin to approach another problem: how to provide adequate resources to all of the inhabitants of these places.
So in a way, yeah, it is about not exacerbating the problem of poor neighborhoods, or even poverty in general, while resolving the problem of sprawl. Or even, resolving the problem of poverty and disparities in income/quality of living while resolving the problem of sprawl...

Aug 7, 07 4:46 pm
vado retro

there is plenty of poverty in the suburbs and in the country. about a mile from hinsdale illinoiz, (one of the richest towns in the country) you can live comfortably in a by the week motel. the lexus dealer is across the street.

Aug 7, 07 4:50 pm

i love living in the suburbs. i live in the middle between DC, Baltimore, and Annapolis. so i can be in any relatively large town/city in around 20minutes. no, i wouldn't be able to bike that.

i agree with having houses spread apart to have garages and large yards to do things in. sometimes, there can be too much undo stress in the cities that is much less in the 'burbs.

Aug 7, 07 5:07 pm
Ms Beary

... i DID propose an alternative to sprawl. [i thought.] and no one commented on it. When the biggies from LA & NY start moving to Boise or Scranton, the coffee shops, art galleries in Boise and Scranton will improve, no?
What did lofts used to be? Places where nobody wanted to go at first. Then the artists and the creative people moved there and made them popular. So move to Springfield, Billings, Peoria, Davenport, Green Bay, I dare you. You might like your 150k 3,000 s.f. loft overlooking the river and your 5 minute commute. I was lonely so I left my small city for more urbanness, but I'll go back if some of you will join me!

Aug 7, 07 5:11 pm


was it a hard adjustment, in your eyes, moving from the small city to the big city?

Aug 7, 07 5:14 pm

I don't feel that I'm qualified or unbiased enough to really contribute to this thread, but I think that point of view of feeling entitled of having that large yard and garage is wrong. The ideal situation to me is having that density for living, but also having the openness that can't be "owned." Do we really need to "own" that patch of grass? Public green space can be quite effective in these kind of situations. Public green space also allows for natural habitats for natural flora and fauna - instead of having to mow that lawn you own with a lawn mower (which frankly is quite the overkill let alone wasteful, loud, and ineffective).

Aug 7, 07 5:17 pm

i'm not saying no one bad.

I wa sjust trying to clear up what i was driving at. I think a good discussion is starting. :)
I myself want to be in gigantic NYC; I've done subrubs (tri-state area, any part of Houston), and I've done smaller city (Austin), and found the time I'm happiest is in a cosmopolitan place (Rio, New York).
I do agree that smaller cities are one viable alternative, but if people moved there en masse, wouldn't these smaller cities become large cities?
I'm also not talking about the quality of coffee shops and art galleries, though those are goo amenities to have. I'm talking about the opportunity to have even a decent home. So maybe if the people that live in the suburbs began moving into the city again they would bring their capital back, but how do we keep this capital from driving housing prices up even more, and eventually displacing the people that make the city work?
I also don't know who I'd be helping besides myself (monetarily) if I moved to those places...

Aug 7, 07 5:20 pm
Ms Beary

eastcoastarch, I don't know what you mean by "hard". It wasn't "hard" at all. Maybe you should rephrase...

Aug 7, 07 5:20 pm

Even with cars/garages, why can't we drop the idea of ownership? There are plenty of alternatives to being able to get around without owning a car. Public transportation and car sharing are alternatives that really can change the idea of ownership and sense of entitlement.

Aug 7, 07 5:21 pm

sorry, i meant how much different was it for you. being that fear of change is a big reason why people don't experience new things as often as they should.

Aug 7, 07 5:22 pm

amen, Philarch, amen

Aug 7, 07 5:23 pm

i live in Royal Oak, a suburb 3 miles from the Detroit border. In itself was a village in the 1800's and has its own pedestrian old downtown with retail, restaurants, etc. The majority of the residential streets have small lots, with 1000-1750sf houses (mostly bungalows, colonials, a tudor and a ranch here and there).

My point is, recently, as Royal Oak has become quite popular in our area, i've seen a few small 1000sf bungalows being demolished and being replaced by 3000sf mcmansions built to the setbacks and height limits...just an issue to consider as we'd talk about a return towards the city centers...

Aug 7, 07 5:26 pm

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