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Reversing urban sprawl

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive

Quote:
The government looking (sic) at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.
Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.
Bulldozing America’s Shrinking Cities

Quote:
The move to sun and sprawl meant that 8 of the 10 largest cities in the United States in 1950 have lost at least 20 percent of their population since that date. In some cities, like Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis, population has declined by more than 50 percent.
Urban public policy over the past 60 years focused on helping those places come back, but policies like urban renewal and the model cities program did little for the people living in declining areas. ... The hallmark of declining places is an abundance of infrastructure relative to people. It is therefore particularly foolish to try to save declining places by building new infrastructure or homes.
I can picture declines in air pollution, fuel prices and obesity if people move back into urban centers, as money can be invested in better public transportation, for instance, instead of roads connecting bedroom communities to jobs, fewer longer commutes and oversized houses will mean less fuel consumption, and more people will be walking. Small businesses in center city locations will profit from higher urban populations. Wal*Mart won't be pleased, though. If houses in suburban communities, or even whole suburbs, are demolished, real estate prices should rise as "supply" dwindles. Flora and fauna will benefit from less urban sprawl.

The question is, will people (be willing to) give up their large single-family homes and huge yards?
post #2 of 17
From living in a busy city (San Francisco) and living in suburbia as well as something not quite suburbia and not quite rural... I would hate to be crammed back into a city again.

There is something to be said about personal space, and having your own little plot of land. I miss my fruit trees and garden and open greenery. Now I have a porch with some potted plants, and in San Francisco I had nothing.

While I think that bringing people closer together so resources don't have to be stretched is a nice ideal, asking those to give up their personal space is like asking them to give up their personal freedom. I loathe that I can hear my neighbors partying all day and night and that they can hear my husband and I when we are having a disagreements. I hate that my water gets turned off without warning when they have repair jobs because my manager forgot to send out a notice. I hate that I have a hole in my ceiling that pours rain because my manager keeps forgetting to fix it. And yes, I hate that when I moved into my apartment my tub was clogged and I pulled out a giant wad of the previous tenants hair. I think if it was my own place - I would mind less and be happier.

Besides, you know how the government is. They'll just do it halfway. Maybe the people will move and the some buildings will be torn down, but eventually it will just be a ghost town where the homeless and wanderers move into decrepit buildings. Has the government ever completed anything on time, on budget, and as planned in recent decades?
post #3 of 17
My in-laws live in Burton, originally a part of Flint and I have been all around there. The areas that are blighted are very horrific - houses that not even feral dogs would reside in The yards are not large by any means - they were cookie-cutter houses built by companies. It would provide jobs to raze them - even the habited ones probably don't pass code. I wonder where the money to do this would come from, though.
post #4 of 17
While listening to NPR yesterday they were interviewing an author of a book (I believe) called $20 gas. The author was going on and on how that would be a good thing as more cities would be more full yadda yadda yadda. Well it might work for very urban areas and some states but where I live it would be diastrous!! There isn't a rail stystem just in a couple areas of southern Wisconsin. Certainly no local bus service where I live either.

All this seems to be pointed towards very urban or formerly urban cities. In some cities uninhabited areas could be re-habbed for low income housing.

I do believe there are some cities that will get much smaller though.
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsknowme View Post
My in-laws live in Burton, originally a part of Flint and I have been all around there. The areas that are blighted are very horrific - houses that not even feral dogs would reside in The yards are not large by any means - they were cookie-cutter houses built by companies. It would provide jobs to raze them - even the habited ones probably don't pass code. I wonder where the money to do this would come from, though.
They could use some of the billions from the Stimulus Bill.

No way would I live in an asphalt jungle in the city, no way.
post #6 of 17
I think living in a city is healthier for people both physically and mentally. We are social animals, isolating ourselves in suburbia, barely knowing who lives nextdoor, I don't think it's how we are meant to live. I loved living in a big city, now that I'm in the suburbs I hate it. I loved leaving my house and actually being among people, not cars. I liked taking relaxing walks in the park, but now that I'm in the suburbs I don't even enjoy going to a park because of most of the time I'd have to drive to get there so it defeats the whole purpose- sitting in traffic will cancel out whatever relaxation i will get from being around nature. Gosh I can't even put into words how I wish suburban sprawl didn't even exist. In my opinion, it was bad planning of those environmental engineers, but i know it wasn't totally up to them. Ehh I hope we can reverse it.
post #7 of 17
I don't think it is healthier, to much smog. Give me the wide, open spaces any day.
post #8 of 17
I once heard a social researcher blame 3 things for urban sprawl and the death of the neighborhood.

1. Freeways.

2. Shopping centers (and malls, especially).

3. Consolidated schools.

However, before anyone gets too excited about ending suburbia, you should probably do a little research about what cities were like before suburbia began to take the pressure off the population centers.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post
I think living in a city is healthier for people both physically and mentally. We are social animals, isolating ourselves in suburbia, barely knowing who lives nextdoor, I don't think it's how we are meant to live. I loved living in a big city, now that I'm in the suburbs I hate it. I loved leaving my house and actually being among people, not cars. I liked taking relaxing walks in the park, but now that I'm in the suburbs I don't even enjoy going to a park because of most of the time I'd have to drive to get there so it defeats the whole purpose- sitting in traffic will cancel out whatever relaxation i will get from being around nature. Gosh I can't even put into words how I wish suburban sprawl didn't even exist. In my opinion, it was bad planning of those environmental engineers, but i know it wasn't totally up to them. Ehh I hope we can reverse it.
I think that depends on the individual. I've never lived in a BIG city (like NYC, or LA) but I've liven in smaller cities and in apartment complexes. Give me my own house and my own yard any day. Honestly, I have NO idea who my neighbors were in the apartment I lived in (for 2 years). It was pretty much a "this is your space, this is my space" type of thing. I found living outside the city much more relaxing. And the neighbors are easier to get to know. Of course, that had a lot to do with the neighbors.

I grew up in town where the houses were 3 feet apart. I will never go back to that. I will DEFINITELY never move back to an apartment complex. I like people...on my own terms. Nature is where you find it, even if it's in your own back yard.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
However, before anyone gets too excited about ending suburbia, you should probably do a little research about what cities were like before suburbia began to take the pressure off the population centers.
This was my first reaction....where would these people go? I'm kind of confused on this. Ok, they want to demolish some suburbia towns. So, what then? Force everyone to live in the city? In a 14th floor apartment with 2 bedrooms with no yard to play in? In a city filled with pollution (which everyone is against), crime, overpopulation? Oh, they may be a park nearby, but the kids have to duck and run if bullets are fired? Or, if it's a "safe" city, they still have to cross the traffic to get to it. Why is this a good idea?

Demolish the homes that are not inhabited right now, but to ask people to give up their homes that they worked for and saved for is NOT a good answer for me.

Just IMO.
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by calico2222 View Post
I think that depends on the individual. I've never lived in a BIG city (like NYC, or LA) but I've liven in smaller cities and in apartment complexes. Give me my own house and my own yard any day. Honestly, I have NO idea who my neighbors were in the apartment I lived in (for 2 years). It was pretty much a "this is your space, this is my space" type of thing. I found living outside the city much more relaxing. And the neighbors are easier to get to know. Of course, that had a lot to do with the neighbors.

I grew up in town where the houses were 3 feet apart. I will never go back to that. I will DEFINITELY never move back to an apartment complex. I like people...on my own terms. Nature is where you find it, even if it's in your own back yard.
It really does depend on the individual..I plan to never own a house. The mowing of the grass, planting of a garden, maintenance of the house, oh gosh I'd rather have the landlords taking care of that for me and in apartment complexes they are so good at it. They never leave things broken, at least the more high end ones. I've lived in some before..Owning a house is scary to me, too much work and if something happens all the responsibility is on me!

Before suburbia - the very poor and very rich were living very close together. But I don't see a problem with this. It's better this way IMO- now, most of the upper middle class don't even see some of the problems that poor working class people face because they never come into contact with them. I've read some studies of sociologists going in undercover to live among working class people and it's quite shocking to know how difficult it is for them to make ends meet, the dangers they are facing. Everyone is so trusting of the american dream, no matter how poor you are as long as you keep working hard you'll achieve something and living in a bubble doesn't help understand the struggles of everyone else.
post #12 of 17
Ok, I grew up in Gary, IN. Not a huge metropolitain area at all. My husband grew up in a smaller town. We both went to college at Purdue, and spent time in apartment complexes, took the city bus system to campus, etc.

We now live in the suburbs and are MUCH happier. We don't wake up at 2 a.m. to the sound of someone's car bass pounding. We don't wake up to sirens at that time either.

Having grown up and lived in smaller cities, I'll take the suburbs anyday. There's a reason they exist: city or metropolitain life is NOT for everyone. You can be social and live in the 'burbs. Hell, we found out this neighborhood has a huge block party once a year.
post #13 of 17
Here in Portland, the 'urban' center is not quite what folks above me here are describing. In areas like North Portland, where it's more mixed suburban with some business zoning, is where the 'bullets fly' ....

My current neighborhood is also pretty bad and it's more suburban. When I tell folks where I currently live, they all wince. It's a pretty wretched area. Strip clubs, gangs, violence, drugs. I'm getting out in two days. Where, you may ask? To The Pearl, which is a more urban environment. I will be in another restricted income building, because no matter where i go, I can't afford to live in regular housing. But it's a green building, which i love.

Here in Portland, we have a lot of folks who are very conscientious of the sprawl killing off wildlife and driving said animals out of their natural habitat. The sprawl is Numero Uno in harming wildlife. Folks complain about raccoons, deer, skunk, etc 'invading' their yards... YOUR yard used to be THEIR habitat. They have less space to forage for food. So, yes, they're going to 'invade' your space and look for food and shelter in your back yard. Humans are the real invaders, not the animals. They were there first. Developers here are building up, not out, so our footprint on this planet shrinks.

Not everyone needs a back yard. What with foreclosures skyrocketing on those 'nice suburban homes' everyone seems to love and want, we need to rethink our homes and how we use this planet. We are using it to the point of annihilating it. All in the name of progress and giving everyone their own little plot of land.

I am also one who has zero desire to own a house on a piece of tract land. Do I want to own a house someday? Sure, but not a cleared out space that has zero personality. I want those old growth trees. I don't want a mowed down plot with 6 month old baby trees and a lawn I will never take care of.

I love being able to walk outside my building and WALK to the grocery store. WALK to a coffee shop and write. Take a bus or train to work. Will this work for everyone? No. But urban environments should be made available for anyone who does want it. If you want a piece of land to plant trees, fine, but don't assume everyone in this country wants the same as you. And don't 'assume' (with extreme prejudice, to boot) that ALL urban centers are rife with violence and drugs. I am more aware of my surroundings and the people in those surroundings when I live in that environment. I did it in downtown Chicago for three years (and would still be there if I could have afforded it), and I knew the homeless people near my building. I patronized the local businesses because i wasn't driving past them to get to my tract home. I walked past them.

In September, I'll be getting rid of my car. Thus lowering my carbon footprint by not driving everywhere. I'll walk and use public transit. When I need a car, I'll have access to the local car sharing service, which uses hybrid cars...

This life isn't for everyone, but if more people considered it, we could return more of the land around our cities to their natural state. encouraging wildlife to return.

Just my two cents, plus 150% interest. I get wordy when it's something I feel strongly about... and I know there are folks here who won't agree with me on the wildlife/sprawl issue... but I see it. I know this is what is happening.

~A~
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by RubSluts'Mommy View Post
Here in Portland, the 'urban' center is not quite what folks above me here are describing. In areas like North Portland, where it's more mixed suburban with some business zoning, is where the 'bullets fly' ....

My current neighborhood is also pretty bad and it's more suburban. When I tell folks where I currently live, they all wince. It's a pretty wretched area. Strip clubs, gangs, violence, drugs. I'm getting out in two days. Where, you may ask? To The Pearl, which is a more urban environment. I will be in another restricted income building, because no matter where i go, I can't afford to live in regular housing. But it's a green building, which i love.

Here in Portland, we have a lot of folks who are very conscientious of the sprawl killing off wildlife and driving said animals out of their natural habitat. The sprawl is Numero Uno in harming wildlife. Folks complain about raccoons, deer, skunk, etc 'invading' their yards... YOUR yard used to be THEIR habitat. They have less space to forage for food. So, yes, they're going to 'invade' your space and look for food and shelter in your back yard. Humans are the real invaders, not the animals. They were there first. Developers here are building up, not out, so our footprint on this planet shrinks.

Not everyone needs a back yard. What with foreclosures skyrocketing on those 'nice suburban homes' everyone seems to love and want, we need to rethink our homes and how we use this planet. We are using it to the point of annihilating it. All in the name of progress and giving everyone their own little plot of land.

I am also one who has zero desire to own a house on a piece of tract land. Do I want to own a house someday? Sure, but not a cleared out space that has zero personality. I want those old growth trees. I don't want a mowed down plot with 6 month old baby trees and a lawn I will never take care of.

I love being able to walk outside my building and WALK to the grocery store. WALK to a coffee shop and write. Take a bus or train to work. Will this work for everyone? No. But urban environments should be made available for anyone who does want it. If you want a piece of land to plant trees, fine, but don't assume everyone in this country wants the same as you. And don't 'assume' (with extreme prejudice, to boot) that ALL urban centers are rife with violence and drugs. I am more aware of my surroundings and the people in those surroundings when I live in that environment. I did it in downtown Chicago for three years (and would still be there if I could have afforded it), and I knew the homeless people near my building. I patronized the local businesses because i wasn't driving past them to get to my tract home. I walked past them.

In September, I'll be getting rid of my car. Thus lowering my carbon footprint by not driving everywhere. I'll walk and use public transit. When I need a car, I'll have access to the local car sharing service, which uses hybrid cars...

This life isn't for everyone, but if more people considered it, we could return more of the land around our cities to their natural state. encouraging wildlife to return.

Just my two cents, plus 150% interest. I get wordy when it's something I feel strongly about... and I know there are folks here who won't agree with me on the wildlife/sprawl issue... but I see it. I know this is what is happening.

~A~
Great post, I agree with you!! When I first saw suburbia, about 10 years ago, I was shocked at how much wildlife is right in your backyard!! Now I am used to it and I even like it but I totally agree that it's not good for animals. In my homeplace, in Eastern Europe, the way things look is we have cities that are very cramped together and then we have areas in between cities that unihabited that go for miles and miles. Very different and you never get to see a wild animal inside the city, the only animals are roaming homeless pets. Ahh I really miss it. It's so lively, you communicate with people so much more and you get to walk to the grocery store! Has anyne noticed how people who live in suburbs dress mostly for comfort, while people in big cities care much more about style?? Yup it's actually sociologically proven Another reason to live in a big city. I think my depression a few years ago was due to the fact that I was stuck in the suburbs and never got to see anyone, it didn't matter whether I get up at all during my days off cuz no one will come visit me anyway unless I arrange it so I stayed in my pajamas all the time and I didn't technically have to get dressed to go to the store, I can just wear sweat pants cuz I won't meet anyone I know - everyone of my friends lives so far away in another suburb...Now that I'm in college it's so much different..
post #15 of 17
I see the differences as well... folks care more about how they present themselves in a more urban environment. Andi hear you on the depression in suburbia. I hate living where i do. I think I've gotten very unhealthy where I am, because of a variety of reasons, little walking being one. I'll be close to the greenbelt along the river here once I move. I'll have two grocery stores within blocks of me. I'm depressed here in my current place partly due to a lack of natural light in my apartment. it's dark and dreary, and the crime around my building doesn't help matters.

I think many (not all) who place themselves in suburban life isolate themselves from the world around them. I won't go across the street to the 7-11 after dark here. Heck no. I've seen the stuff that goes down out there. Last summer, I heard gunshots right on the other side of my own building, and saw police tape when I glanced out my windows... I live in fear here. I know things will change for me when I move downtown this week.

Well, I'd love to discuss things more, but i need to get some sleep... I have a LONG day of packing tomorrow....

~A~

Quote:
Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post
Great post, I agree with you!! When I first saw suburbia, about 10 years ago, I was shocked at how much wildlife is right in your backyard!! Now I am used to it and I even like it but I totally agree that it's not good for animals. In my homeplace, in Eastern Europe, the way things look is we have cities that are very cramped together and then we have areas in between cities that unihabited that go for miles and miles. Very different and you never get to see a wild animal inside the city, the only animals are roaming homeless pets. Ahh I really miss it. It's so lively, you communicate with people so much more and you get to walk to the grocery store! Has anyne noticed how people who live in suburbs dress mostly for comfort, while people in big cities care much more about style?? Yup it's actually sociologically proven Another reason to live in a big city. I think my depression a few years ago was due to the fact that I was stuck in the suburbs and never got to see anyone, it didn't matter whether I get up at all during my days off cuz no one will come visit me anyway unless I arrange it so I stayed in my pajamas all the time and I didn't technically have to get dressed to go to the store, I can just wear sweat pants cuz I won't meet anyone I know - everyone of my friends lives so far away in another suburb...Now that I'm in college it's so much different..
post #16 of 17
On the other hand, downtown in Dallas used to be no place to be after dark. There were NO residences there, so it was deserted. In recent years, several development have been built, so it's not so bad.

But my area is very safe. And I have lived in small towns that were extremely safe.

The biggest problem is, of course, that most jobs are not in the city, but outside it.
post #17 of 17
I just detest big cities, I have no desire to even visit one let alone live in one.
I have never had a desire to visti NYC.

I've been to Chicago and was NOT impressed, I don't like L.A. I lived in Baltimore, MD for about 9 months years ago and hated it. Everywhere you go there is long lines and just, wayyyy, to many people. I like living in the west. I like being able to get out and go hiking and everything isn't fenced off. I like being able to see mountains where I live.
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