Don't Treat Suburbs As A 'Sin'

Columnist Steven Greenhut argues that Smart Growth ideologies mistakenly treat suburbia as a sin, and examines contracy evidence from a new study on suburban isolation and Wendell Cox's book, "War on the Dream."

2 minute read

December 12, 2006, 1:00 PM PST

By Chris Steins @urbaninsight

Steven Greenhut, a columnist for the Orange County Register, writes that the ideologies of Smart Growth and the New Urbanism "argue that traditional suburbia of the sort that has evolved since the 1950s is a terrible thing. They say it promotes isolation, hopelessness, despair, social turmoil, leads to deep divisions among classes and races and is unsustainable. 'Unsustainable' is one of those words that defies precise meaning, but those who throw around such a term are suggesting that suburbia is causing irreparable harm to the environment. The Smart Growth/New Urbanist crowd has a solution to the terror of suburbia. We should all live packed into apartment buildings."

"Unfortunately, Smart Growth and New Urbanism are based on faulty foundations. Those of us who grew up crammed into row houses in dirty East Coast cities (in my case, Philadelphia) scratch our heads at the otherworldly arguments and analyses these ideologues make. When we moved to the suburbs, we found: a) less political corruption; b) better schools; c) more open space; d) friendlier neighbors; e) a more free-flowing transportation system; f) cleaner air; g) less crime, etc. The suburbs might not offer the nightlife, restaurants, architectural splendor and cultural pleasures of the city, but they hardly are the fonts of despair that the Smart Growthers claim."

Greenhut also evaluates a new study by Jan Brueckner of the UC Irvine Economics Department and Ann Largey of the Dublin City University Business School in Ireland, which finds that "suburbanites are more likely to talk to their neighbors, to have more friends, to be involved in social clubs."

Thanks to Ken Orski

Sunday, December 10, 2006 in Orange County Register

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