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Is New Urbanism Just for the Affluent?

ianplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
22
Points
2
My sense of new urbanism is that it's just for folks who are pretty well off. The developments tend to be more expensive and are in suburban greenfield development areas. We can look at Kentlands, Seaside, and Celebration and pretty much see that an average middle-income family could probably not live in a new urbanist neighborhood. Certainly, as a planner in my stage of his career, I could never afford one of those houses (not that I would want to, but that's another topic for another day). While thinking of the examples I cited above, does anyone out there know where new urbanism is being used to support low-income and affordable housing needs? I would imagine it's rather uncommon since the feasibility of new urbanist projects depend on the higher housing costs. Thanks!
 

planasaurus

Cyburbian
Messages
215
Points
9
It is my understanding that new urbanist developments are generally bult in high income areas. I have not seen any 'Celebrations' in the Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, or the South Side of Chicago. Probably depends on what you consider affluent.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Many low- to moderate-income developments (single-family as well as multi-family) are embracing New Urban principles. The New Urbanism is for both the rich and the poor. It seems only the middle class is stuck with the same old suburbia. Maybe it is a good thing if the middle class is shrinking?
 

Catrin

Cyburbian
Messages
23
Points
2
If it seems that only the well-off can afford new urbanism, it is probably because only the expensive and sexy NU projects make the news. There are also examples of more affordable NU (including a section in Celebration) where the intended affordability was trampled by the DEMAND for this lifestyle....oh what a dilema for developers who find themselves faced with offers far exceeding the price range that they built for!

If you want to truly understand New Urbanism, understand its roots. I live in a small city which was once dominated by a steel mill. The worker's homes and neighborhoods are the models from which new urbanism was born. They are homes for workers who could walk to work and walk to one of the many corner grocers, schools and community centers. The roads were narrow and the streets were lined with street trees; as they still are. The homes in this neighborhood are very affordable today and the neighborhood has remained in fairly good condition.

A few years ago, a developer received some HUD funding to begin an adjacent neighborhood with small look-alike homes, narrow straight streets, and no garages....new urbanism for the low to mod income. The houses went for about $75,000 and they sold like hotcakes. Council members had a fit; said they were building a modern day slum.
But guess what? On a warm summer evening (the evening weather is beautiful in Southern Colorado) you can drive to a suburban neighborhood in a slightly higher price range with in-your-face garages and wide streets with lots of cul-de-sacs and you will not see a breathing soul....are they inside watching TV? Then you can drive to this little affordable NU development (although they don't know that's what they are) and it is full of people talking in the front yards and kids playing. It is so very interesting.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,150
Points
28
Catrin wrote:
If you want to truly understand New Urbanism, understand its roots.
Yes, while understanding that new urbanism comes from so-called "traditional" American neighborhood design, please recognize that today this form of "neighborhood" construction pretty much feeds into the upper-middle class dreams of owning a house that will appreciate immensely. Who can find a 1,200-sf home in Celebration, Kentlands, Orenco Station, or elsewhere for under $200,000?

Ianplanner is right - new urbanist neighborhoods are pretty much for the rich.

Catrin: I have a question for you - Do you think the active socializing in the low-income, "traditional" development you cite was solely attributable to the design of the neighborhood? Or do you think there may have been other reasons why these folks were outside enjoying one another? Like... Was it a sunny day? Were these just friendly people? Was there a bar-be-que? Whatever the reason, I would assert that the closeness of homes, width of streets, and placement of trees has nothing to do with people going out and socializing.

I can think of dozens of so-called "suburban" and "sprawling" neighborhoods in places that I lived where people were out and about socializing. I don't think neighborhood design has anything to do with whether people are socialable or part of a "community." It has to do with individual personalities and their affinity to connect with a diverse range of folks.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
While I agree with Beaner that physical determinism can go too far, design does help make a neighborhood friendlier.
As for the main purpose of the thread: Except for places like Pueblo with low house prices in general,

ALL new developments are going to be expensive-particularly when the financing includes the range of amenities often provided in New Urbanist communities. Alleys and back-loaded garages are more expensive.

Maybe this is a California perspective, but without subsidies, no new development will be "affordable."
 

adaptor

Member
Messages
123
Points
6
old is new again

Catrin wrote:
If it seems that only the well-off can afford new urbanism, it is probably because only the expensive and sexy NU projects make the news. There are also examples of more affordable NU
Since planasauras mentioned Cleveland (not a hotbed of cutting edge urban planning) I thought I'd point out some urban redevelopment with new urbanist credibility:

1. Rather than supporting urban sprawl, Cleveland has embraced the spirit of "New Urbanism." New Urbanism is an offshoot of the smart growth movement that maintains that planned development should respect natural resources, preserve open green spaces and remain financially sound in the long term.
Ohio City has become the model of New Urbanism. Built in a "city-square" pattern, the area also contains walkways providing pedestrian access to every area and a substantial common "open green" center with ample landscaping and benches. The objective is to provide a walkable community-where residents can shop, live and work without ever having to get behind the wheel and congest roadways or pump exhaust fumes into the atmosphere.
Tremont, originally settled by Eastern Europeans, Appalachians, Greeks, Polish and African-Americans, Tremont is one of Cleveland's oldest neighborhoods with architectural gems evoking its rich cultural heritage.

http://www.livableamerica.com


2. We've heard how people have been leaving the cities in northeastern Ohio for the suburbs. Most will say they moved for a better quality of life, but a growing number of critics are pointing out problems with the suburbs. Most notably, they argue that suburbs were designed for the automobile, not for people. These so-called "neo-traditionalists" have been designing neighborhoods to resemble old fashion small towns that promise a greater sense of community. A group in Cleveland is hoping to revive just such a place in hopes of bringing people back to the city. WKSU's Mark Urycki has part five in our series on urban sprawl

http://www.wksu.org/news/stories/sprawl/

3. THE CENTRAL NEIGHBORHOOD
Cleveland, OH USA
Location in Town: Between E 36th and E 38th, Central Ave and Community
Acres: 26.5
Residential Unit Size: 1,300-1,350 sq ft

http://www.cnu.org/about/index.cfm

These examples are not green field Disneyfication projects and may not get the kind of ink the high end projects do, but clearly the people who define the term new urbanism embrace central city redevelopment as part of their aesthetic.
 

Catrin

Cyburbian
Messages
23
Points
2
Beaner,
Regarding the neighborhood. It was not an accident. I was actually monitoring 5 different neighborhoods over two weeks for an unrelated issue. (I wanted to prove to the traffic engineer that in neighborhoods without two offstreet parking places, the streets do not fill up and gridlock the neighborhoods). Anyway, I visited all five at the same time in the morning, afternoon, and evening on two occasions. No mistake…..I do think that not having a garage forces people to walk outside from their car to the front door and run into neighbors…..personally, I would miss not having a garage…..but wasn't the issue that these neighborhoods are only for the rich? Excuse my sarcasm, but when did the mini castle at the end of the cul-de-sac with the paved front yard accommodating the 3-car garage become…bourgeoisie?

New urbanism can be low income (isn't the new Cabrini Green NU?), middle income, or Seaside; same with conventional development. It can be infill or greenfield. Rustbelt gave some very good definitions of the walkability goals….Maybe we should not argue the clientele and instead list what we like about conventional vs. new urbanism.

My favorite? New urbanism encourages apartments above garages.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,150
Points
28
Catrin,

Perhaps you are right... traditional neighborhoods are not neccessarily for the rich.

But a good planner will recognize when a developer comes before the planning commission and calls the proposed development a "New Urbanist" neighborhood... that in fact home prices in this new development will skyrocket after the first home is sold. Real estate developers and town planners have used the term "New Urbanism" often enough in the past 10 years that most home buyers know what exactly that entails. Developers know what their market expects, and using the term "New Urbanism" is a clear signal for consumers that their new purchase will be a strong long-term investment: High Demand + Low Supply = Gauranteed Increases in Annual Home Value Assessments.... "Yippee... dammit, we rock! We're finally living the American Dream!"

A sophisticated planner will recognize how the brand "New Urbanism" drives up the demand for these homes, resulting in reduced availability of so-called "affordable" units. Planners concerned about equity issues should use the "New Urbanism" term with more care. If you don't call a new traditional neighborhood development that has narrow streets, four homes to the acre, trees, etc, etc a "New Urbanist" development, then you might have a chance attracting more middle-of-the-road homebuyers.

The biggest issue I have with "New Urbanism" is how careless professionals are when they use that term to describe their town and recent developments. ("Yep, mah bruther works for the gee-see on that new-fangled new urbanist development off State Highway 5. It shur is a doozy! Never seen nuthin like it.) It's almost as if they are asleep at the wheel, taking the easy way out, using a formula to somehow create "community" in their town. This so-called "formula" is "New Urbanism" and formulas do not create communities. People create communities. Social people happen to live in mini-castles on two acres, in dense suburbs, in lofts, and in aprtment towers. Anti-social people live in these places as well. No matter the design of where they live, people who want community will seek it out. If they think a "New Urbanist" development is the place for them, then so be it.

Those who yearn for the day when we get back to our yards so we can talk to our neighbors are, in my opinion, a little naive. Our society is much different and more complex than it was 80 years ago... if one thinks the front yard is the only place to meet people, then a sheltered life with missed opportunities is the only prognosis. Planners would do well to recognize this.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
I find this remarkable as both Catrin and Beaner are hitting some exceptional points.

I absolutely agree that we cannot fabricate community. The fact is that times have changed and we interact in so many different ways because of these complexities. Two income households, kids activities, day care etc...these are realities that have changed the way we relate.

In many cases, our community is formed on our Saturday Morning soccer fields, at HOA and PTA meetings, and yes, in our backyards.

The widely held belief among planners that if only everyone lived in a NU or Neo-Trad development, our communities would be stronger is preposterous. For me those developments are great really for one simple reason, they offer the consumer a greater choice of where to live.

Here is a personal anecdote from last evening. I live in a typical suburban develop of mostly single family houses on 1/4 acre lots. Yes garage in front, but I also have a front porch.

Went for a walk last night around seven with my wife, daugther, and twin boys. We bought lemonade from a stand several neighborhood kids had set up and talked to them and their parents for a while, then we walked around the block waving to no fewer than 12 neighbors.

Upon our return to our house, my neighbors on both sides of our house were talking in their front yard and we socialized more.

Then my wife took the boys to bed and my daughter and I went to swing on the backyard swingset where we were joined by yet 2 other neighbors and their kids.

We finished the night with my daughter and a neighbors little girl running through the sprinkler.

Well. sorry that was a bit rambly.

gkm
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
Issue 1: Is new urbanism affordable to the masses?

When I was at Clemson, Jim Kunstler brought his show to town and did a really impressive presentation - he has a lot of really good points, and is also really entertaining. In the course of his presentation, he had a slide of an above garage "mother in law" apartment. His point was that the homeowners could supplement their income with this apartment, and affordable housing was provided to the tenant of the apartment. He made a comment that this allows all income levels of people to live in the community, and the apartment's rent was about $1,000, so that the community's teachers could live there. $1,000? I have teacher friends (single) that can barely afford their $500 a month apartment. The Q&A session following the presentation ended in a rather loud argument between Mr. Kunstler and one of my profs regarding how affordable NU really is.


Issue 2: Do neo-traditional neighborhoods foster more community spirit that typical suburban neighborhoods?

Like george, I also live in the typical 1/4 acre lot, ranch home subdivision. However, Of the 28 households on my street, I've only ever seen children come out of 2. The 5 houses directly next to and across from me are all inhabited by retired folk, who spend most of their time in FL, SC or NC. I walk my dogs every morning, and despite living in this house for over a year, have yet to meet or even see the majority of my neighbors outside. Many of the older folks have lawn services, so I know their mowing guy. Maybe when the housing stock cycles over and we get younger families who spend more time outside move in, but who knows. I definitely think there are social suburbs and unfortunatly, right now, our neighborhood is going through an unsocial phase.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
K

my neighborhood is brand spanking new, in a western most suburb of the DC metro area, where the houses are cheapest, relative to the market.

So, the netire neighborhood is full of kids (or pregnancies).

We selected this neighborhood because there seemed like 1000 kids running around.

Commute is killing both my wife and I. Looking to change that.

Which professor argued?
 

Stalds

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
I have to agree that these so called "New Urbanism" developments are particulariy geared toward the affluent members of our society. We have a number of such developments in and around the Greater Toronto Area, and all have been occupied by upper scale residents. Cornell, located just north of Toronto is an example. Designed by Andres Duany, it is located on greenfield land far from any recognizable commercial and/or residential development. Definatly a community onto itself so to speak. While only a fraction of the size, average prices for the homes were nearly double those of traditional surburban homes nearby. Also, are these "community based" ideals of neighborhood design a feasable solution for lower-income areas? Are physical/aesthetic solutions to seemingly social problems a viable method?

Oh yea, I'm new here... and glad to be aboard!
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
Stalds - Cornell was supposed to have a commercial/employment component built into the development. In fact, I remember from the design charettes that the huge hospital complex nearby was supposed to make Cornell almost "self-sustainable" in terms of live-work relationships...I don't think it has worked out that way though.

Unfortunately, it seems far easier to get people into new urbanism developments than it is to get businesses there.
 

peluche

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
new urbanism

your interest in new urbanism seems taken from the developers point of view as opposed to the architects point which is one of organizing and find solutions to problems. Instead of searching for developers to undertake affordable housing projects it is better to organize local as planners the communities one by one and develop with them that organization developing at the same time the localized fabrication or transformation of base materials creating local jobs. The recently deceased southern Alabama or mississippi architect Mocbee had developed some fantastic design for the most disadvantaged rural poor.
Only as architects can we help communities to develop there evolutionary transformation of their neighbourhoods. You know it's no longer going to be Govt and least of all investors who want an inmediate return tripling their investments. So it's up to the architects to do this. Unfortunately there are very few in the world. In the US only 214,000 and in the world a few million. Ill housed in the world 4 Billion. You do the math.
Architecture and urban planning has got to take a front seat and share the driving of urban planning.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
New Urbanism

Sorry. Don't think "architects" (or planners) are THE solution to the world's housing problems. The world got on very well for thousands of years without formally trained architects, especially architects trained in so-called "modernism." Architects conceptualized the whole "towers-in-the-park" idea that was so quickly bastardized by developers, penny-pinching housing agencies, and various socialist dictatorships.

Now, architects (and planners) CAN help solve problems. A clever architect can help conceptualize problems and solutions. But, just like with doctors, for every great architect, there are a thousand mediocre ones. And, I'm not sure these mediocre or worse ones are that better at solving problems than people with common sense using the vernacular. If they are idological enough, or arrogant enough, they often exacerbate the problems. And, it is a profession that seems to encourage development of the ego.

The U. S. housing problems are not because there are only 200,000 architects in the US.

I don't want to start a flame war, your post just struck me the wrong way. I'm sorry if I offended you, and I find architecture a fascinating topic-=as well as admiring the vision of great designers.
 

peluche

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
new urbanism

If not architects who: wall street?

Just like the world's presidents are being replaced by business men and not by politicians do you then think that designing cities should not be the realm of architects and planners? When you accept the fact that architecture and and urban planning are now being headed by people who have no design background and discipline then you definetely have a business that is looking for the bottom line and not a discipline that is looking for solutions to constructing the needed housing. It is not a question that housing should be made cheaper but should be made affordable. Designing housing for those ill-housed is, as history has proven, is a question of developing solutions that are in sync with local traditions, vernacular and environmental conditions.

Architecture deals with producing habitable spaces. Ergonomics is not a question of affordability but of building habitable spaces. Human being are the same size all over the world. A bed should not be smaller because you are poor; and the volume for a family should not be different by the same argument.
If you have encountered architects who do not honor the profession then I guess you have not met respectable and responsible ones. Again I suggest you look at the work of the recently deceassed architect Mocbee.

Architects like other Professions are disciplines that have a responsibility to society just like doctors. I am sorry you feel I have offended you in stating the obvious. Rest assured my post is to raise the debate not to attack anyone.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
Just to clarify, peluche is referring to Samuel Mockbee architect and professor at Auburn University, in Auburn Alabama who has worked with the rural poor of the south on design issues.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Improving the housing of the world's poor is not the job of an architect, nor is it the job of a planner, nor is it the job of people who work on Wall Street. And yes, some people will have larger beds than others. Sorry. Just the facts.

Can and should societies work to improve the lot of people who have less, especially those living in the poorest of conditions? Yes. Planners, architects and bankers, along with hundreds of other occupations, do play a role in this effort. They recognize that design alone is not the solution. They work to enable people to develop the economic means to support a better quality of life, inclusive of better housing.
 

Runner

Cyburbian
Messages
566
Points
17
I suspect part of the question is whether NU can/will be brought to the working class. The other part is how you define NU. Which I define largely as higher density development geared towards transportation alternatives. Many older urban neighborhoods (old urbanism) could fit my definition.

However, without growth management (urban boundaries, etc.) the affordable new development seems to be found on cheaper distant greenfield land where that small "starter home" or "mobile home" (and no I refuse to call it a manufactured home, its a cheap trucked in structure that depreciates rapidly with minimized resale value) can be plopped down and advertised based only on low money down and affordable monthly payment. This will be the location of much of the new development for the working class as long as the private automobile is subsidized at today's level.

Bottom line: True NU for the working class requires less automobile subsidization and regional growth management. Otherwise market forces will prevent its development.

In the absence of market influence, such as low/no income government housing, NU projects can be built.
 
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BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Architects as the solution

I think Michael Stumpf summarized it pretty well.

Again, architects CAN play a role. BUSINESSMEN can play a role-private enterprise is not the locus of all evil. Heck, even planners jin government agencies have a role to play.

Where I draw the line is when architects claim some unique and special role for themselves. This viewpoint has done a lot of evil in the world. I like Mockbee's work, and the man was a saint. But, even his work threw in a lot of the silly angles and wierd materials that modern architects are fond of. There's certainly no functional reason or client preference expressed there, unless I am missing something.

One of the main arguments of the New Urbanists (see-I'm not totally off topic) is that the average architect cannot be trusted to design a humane environment. Given the past 70 years, I'm not sure they are wrong.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,150
Points
28
Regarding affordability and good design, visit Michael Pyatok's website:

http://www.pyatok.com/

He has an architecture firm in Oakland, CA, and Seattle.

Regarding new urbanism and if it's just he affluent, I must ask: Does is it really matter? Why should planners be concerned about new urbanism? Why should we be concerned if its affordable or not? Perhaps I'm being too much of a cynic today, or maybe I'm just tired of this thread, but really, there's so much going on in the world of planning and community development, that it seems like new urbanism is such a small component of what goes on, almost to the point of irrelevancy.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Pyatok

Michael Pyatok designs very colorful, somewhat busy projects that are better, frankly, than a lot of the market-rate "luxury" projects we see in California.
 

Runner

Cyburbian
Messages
566
Points
17
there's so much going on in the world of planning and community development, that it seems like new urbanism is such a small component of what goes on, almost to the point of irrelevancy.
My thoughts are that NU may be a small component, or its absence maybe a symptom. However, a broad range of issues need to be addressed to work towards livable/functional communities and I believe NU communities are consummately livable.

Evidence of the absence of livable communities can be found everywhere from the road raging soccer moms to killer kids shooting up schools. The stresses of the auto nation and suburban isolation are proving toxic.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
NU will not prevent isolated school tragedies nor what you call road raging soccer moms.

There is no evidence you can site that says your idea of suburbia is responsible for societal ills.

NU is exactly what it should be, just one more choice for those looking for the best place to live according to their individual definition.

My point simply being that all the hysterical criticism of suburbs on these boards doesn't necessarily jive with the millions of people living in these, as you would call them, "unlivable communities."

And I am not saying that we could and should improve upon our built communities.
 
Messages
3
Points
0
Runner wrote:
Evidence of the absence of livable communities can be found everywhere from the road raging soccer moms to killer kids shooting up schools. The stresses of the auto nation and suburban isolation are proving toxic.
I would say that "road raging soccer moms" and "killer kids shooting up schools" are anomolous occurences and not the norm. Just because of a few isolated incidents, i.e. Columbine (if that's what you are referring to), there is no reason to conclude that these places are not livable communities. Let me ask you this: after these incidents happen, is there a mass-exodus of residents moving out from these communities? I highly doubt it. If places were not livable, I'm sure most people would leave and find some place more comfortable. The fact remains that humans are resilient creatures and can tolerate a number of extreme environmental conditions. Detroit may be considered by many to be a city that is not livable, however, over 900,000 people live here. So, what exactly is it you are trying to say about "livable communities"? Sounds like some overused cliche or a marketing slogan.
 

Runner

Cyburbian
Messages
566
Points
17
There, now that I've livened things up a bit and got the juices flowing:

Never said NU would solve all of the problems.

My thoughts are that NU may be a small component, or its absence may be a symptom.
If you think the schools are great: go talk to a teacher
While your at it check the waist line of the average kid...

If you think soccer moms are cool and collected drivers: go talk to a bicyclist

If you think crime and dysfunction are an anomaly: go talk to street cop

If you think all is well in suburbia: just wait a little longer

Just because an environment is dysfunctional does not mean that someone will or can leave. For that matter, they may not even recognize that there is a problem in the first place. Sort of like the old frog in the boiling water analogy.
 

peluche

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
There seems to be a confusion between life in the suburbs with urban life. These are two very different locations and ways of living. In an urban context for those of us who prefer being in cities instead of having to be in community gardens, daily life is more interactive. In the suburbs life is not so interactive except in your set enclaves, the rest of the time you go to that place you call malls. We in cities have sidewalks; the suburbs rarely have them. The New Urbanism movement centers its designs on how to integrate town planning but only applied to suburbs and not in adapting it to cities.

My personal position is to integrate the advantages of each into the other. Certainly there is not a correlation between suburbs and wild dysfunctional actions, but there is a long series of studies that aknoledge the problem of tight spaces and disturbed behavior. When we as designer put our foot down to the developers and building/zoning codes and demand that no spaces be allowed as habitable when it becomes less than an agreed upon globally acceptable optimal human standard then we shall be more responsible in our service to the urban fabric that I personally find so stimulating in cities. In other words tthere should be more 20,000 cubic foot spaces (for those who deal only in sq ft thats a 2,000 sqft home) in the city as the norme. Maybe at that time so many will not go to the suburbs. The beltway of single home (1 or 2 storey) housing can be developed with the NU premises and the like but more urban than suburban. Runner's observations summarize the situation pretty well and seem to support urban lifestyle as a viable alternate to suburban artifice. ( see French Movies: Ma Vie en Rose ; Mon Oncle for a good humored parody of suburbia). Talk to y'all later.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,150
Points
28
From "Debunking the Myths of TND" by Jason Miller (jmiller@homstyles.com) at http://www.tndhomes.com/under05.html:

Traditional neighborhood design (TND) is a powerful concept, one that has been met with both praise and derision. Unfortunately, as with many movements, what is not understood is distorted, even by those who support the TND philosophy.

Myth 1: Community is everything.

Myth 2: Families prefer a traditional neighborhood to a big yard.

Myth 3: TNDs will liberate Americans from their cars.

Myth 4: Alleys are the only way to get garages off the street.

Myth 5: Rich and poor will live happily together.

This is not necessarily true, so know your market. Are you dealing with entry-level buyers who are leaving their rentals for their first home? Surprisingly, these people often bring a revulsion to living near rental housing. The fact is, there will always be neighborhoods for the affluent; case in point, Seaside, Fla., with cottage rental and cost-of-living rates that prompted one TND home builder to call it "extremely elitist."

Myth 6: It's old; therefore, it must be good.

Myth 7: The neighbors will love it.

Myth 8: Traditional neighborhoods are a rigid grid of streets.

Myth 9: It's all about front porches and nostalgic architecture.

Myth 10: Proponents of traditional neighborhoods are a bunch of design fanatics that want to force us to live on a small lot with no privacy, and spend all our time on our front porch, being neighborly.

Myth 11: Traditional neighborhoods are un-American, nothing more than social engineering.

Anyone have any comments?
 

TGlass

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
Southwest Detroiter said:


If places were not livable, I'm sure most people would leave and find some place more comfortable. The fact remains that humans are resilient creatures and can tolerate a number of extreme environmental conditions. Detroit may be considered by many to be a city that is not livable, however, over 900,000 people live here. So, what exactly is it you are trying to say about "livable communities"? Sounds like some overused cliche or a marketing slogan.
Sorry, I may be missing the point here, but isn't the problem in Detroit that the vast majority of the 950,000 people who still live there couldn't leave when the city was at its worst? They didn't have the finances to leave the city in the 1980s when the economy was terrible and the city had hit rock bottom. If they could have afforded to move somewhere "livable", they very well might have. Now that the city is on the upswing (to a degree) they are not in such a hurry to leave. In fact, the city's population has been on the rise in the year 2002.

In addition, a reason NU is viewed as being a playground for the rich only is that its always been new construction. New construction, be it traditional suburban development or NU style, its always a place for the rich to move onwards and upwards. The lower classes are left to what the upper classes once had. NU isn't suited to infill; its concieved for new development, or redevelopment of areas that have been completely desecrated (see HUD projects like Cabrini Green).

I'm new here, so be nice :)
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
NU is a good idea

Why do people want big yards, because it's the american dream

why do people want big cars, because it's america, and we have the right to them.

Why do people want 6-foot privacy fenced back yard, because it' my own damn business.

who determined the american dream...salesmen. Not Americans.

Why do you want a big yard, because that way i feel like i'm living in the country with the convience of living the city.

Why do you want your big car, because when you have a family of 3 you need to extra space for those big grocery trips or vacations. Or maybe your gonna take your SUV offroad?

Why do you want a privacy fence, because I don't want to deal with anything other than me ME MEE!!


I live in an urban setting, I wish I could sell my cars. But I won't walk to the edges of town to shop at the sea of parking lots.

I like looking through my backyard and noticing my neighbor cooking out and saying hi and chatting for a bit.

I like my small, manageable yard that i can fully mow and trim in under 40 minutes.

I like my small 4-door sedan, it gets me into downtown parking spaces SUV's would only dream of and gas mileage is top notch.

I like my front porch, I get to use my front yard.


For those who think the american dream is what it is now, think again. I'm sure it will all change again in 20 years.

Why is property in Manhatten so expensive? Those people know QOL when they see it. No car, No yard, BEAUTIFUL PUBLIC parks, shops, food, work, nightlife, all on the same block!!
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
You know, Boiker, black-suited representatives from the Truth Ministry will be knockin' on your commie City house door pretty soon. :)
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
BKM said:
You know, Boiker, black-suited representatives from the Truth Ministry will be knockin' on your commie City house door pretty soon. :)
sorry, just another ranting.

people wont want to live in the cities again in mass unless developers change their habits. and i mean change their habits, like they did in the late 40s and through the 50s
 

Glomer

Member
Messages
207
Points
9
who determined the american dream...salesmen. Not Americans.

Although I like the same things you like and would probably choose to live in your neighborhood, I have to disagree with the above statement.

We like to blame the developers and the salesmen for what is happening........and it's just not right.

Salesmen wouldn't be selling and developers wouldn't be building crappy subdivisions if people didn't want to buy them. As much as we hate to believe it.....and you are in denial if you don't........that is the american dream. We as americans have always wanted new, more, and a lot of it.

We as planners need to show people that there is another way, educate people in hopes that they will want to live in traditional neighborhoods. If we do this, the american dream will change and the market will switch.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Glomer is right. We can't blame it on "evil developers." Its largely a matter of choice. More! More! More! Four car garages! three Master Suites in the house. An Arnold Palmer golf course out the back door.

There was an article in the SF Chronicle today discussing how Solano County is the big frontier for new development (relatively affordable). One couple featured sold their 1300 square foot condo in posh Pacific Heights and moved to a gated subdivision in Vallejo (although they are too snobby to admit they live in Vallejo to their friends) overlooking a golf course. This couple, of course, needed a 3,250 square foot house. The husband commutes an hour and a half to two hours EACH WAY. They admit to missing restaurants and culture, but LOOK HOW BIG OUR HOUSE IS!

I don't agree that its a matter of education. That's definitely a prejudice of the professional caste-that education overcomes human emotions. Education and propaganda can help, certainly. But, our feeble voices are nothing compared to the vast chorus of advertising propaganda: "Move to the Country" "Live in an EXCLUSIVE" neighborhood. You NEED that Lincoln Navigator to drive to mall. Boinker is right: the American Dream has been completely fabricated by the advertising profession.

IF an energy crisis really comes about, this will all change. But, the economic misery and devastation created by that will be such that only a James Howard Kunstler can really look forward to the coming crash.

I love to rant. Sorry.
 

GeogPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,433
Points
25
the problem is we don't really dictate what we want in the market...we just bend over and take it...that's why in our service economy customer service went out with mom and pop shops.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
I'm not sure when this thread turned to blaming developers, advertisers, car manufacturers and salesmen of all people etc...

I rail and rail aginst perpetuating the stereotypes Boiker was ranting about. Fine, everybody should rant, we should all want better places to live, better opportunity....

But if you have not lived in a suburban environment those stereotypes remain.

A couple of points to dispute:

1.People drive SUV's because they are safe, they fit (in my case) 3 car seats, and face it they are attractive to a whole host of people...The beauty of living in America is that if you like something, its likely you can buy it...The 3 car seats won't fit in the Honda Civic, I have tried.

2. In most HOA's in my area, the 6 foot privacy fence is not permitted in single family developments...4 foot max picket--just like in the 50's...

3. I yelled to my neighbor yesterday while I was cooking steaks...

4. Manhatten is expensive in part because of what many would perceive as a great QOL. Me, not sure how I would afford a 4 bedroom apartment in NYC. So that particular quality of life is not an option for many.


The underlying sense I get from lots of folks on these Cyburbia forums is that America is a place that should be apologized for.

There are a thousand reasons we are the leaders of the world, some reasons good, some not so much. But America is this total package of consumerism, fontierism, democracy, capitalism, militarism, volunteerism....you get my point

or did I have one...
 

perryair

Cyburbian
Messages
41
Points
2
1.People drive SUV's because they are safe, they fit (in my case) 3 car seats, and face it they are attractive to a whole host of people...The beauty of living in America is that if you like something, its likely you can buy it...The 3 car seats won't fit in the Honda Civic, I have tried.
This will prob. get moved over to the transportation forum, but I just wanted to espouse an Anti-SUV statement. Im not sure this will work, but I tried to paste a spreadsheet of SUV and comparable options. I grouped them as follows:


Make and Mode Weight (lbs) cargo cap. (sq/ft) mpg city Max seating
Fullsize SUV
Chevy Tahoe 4828 15 105 9
Ford Expedition 5267 14 111 8
Toyota Landcruiser 5115 13 91 8
Average Measures 5070 14 102 8
Fullsize Other
Grand Caravan eX 4263 17 168 7
Honda Odyssey EX 4299 18 146 7
Average Measures 4281 17 157 7

Midsize SUV
Chevy Blazer (4dr) 3791 17 68 6
Ford Explorer (4dr 8cyl) 4000 14 88 7
Honda Pilot (4dr 4wd) 4439 17 90 8
Average Measures 4076 16 82 7
Midsize Other
Chrysler PT Cruiser 3123 19 64 5
Saturn L Wagon 3272 21 79 5
VW Passat Wagon 3547 19 39 5
Average Measures 3314 19 60 5



My point?

A minivan can easily replace a fullsize SUV, provide for more than adequate seating, as well as better cargo room, while weighing 600 pounds less (600 less pounds of metal flung at another car in an accident), and getting three miles per gallon better gas mileage (4 gallons of gas less per every 300 miles driven)

A Wagon can easily replace a midsize SUV, providing almost as much seating and adequate room. wjile weighing in at 700 pounds less and also getting three mpg better gas mileage.

Price? Prices of minivans to fullsize SUVS and of wagons to midsize SUV's are similar, and even a little better.

People drive SUV's because suave marketers told them to do so. SUV's are pushed by the major car companies because they provide very high profit margins.

I really dislike the safety arguement offered by many of the SUV crowd. What about MY safety? Is it not important just because I choose not to drive around a big bloated SUV? If I choose to drive around in a tank because it is safer for me, then what are the costs to others in an accident? Bigger and heavier cars beget bigger and heavier cars. If auto manufacturers started downsizing all types of cars, then it would be safer for everyone because there would be less weight and thus kinetic energy to dissipate in any given accident.

anyways, nothing personal. please pardon the ranting.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
no offense taken, appreciate your perspective. My bottom line point simply it is your right to be anti-suv, but it can never be your right to limit my choice or preference.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
And, I apologize for ranting. Its easy to do that in cyberspace (I also tend to get histrionic in the real world, too, but that's my problem :) )

I guess one thing I was really ranting at is the perception that if we as planners just "educate" people they will choose what we have decided is best.

I certainly understand that not everyone wants to or can live in Manhattan. There is a middle ground pattern that can be seen in many railroad commuter suburbs, small towns, older single family and medium density neighborhoods.

My problem is that the modern suburban lifestyles impose significant costs on society that in most places are not being internalized. And, I still thoroghly dislike the marketing ideology behind many suburban neighborhoods-the whole ideal of moving to a countryside that is destroyed by that very act of subdividing, the exclusivity, privatization, retreating from the "other." I don't think that is healthy, I don't think it is sustainable, economically, over the long run.

But, if the latter is true, then the market will eventually correct the problem. However, we will have a lot of detritus to deal with. What, for example, are we going to do with the 1960s-1980s tract home subdivisions. They are already decaying rapidly here in northern California. I can't see a "save the Kauffman and Broad rancher" movement.

(And, I want to put a plug in for Perryair's position. I drove a Ford Expedition for work-and I cannot see how a vehicle of that size, steering response, weak accelaration, and braking is really safer than a well-designed passenger sedan. Unless the only definition of safety is to surround yourself with so much tonnage that you are protected from the consequences of a bad car.
 

perryair

Cyburbian
Messages
41
Points
2
I do think that choices are what life is all about as well. Its just that the real costs of a lot of choices are never made readily apparent to us anyways, so that we choose something that has in fact been largely subsidized by society. We as individual consumers never pay for true costs of disposal for many items (computers, TV's, only partially for high toxic items such as tires and etc).

So when we choose to live in a ranch house that was only designed to stand for 30 years, the developer who sold it to you doesn't really care about who will replace the worn out and crumbling structure in 30 years, they just want their cash.

Down here, I am involved in a neighborhood conditions survey, and there are a LOT of people who own, or at least reside in single family detached homes, who obviously can't afford to pay for all of the required upkeep such as roof, landscape, paint and etc. I think that the whole "own your own single family house" thing may be a bit destructive that way. You empower people to buy a house that they really can't afford to keep, just in the name of keeping them working and happy.

There are a lot of people out there who are just squeaking by on their mortgage payments and praying that their roof will hold for yet again another year, because they can't afford to fix it if it breaks.

I don't pretend to know the exact answer, but it seems to me that a lot more choices should be given as far as decent affordable (or at least somewhat affordable) medium density housing, and placement relative to infrastructure (existing water/sewer lines, bus/rail stops, and etc).
 
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BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
My City really pushes the home ownership thing, too. And, too much of our housing stock appears to be rapidly approaching the end of its real lifetime. (that 30 year figure is a good one)

Heck, I am hoping our roof lasts another year :) Our homeowner association dues are too low. My fellow condo owners are going to get a nasty shock :)

I really think that we need to be looking at alternative tenure arrangements as well. Housing Trust Funds, cooperative housing projects, etc, that provide some of the benefits of ownership while recognizing that not everyone should be a single-family homeowner.

Mass urban homeownership was largely pushed to defang "socialist" or working class party movements in the early 20th century. It has worked very well to accomplish that.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
Again, homeownership is something distinctly American in many respects "an acre and a mule"...and all that stuff. Its a badge of honor. An investment.

BKM, you make me a bit crazy when you say "not everyone should be a single family homeowner"

Who is who to say?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Who is who to say?

Sure, I don't claim that I or anyone else should say that someone should not be a homeowner. If you can afford it, fine, as long as your new home includes the true costs of buying it. I don't even have that much of a problem with mortgage tax exemptions, because homeownership is good for the country.

But, an ideology that a single family home is the only way to live, that we should overlook all the various impacts of the suburban development pattern, THAT I have a bit of a problem with.

In some places, this ideology of single family homeownership as the only appropriate way to live is taken to the extreme that the local government pays down the mortgage costs for moderate and low income residents-going beyond mortgage interest deductions. I am not sure that homeownership should be a "right" for everyone. Particularly when these new homeowners join the NIMBY chorus against providing needed housing for those who didn't get into the mortgage subsidy programs or are not ready for tying themselves down to a long term commitment. Homeownership is great. But it is not for everyone.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,150
Points
28
...getting back on track...

So, is New Urbanism just for the affluent? Do these new developments concentrate wealthy individuals into one psuedo-urban enclave of quasi-hipsters who drive SUVs 40 miles to work and come home to an after-dinner walk of eight blocks to the "Ye Olde Fur Shoppe" in the "Towne Centre" to congenially chat about the local goings-on? Regardless if they are new home buyers or renters in the New Urbanist development, do you think marginalized and low-income citizens and immigrants have a chance to afford to live in these places?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Back on Track

Yes (to the first set of questions)

No (to the last)

But, all "trends" and development patterns start with "the wealthy." It trickles down to everyone else later.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
And, at least they are walking eight blocks. Out here in the outer burbs, its jump into the Excursion to drive from the Sam's Club to the Applebees Neighborhood Grille next door.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
new urbanism is affordable in only one way....

....if the new urbanism is just redevelopment.

Many low income people do live in urbanist neighborhoods, ones that were established 80 years ago. I live in one, and it offers *most* everything i need in walking distance. It's going to take some time and a rethinking of social values before new urbanism and old urbanism is true urbanism.
 
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