In this issue: The future of our urban areas is called the suburbs
By Dr. Michael Sanera
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Undeterred by the facts, North Carolina's planners continue
to write comprehensive plans based on the illusion that higher density will solve
most urban problems. In their eyes, sprawl is the cause of pollution,
congestion, and that lack of community in our cities. Defeating this enemy is
the self-appointed task of our city planners.
Unfortunately, Census data show that as the younger generation ages, they want
to live in single-family homes in the suburbs, not high-density housing
Kotkin reports in Forbes on a study by demographer Wendell Cox, who used
Census data to follow the housing choices of the 25-to-34-year-old age group
from 2000 to 2010. Cox found that this group increased in the suburbs by 12
percent and dropped in the core cities by 22.7 percent.
In many ways this group [now 35 to
44] may be more influential than the much ballyhooed 20-something. Unlike
younger adults, who are often footloose and unattached, people between the ages
of 35 and 44 tend to be putting down roots. As a result, they constitute the
essential social ballast for any community, city or suburb.
Which cities gained the most? You guessed it: cities that
are largely suburban.
The most popular cities among this
group -- with increases of over 10% -- were Las Vegas; Raleigh, N.C.;
Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Orlando, Fla.; San Antonio,
Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, in Texas; and Sacramento, Calif.
And where did the now 35-to-44-year-old group move in these
Furthermore, most of the growth
took place not in the urban centers of these regions but in the outlying
suburbs. This cohort expanded by more than 40% Raleigh's suburbs -- 37,000
people -- over the decade. Houston's suburbs gained the most of any region of
the country, adding 174,000 members of this particular generation.
Planners should end their quixotic fight against the suburbs
and sprawl and recognize the fact that the vast majority of people want to live
in single-family homes with yards in the suburbs or now, increasingly, in an
Robert Bruegmann documents this trend in his book Sprawl: A Compact History.
People have been moving out of the crowded, high-density cities for nearly
1,000 years. As soon as medieval city residents achieved a degree of wealth and
government-provided security, they moved outside of the city walls to a less-crowded
lifestyle. Or as Bruegmann summarizes, people then and now seek "privacy,
mobility and choice."
It is past time for North Carolina's city planners to reject their New Urbanist
ideology and plan cities based on the desires of real people.
Unless there has been a
mind-numbing change in attitude or an unexpected return to good governance in
cities, young adults entering middle age will continue their shift toward
suburban and lower-density areas in the decade ahead, upending the predictions
of most pundits, planners and development experts.
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Government Update archive.
Monday, Jul. 25th, 2011 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest David N. Bass
"There is a free lunch - in schools."
Friday, Jul. 29th, 2011 at 12 p.m.
Friedman Legacy Freedom Lecture
with our special guest Dr. Roy Cordato
Elaborating on Friedman's Theory of Social Responsibility of Business
Saturday, Sep. 10th, 2011 at 9:30am-3pm
A Citizen's Constitutional Workshop
with Dr. Troy Kickler & Dr. Michael Sanera
What the Founders and the State Ratification Conventions Can Teach Us Today