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Thread: Sprawl Agenda 21?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Sprawl Agenda 21?

    Spot-on article on a NYT blog, quoting Michigan's very own L. Brooks Patterson:

    “Sprawl … It’s the American dream unfolding before your eyes.”

    That’s L. Brooks Patterson’s irresistible description of sprawl, proving yet again how masterful the stalwarts of the status quo are at messaging that which they hope to preserve in amber.

    In a speech to his constituents earlier this year, Patterson, the county executive of Oakland County, Mich., continued to wax poetic on the topic: “I love sprawl. I need it. I promote it. Oakland County can’t get enough of it. Are you getting the picture? Sprawl is not evil. In fact, it is good … [it] is new jobs, new hope and the fulfillment of lifelong dreams.”
    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com...ream-phase-ii/

    Some information about Oakland County: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oakland_County,_MI

    Contrast Patterson's remarks with the following (I think this article has already been discussed on Cyburbia):

    Soul-Crushing Sprawl Killing Business
    http://rustwire.com/2011/03/11/michi...iving-us-away/

    We’d like to stay in Michigan, but we have a problem. It’s not taxes or regulations. There’s lots of talk about these issues but they have no impact on our business. We spend more on copiers and toner than we do on state taxes.

    Our problem is access to talent. We have high-paying positions open for patent attorneys in the software and semiconductor space. Even though it is one of the best hiring environments for IP firms in 40 years, we cannot fill these positions. Most qualified candidates live out of state and simply will not move here, even though they are willing to relocate to other cities. Our recruiters are very blunt. They say it is almost impossible to recruit to Michigan without paying big premiums above competitive salaries on the coasts.

    It’s nearly a certainty that we will have to relocate (or at a minimum expand ) our business out of Michigan if we want to grow. People – particularly affluent and educated people – just don’t want to live here.

    There’s a simple reason why many people don’t want to live here: it’s an unpleasant place because most of it is visually unattractive and because it is lacking in quality living options other than tract suburbia. Some might call this poor “quality of life.” A better term might be poor “quality of place.” In Metro Detroit, we have built a very bad physical place. We don’t have charming, vibrant cities and we don’t have open space.
    There you have it - two contrasting visions of what Michigan's (America's) communities can be like.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wannaplan? View post
    Spot-on article on a NYT blog, quoting Michigan's very own L. Brooks Patterson:



    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com...ream-phase-ii/

    Some information about Oakland County: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oakland_County,_MI

    Contrast Patterson's remarks with the following (I think this article has already been discussed on Cyburbia):

    Soul-Crushing Sprawl Killing Business
    http://rustwire.com/2011/03/11/michi...iving-us-away/



    There you have it - two contrasting visions of what Michigan's (America's) communities can be like.
    I like Patterson's take in that sprawl is good in the sense that it means economic development/job growth. As for the other opinion, revitalizing urban areas is largely a failed idea and a waste of resources unless there is market demand to locate housing and employment there. Some places are just lost causes, as sad as it is to admit.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I like Patterson's take in that sprawl is good in the sense that it means economic development/job growth. As for the other opinion, revitalizing urban areas is largely a failed idea and a waste of resources unless there is market demand to locate housing and employment there. Some places are just lost causes, as sad as it is to admit.
    But sprawl's contribution to jobs and economic growth is, generally speaking, more short term and certainly not sustainable. As housing takes up larger amounts of land, municipalities must continue to derive more and more revenue to maintain roads, fire/police services, schools, utilities, etc. Property taxes from these new homes are a fraction of the one or two life cycle costs associated with maintaining the infrastructure for these areas. Problem is, most politicians who promote these short term gains are looking primarily for the next election cycle and not at the long term economic health of the community. This is another advantage of encouraging infill within the existing developed area - it doesn't extend municipal costs beyond what can be sustained through tax revenue (or at least gets closer to that sustainable level). But I agree that in some places, these areas are not viable for development, present a tricky cart-and-horse dilemma.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I like Patterson's take in that sprawl is good in the sense that it means economic development/job growth.
    Except for the law firm trying to recruit new employees. Troy is in Oakland County.


    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    But sprawl's contribution to jobs and economic growth is, generally speaking, more short term and certainly not sustainable.
    Watch out, isn't "sustainable" a code word for "European Socialism Comes to America Depriving Us of Life and Liberty" (ESCA DULL)? Actually, all joking aside, and perhaps more meaningful to America's pocketbooks and wallets as we have Dinner Table Discussions, is that gas and energy prices - if they continue to increase in the long term - may take more out of our paychecks and continue to raid our income with hidden taxes that are meant to keep roads upgraded and in useful condition for automobiles.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    But sprawl's contribution to jobs and economic growth is, generally speaking, more short term and certainly not sustainable. As housing takes up larger amounts of land, municipalities must continue to derive more and more revenue to maintain roads, fire/police services, schools, utilities, etc. Property taxes from these new homes are a fraction of the one or two life cycle costs associated with maintaining the infrastructure for these areas. Problem is, most politicians who promote these short term gains are looking primarily for the next election cycle and not at the long term economic health of the community. This is another advantage of encouraging infill within the existing developed area - it doesn't extend municipal costs beyond what can be sustained through tax revenue (or at least gets closer to that sustainable level). But I agree that in some places, these areas are not viable for development, present a tricky cart-and-horse dilemma.
    As long as housing follows jobs I think it is counter-productive to restrict growth in the suburbs. When you have most of the office space in metropolitan regions scattered in clusters of less than 5 million square feet or so, and without access to public transit, suburban development becomes the dominant paradigm. That's just how it is. For the most part, companies (employers) don't want to be in the central cities and prefer the suburbs. As for the relative fiscal impacts, I don't give much creedence to the idea that suburban development is a big drain on municipal costs and that these costs can't be adequately recovered in the form of new tax revenues. Compare suburban jurisdictions to the older cities and it's usually not even close: the cities have much bigger budget shortfalls from the lack of growth/investment than the suburban cities/towns have from building new roads/infrastructure/public facilities to accomodate growth.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    The quote used is very old. Patterson knows better these days. After seeing many jobs flee and being stuck with several unfinished major developments, he is whistling a different tune now.

    I saw him give a speech last year where he talked about how important it is to prop up his surrounding counties as if they file for bankruptcy it is going to impact his ability to get money in the bond market.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    As long as housing follows jobs I think it is counter-productive to restrict growth in the suburbs. ... than the suburban cities/towns have from building new roads/infrastructure/public facilities to accomodate growth.
    This sounds - pardon me - very shortsighted. When cheap energy goes away, there will be many sad people living in obsolete auto dependency. And "restricting" growth in the suburbs is one thing, but I can't say I've ever seen or heard of it.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    This sounds - pardon me - very shortsighted. When cheap energy goes away, there will be many sad people living in obsolete auto dependency. And "restricting" growth in the suburbs is one thing, but I can't say I've ever seen or heard of it.
    As for the scarcity of energy, I guess I'm more optimistic that technology will mitigate this. If you look at the past decade or so we've already come a long way in terms of fuel efficiency, and electric engine technology is still in its infancy.

    You've never heard of growth management? If the regional planners had their way growth would definitely be restricted in the suburbs through urban growth boundaries and the like. Massachusetts is developing regional "smart growth" plans in order to place a higher priority on built-up/urban areas for state infrastructure investment. Trouble is, the tech companies that drive the state economy don't want to be in the urban locations. They want easy access from the highway in suburban locations.

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

    You've never heard of growth management? If the regional planners had their way growth would definitely be restricted in the suburbs through urban growth boundaries and the like. Massachusetts is developing regional "smart growth" plans in order to place a higher priority on built-up/urban areas for state infrastructure investment. Trouble is, the tech companies that drive the state economy don't want to be in the urban locations. They want easy access from the highway in suburban locations.
    I used to practice in WA state. We never 'restricted' "growth" within the UGB, unless by 'restricted' you mean 'they wouldn't let me build my McMansion on a half-acre!!'

    And the growth outside of the boundary was almost as pronounced as in it. But I take your point that in your area it isn't happening yet either, only wished for.
    -------
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