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Your prefered habitat

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,225
Points
25
Woah, it seems that many of our planners are all dreaming of blazing the sprawl trail. :p

BKM -- You consider The Mission unsavory?! I went there when I was in San Francisco, it was like the Disney version of Pilsen.

I really like living in Chicago. I like the big city, with its diversity and energy. I really couldn't see myself living in a small town again. I do, however, like living a quick train ride from my family, such that I can go down and see them over a weekend. Living in an apartment is OK, but I have annoying downstairs neighborhoods. If I were to get a condo in a multi-unit building, it'd have to be very soundproof, or have a noise covenant. Ideally, I'd like to buy two flat, such that I can rent the upstairs apartment out or use it for more space if needed.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,069
Points
34
jordanb said:
Woah, it seems that many of our planners are all dreaming of blazing the sprawl trail. :p

I wonder if it could be defined like that? Of course, one method of rural development is the conservation subdivision. Is that still sprawl? I sometimes think so. In my case, I want 50+ acres on which I will build a home, plant fruit and vegetables, maybe raise a handful of animals, and restore the majority to a native state. Maybe I would have to commute a half hour, which is a symptom of sprawl, but doesn't the agricultural/conservation use more than offset that?
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,899
Points
25
boiker said:
perfect environment for me would be any major/minor metro area that is dense, gritty, industrial, with possibilities/potential for outdoor activities/amentities such as biking, hiking, nature paths, wilderness areas, kid friendly, progressive/or becoming progressive, not car dependent, etc. Also, the town must have a distinct civic core/park/plaza that helps unite the community for festivals events and other celebrations. Active neighborhoods and neighborhood festivals are also a plus.
Sounds like you would really enjoy living in Pittsburgh.


Living in the heart of a city has it's advantages. I can walk downtown to the office and to major league sprting events, I get to live in a charming, historic and diverse neighborhood of rehabed row-houses, etc, etc... Needless to say I really enjoy a truely urban environment and couldn't stand the thought of living in a modern subdivision out in the 'burbs. But sometimes I want nothing more than to get back to the country where I can ride horses whenever I want, have a garden, and have people wave at me as I'm driving down the road. One day perhaps...
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,461
Points
29
Mission District

BKM -- You consider The Mission unsavory?! I went there when I was in San Francisco, it was like the Disney version of Pilsen.

Well, it depends where and when you visit. Its a huge neighborhood. Near the corner of Valencia and 16th, with all of the 20-somethings hanging out at Andalu and Blowfish Sushi To Die For, sure, tis' pretty tame. Army Street at Guerrero, or Capp Street, or the drug dealers at 16th and Mission-they are a little dirtier and grittier. Although, SF can never hold a candle to some Chicago neighborhoods for being "intense" . Pilsen must be pretty gritty.

Its not really that "bad" a neighborhood, but it never completely lost the dirt, the homeless, the street kids either. And, there is still a gang problem (although nothing like other neighborhoods in SF) I can't see it as "Disney" anything.

"Unsavory" is the wrong term, too. It reflects my over-comfortable suburban upbringing.
 
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Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
Points
7
Bath, Maine

I really think that I may have found my perfect environment. A small town of 10,000 on the Maine coast. Small enough to be a tight community and have almost no sprawl. Big enough to have some pretty good density and "urbanity", if that term can be used on a town of 10,000. I am 6 blocks from a wonderful pedestrian-oriented brick-laden downtown which has a good local department store, a good mid-sized local grocery, a local pharmacy, a local bookshop, cafes, restaurants, banks, and a bar (among other local retail & services). The only local retail missing is the hardware store, which is located on the outskirts of town, but is still locally-owned and far from a "big box". I rarely have to drive to get to any stores I need, and I rarely spend a dollar at a chain business. :-D

Bath is also home to the largest employer in the state, which builds destroyers ( :-# ). But that industrial presence gives the town a nice gritty "real" feel, as oppose to many of the towns on the main coast that have been absolutely gentrified and disneyfied by tourism. But the neighborhoods are beautiful, full of old captains' and shipyard owners' homes and churches and graceful old trees.

I'm 10 miles from the rocky (rugged?) main coast, 30 miles from Portland (a wonderful, wonderful small city of about 70,000), 2.5 hours from Acadia, 1.5 hours from the White Mountains, and immediately surrounded by working countryside, lakes, rivers, bays, islands and some nice hilly terrain. :c:


Downside - Man is it tough to find a job out here. :-c I'm headed for teh lobsterboat next!
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,461
Points
29
Bath sounds fantastic, MM.

I have to admit I like old industrial architecture before it was trendy. My grandmoher used to live near a gigantic International Harvester Company (before Archie "Golden Parachute" McCargle (sp?) helped run it into the ground) plant that I used to love to just drive by when I was a kid.

Vallejo, the city at the southern tip of my current county, ha an old shipyard with some fantastic late 19th century buildings.

If I didn't live in California, there is something about New England that has always appealed to me-even the griitier industrial side.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,225
Points
25
Cardinal said:
I wonder if it could be defined like that? Of course, one method of rural development is the conservation subdivision. Is that still sprawl? I sometimes think so. In my case, I want 50+ acres on which I will build a home, plant fruit and vegetables, maybe raise a handful of animals, and restore the majority to a native state. Maybe I would have to commute a half hour, which is a symptom of sprawl, but doesn't the agricultural/conservation use more than offset that?

The Prarie Crossing "conservation" subdivision in Greyslake is nothing but sprawl.

Let's suppose, though, that you do get that fifty acres out on the outskirts. Are you really going to go work full time in your town, then drive back out there every day and tend to the farm? That's two full time jobs rolled into one, plus a long commute. Well, you could lease the land out to a farmer, and have him come and farm it while you're in town working. But at that point, we're beginning to se the masquerade that is modern american life. You're living on a farm that you're not really farming.

So anyhow, other people will want to join you, and what's your place to stop them? So now you have a bunch of new neighbors. Not every one is going to live on fifty acres though. And when the land values start rising, you won't ether. So that'll shrink real quickly down to five or ten acres. That's still big enough to be "rustic" and "farm-like," all of those commuters aren't suburbanites, so who's complaining?

They've all got their own five acre patch of dirt and they contract farmers out to tend to it too while they drive into town every day to work at a high-pay city job. Eventually, Panera Bread and maybe Trader Joe's notices the changing demographic of your area, figures it'd be a good place to put a store. So one goes in. Are you really going to continue to drive all the way into town to get a gallon of milk just to hang on to your faux rusticness, or are you going to jet on over to the strip? I can tell you what your neighbors are going to be doing.

So now Farmer Frank has to drive his 30mph max tractor in to farm your 10 acres from an ever incresing distance as his real farm continues to be displace by a patchwork of play farms. He's now a farmer playing the role of commuter. And you can bet all of those diesel fumes from his tractor deadheading all over the county are doing wonders for ecosystem. He's also going to be snarling up all of that commuter traffic on the 1.5 lane gravel road that serves your and everybody else's "farm."

Eventually, it won't be worth Farmer Frank's time anymore to go all the way in to your farm, so you'll just have to turn the whole lot of it into Prarie or something. So now everybody has these patches of prarie, but you know that narrow country road is congested and dangerous, so the County Judge or whomever gets it in his mind to get the thing widened and paved. They turn it from 1.5 lanes to four, put street signals in at the intersections, and get it paid for at the state level (ie, subsidized by the city dwellers). Now it's smooth and fast and safe and ready to propel the five acre super-sprawl still further out into the hinterland. But it's also dicing up that "natural" prarie preventing it from developing a healthy prarie ecosystem. Oh, and your neighbors don't like the prarie idea. Most of them build huge two or three acre lawns that they need industrial equipment to moe, and turn the rest into ecologically out-of-place forests.

So now you have city slickers pretending to be farmers on land pretending to be farms/forests/estates/praries or whatever other dream that particular person has. Of course, all of those people want their high paying city jobs that allow them to hold onto their ever-increasing-in-land-value "estates" and still have enough money for gas to go everywhere in their expeditions and land rovers, plus satellite TV and all of that other buisness they "need." They patronize an ever increasing set of strip malls that are maybe even dressed up to look like Ye Olde Towne Square, and develop a fear and loathing of the city they left. But hey, it all looks good! As you drive down the four lane paved "country road" you can marvel at all of the exciting sites. "Oh look! A farm!, and look at that! A country estate! And there's a forest!" all compartmentalized for easy visual consumption, and you can't even tell from a distance that it's all vinyl!

Thus, we arrive at the pinnacle of America. The problem is that people want to have their cake and eat it too. But the only way to do that is to eat the damn thing and then pretend that it's still there. So that's what we've done. We have people living suburban lives in areas that they pretend are rural, we have "new urbanists" building developments that look like city neighboroods without the accompaning (and scary) social-economic diversity. Plus all of the people living in them climb into their rugged SUVs to stock up at the Trader Joe's in Ye Olde Towne Square (free parking in back). Then you've got yuppies living in Lincoln Park pretending to be rugged and urban to whom Uptown is a Ghetto because they saw some homeless people on Broadway, and of course if they ever accidently drive their rugged SUVs too far down Halsted they'll piss their pants because all of those people in Caprini Green are so different and they didn't want to be real urbanists, they moved their because it was pretty! They thought it was safe, like how Disney Land is safe!

But this is America, all that matters is appearences. If you can pass dry-vit off as granite, go ahead! As long as it looks the part, who cares? There's this huge phalanx of people doing nothing but looking the part. Looking rugged while living in fear, pretending to live in rural areas while expecting urban jobs and amenities to still be available, shoping at corporate centers that look like main streets, living a suburban lifestyle in what look like urban neighborhoods. Welcom, finally, to our country, it's all one big, inescapable carnival-of-the-damned like masquerade party.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,461
Points
29
While a touch arrogant :), this is exactly what I tell a cowroker/bicycling buddie when he starts rhapsodizing about owning that country property. Especially when we've just been buzzed by yet another Suburban/Durango/F250 commuting home.

Still, the country estate is at heart THE American Dream for many if not most people.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,886
Points
60
Nice Rant!! (I generally agree with you, jordanb)

Hey, not all us 'yuppies' or 'DINKS' in Lincoln Park drive rugged SUVs. ;-) I drive a 1998 Tracer. :-D

Besides, half the people in Lincoln Park will move to Glenview or Naperville anyways, once they get married and/or have kids
 
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BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,461
Points
29
Hey, I liked jordanb's little essay for the same reason I like over-the-top Kunstler rants. You should e-mail this to Kunstler.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,225
Points
25
Heh, that sounds like a good idea, but I'm sure that'll just piss him off. He's New Urbanism's biggest fanboy.
 

Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
Points
7
You hit the proverbial nail right on its proverbial head!

Kunstler might not think this is as great as we do - I mean, where's all the profanity and personal jabs?
 

ilikefish0

Cyburbian
Messages
204
Points
9
Let's see... Near a body of water, not in California or Texas, city population from about 200,000 on up, in the city proper or "first-ring" suburb (no cul-de-sacs!).
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,069
Points
34
Jordan, I will give you that your scenario is one that often happens. I would only be farming 3-4 acres of my rural estate, and returning the remainder to its natural condition (prairie, savanna, etc.). Since farming is really just planting and harvesting, with some tending thrown in the middle, I could manage my little orchard, vinyard and gardens. So what about my neighbors?

Let's say that the nearby city (twenty minutes to a half hour at most) has an urban growth boundary. Then lets say that the county has a good comprehensive plan designating agricultural and conservancy uses in the rural hinterland, and a subdivision ordinance that does not permit splits less than forty acres. Next, lets say that there is an active purchase of development rights program that further limits any potential urban sprawl. But there is still the commute, you say? What if the small village five miles away is on a rail line, and the county transit system runs a commuter train into the city, offering rural residents access to jobs in the central business district? Better yet, maybe I'll consult. We all know that isn't real work ;) and what little I do would be in the community or from home.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
First, I believe that someone needs to defend Manhattan, KS. It does indeed have chiggers, poison ivy, and soldiers. The older neighborhoods could be used to illustrate a new urbanist text, however, and downtown is not bad, plus there is a university of approximately the right size. Its not my first choice, but it is a very livable place.

Beyond that, I have been trying to make up my mind. I have lived in remote places (50 minute drive to groceries) and while I need to spend time in the wilderness (otherwise I'd be Cyburbia's own axe murderer), I don't need that inconvenience. I am experimenting with the 'burbs for a few months now, and while these are the best 'burbs I've ever seen, a few months will be more than enough.

I think independent rural trade centers (examples would include Rapid City, Durango, Flagstaff, Pocatello, Traverse City, Spokane is too large, and some places that are reasonably pleasant small cities, like Idaho Falls are a little too far from the mountains or shore) are a pretty good option, especially if they have an institution of higher learning. Small college towns, too, like say Manhattan or Stevens Point or Burlington VT (which I guess is also the trade center). Then there is Paonia, where we have more or less successfully combined real rural living with being able to walk downtown in 15 minutes. And while it is in many ways the healthiest small town we can find, it has big limitations, including the fact that to work, we have to leave Paradise and get on a plane. We're juggling it all right now and it will be interesting to see where we end up.
 
Messages
7,628
Points
29
Lee Nellis said:
First, I believe that someone needs to defend Manhattan, KS. It does indeed have chiggers, poison ivy, and soldiers. The older neighborhoods could be used to illustrate a new urbanist text, however, and downtown is not bad, plus there is a university of approximately the right size. Its not my first choice, but it is a very livable place.
I thought I defended Manhattan, KS once. (You are welcome to do it again, of course.) To reiterate the Short Version: if I were not a genetic reject with problems with Breathing, which get worse in Manhattan due to allergies, I was all set to stay there For Life. But that "danger of dying" part sort of nixed that. (Oh, and let's not forget "military orders". Yeah, that might have been a factor in why we moved to. Just a little.) However, for folks whose lungs actually work more than once in a while: Manhattan has a rare combo of small town atmosphere and intellectual atmosphere, due to the presence of the huge college. And you are about 2 1/2 yours or a bit less from a good airport. And an hour from the state Capitol, where there is an awesome zoo and some other stuff. Of course, the zoo in Manhattan is pretty awesome, even though it is kind of small.

Go Cougars (or whatever purple cat is their Mascot/logo).
 

Signature

Cyburbian
Messages
52
Points
4
Its a neighborhood in the City of San Francisco called GLEN PARK....Quirky residential architecture...GLEN CANYON PARK....Negatives: Price.... (everything in San Francisco is too expensive), its a little close on one side to less salubrious City neighborhoods (The Mission can be a little nervewracking for this un-street smart dude), long term future of San Francisco if it doesn't get its act together.

Yes! I love this area, too! A friend of mine was living out there a few years ago, and I was quite pleasantly surprised. Close to BART, the freeway, and sufficiently safe to jog in. It has a great "homey" feel and Canyon Park is so lovely. Have you had the blackberries? Yum! For a life-long suburbanite's perspective, I think it seems quite livable. =) I have to live somewhere walkable to the outdoor and regular amenities -- that's why I :l: the East Bay. But I love spending the day or night in the City once a month...then its back to the ample parking, no parking tickets, two-way streets, and WARM weather of the East Bay. =)
 

cch

Cyburbian
Messages
1,436
Points
20
Upper Midwest for me; Iowa, Ilinois, Wisconsin or Minnesota. I'd like to live in a city of about 75K-100K, but on a large wooded lot, 3/4 of an acre or so, in the city. I like having wildlife around my house, but I also want to be able to walk to the corner store for some milk, and have parks my kids can ride their bikes to, to play. And I prefer to be no more than an hours drive to a major city, like Milwaukee, Minneapolis, or Chicago. I'd also like to live near a river that is ideal for boating. What can I say... I grew up along the banks of the muddy mississippi.
 

illinoisplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
5,334
Points
25
The outer suburban fringe of a large metropolitan area. The country is nearby, the city is within easy reach, and I have all the amenities I need.

I like the city, but I don't like all the taxes, the crime, the high prices, the over-regulation, etc. But it's nice to be within the realm of a major media/entertainment market and close to the action where there's always a nightlife and cultural happenings, as well as plenty of job opportuniites.

I like the country, but I don't like the isolation or the lack of services and culture.

Which is why I enjoy living on the suburban fringe, since I'm within the realm of the metro, but far enough away from the problems of the city, but close enough to enjoy its benefits, and close enough to the serenity of the country, but not too far out.
 

Veloise

Cyburbian
Messages
6,092
Points
38
Grand Rapids Mich

I am pretty sure I've outlined this before

This is the type of place I would like to live in

1) Must have 4 distinct seasons ( I love fall, like winter, enjoy summer and put up with spring)
2) Should be small enough that you can train the local grocer how to pack your bags so it is easier to unpack at home.
3) Should be large enough that you can be anonymous and able to separate work from personal life (ie not have to fear going to the hardware store because you know you'll get yelled at)
4) Should have ready access to the outdoors (nice big park for mountain biking)
5) Good roads and drivers for road riding
6) Be affordable to live in on the salary they are willing to pay
7) Be far enough away from a "big place" that you don't feel like you live in the big place, yet close enough that should you want to go to a concert, see a pro sports game or other city amenity, you can drive there and back the same day (2-3 hour drive each way).
8) Prefer if it has a water feature near by (prefer big lakes or ocean)

If anyone knows of a place like this hiring, let me know.
Too bad you missed HR's deadline last week (I didn't).

Add to this:
--Small friendly DT with many new construction & revitalization opportunities
--Michigan's ten-cent bottle deposit bill (fewer flat tires, revenue generation)
--Rail trails surrounding core city, active cycling clubs, many bike shops, City-published bike map
--Friendly drivers. (When I first moved here, I was on the major street DT and glanced over my shoulder, checking for a break in traffic so I could turn left, either this block or the subsequent one. The two traffic lines of affected motorists let up on their gas pedals and slowed down. It was like parting the Red Sea.)
--Lovely historic district (protected) and nearby possibilities
--Small-town friendliness in the state's second-largest city, with genuine small towns in adjacent townships
--Wide variety of things to do (summer fests, concerts, big-city attractions)
--West-edge-of-time-zone sunsets, clear air, nearby big lake

I reconnoitered this area for several years before making the big cross-state jump (and I used to live in Ann Arbor). Didn't know about features like the trails when I decided to move. More pleasant surprises have emerged over time.
 

TOFB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,147
Points
44
Gotta love Iowa . . .

Police arrested a man after finding him in a government building restroom lying beside an inflatable doll.

Cedar Rapids police charged Craig S. McCullough, 47, with indecent exposure after finding him Wednesday afternoon in the public restroom. He had his pants down and was "lying next to an anatomically correct inflatable doll," according to the criminal complaint.

He was found by an agent of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which has an office near the restroom.

McCullough has a lengthy criminal record, including a 2004 conviction for burglarizing Just For Me bridal boutique in Cedar Rapids. Shortly after the burglary, officers found McCullough in a nearby alley, carrying a mannequin wearing a bridal dress.
 

ruralplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
138
Points
6
It seems as though the responses of places rural-- either small towns or large landholdings speak to my idea of an ideal place.

So here goes...

My ideal place would be rural with a mix of small scale (organic) working farms and a dramatic hilly and forested landscape full of streams and hidden caves. This place would provide total seclusion when I need it, but would also consist of a community of like-minded people along with periodic communal gatherings. Four seasons are a must with cold and snowy winters that make you long for the first days of spring. It needs to be scary too, requiring the utmost in being able to conquer fear and perseverance to venture out into the woods on a moonlit night knowing that coyotes and the occasional wolf are nearby. It needs to be a place that I own—so I have full control over what’s left, after nature takes her control first.

The scattered villages in this rural place need to be liberal and educated. Full of folks you can actually have an intelligent conversation about the latest story on NPR. There needs to be an understanding that the villages would not exist as they do if the rural areas did not surround them and that the rural areas would be too isolated if it weren’t for the community provided by the villages. This area would likely be influenced heavily by a larger liberal city, however the area would also be devoid of trophy homes and the typical mentality of those living in them.

It needs to be a place that does not judge others by their differing opinions, but embraces them as new perspectives. A twist on an old idea. It needs to be a community that not only grows together but grows old together forming bonds that could never exist in an urban area. It’s also a place that offers help, without fear of ulterior motives—if you are stranded on the side of the road or need your driveway plowed.

Finally, it needs to be the kind of place that makes you agonize over the mere thought of having to leave it. It needs to trap you there forever—lest you leave it only to realize that you cannot find anything better.

For the most part this is the kind of place that I live in. It's about an hour from Madison, WI and a bit longer to Dubuque in the other direction. While Madison is where its at for me when I feel the need for an urban experience, Dubuque has really come a long way in recent years-- thanks to planners there, I'm sure.
 

TexanOkie

Cyburbian
Messages
2,902
Points
20
2 places

My preferred climate would be something generally on the warmer side but with seasons, and with tallgrass prairie-like or great plains-ish scenery like rolling hills and scattered trees mainly along riparian zones. Think Kansas Flint Hills, Oklahoma Osage Country, Texas Panhandle/Western Oklahoma/Central Oklahoma Canadian River basin, any cross-timbers region.

That being said, I'd need two places (assuming money is not an issue):

[1] A somewhat small cottage or craftsman style house in an early streetcar suburb (preferably that has been annexed for quite some time and is within biking distance of downtown or on direct transit route) of a medium to large sized city (pop. 75,000-750,000), preferably. Examples - Tulsa, Fort Worth, Lawrence, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Wichita Falls, Norman, Omaha.

[2] A similar-sized ranch house on about 50 acres along a riparian zone in the rolling hills about an hour outside of my place in #1 above. Just enough room for a couple of horses and a few head of cattle or bison.
 

b3nr

Cyburbian
Messages
272
Points
10
I suppose its old world, low aspirations but a three bedroomed 19th century terrace house, with a garden and indoor bathroom will do me, in a nice area with a mixed community of young and old and families and house sharers.

Of course if we’re going crazy, somewhere in New Zealand, on a beach, next to a mountain would also be nice.
 
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