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Thread: Attracting families to cities

  1. #26
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Boston has such a crunch beacuase of its large number of students from wealthy families. These people come from everywhere to attend schools like MIT, Havard, BU. If Boston was a huge city like Chicago or Philly these folks would just be a drop in the bucket. The same thing is true except on a smaller scale in the Ann Arbor portion of Metro Detroit.
    The metro (MSA) population of Boston is pretty close to that of Philadelphia (4M vs. 5M), while Chicago is twice the size of both Boston and Philly.

    That being said: while the number of students certainly contributes to the crunch, exclusionary zoning in the suburbs is the primary driver. In many (or most) of the second ring suburbs (and even some of the first ring), multi-family housing of any kind is prohibited or severly restricted. This includes so-called in-law apartments, accessory apartments and garage apartments. All along Route 128 (circumferential highway ten miles from downtown Boston) there are towns with nothing but 1+ acre single family residential zoning (Weston, Lincoln, Dover, etc.). There are many more as you move farther from the city (Carlisle, Boxford, Harvard, Sherborn, etc.).

  2. #27
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    The metro (MSA) population of Boston is pretty close to that of Philadelphia (4M vs. 5M), while Chicago is twice the size of both Boston and Philly.

    That being said: while the number of students certainly contributes to the crunch, exclusionary zoning in the suburbs is the primary driver. In many (or most) of the second ring suburbs (and even some of the first ring), multi-family housing of any kind is prohibited or severly restricted. This includes so-called in-law apartments, accessory apartments and garage apartments. All along Route 128 (circumferential highway ten miles from downtown Boston) there are towns with nothing but 1+ acre single family residential zoning (Weston, Lincoln, Dover, etc.). There are many more as you move farther from the city (Carlisle, Boxford, Harvard, Sherborn, etc.).
    Yeah, that makes plenty of sense about Boston-area. My co-workers and I from the CDC I work at (Boston urban-core) were at a retreat in Lincoln recently and were laughing about the fact that we were in one of the towns whose zoning basically cause us so much pains.

    But how is it different than places like Philadelphia. I think of parts outside the city like Montgomery County and they're not much more dense than Weston, Lincoln or Dover. And again it gets worse as you get further west.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    There is less traffic (especially on the cul-de-saq) and less people---therefore safer.

    It takes people a while to acclimate to living in an urban area. It takes people a while to trust the random person walking through the neighborhood. .
    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Also safety wlaking and driving around, not worrying about kids walking down the street or to the park or worrying about making a wrong turn down the wrong neighborhood.
    Quote Originally posted by rdaman View post
    If the question is regarding a city in the U.S., then I would say that safety would be the #1 factor. [snip]

    I grew up in San Francisco and we moved out when I was 7 years old. It was too cold, no back yard and safety was a concern as well.
    Many people have mentioned safety, but it seems that only boiker has clarified that safety can cover both traffic safety and stranger danger. i.e. whether or not you'd let your child walk to school or not will be partly based on how safe you believe the neighbourhood is crime-wise, but also whether you think they will be safe from vehicle traffic. Just wanted to tease that one out a little as people often mention safety without clarifying what they mean by it, and this is important because the different types have different implications for design.

    I agree with a lot of the ealier comments about what makes a family-friendly city. I also think if you wanted to do a "recruiting drive" to attract families, you could invest in a high-profile, high visibility, innovative new park and/or interactive museum for kids, and get them involved in designing it (and publicise their involvement). If visitors to the city can see lots of kids enjoying this fab new facility, i think it would help persuade them that children are an important and valued part of the city. Of course you have to get all the other stuff right too - housing, schooling etc!

  4. #29
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kanben View post
    But how is it different than places like Philadelphia. I think of parts outside the city like Montgomery County and they're not much more dense than Weston, Lincoln or Dover. And again it gets worse as you get further west.
    MontCo, close in, is mostly dense railroad suburbs. In general, the Philly suburbs inside 276/476 are dense and relatively walkable. Even the post-war 'burbs.

    I left planning to work in development and it's crazy how many real estate agents are leaving their suburban offices for the city - even though they still live out there. Twice in the last week two different agents held up a flyer for different "McMansion subdivisions" in the 'burbs and said pretty much the same thing. "Look how desperate they are! $10k selling bonus!? Too bad no one is buying that crap anymore."

    Suburban building started in earnest in the roaring 20's but didn't get into full gear until the 50's. It took about 40 years from that point for most cities to empty out and for the tide to reverse. I'm not suggesting that the suburbs are going to empty out but I think in another 10 years it will be much more clear that the suburbs have lost cachet.

    It should be quite clear to anyone living in Boston, DC, Philly, and even NYC that most immigrants head straight for the suburbs and the inner city ghettos are shifting to big suburban apartment complexes. It's too expensive for poor people to live in all but the most isolated central city neighborhoods. Such is not entirely the case in Philly but it's certainly becoming that way quickly.

    And that's to say nothing about the price of gas.

    So to me it's not so much - "how do you attract families?" but how are families going to attract each other. They're already here and more arrive everyday. They're already planting their flags and demanding better services. The political status quo here has been trying very hard to provide just enough services to stabilize the middle-class but not improve them enough to attract them in droves . . . all in an attempt to preserve their constituency. It's not working as well as they had hoped.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  5. #30
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AubieTurtle View post
    Most cities already have many families with children under 15, they're called minorities and the poor.
    Cities also contain many wealthy families with children who send their children to private schools. What's missing is a broadbase of middle class, predominately white families with children -- the people who have moved out to the suburbs in the last generation or 2 or even 3 to find newer, affordable housing in safer neighborhoods with better schools.

    Building parks and other "child-friendly" amenities does nothing to attract families unless urban public schools can somehow be "fixed". Even a huge differential between housing costs in residential city neighborhoods and nearby suburbs based on the prices of homes and property taxes isn't enough to lure suburbanites back to the city when the schools are viewed as "bad".

    Buffalo, NY is a case in point. Its schools, except for some selective high schools, have a reputation poor performance and disruption, and more recently, of growing violence that has even spilled over into some of the selective high schools. In a city with a minority population of about 37%, more than half the students in the public schools are minority. With the recent bad publicity, the chances of attracting white families with children to move into the city are slim and none.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Unless you're in Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, LA or New York you're not leaving the city in search of affordable housing. The affordable housing is in the city.

    Families with kids, of all colors, make up only 25% of households. Middle-class families don't make or break cities anymore. I think that's what the thread is about, how do you get parents to raise the next generation of city-dwellers in the city when cities aren't the most accomodating places to raise kids.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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