Coronavirus and the Future of Cities: A Final Pre-Election Tour of the Issues

This is Planetizen's seventh collection of articles on the subject of the future of cities in the wake of the pandemic, and how cities and communities are changing plans to respond to the many changes that world has experienced in 2020.

November 3, 2020, 5:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


2020 Election

Voters wait for their chance to cast their ballots on October 15, 2020 in Wake Forest, North Carolina. | Sharkshock / Shutterstock

The sad and surreal sight of businesses boarding up windows and doors in anticipation of social unrest has become increasingly common as the United States hurtled toward Election Day, November 2020.

It's safe to say that when the calendar changed to 2020, back on the January 1, few, if any of us, anticipated anything but the election being the biggest story of the year. Now, anxious voters and the international community are forced to simultaneously navigate the brutal intersections of numerous, massive societal shifts. Planning ahead involves hunkering down until the dust settles from the election. Who could have planned for that?

Throughout the pandemic, Planetizen has been documenting the ongoing debate about the future of urbanism, planning, transportation, etc., so far sharing six previous compendiums of articles on the subject, with many more examples mixed in over the course of the year.

We share this latest compendium of articles on Election Day, because it's clear that everything that comes after the votes are counted will mark a new chapter in the pandemic and for the United States.

If you're looking for a planning narrative within the pandemic narrative on this most auspicious of occasions, it is time to acknowledge that data have begun to confirm the anecdotal evidence about a surge in demand for non-urban lifestyles. While rent falls in the nation's densest locations (i.e., San Francisco and New York City), rent is climbing in suburban locations. Meanwhile, the price of for-sale homes spiked at a record rate over the summer. 

But the trends are driven by very different economic situations that still must be disaggregated from the larger trends. Some pandemic trends are driven by people with the privilege and means to make decisions to work from home, buy cars, and buy homes on the regional periphery, and other trends are driven by people making choices out of the necessities of survival. The long-term effects of the choices made by Americans during the pandemic will only be easier to anticipate when we know more about which kind of change is happening, where, and at what scale. An effective planning response also depends on a more complete understanding of these distinctions.

Status Check

Urban Exodus or Urban Revival?

Planning for the Future


James Brasuell

James Brasuell is a writer and editor, producing web, print, and video content on the subjects of planning, urbanism, and mobility. James has managed all editorial content and direction for Planetizen since 2014 and was promoted to editorial director in 2021.

Stylized rendering of the Midwest Regional Rail Network

Federal Railroad Administration Proposes New Midwest Rail Network

If built, regional high-speed rail networks could provide an alternative to uncomfortable air travel and prevent travelers from becoming stranded at airports during extreme weather.

January 17, 2022 - The Urbanist

New York City Politicians wears a mask at a New York subway station during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Leadership at New York Department of City Planning

With a new mayoral administration comes new planning leadership in the Big Apple.

January 20, 2022 - New York City

Utah

'15-Minute City' To Be Built in Utah

A community that focuses on reducing the need for car ownership and providing effective multimodal transportation and diverse land uses will be built from scratch on the site of the decommissioned Utah State Prison.

January 19, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

Suburban Homes

Experts Express Pessimism Over Housing Costs

Although the current housing crisis has been compared with the housing crash of the late 2000s, experts caution that affordability issues could plague the U.S. housing market for years to come.

5 hours ago - The New York Times

online education

Annual Google Scholar Citation Data for Planning Faculty

Publish or perish?

6 hours ago - Tom Sanchez

Texas Apartment Construction

What the Microchip Shortage Reveals About Housing

The microchip shortage facing the automotive industry illustrates the significant impact that supply has on the cost of durable goods.

7 hours ago - Slowboring.com

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Case Study posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.