Decay in Suburbia

Fast Company pulls together a handful of recent reports to paint a grim picture for the suburbs, as the number of people living in poverty rises, housing values decline, and infrastructure built in the 60s and 70s erodes.

Greg Lindsay of Fast Company pulls together the latest Brookings report on growing suburban poverty, Joel Kotkin's "War on Suburbia" story, the Obama adminstration's smart growth policies, the New Urbanists' SmartCode, and much more.

He writes, "The suburban landscape we once aspired to and now take for granted is changing before our eyes. The absolute number of vehicles on America's roads fell last year for the first time in fifty years. So did the number of miles driven and the gallons of gasoline consumed. ExxonMobil believes the latter is in permanent decline due to high prices and biofuels. Our centrifugal patterns of urban development are no longer a given."

Full Story: Introducing The Master Plan: A Chronicle of New Urbanism and Exurban Decay



muddled analysis

"But its existence only underscores the fact that left to their own devices, market forces and their instruments--the developers--would never follow these precepts on their own. And why would they, when the system is aligned against it? Tax codes, zoning, community boards, and financing are a straitjacket on new types of development--they created a product that works, and they're preconditioned to produce more of it."

The author contradicts himself. If zoning codes and these other restrictions are a straitjacket on new development, than how are developers left to their own devices and market forces? Zoning codes uniformly restrict density and mixed use and therefore urbanism. In most cases they make urbanism illegal. So let's not confuse the status quo with "market forces and their instruments." After 60 years of a straitjacket on urbanism, the SmartCode offers developers and consumers a choice that they don't currently have, while turning development in a more sustainable direction.

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