As a young kid, skirting aimlessly throughout my suburban municipality from one car-optimized shopping center to the next on my bicycle in search of stimulation (and perhaps trouble), I vividly recall - though I likely didn't describe it as - the internal conflict between interesting commercial destinations on the inside, and the banal, cruel approach to these places on the outside. Although the primitive human desires of my psyche subconsciously longed for a central place to congregate with other lost children of the suburbs, I never had a downtown; I never had a community center. In this vacuum, I compensated with all that was available.
This morning, one of my listservs was aflutter with discussion of a new article by Joel Kotkin, attacking an alleged "war against the suburbs." According to Kotkin, this "war" consisted of Jerry Brown’s efforts to "compel residents to move to city centers." After reading Kotkin’s article, I couldn’t really figure out exactly what Brown was trying to do- and since I don’t live in California, it really isn’t that important to me.
However, it is important to realize that "smart growth" need not be the enemy of suburbs. Here’s why: