by Dr. Michael Sanera
Director of Research and Local Government Studies
Joel Kotkin relates recent trends in city growth and decline
in this article. His conclusion!
Smaller, more nimble urban
regions promise a better life than the congested megalopolis.
According to Kotkin, efficient cities "provide the amenities
of megacities — airports, mass communication, reservoirs of talent — without their
grinding congestion, severe social conflicts and other diseconomies of scale."
Between 2000 and 2008, notes
demographer Wendell Cox, metropolitan areas of more than 10 million suffered a
10% rate of net outmigration. The big gainers were generally cities with
100,000 to 2.5 million residents. The winners included business-friendly Texas
cities and other Southern locales like Raleigh-Durham, now the nation’s
fastest-growing metro area with over one million people. You can add rising
heartland cities like Columbus, Indianapolis, Des Moines, Omaha, Sioux Falls,
Oklahoma City and Fargo.
Unfortunately, the government and civic leaders in Raleigh,
Durham, Charlotte and other North Carolina cities are stuck on the failed
ideology that uses land-use plans to dictate high-density congestion. They have not gotten the message that
most people want less not more high-density congestion. They have blindly
accepted the myths about "sprawl." I suggest Robert Bruegmann’s book Sprawl:
A Compact History as the single best source of facts to
destroy those myths.
If successfully implemented, Raleigh’s new Comprehensive Plan will produce the forced
high-density, congestion causing living that people abhor. The successful low-density efficient
city model that has made Raleigh-Durham attractive will end and people will
flee the area for successful efficient cities elsewhere.
This suggests that Raleigh’s government and civic leaders
must open their eyes to the failed high-density ideology that they are
following, reject the congested megalopolis, and embrace the efficient city. This type of 180-degree change is difficult for an
entrenched planning bureaucracy and the elected leaders who have uncritically
accepted planning dogma. Perhaps,
a wholesale change in leadership will be necessary?