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Thread: Perfect suburbs?

  1. #1
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Perfect suburbs?

    It seems that CNBC thinks that there are perfect suburbs....

    http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/me...t-suburbs.html

    The analysts used their bank of databases to find the suburbs with the best mix of affordable housing, good schools, educated neighbors, low crime, employment, and reasonable commutes.
    They found metro areas with over 1million pop and took the "best" suburb.

    They all seem nice... Edmond, Oklahoma is #1. T.O. you have any comment on Edmond? The list seems to favor Virginia. Interesting.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I was interested to see how many of the suburbs were out west and there was only one, which wasn't a big surprise. The suburbs in the west have long been the whipping boys of urban designers, particularly those from the east.

    What was a big surprise was that the only western suburb was Morgan, Utah. I know Morgan well having done a lot of land planning there and in Morgan County. Morgan is a sleepy little town on Interstate 84 -- which is a connector between I-15 and I-80 --, that is the county seat for a very rural county. What kind of microscope did they need to use to even find Morgan on a map. Even in Utah there are much better suburbs than Morgan and I am familiar enough with Washington, Colorado, Oregon and California to know that there are much better suburbs to live in there than in Morgan.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    That methodology seems rather simplistic to say the least. Sure, all those things are considered desirable but I don't think they alone make a great suburb. Like I think a suburb that actually establishes a sense of place is much more desirable to live in than one that has not. I'm sure many of these the suburbs listed are nearly indistinguishable from adjacent ones. Then what of other amenities beyond just schools?

    This list looks more like the statistically best suburbs rather than actually being the best. Of course "best" and "perfect" are entirely subjective.
    Last edited by Blide; 08 Sep 2011 at 12:57 PM.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I don't like Edmond - the people are stuck up and embody just about every negative stereotype of a large, affluent suburban city.

    Here's a link from an "obscure, local social blog" about the "Worst OKC Suburbs": http://www.thelostogle.com/2011/09/0...of-okc-suburb/.

    Their comments about Edmond:
    If you’re an affluent white person with smiley kids, golden retrievers and a fondness for traffic, Edmond would be your type of town…in 1996. Sure, a bunch of doctors, lawyers, dentists and energy company executives still call the suburb home, but more and more of these people are moving to areas like Deer Creek or Guthrie or far Northeast Oklahoma City. It’s like Edmond has become an upper-middle class purgatory for white people. Unless, of course, you are a student [The University of Central Oklahoma, the state's 3rd largest public university after OU and OSU, is located there] or live near the railroad tracks. Then you are just poor.
    Analogous cities across the U.S., in relation to their respective metro areas:
    Plano, TX
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Irvine, CA
    Boca Raton, FL
    White Plains, NY
    Georgetown, TX
    Evanston, IL
    Auburn Hills, MI
    Lakewood, OH

  5. #5
    The methodology says, "The analysts used their bank of databases ..."

    Do you suppose that means a 1960s era computer room with rows of mainframes with whirling tape drives? Maybe men in white coats monitoring the results while cracking their knuckles, piles of boxes of punch cards on the floor...

    Seriously, they seem to have weird methodology. The suburbs I am familiar with are distant with hellish commutes.

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Lakewood, OH
    Lakewood? Uhhhh ...probably not. It's a pre-WWII inner-ring suburb with a very large gay population. Lakewood is predominantly middle-class, with some areas that are very well-off, and others that have seen better days. For the Michiganders, Lakewood is more analogous to Ferndale.

    Westlake, Strongsville or Solon, maybe.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    I'm not sure I'd list Irvine, CA as a suburb, either. That's a city - the only thing it lacks is a downtown, but that's par for the course throughout most of Orange County.

    Irvine actually serves as an employment hub for much of south Orange County, which would be considered suburbia. Heck, they even have a university...
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by tarf12345678 View post
    I'm not sure I'd list Irvine, CA as a suburb, either. That's a city - the only thing it lacks is a downtown, but that's par for the course throughout most of Orange County.

    Irvine actually serves as an employment hub for much of south Orange County, which would be considered suburbia. Heck, they even have a university...
    When compared to the rest of the Country Orange County has a lot going for it planning-wise. My sister Moved to Aliso Viejo a few years back. My first trip out there was very eye-opening. While suburban, the schlock that passes the mustard in most of America is not found in Orange County. The only thing I thought was odd about the County were the U-turns at traffic lights.

    I'd consider nearly everything in Orange to be suburban in nature. Even Santa Ana.

    TexanOakie, does anyone actually live in Auburn Hills? I only know it for Chrysler and malls.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    I'd consider nearly everything in Orange to be suburban in nature. Even Santa Ana..

    There's certainly an argument to be made for that - which is why we San Diegans HATE Orange County (San Diego has an actual downtown, after all - heck, even my rinky dink little Encinitas has a downtown, though Encinitas is no doubt a suburb of San Diego).

    But within the context of Orange County itself, I still would argue that, based on the diversity of land uses and availability of employment opportunities, Irvine is not a "suburb." Aliso Viejo and every city in southern Orange County most certainly is, however.
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  10. #10
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    When compared to the rest of the Country Orange County has a lot going for it planning-wise. My sister Moved to Aliso Viejo a few years back. My first trip out there was very eye-opening. While suburban, the schlock that passes the mustard in most of America is not found in Orange County. The only thing I thought was odd about the County were the U-turns at traffic lights.

    I'd consider nearly everything in Orange to be suburban in nature. Even Santa Ana.

    TexanOakie, does anyone actually live in Auburn Hills? I only know it for Chrysler and malls.
    Auburn + Rochester Hills, then. Mixture of upscale suburban and exurban housing, a major mall, a mid-major university, preponderance of celebrity domiciles, and a place where new-money folks like to flock when they first can afford the nicer things in life.

    Dan - I was going more for the "Gold Coast"-like atmosphere on the western Lake Erie shore. Guess I don't know enough about Cleveland to make the comparison. I stand by the others, though, with the addition noted.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Was that the best photo they could find of Kensington?

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Dan - I was going more for the "Gold Coast"-like atmosphere on the western Lake Erie shore. Guess I don't know enough about Cleveland to make the comparison. I stand by the others, though, with the addition noted.
    If you're looking for that upper-middle class lakefront kind of environment, Rocky River, Bay Village and Avon Lake are probably the closest matches. If you want to sound like a Cleveland insider, call them "Rocky" and "Bay". A certain crowd is on a first-name relationship with Cleveland's well-off two-word-name suburbs. Saying you live in Shaker Heights or Pepper Pike is très gauche. It's Shaker, Pepper, Hunting, Moreland, Chagrin, or Gates.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Ironic that, as Louisville, CO was the best small town in the entire U.S. to live in in 2010, and it is a suburb of Denver (as well as of Boulder), that it's not on the list!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by docwatson View post
    Ironic that, as Louisville, CO was the best small town in the entire U.S. to live in in 2010, and it is a suburb of Denver (as well as of Boulder), that it's not on the list!
    They must have factored in regional unemployment and the university system.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Probably some sort of technically since Louisville could be considered a suburb of Boulder instead of Denver as you mentioned. All the suburbs near Boulder (Louisville, Broomfield, and Superior) are all really nice and I'm honestly surprised none of them made the list.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Interestingly, they are basing their ratings on statistics! What makes makes one a better suburb than another by planning techiques and results?

    What would be your criteria for judging quality of suburb community by planning techniques and results?

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Those criteria are pretty arbitrary though. I'm not saying they shouldn't be considerations but they seem more dependent on luck than anything the communities have done or haven't done. There are so many additional metrics they could have looked at but they couldn't be derived by simply looking at census data. Completely discounting any of the suburb's amenities (minus schools) or their actual built environment seems to be doing a disservice to those that actually tried to set themselves apart.

    This list tells me nothing as to whether these places fall into the generic suburb category or not. Any suburb that manages to develop a unique sense of place I think should be commended on that.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    Those criteria are pretty arbitrary though. .
    WEll, if the article is to be believed, all the things planners try to achieve:
    affordable housing, good schools, educated neighbors, low crime, employment, and reasonable commutes
    are pretty arbitrary. Darn.

    I do agree on the Louisville et al observation, but these towns were chosen using unemployment as well. That's why towns up there don't make the list.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    That would imply that there’s a one size fits all for suburbs. I don’t disagree that the criteria listed could definitely make for a good suburb but suburbs often do have differing priorities. Like it really seems arbitrary to me to say an educated white collar suburb is somehow superior to a blue collar one or that a bedroom community is not as desirable.

    I guess what’s bugging me here is I view suburbs as being part of a whole, not necessarily a standalone entity. This particular list even ignores anything that helps these suburbs establish a unique sense of place.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I am not surprised that they used “best mix of affordable housing, good schools, educated neighbors, low crime, employment, and reasonable commutes” as the standards. After all, isn’t that what the majority of families look for in determining where they can live?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  21. #21
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    That would imply that there’s a one size fits all for suburbs. ...This particular list even ignores anything that helps these suburbs establish a unique sense of place.
    Every single list that ever comes out ranking anything has the same issues. This particular list - with the criteria mentioned several times now - certainly falls under the large part of the curve. It probably explains a lot of the variance.

  22. #22
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Well that was short lived... now suburbs are in decline....

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/The-Be...25650.html?x=0

    Really a boring piece by the Atlantic but there are some reasonable points...
    Taken together, the end of growth in residential electricity consumption and vehicle miles traveled form a momentous signal.
    Can we really assume that suburbs are dead based on utility use and commutes? Good headline, no real substance to the article though.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  23. #23
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post

    Can we really assume that suburbs are dead based on utility use and commutes? Good headline, no real substance to the article though.
    Data points being actual substance notwithstanding, those doing long-range planning look for such indicators. Personally gas going over 5/gal is another indicator similar to the no substance in the article.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    It seems that CNBC thinks that there are perfect suburbs....

    http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/me...t-suburbs.html



    They found metro areas with over 1million pop and took the "best" suburb.

    They all seem nice... Edmond, Oklahoma is #1. T.O. you have any comment on Edmond? The list seems to favor Virginia. Interesting.
    By factoring in the unemployment rate, they effectively eliminated suburbs in Florida, California, and Arizona from the equation. They probably eliminated many other suburbs in some of the other big metros like NYC, Philly, Chicago, Seattle, etc. by using the unemployment criteria, too, and using unemployment rate as a criteria automatically favors the suburbs of state and national capitals and college towns because these traditionally do better in hard times than many other places.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    It's interesting to contrast this list with CNN Money's Best Places to Live 2011 list. Admittedly not all those listed are suburbs but many are. Louisville, CO tops this particular list frequently.

    It looks like the CNN Money one is so different because it factored in quite a few more criteria than the CNBC one, most notably quality of life things.

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