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Smart growth, dumb choice

simulcra

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Messages
127
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6
Taken from Planetizen article:
Joel Schwartz and Wendell Cox argue that "Smart Growth" is a dumb choice unless you want higher housing prices and increased traffic congestion.

Aug 19, 2003, 01:00 pm PDT - California

Contributed by George Passantino

"Smart growth plans pack people into high-density neighborhoods. But is that what consumers and home buyers want? Developers don't force consumers to choose "sprawl" against their will. In a dynamic and competitive housing market, developers have a tremendous incentive to find out what combination of amenities will most appeal to home buyers. If people were clamoring to live in high-rise apartments or condos, developers would build them. Right now, most people, especially those in Bakersfield and the valley, want single-family homes with a bit of land in the front and back yard."
please feel free to correct any vast generalizations/misassumptions/etc i make, but...

-From what little I know, it seems that there actually is very little choice in terms of where people choose to live. A sprawl-focused approach seems to be preferred in policy and the like, although this is all information i've heard second-hand.
-In relation to the arguments of this article (higher traffic density, for one) there seems to be a missing of the point of smarter growth? Continuation of sprawl and expansion of highways leads to that paradox, right? (The paradox that begins with some guy whose name is B...) You know, if you expand more traffic capacity, you'll end up having more traffic congestion. The ultimate goal, transit-wise, of smart growth development should be that focus is taken slightly off autodependency and alternate modes of transportation (biking, walking, brt, light rail, heavy rail, monorail, teleportation devices, etc.) become feasible and possible, should it not? Instead of pursuing the construction of miles and miles of more freeway that ultimately lead to even more sparse sparse low density development that leads to more traffic congestion. Coupled with such low density that there really is no alternative than to use a car and contribute to congestion.
-Is smart growth purely a simcity-esque zone everything High Density movement? If so, I must've made a terrible misassumption. I thought smart growth also meant smarter community development. IE, instead of suburban neighborhoods with labyrinthean arterials and feeders (dunno exact terms, sorry) and 3 acre backyards, you have neighborhoods that are more direct, more pedestrian friendly, and generally more accessible. the article lends itself to the assumption (atleast i took it) that smart growth developpers everwhere were clamoring for 12 story condo streetwalls each in as small a space as possible.
-There's more to it than just air quality? One of the main arguments against smart growth development, I saw, was that technology was improving and that pollution wouldn't be that much of a problem as cars got better at it. but there's still the congestion and commute time...?

off-note, only partially related to the article... do people look at more than just the bottom line when buying a house (i mention this in another post)? i mean, i haven't reached the point in my life where i'm looking for a house to buy, so perhaps i'll chang ey attitude in a few years or so, but if housing prices are up, that means there's something to it, right? there's more to living than just have a big f*cking house for cheap. i stayed for a prolonged time in an uncle's place in queens, ny, which cost about twice my family's home but was probably half the size. i still thought it a superior place to be, because everything was so accessible (parks, koreatown shopping, etc) without a car, and you could easily get to manhattan if need be... i mean, you could shave off some of the housing costs when you include the fact that you didn't need the # of cars my family needed (my uncle needed 1 for occasional long commutes, my family needs 3 for everything), plus the auto-insurance...
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Re: re: Smart Growth, Dumb Choice

Solipsa said:
off-note, only partially related to the article... do people look at more than just the bottom line when buying a house (i mention this in another post)?
I'll describe the two houses thart I owned.

When I was living in Denver, I owned a 750 square foot Craftsman bungalow in a gentrifying neighborhood about two miles from downtown. I could have bought a house that was double the size for the same price in the suburb where I worked, but I wanted to be in a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood near downtown, and I also recognized the investment opportunity that goes with buying a house in an up-and-coming neighborhood as opposed to a middle income suburb.

In Orlando, I worked as the PD for a distant western suburb. Orlando's western suburbs are generally considered ... uhh, Confederate in their collective orientation. However, if I wanted to live in downtown Orlando, I'd not only have a long commute, but I'd also be facing some pricey real estate - 1,000 square foot houses selling for $200,000 and up. My other choices were to live in a big house in a middle-upper middle class suburb that was more affordable, or in a house that's more moderately sized (1,500 square feet or so) in an area where people have cars up on blocks and paint large memorials to Dale Earnhardt on their garage doors. (I couldn't live in the town where I worked, because most of the housing there was way beyond my price range.)

There was no middle ground, no other options. I bought a 1,900 square foot house with a pool for $140,000. Yup, I'm single ... no wife or live-in girlfriend, no kids. The house was too much for one person, but I had no choice; it was either that, a commute from Hell from a small, overpriced house, or neighbors who would keep me awake with celebratory gunfire and rebel yells.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
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Much of the escalating house size/price thing is driven by the mortgage interest income tax deduction. If you are bringing home a decent income and are deducting your mortgage interest what happens when your home is paid off? You lose a deduction. So you sell your house and get a new mortgage for a bigger house.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

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Re: re: Smart Growth, Dumb Choice

do people look at more than just the bottom line when buying a house (i mention this in another post)? [/B]


Yes, they do. People work very hard to base thier purchase of a house on as many variables as possible.

The environmental health of an area
schools
parks
work
$$$$
space for on site storage
possible expansion of home
possible speculation of lot split
public utilities present
the list goes on

People who love density often ignore the whole subject of public schools and thier quality on purpose. They expect people to believe the pie in the sky notion "If people would just move into the city the school system would be fine". But when you decide to have kids, I garauntee you that you will not be willing to be the first person to casually experiment with the future of your kids.

Density can be a wonderful thing, but if you want to have a hobby, you need some space. Try finding that cheap in a dense area. It makes you choose what is most important to you. The greater the density the more choices you have to make.

There is also a word you need to learn and understand for any of the social sciences. It is:

Propinquity -- or search for sameness
 

H

Cyburbian
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2,850
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24
Re: Re: re: Smart Growth, Dumb Choice

Duke Of Dystopia said:
People who love density often ignore the whole subject of public schools and thier quality on purpose. They expect people to believe the pie in the sky notion "If people would just move into the city the school system would be fine". But when you decide to have kids, I garauntee you that you will not be willing to be the first person to casually experiment with the future of your kids.

Welcome to Atlanta. The (perceived) poor city school system has long been a driving factor to Atlanta’s sprawl.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
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2,713
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24
Re: Re: Re: re: Smart Growth, Dumb Choice

Huston said:
Welcome to Atlanta. The (perceived) poor city school system has long been a driving factor to Atlanta’s sprawl.
I wish it were different. Planners like to ignore the impact of education on urban issues because they have no control over it.

Education is the achillies heel of the social environment. Without it, the rich should be nervous. With it, society functions, but those who fall through the cracks can help detirmine the quality and design of life in an urban area. The more that slip through the cracks, the more of a difference that is made.

Race matters, number of parents matters (traditional vs single), parental behavior matters, behavior pattern of the aged and childless matter, social customs, social makep etc...

Planners have no control over any of that, so I believe we tend to ignore those things. My question is, how do you ignore those things and hope to have an successful long term impact on urban design without dealing with it.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,387
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25
Re: Re: Re: Re: re: Smart Growth, Dumb Choice

Duke Of Dystopia said:
I wish it were different. Planners like to ignore the impact of education on urban issues because they have no control over it.[snip] My question is, how do you ignore those things and hope to have an successful long term impact on urban design without dealing with it.
Let's not forget, however, the exciting things that can happen when planners actively work with local educators. An example.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Smart growth = expensive housing and traffic congestion.

Is he talking about the cheap housing and open freeways in LA or Altanta? Maybe Phoenix?

"Smart Growth" and new housing aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, all of the smart growth initiatives in NJ (transit villages) revolve around new construction. I'm just bringing this up because some people are worried about the "inner city schools".

As always, Cox throws in the false dichotomy of detached single-family with green lawns vs. townhouses and high rises.
Outside of Alexandria, VA where are developers building this smart growth?
 
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