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Thread: Philosophical Friday - suburbs

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Philosophical Friday - suburbs

    Have suburbs created poverty, or has poverty just taken longer to get to the suburbs?

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/23/news....htm?iid=HP_LN

    Gentrification caused suburbs to boom and inner urban areas to die. Now suburbs are dying.

    What causes poverty? Lost opportunity? Or lost ambition? Or lack of motivation? Or could it be caused by the built environment?
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    Have suburbs created poverty, or has poverty just taken longer to get to the suburbs?

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/23/news....htm?iid=HP_LN

    Gentrification caused suburbs to boom and inner urban areas to die. Now suburbs are dying.

    What causes poverty? Lost opportunity? Or lost ambition? Or lack of motivation? Or could it be caused by the built environment?
    The old chicken or the egg. Well I believe the suburbs created poverty and this is why. So when people moved out of the cities and into the suburbs, they, along with others in the middle class and up were the only ones who could afford to move, buy a house, a car, etc. And if you could afford that, and all your peer were moving the suburbs, why wouldn't you? Now that generation that caused urban renewal is no longer in charge, people are realizing that cites are great and its ok if there is a little diversity.

    Not everyone comes from the city though, my parents both grew up in small towns, which were fairly rural and their parents were farmers. So moving to the suburbs was a way to live near a city, but not in a city.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Suburbs don't create poverty, wealth creates poverty. All suburbs did was change the distribution and concentration.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    Have suburbs created poverty, or has poverty just taken longer to get to the suburbs?

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/23/news....htm?iid=HP_LN

    Gentrification caused suburbs to boom and inner urban areas to die. Now suburbs are dying.

    What causes poverty? Lost opportunity? Or lost ambition? Or lack of motivation? Or could it be caused by the built environment?
    The bolded is the wrong term for what you intend. "Flight" and "Disinvestment" or even "A rapidly expanding industrial economy/Wartime consumer restrictions coupled with high savings rates/20 years of no new construction/Severely outdated pervasive inadequate house infrastructure caused the suburbs for all, relatively speaking.

    The suburbs for all are at the age now that, in certain areas, they are not "new" and are on the fully depreciated/3+ owner cycle that the urban neighborhoods people abandoned 40-60 years ago were at.

    Remember, the urban "ghetto" neighborhood was once the shiny new desirable place to be/live.

    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    Suburbs don't create poverty, wealth creates poverty. All suburbs did was change the distribution and concentration.
    It's absolutely true that with age comes wisdom**

    Also, rural areas harbor a ton of poverty too. ACtually, in my experience being rural poor is much worse than urban poor. At least in the "City" you have much better access to income/jobs/public transportation.



    *at least more often than not
    Last edited by mendelman; 23 Sep 2011 at 3:04 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I don't believe wealth creates poverty. Our monetary system is not set with X dollars and that's all there is to be shared. Our supply grows as our population grows - that's why in the 1950's we experienced a net boom and not a boom for half the population and an equal bust for the other 50%.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Looks like its all those southern right leaning states to me.

    First tier suburbs are in a real pickle. These don't have the tax base they once had when they were growing. Like the cities they surround each is landlocked and the opportunities for new development are limited. Unlike the central cities, they also suffer from smaller overall budgets so while a large central city can at least put up band-aids and fix some pieces of failing infrastructure, these first tier suburbs cannot.

    This governmental disinvestment can lead to policies that drive more business away from them. In order to attract, rents fall and those wanting to flee central cities are filling these suburbs not realizing that they are jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I don't believe wealth creates poverty. Our monetary system is not set with X dollars and that's all there is to be shared. Our supply grows as our population grows - that's why in the 1950's we experienced a net boom and not a boom for half the population and an equal bust for the other 50%.
    I know that wealth creates poverty is an over simplification. It's doesn't matter that the amount changes, it's the relative proportions of have-more vs. have-less that define wealth and poverty. I still maintain that suburbs are/were a symptom, not a cause.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I don't believe wealth creates poverty. Our monetary system is not set with X dollars and that's all there is to be shared. Our supply grows as our population grows - .
    Money isn't created magically (Wall St nothwithstanding). It is created by exploiting finite resources and fashioning them into something.

    The distribution of money in this country has been upward for the last 30 years or so. We saw several articles in the past couple weeks detailing many retailers are re-working their marketing, eschewing the middle class and instead concentrating like an hourglass - to the upper and lower classes only - an indicator of the wealth redistribution.

    So. In a nutshell: we know wages are shrinking. We know wealth is concentrating upward. We know capital flight to cheaper wages overseas. Bubbles and now inadequate response has depressed demand. I have no idea how one can claim suburbia is a causative factor, but is rather an indicator of the shrinking middle class. As Tyler Cowen said recently: 'we thought we were richer than we were'.

    This IMHO explains much of the expansion of poverty in this country (and some others). The underlying percentage of population in fixed poverty is something else altogether.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    There have always been suburbs and there has always been poverty, and I don't mean just in the US or just in the modern era (ie, since 1500), but ever since people stopped being totally dependent upon hunting/gathering/raising their own food and started living in population centers to earn their livelihoods by commerce and artisanship.

    How do you think cities grew from a few mud and wattle huts to huge metropolises? Think ancient Rome. Think medieval Paris or London.

    In the late 19th and early 20th century, the central parts of most eastern and midwestern cities were filled with filthy, crowded, crime-infested slums that people fled as soon as they could afford to do so. Since most American cities still had considerable amounts of buildable land, those people stayed within the city limits but their migration out of the central cities was exactly the same kind of thing that happened after WW II. The only difference was that after WW II, more people moved beyond the city limits because there wasn't enough buildable land inside the cities, especially in states, like New York, where annexation was prohibited.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    First tier suburbs are in a real pickle. .
    My personal view is that maybe this is changing. Think of Denver.. or San Diego. The infill redevelopment of the inner ring is practically the only thing going on in those two cities right now. They are denser, more transit accessible, already have infrastructure that municipalities don't have to force developers to build for them, and they have the programs and tax base that go with being part of the larger city (as opposed to a suburban municipality). They also offer some of the benefits of "suburbia" while still feeling "urban" to the younger families who want live in a 'burb but still have a hip urban lifestyle.

    The outer suburban rings in San Diego are essentially dead. 50%+ declines in property values, nobody can afford the gas to commute 30+ miles into the center each day, and their schools are no longer a differentiator since the state and the increasingly fiscally constrained munies out there have been forced to slash programs and school funding into oblivion. There was a time not too many years ago when people would be willing to sell their limbs to live in some of those outer burbs just so their kids could go to the local schools. Now, with class sizes in outlying areas pushing 35-40+, after mass teacher layoffs, the vast inner city SDCS isn't looking that bad anymore. And for those who can afford it, who cares about the local schools if you feel you have to send your kids to private schools anyway. And the private schools are all in the city and the inner ring. Many a planning consultant working for these strapped burbs have been asked to run future growth projections for new subdivisions based on "zero children" assumptions. Asked how they intend to keep kids from moving in, the municipal officials just shrug. They have no clue. All they know is that they absolutely cannot afford to issue building permits if children comes with the homes associated with them.

    The outer burbs have finally realized that, without vast state subsidies, they're financially unviable as going concerns, with residential-only tax bases incapable of supporting public services. Now that those subsidies are long gone, some of them are quickly becoming the new ghettos. They're shutting down schools, ending police protection, consolidating fire stations, in some cases firing virtually their ENTIRE city staffs. Roads are going unmaintained, capital highway-building projects are cancelled or postponed, the landscaping is going untended, graffiti is going unremoved, and crime is going up. To give you an idea of how bad things are, between 2007 and 2011, San Diego's estimated metro population increased by the same absolute amount of people as the city proper... in other words, the city absorbed virtually all of the (net) growth, and almost all of that growth was absorbed into the core neighborhoods (defined as centre city neighborhoods + the inner ring suburbs).

    Outer ring suburbs only work if somebody else pays their bills or when their entirely residential ad valorem tax base is inflated by a property bubble. Without such a bubble.. or massive infrastructure and public employment subsidies, single-use residential doesn't pay for much at anything short of penurious tax rates. Therefore, when the gravy train stops, such places fail, victims of their location and their historical NIMBYistic desire to bar virtually all land-use diversity.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 24 Sep 2011 at 2:14 AM.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post

    The outer suburban rings in San Diego are essentially dead. 50%+ declines in property values, nobody can afford the gas to commute 30+ miles into the center each day, and their schools are no longer a differentiator since the state and the increasingly fiscally constrained munies out there have been forced to slash programs and school funding into oblivion. There was a time not too many years ago when people would be willing to sell their limbs to live in some of those outer burbs just so their kids could go to the local schools. Now, with class sizes in outlying areas pushing 35-40+, after mass teacher layoffs, the vast inner city SDCS isn't looking that bad anymore. And for those who can afford it, who cares about the local schools if you feel you have to send your kids to private schools anyway. And the private schools are all in the city and the inner ring. Many a planning consultant working for these strapped burbs have been asked to run future growth projections for new subdivisions based on "zero children" assumptions. Asked how they intend to keep kids from moving in, the municipal officials just shrug. They have no clue. All they know is that they absolutely cannot afford to issue building permits if children comes with the homes associated with them.
    You are describing why I left almost a decade ago. You could see it coming. In one of my previous fair cities (not in CA), when I'd send a subdivsion app to the school district for comment, they were nice enough to explicitly state that they won't be able to take the kids that come with the houses, so thanks but no thanks. IOW: not just in CA do we see similar. CA just is the early adopter.

    But the thing I wanted to pull out was the teacher layoffs and the subsequent decline in the neighborhood. These two things are mutually reinforcing and speed up decline. And this we see everywhere too. And CA is the early adopter. You can see it coming, folks.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    California is a bit...unique. It's a f*cked up state for many, many reasons and what you see happening in exurbia California shouldn't be applied across the US just as how the energy bust in Texas in the 1980s that nearly wiped out many suburban jurisdictions couldn't be used as a case study against the rest of the US at the time.

    As far as I can tell, East Coast suburbia from Atlanta to Boston seems to be doing just fine and dandy. Sure, many jurisdictions are tightening belts and experiencing some layoffs of teachers and civil servants, but the schools aren't collapsing and neighborhoods aren't turning into slums. I imagine that can also be said for most of the flyover suburbia.



    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    You are describing why I left almost a decade ago. You could see it coming. In one of my previous fair cities (not in CA), when I'd send a subdivsion app to the school district for comment, they were nice enough to explicitly state that they won't be able to take the kids that come with the houses, so thanks but no thanks. IOW: not just in CA do we see similar. CA just is the early adopter.

    But the thing I wanted to pull out was the teacher layoffs and the subsequent decline in the neighborhood. These two things are mutually reinforcing and speed up decline. And this we see everywhere too. And CA is the early adopter. You can see it coming, folks.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    Have suburbs created poverty, or has poverty just taken longer to get to the suburbs??
    As Linda pointed out, there have always been suburbs and there have always been poverty. There have always been "poor" suburbs and "industrial" suburbs outside the city centers with a higher concentration of working poor people. The classic suburban stereotype of a detached colonial on a leafy street has nothing to do with poverty or creating poverty just as the robber barons' mansions of 19th century 5th Avenue in New York had nothing to do with the impoverished tenements in the lower east side.

    It's really quite bizarre the way some people treat suburbia as a monolithic concept easily isolated from everything else. A 19th century city had rich, poor and middle class neighborhoods. The 21st century metro region has its rich, poor and middle class areas, and there's plenty of poor people scattered throughout suburban areas.

    If anything, I'd much rather be a "poor" person in modern suburbia than a poor person in a 19th century urban city.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    California is a bit...unique. It's a f*cked up state for many, many reasons and what you see happening in exurbia California shouldn't be applied across the US just as how the energy bust in Texas in the 1980s that nearly wiped out many suburban jurisdictions couldn't be used as a case study against the rest of the US at the time.

    As far as I can tell, East Coast suburbia from Atlanta to Boston seems to be doing just fine and dandy. Sure, many jurisdictions are tightening belts and experiencing some layoffs of teachers and civil servants, but the schools aren't collapsing and neighborhoods aren't turning into slums. I imagine that can also be said for most of the flyover suburbia.
    From what I've seen of Upstate NY, western PA and northern Ohio, this seems to be quite true. Of course, in most of the eastern US, the exurbs and the second ring suburbs were and remain mostly populated by upper income and upper middle income people rather than middle income people seeking cheaper housing. There are some people who commute into NYC from as far north as Hudson, NY but that's the exception not the rule in most of the eastern US and much of the older parts of the Midwest.

    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    As Linda pointed out, there have always been suburbs and there have always been poverty. There have always been "poor" suburbs and "industrial" suburbs outside the city centers with a higher concentration of working poor people. The classic suburban stereotype of a detached colonial on a leafy street has nothing to do with poverty or creating poverty just as the robber barons' mansions of 19th century 5th Avenue in New York had nothing to do with the impoverished tenements in the lower east side.

    It's really quite bizarre the way some people treat suburbia as a monolithic concept easily isolated from everything else. A 19th century city had rich, poor and middle class neighborhoods. The 21st century metro region has its rich, poor and middle class areas, and there's plenty of poor people scattered throughout suburban areas.

    If anything, I'd much rather be a "poor" person in modern suburbia than a poor person in a 19th century urban city.
    I think that people sometimes get confused because they lack an understanding of local history. They don't realize that many of these "poor exburbs" are actually cities and large towns that existed in their own right prior to the growth of the major city and its suburbs made them part of the bigger city's metro area. They have the problems of cities even though they're technically "suburbs" because they always were cities. Poughkeepsie and Newburgh seem to fit this model. I think that some of the towns around Boston like Revere also fit.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    California is a bit...unique. It's a f*cked up state for many, many reasons and what you see happening in exurbia California shouldn't be applied across the US just as how the energy bust in Texas in the 1980s that nearly wiped out many suburban jurisdictions couldn't be used as a case study against the rest of the US at the time.
    Not just California.. most of the West.

    San Diego's a case in point. There are some very wealthy second ring suburbs (La Jolla, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, etc) - that date back to the 1920s mostly, but then the pickings get very slim beyond that. There's just not going to be a sudden boom of prosperity in Fallbrook, Escondido, Vista, Lakeside, San Marcos or Chula Vista....

    But the point still remains: residential-only development does not, anywhere in the country, sustain sufficient ad valorem taxes. Linda correctly points out that this is not necessarily fatal in New England and Upstate NY, parts of PA, where urban development was dense enough such that many cities expanded to encircle separate standalone and diverse cities. but all you have to do is take a look at NJ to see that this doesn't always work. NJ has A LOT of fiscally divested - and now devastated, suburbs, for exactly the same reason as CA. Their's are a lot worse off than ours, in many respects. hehe.. I remember when I was working on projects in Ocean and Monmouth Counties and was told: "find a way to make sure there are no children. None. And make some of the ones we have go away." One community made me produce a memo speculating on urban design "strategies" to discourage children from moving into new suburban developments. One of the mayors told me make sure the schools bus stops were "in dangerous, obviously inconvenient places." I refused to help him.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 26 Sep 2011 at 12:34 AM.

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    I was told: "find a way to make sure there are no children. None. And make some of the ones we have go away." One community made me produce a memo speculating on urban design "strategies" to discourage children from moving into new suburban developments.
    I don't understand this - aren't your school districts larger than the individual city? Don't they encompass multiple suburbs in one district?

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - our job to to recreate what cities were like before our jobs existed. We are cleaning up our own mess.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I think that Cismontane is correct about residential taxes not being able to support schools. I think that the difference is that most suburban school districts in Upstate NY, at least, encompass significant areas that have either a commercial and/or industrial base. Even many exurban towns have significant commercial components. The really poor school districts tend to be the rural ones where the once flourishing commercial/industrial base has withered away.

    Moreover, in upstate NY, a lot of exurban development is done by individuals building for their own use: families purchasing acres of land and putting up houses. Most of the bigger developments in the last decade in the Buffalo and Rochester areas have been in the outer areas of second ring suburbs, and many cater to empty nesters. Also, most suburban school districts went on a building boom in the 1960s-1970s when enrollments were much higher, so they have excess space for a hundred or so extra kids. The days of overcrowded suburban schools ended about thirty years ago in this area.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    California is a bit...unique. It's a f*cked up state for many, many reasons and what you see happening in exurbia California shouldn't be applied across the US just as how the energy bust in Texas in the 1980s that nearly wiped out many suburban jurisdictions couldn't be used as a case study against the rest of the US at the time.
    .
    I've been all over the west. Its different out here, newer. The school funding isn't quite a Ponzi scheme, but the unsustainability of it all is coming home to roost. I can tell you Colo is making many of the same mistakes CA did. Watching it all over again.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I don't understand this - aren't your school districts larger than the individual city? Don't they encompass multiple suburbs in one district?
    In theory, yes, but even the "unified" districts simply encompass multiple residential areas, often with a bare minimum of industry. Unifying like for like doesn't help anybody.

    The problem is that these suburbs have, due to the massive abuse of single-use zoning (which for decades almost never permitted any development other than 4 homes to an acre punctured by a bare minimum of strip malls), sprawled far beyond their cities' industrial and manufacturing belts. The people there commute 20-30 miles to reach that belt, which itself lies far beyond the central city. Interestingly, one of the strongest suburban school districts outside of San Diego proper is the Power Unified, which just happens to include within its boundaries one of the country's most important manufacturing corridors. It is an extreme exception, and the outer edge of suburban development now extends another 30-40 miles beyond the corridor up the northeast radial, up beyond Temecula in Riverside County. I'm pretty sure there's no major employment centers up that way beyond the numerous big plants in that district's area.

    One big issue has been that, aside from LA and San Francisco's Bay Area, California's cities have never successfully polynucleated. San Diego really only has one viable core supporting a metro area of 3 million, based around a city of 1.2 million, whose core contiguous urban neighborhoods house some 700,000. If you count the Mexican side (which is much denser and more compact), that's core neighborhoods totalling in two distinct - and connected - cores 1.2 million supporting a metro of 4.5 million.

    In theory, these districts should "unify" between urban and suburban areas, laterally along radials, instead of centrifugally and sectorally, but that would mean that brown people would have to be allowed to go to school with lighter-skinned people, and, this being America, clearly that would be unthinkable to the suburbanites. Just look at what's happening in Tennessee and Arkansas now, where fiscal pressures have forced this type of schools unification.. and just look at the conflict and civil unrest that's caused. It's worth pointing out that, in some measure, those single-use zoning laws were, in the first place, a tool designed to prevent the various ethnic demographies from ever having to see one another. The truth is, much of America is designed to prevent just that risk from ever eventualizing.

    Phoenix is even worse.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    It's worth pointing out that, in some measure, those single-use zoning laws were, in the first place, a tool designed to prevent the various ethnic demographies from ever having to see one another. The truth is, much of America is designed to prevent just that risk from ever eventualizing.

    Phoenix is even worse.
    Yeah, and the suburbs created poverty, too.

  21. #21
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    It's worth pointing out that, in some measure, those single-use zoning laws were, in the first place, a tool designed to prevent the various ethnic demographies from ever having to see one another. The truth is, much of America is designed to prevent just that risk from ever eventualizing.
    That's rather hyperbolic and conspiratorial. If anything, it was a very miniscule measure.

    Single use zoning was not a tool designed and wielded by a huge cabal of white racists in 1930. A ton of predominant minority areas are covered with single use zoning.

    Preventing "poor" households might have been a more explicit intention, which we all know has demographic connection to racial minority, but not really depending on local demographics.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    That's rather hyperbolic and conspiratorial. If anything, it was a very miniscule measure.

    Single use zoning was not a tool designed and wielded by a huge cabal of white racists in 1930. A ton of predominant minority areas are covered with single use zoning.

    Preventing "poor" households might have been a more explicit intention, which we all know has demographic connection to racial minority, but not really depending on local demographics.
    This was exactly my point. Why use zoning to keep "coloreds" out when it was perfectly legal to write laws or add restrictive covenants to deeds to do so until the late 1970s at least?

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    Cyburbian
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    I suspect we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg so far. The economic factors that make suburbs viable rely primarily on cheap automobile transportation. When gas is relatively cheap living in a suburb is desirable and thus the demand for suburb homes goes up relative to the supply. This makes them ‘exclusive’ – only the ‘rich’ can live there. As gas prices increase in relation to other costs it is becoming less and less economically desirable to live in a suburb. More and more people are choosing to live in urban areas. The result is the demand for suburban homes drops while the supply remains the same meaning more middle to lower incomes people can afford to live there. At the same time housing prices in the urban centres are going up.

    Another factor is the age of suburbs. Suburban homes built in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s are now considered by many to be outdated. They require a lot of maintenance and renovation. This decreases the price bringing them into the price range of a ‘less exclusive’ segment of society.

    Thirty years ago, if a typical lower middle class family had just barely enough money to buy a home they had to look around the edge of the city centre in the 1920 to 1940’s built neighbourhoods because they couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. Today a typical lower middle class family with just barely enough money to buy a home is more likely to find something in the 1950’s to 1970’s built suburbs and not in the older ‘gentrified’ neighbourhoods.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post

    Another factor is the age of suburbs. Suburban homes built in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s are now considered by many to be outdated. They require a lot of maintenance and renovation. This decreases the price bringing them into the price range of a ‘less exclusive’ segment of society.

    ... Today a typical lower middle class family with just barely enough money to buy a home is more likely to find something in the 1950’s to 1970’s built suburbs and not in the older ‘gentrified’ neighbourhoods.
    Good points, and as capital flees the U.S. in search of lower wages, we have wage depression here. As the middle class gets squeezed (we see more and more evidence of this fact) the vaunted and serious news stories of home prices increasing forever will go away. That means renovation, which is insulation and glazing. There are outfits now, waiting to jump on this. The inner-rings will be desirable again, especially if they are in a decently connected transportation network.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    Good points, and as capital flees the U.S. in search of lower wages, we have wage depression here. As the middle class gets squeezed (we see more and more evidence of this fact) the vaunted and serious news stories of home prices increasing forever will go away. That means renovation, which is insulation and glazing. There are outfits now, waiting to jump on this. The inner-rings will be desirable again, especially if they are in a decently connected transportation network.
    This is already happening in some places, especially in suburban towns that worked very hard to maintain the quality of their housing stock and neighborhood ambiance. The smaller post-WW II homes also work well for smaller families and empty nesters because they are cheaper to heat/cool/etc.

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