End of Suburbia? Kotkin Says No Way

<p>Joel Kotkin once again leaps to the defense of the suburbs as a choice, and says that urbanists who are hoping that Americans will rush back into the cities are sadly mistaken.</p>
July 8, 2008, 9am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"While millions of American families struggle with falling house prices, soaring gasoline costs and tightening credit, some environmentalists, urban planners and urban real estate speculators are welcoming the bad news as signaling what they have long dreamed of -- the demise of suburbia.

In a March Atlantic article, Christopher B. Leinberger, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor of urban planning, contended that yesterday's new suburbs will become "the slums" of tomorrow because high gas prices and the housing meltdown will force Americans back to the urban core. Leinberger is not alone. Other pundits, among them author James Howard Kunstler, who despises suburban aesthetics, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, see the pain in suburbia as a silver lining for urban revival.

Not so fast. The "out of the suburbs, back to the city" narrative rests more on anecdote than demographic or economic fact. Yes, high gas prices and rising sub-prime mortgage defaults are hurting some suburban communities, particularly newly built ones on the periphery. But the suburbs remain home to a majority of Americans and a larger proportion of U.S. families -- and people aren't leaving those communities in droves to live in cities. Even with economic growth slowing, many suburbs, exurbs and smaller towns, especially those whose economies are tied to energy, are continuing to do better than most cities in terms of job creation and population growth."

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Published on Sunday, July 6, 2008 in The Los Angeles Times
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