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Home » Archives » February 2010 » Old Suburbs, New Slums....

02/11/2010: "Old Suburbs, New Slums...."
The New York Times today ran a long, musing post by Timothy Egan looking at some exurbs in California's Central Valley that are decaying even as they finish building, now that the "irrational exuberance" of the latest housing bubble has been replaced with quite rational despair.... He asks, in part, "What will these places become?"

His answer seems to be "More growth":
"Yes, huge developments are empty, with rising crime at the edges, and thousands of homes owned by banks that can't unload them even at fire-sale prices.

But through it all, the country churns and expands, unlike most other Western democracies. That great American natural resource--tomorrow--will have to save the suburban slums."
Apparently, just a lower-priced version of the same land-wasting, soul-crushing pattern of cookie-cutter pretention....

I suspect otherwise, and wrote a comment:
What will filling these houses anew bring about? More oil dependence, more taxes wasted on asphalt for dazed residents trapped in their cars for hours each day just to buy bread or get to their McJobs....

"Half acre lots for all!," means no community, no sense of neighborhood, no caring what goes on beyond the wall...it also means all the burden of socialization and socialbility falls on the shoulders of an already weary family...or is given over to the television set.

The cities of the future will be real cities: dense, high-quality housing in neighborhoods that don't trap you in your car; places like San Francisco, yes, or like Paris (twice the density of New York, but you never feel it); those places will survive, not just because they use energy more efficiently, but because they nurture our souls.

There's a reason that property costs more in San Francisco than in some vague lost walled suburb: the life there is more worth experiencing. The market says so with its pricing!

Want to make it affordable? Then just build more of it! More San Franciscos, more Portlands...not more zombie uncommunities where empty calories console the empty lives.

Real urban living: what humanity has been striving for over the last 5,000 years.

What should these particular dying suburbs become? What they were before: farm fields. You do have to eat, don't you?
Read the article (and, if you have all day, the many comments) on the New York Times: Slumburbia.