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The Death of Suburbia


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Suburbia is the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. The misallocation began in the 1920's when cars for the middle class became a reality. With cars came all the trappings of personal movement and the Victorian villa in a park-like setting became a reality not just for the wealthy.

Originally street cars and light rail were paid for by the developers of suburbs. But General motors, Firestone and Standard oil got togethere to kill light rail, which was at first replaced by roads and buses - Made by Gm, with Firestone tires and fueled by standard oil.

http://www.vitalitymagazine.com/node/316

Lot of interesting material, very scarry.

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Not sure what you think we should do with all the people and where they should live, even as one liberal leadership contender proposes increasing immigration to 400,000 yearly. Oil depletion could be the end of civilization as we know it now, but we are working on it. The End of Suburbia sounds more like a lot of hypobele to me.

Personally I like my large lawn, (well, not 100% of the time) garage and patio, and like the idea of an open bucolic private, setting and am aware of the tradeoffs I made but heck, who wants to live in a dirty dangerous city. My future doesn't rest with living in small dirty locales.

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Not sure what you think we should do with all the people and where they should live, even as one liberal leadership contender proposes increasing immigration to 400,000 yearly. Oil depletion could be the end of civilization as we know it now, but we are working on it. The End of Suburbia sounds more like a lot of hypobele to me.

Have you ever considered the connection between suburbia and high oil prices?

Personally I like my large lawn, (well, not 100% of the time) garage and patio, and like the idea of an open bucolic private, setting and am aware of the tradeoffs I made but heck, who wants to live in a dirty dangerous city. My future doesn't rest with living in small dirty locales.

Shorter: me me me me me me me.

This is the dream of a bunch of social engineers who want to cram everyone into cities and make huge tracks of land off limits to humans.

Sounds good to me.

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High oil prices, suberbia etc. etc. are all based on large numbers of consumers, cut back on the population and we might get somewhere. Until someone is willing to stand up and discourage population increases instead of encouraging and wanting more, why should I have to live in cramped quarters in a filthy over populated dangerous city.

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The combustion engine already has many substitutes.

But people are still willing to pay the current price for gasoline. If or when gasoline gets to expensive, we'll start maknig the shift to substitutes like battery operated vehicles or fuel cells.

Until then life is good. And when we switch, life will go on.

Damn! We all know how much lefties, social engineers and environmentalists hate the sound of good news ;)

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High oil prices, suberbia etc. etc. are all based on large numbers of consumers, cut back on the population and we might get somewhere. Until someone is willing to stand up and discourage population increases instead of encouraging and wanting more, why should I have to live in cramped quarters in a filthy over populated dangerous city.

Hopefully the only alternative to what we see as suburbia right now is not living "in cramped quarters in a filthy over populated dangerous city." There is surely a better way of mixing residential and commercial areas so that living in a suburb does not mean (for most people) that a car is a necessity to get to work, buy your groceries, etc.

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Damn! We all know how much lefties, social engineers and environmentalists hate the sound of good news ;)

I always marvel at how right wingers take joy in wasting resources. I am failry liberal, but am also a capitalist and, while I see the market as the ultimate arbiter, also cannot help but notice how much waste (and lost profits) there are in a society that spreads itself to the outer limits. Think of how much more affordable shipping and trucking and manufacturing would be if people cut down their energy consumption by 20%. Think of the added profits to manufacturers, the better wages, subsequent home ownership, investment in stocks and mutual funds by everyday people. Think of the shorter commute times (meaning people could work more hours!), the preservation of open spaces for farmers and ranchers, and the better use of land that isn't supporting one home per acre of sprawl. Think of the money municipalities could save (and the lower tax burden on individuals) by not having to pave, plow, repair and expand thousands of miles of asphalt-covered toads. Happiness at waste is just reactionary and stupid, if you ask me.

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The combustion engine already has many substitutes.

But people are still willing to pay the current price for gasoline. If or when gasoline gets to expensive, we'll start maknig the shift to substitutes like battery operated vehicles or fuel cells.

Until then life is good. And when we switch, life will go on.

Damn! We all know how much lefties, social engineers and environmentalists hate the sound of good news ;)

I'm not sure that the combustion engine does have many substitutes. After all, if I wanted to buy a battery operated vehicle or fuel cell powered vehicle, where would I get that? These are theoretical alternatives right now, not practical ones.

So even if I was not willing to pay the current price for gas, I'm not sure what realistic alternatives I have for travelling in areas without public transportation - and even then there are limits to what you can do with public transportation.

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The combustion engine already has many substitutes.

But people are still willing to pay the current price for gasoline. If or when gasoline gets to expensive, we'll start maknig the shift to substitutes like battery operated vehicles or fuel cells.

Until then life is good. And when we switch, life will go on.

Damn! We all know how much lefties, social engineers and environmentalists hate the sound of good news ;)

I'm not sure that the combustion engine does have many substitutes. After all, if I wanted to buy a battery operated vehicle or fuel cell powered vehicle, where would I get that? These are theoretical alternatives right now, not practical ones.

So even if I was not willing to pay the current price for gas, I'm not sure what realistic alternatives I have for travelling in areas without public transportation - and even then there are limits to what you can do with public transportation.

Be patient. The article we're discussing is talking about years and years down the road the death of the suburb...not the day after tommorrow - and so am I. Things happen gradually, not all at once.

Trust me - there are substitutes which will come into play more and more as prices and consumer demand begins to shift.

There is life after oil and we will get there when we need to get there.

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High oil prices, suberbia etc. etc. are all based on large numbers of consumers, cut back on the population and we might get somewhere. Until someone is willing to stand up and discourage population increases instead of encouraging and wanting more, why should I have to live in cramped quarters in a filthy over populated dangerous city.

Why do you think you're entitled to take up so much space?

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This is the dream of a bunch of social engineers who want to cram everyone into cities and make huge tracks of land off limits to humans

Sounds good to me.

I'll bet it does sound good to all the dupes, wanta be Tyrants and socialist one worlders of the cesspool of corruption. It's not much wonder they're after our arms.

Achieving that consensus meant painting scary scenarios of a hurting, dying planet that frighten children, anger youth, and persuade adults to submit to the unthinkable regulations. (See "Saving the Earth") It means blaming climate change on human activities and ignoring the natural factors that have - throughout time - brought cyclical changes in climate, storm patterns, wildlife migration, and ozone thinning (there has never been a "hole").

http://www.crossroad.to/text/articles/la21_198.html

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High oil prices, suberbia etc. etc. are all based on large numbers of consumers, cut back on the population and we might get somewhere. Until someone is willing to stand up and discourage population increases instead of encouraging and wanting more, why should I have to live in cramped quarters in a filthy over populated dangerous city.

Why do you think you're entitled to take up so much space?

Because there is oodles of it (space).

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The combustion engine already has many substitutes.

But people are still willing to pay the current price for gasoline. If or when gasoline gets to expensive, we'll start maknig the shift to substitutes like battery operated vehicles or fuel cells.

Until then life is good. And when we switch, life will go on.

Damn! We all know how much lefties, social engineers and environmentalists hate the sound of good news ;)

I love the sound of your good news and I honestly hope you're right. Unfortunately I think you're very naive to think that we will painlessly transition from the fundamental (combustion) engine of our economy. I like living in a suburb and have invested a lot of money in a big old house that burns a lot of fossil fuels. But ultimately I think I'm just enjoying it while it lasts and recognize the complete unsustainability of my lifestyle.

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Suburbia is the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. The misallocation began in the 1920's when cars for the middle class became a reality. With cars came all the trappings of personal movement and the Victorian villa in a park-like setting became a reality not just for the wealthy.

Originally street cars and light rail were paid for by the developers of suburbs. But General motors, Firestone and Standard oil got togethere to kill light rail, which was at first replaced by roads and buses - Made by Gm, with Firestone tires and fueled by standard oil.

http://www.vitalitymagazine.com/node/316

Lot of interesting material, very scarry.

I lived in the an urban neighborhood most of my life as well as just outside Tokyo for many years.

I tried to buy a house in my old urban neighborhood but it was too expensive. I now live in an a suburb. Not as far out as I could be but not as close as I used to be.

I like my neighborhood and there has been a lot of infill houses going up on patches of land here and there. The cost of fuel is a concern. At some point, if it is cost effective, I'd like to go to thermal heating and cooling.

I do believe density can be increased in downtowns by effectively combining office and apartment living. We are seeing this happening in Toronto and Vancouver now. It is just a matter of time before other cities start doing it too.

It is a tricky question because we don't want people to be defensive about where they live. We want people to try and improve their neighborhoods.

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Why does everyone have to live in existing cities? I live about 80K from Vancouver and the population here is up over 70% since I moved here 17 years ago and it is not all residential. Businesses are coming here for the same reason. Vancouver has become so expensive it is hard for them to remain competitive and stay there.

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Why does everyone have to live in existing cities?

I don't think anyone is saying that. Some argue that suburb living is selfish, unsustainable and lacking a quality of life that can be found in vibrant, densely populated urban areas. The problem with suburban living is it often destroys the urban environment because it requires acres of dead (but expensive) parking space to populate it. So you wind up with few people and a lot of surface parking lot, which makes the area less of an attraction and ultimately a barren wasteland that absorbs fantastic amounts of tax money paying for its under-used infrastructure.

But people have to be free to live where they want so you have to make the urban environment more attractive than the suburbs in order to draw them back. This has been successfully accomplished only in places where a proper subway system exists as well as lots of densely packed mixed-use low-level storefronts with apartments or condos upstairs. Then you can populate the area with shops and services and entertainment venues and working people rather than parking lots and vagrants.

This is why the urban areas of Toronto and Montreal and Vancouver work now and would unquestionably be even better with fewer suburban cars driving in every morning.

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My point is, todays suburb is tomorrows city.

This is why the urban areas of Toronto and Montreal and Vancouver work now and would unquestionably be even better with fewer suburban cars driving in every morning.

Actually they probably wouldn't work without those people driving in every morning. They have to be given a practical alternative to not driving. Great cities need people coming in on a daily basis to remain great cities. Vancouver is the country's biggest port yet there are people who believe that road access to the city shouldn't be improved beyond freeways that were built in the late fifties. Movement of goods has become a real problem, never mind commutors. You can't build a wall around the place and expect it to remain great. Business will look for other places and pass it by. Seattle will fill that role quite willingly.

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Suburbia is the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. The misallocation began in the 1920's when cars for the middle class became a reality. With cars came all the trappings of personal movement and the Victorian villa in a park-like setting became a reality not just for the wealthy.
It is impossible to talk about North American suburbia without mentioning local government zoning and the effects this has had on the nature of North American cities.

There are many examples of how governments can utterly screw things up and this is one of them. (BTW, if you think North American suburbia is a bad misallocation of resources, you have never seen a Soviet suburb.)

I frankly don't know what the solution would be. I don't think the free market would allocate urban or suburban land use efficiently either despite what the link below implies. But a free market could hardly be worse.

Houston, Texas is the only large American city with no formal zoning code -- yet Houston has all the sprawl and associated ills of other Sunbelt cities. Houston is less dense than most big cities, and Houstonians drive more than in most big cities. Does it then follow that sprawl is the result of consumer choice rather than of government meddling?

Not necessarily -- because what other cities achieve through zoning, Houston achieves through several land use regulations.

Like other cities' zoning codes, Houston's municipal code creates auto dependency by artificially spreading out the population. Until 1999, the city required all single-family houses to gobble up 5,000 square feet of land. Although this limit is less rigid than minimum lot sizes in most suburbs, the city's statute nevertheless insures that many residents will be unable to live within walking distance of a bus stop, which in turn means that those residents will be completely dependent on their cars.

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You can't build a wall around the place and expect it to remain great. Business will look for other places and pass it by. Seattle will fill that role quite willingly.

Who's looking to build a wall? I'm certainly not.

I said you have to make the urban environment attractive so that people want to be there. Suburbs are just the lesser of two evils, and really aren't very nice places to live. Given a choice, people would prefer to live and work in a vibrant urban community where all the provisions and services they need are within a two or three block radius. By comparison, commuting two hours a day to a barren stucco house on a treeless plain, far from any attractions or points of interest, is a pretty dismal existence.

Vibrant urban areas are diminished when they become cluttered and conjested with suburbanites' cars. They only get life when people choose to live in them.

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You can't build a wall around the place and expect it to remain great. Business will look for other places and pass it by. Seattle will fill that role quite willingly.

Who's looking to build a wall? I'm certainly not.

I said you have to make the urban environment attractive so that people want to be there. Suburbs are just the lesser of two evils, and really aren't very nice places to live. Given a choice, people would prefer to live and work in a vibrant urban community where all the provisions and services they need are within a two or three block radius. By comparison, commuting two hours a day to a barren stucco house on a treeless plain, far from any attractions or points of interest, is a pretty dismal existence.

Vibrant urban areas are diminished when they become cluttered and conjested with suburbanites' cars. They only get life when people choose to live in them.

Speak for yourself. I moved farther away from the city because although I like some of the things it has to offer, I don't want to live in one. Mind you, I didn't have to commute every day, live in a village with a creek running through the property, often have deer in my yard and walk my dog along the river every day on part of the Canada Trail. My village is part of a city of 140,000. I grew up in Vancouver and while I like to visit it a few times a year, have absolutely no desire to live there. Each to their own.

I think you are correct in that we should be trying to make cities more livable but even the greatest cities in the world such as London, Tokyo, New York etc depend on large numbers of people coming in to work every day. The difference between them and Canadian cities is most of them have rail and other transit systems that make cars unnecessary for the majority of people. However they still have extensive road systems.

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I live in a grey area between Suburbia and rural. I drive rural highways to get to school or work, it's not any further to take highway 22... but I have a Co-op (oh, that's a Calgary thing right? best not be confusing)... I have a Sobey's and Superstore a reasonable walk away. Very confusing some days. I pay taxes to Calgary.

I guess you could say I am the absolute worst possible suburbian... a 120km a day commute between school-work-home. Whew, all those greenhouse gases. I do prefer the warmth.

There is plenty of land for everyone though. Come out here, tons of land, tons and tons of land.

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Speak for yourself. I moved farther away from the city because although I like some of the things it has to offer, I don't want to live in one. Mind you, I didn't have to commute every day, live in a village with a creek running through the property, often have deer in my yard and walk my dog along the river every day on part of the Canada Trail. My village is part of a city of 140,000. I grew up in Vancouver and while I like to visit it a few times a year, have absolutely no desire to live there. Each to their own.

Exactly. We have the same, although our town is a lot smaller, a lovely lakefront, walking and ski trails close by. We retired here a few years ago, lived in the GTA all my life prior to that, you would never get me back there if you paid me. And, why should I have to, we have the freedom to choose where we live and how we live it. We we live within our means and do what we can for recycling etc. etc.

High-density cities, packing people like sardines into apt. buildings might be good for something, but its not good for the human psyche or soul; people should be free to pursue their dream. Zero population growth is the answer but I don't see that happening.

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