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The Post-Suburban World - Preparing for it

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Here are some excerpts from a good article from JH Kunstler ...

(see him in the video: The Tragedy of Suburbia / read his book, The Long Emergency )

 

FROM JH KUNSTLER...

 

Sunbelt, the Ground Zero of the Suburban Writedown:

 

A reader sent me a passle of recent clippings last week from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It contained one story after another about the perceived need to build more highways in order to maintain "economic growth" (and incidentally about the "foolishness" of public transit). I understood that to mean the need to keep the suburban development system going, since that has been the real main source of the Sunbelt's prosperity the past 60-odd years. They cannot imagine an economy that is based on anything besides new subdivisions, freeway extensions, new car sales, and Nascar spectacles. The Sunbelt, therefore, will be ground-zero for all the disappointment emanating from this cultural disaster, and probably also ground-zero for the political mischief that will ensue from lost fortunes and crushed hopes.

 

jhkeh7.jpg Speech: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes

 

From time-to-time, I feel it's necessary to remind readers what we can actually do in the face of this long emergency. Voters and candidates in the primary season have been hollering about "change" but I'm afraid the dirty secret of this campaign is that the American public doesn't want to change its behavior at all. What it really wants is someone to promise them they can keep on doing what they're used to doing: buying more stuff they can't afford, eating more shitty food that will kill them, and driving more miles than circumstances will allow.

 

Preparing for the Inevitable

Here's what we better start doing.

 

1/ Stop all highway-building altogether. Instead, direct public money into repairing railroad rights-of-way. Put together public-private partnerships for running passenger rail between American cities and towns in between. If Amtrak is unacceptable, get rid of it and set up a new management system. At the same time, begin planning comprehensive regional light-rail and streetcar operations.

 

2/ End subsidies to agribusiness and instead direct dollar support to small-scale farmers, using the existing regional networks of organic farming associations to target the aid. (This includes ending subsidies for the ethanol program.)

 

3/ Begin planning and construction of waterfront and harbor facilities for commerce: piers, warehouses, ship-and-boatyards, and accommodations for sailors. This is especially important along the Ohio-Mississippi system and the Great Lakes.

 

4/ In cities and towns, change regulations that mandate the accommodation of cars. Direct all new development to the finest grain, scaled to walkability. This essentially means making the individual building lot the basic increment of redevelopment, not multi-acre "projects." Get rid of any parking requirements for property development. Institute "locational taxation" based on proximity to the center of town and not on the size, character, or putative value of the building itself. Put in effect a ban on buildings in excess of seven stories. Begin planning for district or neighborhood heating installations and solar, wind, and hydro-electric generation wherever possible on a small-scale network basis.

 

5/ We'd better begin a public debate about nuclear power - whether it is feasible or desirable to construct any new nuclear power plants. If there are good reasons to go forward with nuclear, and a consensus about the risks and benefits, we need to establish it quickly. There may be no other way to keep the lights on in America after 2020.

 

We need to prepare for the end of the global economic relations that have characterized the final blow-off of the cheap energy era. The world is about to become wider again as nations get desperate over energy resources. This desperation is certain to generate conflict. We'll have to make things in this country again, or we won't have the most rudimentary household products.

 

We'd better prepare psychologically to downscale all institutions, including government, schools and colleges, corporations, and hospitals. All the centralizing tendencies and gigantification of the past half-century will have to be reversed. Government will be starved for revenue and impotent at the higher scale. The centralized high schools all over the nation will prove to be our most frustrating mis-investment. We will probably have to replace them with some form of home-schooling that is allowed to aggregate into neighborhood units. A lot of colleges, public and private, will fail as higher ed ceases to be a "consumer" activity. Corporations scaled to operate globally are not going to make it. This includes probably all national chain "big box" operations. It will have to be replaced by small local and regional business. We'll have to reopen many of the small town hospitals that were shuttered in recent years, and open many new local clinic-style health-care operations as part of the greater reform of American medicine.

 

(Does this begin to sound like Ron Paul??)

 

Take a time-out from legal immigration and get serious about enforcing the laws about illegal immigration. Stop lying to ourselves and stop using semantic ruses like calling illegal immigrants "undocumented."

 

Prepare psychologically for the destruction of a lot of fictitious "wealth" -- and allow instruments and institutions based on fictitious wealth to fail, instead of attempting to keep them propped up on credit life-support. Like any other thing in our national life, finance has to return to a scale that is consistent with our circumstances -- i.e., what reality will allow. That process is underway, anyway, whether the public is prepared for it or not. We will soon hear the sound of banks crashing all over the place. Get out of their way, if you can.

 

-source: http://www.biiwii.com/guest4/kunstler/21.htm

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Did anyone else see this? - Kunstler's descriptions are awesome:

 

"Knees knocked last week from sea to shining sea as the shape-shifting monster of economic reality cut a swathe of destruction through the markets and financial ranks. The exact nature of this giant beast still remained largely concealed in a fog of accounting gambits, policy blusters, and reporting dodges, but a few intrepid scouts who glimpsed the behemoth up close said it looked like Godzilla with Herbert Hoover's face.

 

paulsonxq0.png

 

George W. Bush, tried to appease the beast by offering each American adult the dollar equivalent of half a month's mortgage payment -- with the exhortation to drive forthwith to the nearest WalMart and blow it on salad shooters and plasma TV's -- but Hooverzilla just laughed at the offering and pounded the equity markets further into the dust of loss, while the "bank-like" guardians of wealth lay in the drainage ditches bleeding from their ears and eyes.

 

Star_Trek_NG.jpg

 

My favorite moment was seeing Treasury Secretary Paulson and one of his fellow shaved-head deputies at a press conference rostrum frantically trying to calm the news media rabble like a couple of extraplanetary high priests from a Star Trek episode -- the batteries having run down in their laser wands, and their incantations ("liquidity! liquidity!) veering into mystifying glossolalia."

 

-source: http://www.biiwii.com/guest4/kunstler/22.htm

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MORE ON THE TRANSIT VILLAGE ALTERNATIVE

 

New Urbanism, New Choices

 

First, let's dispense with the notion that transit villages are for everyone. That, after all, is one of the problems with suburbia: the idea that a monoculture of three-bedroom, two-bath homes designed for families with kids works for everyone. It doesn't; a "single household" doesn't need a big house or the roommates to pay for it, and not every elderly person wants to live so far from medical services.

 

But the number of those who fit the New Urbanism profile, who like corner cafes and easier commutes, is significant and growing. According to a study produced by the Congress for New Urbanism, nearly 25 percent of the middle- aged population and some 53 percent of "Echo Boomers" (ages 24 to 34) would choose to live in transit-rich, walkable neighborhoods. A recent national marketing assessment found that demand for housing within walking distance of transit will more than double by 2025, says Shelley Poticha, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Transit-Oriented Development.

 

"Anyone who pays attention to the market realizes the demand is only getting bigger, and cities are setting the table for this kind of growth," she says.

 

Transit-oriented housing wasn't a hard sell for Lita and Patrick Tang; a New Urbanist project in Hercules caught their attention as they rolled past in a Capitol Corridor Amtrak train. Shortly after visiting the site, they sold their Oakland hills home and moved their family to Hercules. The reason? "Convenience and the quality of the homes here," says Patrick. "We'd liked the area, but weren't interested in the cookie-cutter developments."

 

Getting to work in downtown Oakland via a 10-minute shuttle bus ride and BART takes about 45 minutes, he says, time he can use for reading

 

-source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...CMGTL7G20O1.DTL

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Hi, Julius,

Can I lift this, and post it on the Suburbs thread? There are some good thoughts

 

I live on the east coast of the US, near DC, and I am rather pessimistic that this election cycle will make any difference. Ron Paul is the only one making any sense, and he's not going to win. All the rest are confused about economics, and rather bad on foreign policy as well. I think right now the mainstream American voter is not prepared for change - only for "we can make it good again". And they can't. The only thing that can do that is a change in behavior for Americans towards saving and away from consumption - and everyone other than Ron Paul is saying that's not necessary.

 

Having said that, I am not as pessimistic about the suburbs in particular as some are, primarily because:

 

1) I think that suburban energy usage can be reduced considerably without destroying the essence of what suburbs are, but so far energy prices haven't come up to the point where people feel compelled to economize. (Well, some economization has been occurring - the 400,000 Priuses in the US is testimony to that - but that's just a start.) Repealing the anti-jitney laws could help a lot.

 

2) There is an enormous stock of single-family housing out there, and while some of it, particularly that constructed within the last couple of years, has no or negative value, the rest of it may still have much value, though perhaps not as single-family housing. If we truly see oil prices of several hundred dollars a barrel keeping the current zoning regulations may look a lot less important to many Americans, and things like HOA regulations against gardens may be overtaken by events. (The ability to grow food is potentially a very big advantage to living in the suburbs, though few have the incentive to make use of it at the moment.)

 

3) There are reasons that suburbs became and have stayed popular, and those haven't changed. Even Western Europe, with higher gas costs and frequently more burdensome planning regulation, has seen suburbanization as a strong trend of the last few decades. That's not to say that trend can't reverse, only that there will be many willing to sacrifice to keep the suburban dream alive.

 

4) The concept of the suburbs encompasses a rather wide span of living conditions - for example, you could say a 1500 sq ft house on a 50' by 100' lot in Arlington, VA, five miles from DC, is in the "suburbs". You could also say a house in Manassas, VA, 25 miles from DC, on 3 acres is in the "suburbs". However, the house in Arlington is probably half the size, and it's likely that someone living in Arlington doesn't drive 20-30 miles one way to work, so they aren't going to be as impacted by a doubling or tripling of oil costs. Generalization here may be more of a hindrance to analysis than a help.

 

Of course, this is all very dependent on the rate of increase of energy costs. Most of this is quite questionable if we see $500 oil this year, but as far as I can tell, that's unlikely.

 

I am probably the most "anti-suburbs" guy here.

My idea is that then need to be "written off or restructured". Restructuring is what I favor, and that will take focus, and money. The focus needs to come while the US can still raise money, and if America leaves it too late, then borrowed capital may get more and more expensive, both in terms of the rate paid, and the cost of the embedded energy in the building materials. But even the clear-minded Ron Paul is not yet talking about this challenge- so the US may be many years away from tackling it.

 

Hong Kong is already building itself in a way that fits some of the principals that I am think about (ie density around its rail arteries), but I dont think much of America will wind up looking like HK, since there will be "more American" solutions in the US, with a lesser need to build upwards. Still, its intriguing to think what lessons the US can learn from HK.

 

I could see, existing suburbs be restructured by building new "Main Streets" near rail connections, and then the empty areas between single family homes getting filled in with brownstone-type new builds. Location, Location, location, would then mean proximity to the rail connection, and that may be the only area valuable enough to justify new building.

 

"There are reasons that suburbs became and have stayed popular, and those haven't changed" - i agree-so far.

But I think higher oil prices will change the trade-offs. And the New Urbanists have an answer which Americans of the

future will find compelling too.

 

(I will copy this posting to the other thread , and we can continue discussion about the non-HK part of this there, if you like.)

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REJECTING "Lunatic Behaviours":

 

(A similar voice - Frizzers gave the reference, above):

 

There is apparently an upside to the rottenness to come, according to Celente – if Americans dare to reinvent for the 21st century the free thinking and civic courage of their past. This good cheer as Rome burns is buried somewhat in Celente’s report for 2008, but what it suggests is that, catalyzed by crisis, a fair number of Americans – a minority, likely, but still to watch – will begin this year a transformation of consciousness.

 

Celente predicts that the smaller communities, the smaller groups, the smaller states, the more self-sustaining communities, will “weather the crisis in style” as big cities and hypertrophic suburbias descend into misery and conflict.

 

“Like Katrina’s victims that knew the hurricane was coming but didn’t flee – and looked to Uncle Sam to save the day – those that don’t take action before panic strikes or wait for Washington to lend a hand, will suffer the most from the calamity that follows,” he writes.

 

Economically, the new consciousness will recapture Yankee frugality and reject the lunatic behaviors that have been unsustainable since the Second World War – big houses, big cars, big spending. Those who market and embrace “products and services that focus on compact, smart, functional, efficient, neat, clean, reusable, 'less is more' and 'small is beautiful',” Celente writes, “will handsomely profit.”

 

There will be a downsizing of expectations and perceived needs. There will be a downsizing of giantist institutions to fit to human scale – the center cannot hold, particularly as state’s righters and tax rebels and what Celente calls “the newly flourishing state secessionist movements” begin to repudiate a $9 trillion-in-debt federal government that too often practices the most offensive kind of taxation without representation. Altogether, there will be a downsizing of America.

 

“This could be the end of something really ignorant and stupid and dark,” Celente told me recently in a phone interview. “The end of a dark age! The end of the age of what I call Bottom-Line Fascism, the ruthless and dictatorial profit-only way of thinking that produces crap over quality in all the major institutions, dopiness and blob-thinking, the manipulations of an idiotic media and political establishment, the Cartoon News Networks, the Greta Van Susterens and the Hillary Clintons uttering the same pablum ad nauseum over and over. All the institutions are coming apart – government, corporations, media, education, health care. They present nothing less than a vacuum! Something has to fill it! The systems that are in place? Things can only get worse if they stay in place. But I’m an optimist. I’m gunning for something better to replace what we got.” He pauses. “A renaissance! I’m gunning for a renaissance: an era where quality beats out the crap of quantity.”

 

/more: http://kayakman.livejournal.com/79510.html

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I am probably the most "anti-suburbs" guy here.

My idea is that then need to be "written off or restructured". Restructuring is what I favor, and that will take focus, and money. The focus needs to come while the US can still raise money, and if America leaves it too late, then borrowed capital may get more and more expensive, both in terms of the rate paid, and the cost of the embedded energy in the building materials. But even the clear-minded Ron Paul is not yet talking about this challenge- so the US may be many years away from tackling it.

 

Hong Kong is already building itself in a way that fits some of the principals that I am think about (ie density around its rail arteries), but I dont think much of America will wind up looking like HK, since there will be "more American" solutions in the US, with a lesser need to build upwards. Still, its intriguing to think what lessons the US can learn from HK.

 

I could see, existing suburbs be restructured by building new "Main Streets" near rail connections, and then the empty areas between single family homes getting filled in with brownstone-type new builds. Location, Location, location, would then mean proximity to the rail connection, and that may be the only area valuable enough to justify new building.

 

"There are reasons that suburbs became and have stayed popular, and those haven't changed" - i agree-so far.

But I think higher oil prices will change the trade-offs. And the New Urbanists have an answer which Americans of the

future will find compelling too.

 

(I will copy this posting to the other thread , and we can continue discussion about the non-HK part of this there, if you like.)

 

I think the focus on rail is misplaced, though it can make sense for some areas with particularly dense rail networks. The problem for other places is twofold:

 

1) The capital cost of building rail lines is simply ridiculous, particularly in a metropolitan area. Buses are both cheaper and more flexible - and can run on our rather comprehensive existing highway network.

 

2) In the US, few metropolitan areas are structured appropriately for rail. Rail works wonderfully to get folks to and from Manhattan from their homes in Long Island, New Jersey, or wherever. But it doesn't work nearly as well in cities where the employment centers are widely dispersed and not as dense as NYC.

 

One may argue that the current way cities are structured now isn't the way they are going to be structured in the future, and that's undoubtedly true, one way or another. But it seems unlikely we will return to the same technology used in the 19th and early 20th century and use it in the same way.

 

One important issue is how expensive oil is going to get. Are you thinking $500/barrel? $1000? Higher?

 

p.s. I think the New Urbanists have some good ideas, but in the end they want to implement them the same way the system works now - by compulsory zoning. I would argue we should abolish zoning and let people build what they want where they want. Then we'd see some much-needed innovation.

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I see your point.

 

Buses are fine, it traffic is not sufficient.

Street cars are a better solution than buses or rail in many congested cities.

They run on electricity, and as such are less polluting and probably cheaper to run.

 

If the rail is built, and the zoning laws are changed (they MUST be at some point imho)

then the density will change as more homes and apartments are built in clusters near the rail

transport.

 

Good design, and mised use are important to making this work

 

Here's an axample of design by New Urbanist Guru, Andreas Duany

proj2-0.jpg

 

I have started a thread with his excellent lecture series on YouTube: link

 

In see oil easily hitting $200 - 250, and maybe $500 - $1000 if/when the dollar collapses.

IMHO, the oil price will go to whatever level it needs to to ruin the economics of wasteful

suburban living. Isn't it obvious that this will happen? In a world of limited oil, with China

and India (& other BRICS & other BRACS) getting richer, America will simply be squeezed

until it reverts to a level of oil use which is appropriate for its share of world population.

It take this for granted, since I dont see anything that can stop this emerging squeeze.

 

p.s. I think the New Urbanists have some good ideas, but in the end they want to implement them the same way the system works now - by compulsory zoning. I would argue we should abolish zoning and let people build what they want where they want. Then we'd see some much-needed innovation.

 

I dont see the New Urbanist movement that way.

To me, there are two main ideas: (my own unique interpretation):

 

+ Cars are last - they should be taken as a first principal of planning, pedestrians are more important,

and so are systems of mass transit (like rail.) Even bicycles have a role in the world of some NU-ists.

 

+ Mixed use is good - it shortens transport distances, since people will be allowed to live in closer

proximity to where they work, go to school, shop, and play.

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Good design, and mised use are important to making this work

 

Here's an axample of design by New Urbanist Guru, Andreas Duany

proj2-0.jpg

 

I have started a thread with his excellent lecture series on YouTube: link

 

In see oil easily hitting $200 - 250, and maybe $500 - $1000 if/when the dollar collapses.

IMHO, the oil price will go to whatever level it needs to to ruin the economics of wasteful

suburban living. Isn't it obvious that this will happen? In a world of limited oil, with China

and India (& other BRICS & other BRACS) getting richer, America will simply be squeezed

until it reverts to a level of oil use which is appropriate for its share of world population.

It take this for granted, since I dont see anything that can stop this emerging squeeze.

 

 

 

I dont see the New Urbanist movement that way.

To me, there are two main ideas: (my own unique interpretation):

 

+ Cars are last - they should be taken as a first principal of planning, pedestrians are more important,

and so are systems of mass transit (like rail.) Even bicycles have a role in the world of some NU-ists.

 

+ Mixed use is good - it shortens transport distances, since people will be allowed to live in closer

proximity to where they work, go to school, shop, and play.

 

Buses can be electrified if desired. I don't know the capital cost of constructing the overhead infrastructure for it, but I'd still suspect it would be less than laying rail. (I think they are called trolleybuses if electrified. Unusual in the US these days, but common in a lot of the rest of the world.)

 

I think $250/bbl oil, which seems quite possible to me within three to five years, would be painful but wouldn't end the suburbs as we know it. There is considerable room for people to economize on energy for transportation (less driving, more ridesharing, more hybrids & diesels - I still see lots of people driving vehicles that are probably sub-25 mpg) and HVAC. What it will do, though, is force less wealthy people who have decided to live 50 miles from work in order to afford a house with a yard to make some very difficult decisions. I would expect, therefore, that cheap housing in the middle of nowhere will get even cheaper. I'm not sure the expensive housing will suffer to the same degree, as many people interested in such things can probably afford higher energy prices. All this would lead me to believe that high-density, closer-in, decent housing may be much in demand in the mid- to long-term future. Perhaps some of those condo towers have a future after all...

 

Generally, I believe people respond to incentives. Incentives over the last decade or two have been for more driving, bigger, less-fuel efficient vehicles, and housing out in the middle of nowhere. (The now-unwinding credit bubble had a lot to do with that - many folks were forced out of the close-in 'burbs by the ridiculous prices prevailing.) Now, the incentives are moving in the other direction, but I don't think we're even 20% down that path yet.

 

As for the New Urbanists, I may be painting them all a bit too broadly. But things like this don't make me think they are open to market solutions: Smart Code

 

On your two principles:

 

1) "Cars come last": No objection, but folks should be able to choose this if they want. The mobility granted by ubiquitous car use has been a great thing for many across the world, and cars will have their place for a long time to come.

 

2) "Mixed-use": Undoubtedly, but this is really a zoning problem, even more than #1. Zoning made it illegal to replicate Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco, or any place like it in most of the US, on nearly any scale. As discussed, this will eventually change. Let people decide what they want to build - it certainly won't be any worse than what governments pick.

 

Note that working close to where you live isn't going to be helped much for specialized professionals with families by mixed-use development, though - your local shopping center isn't probably going to have all the varieties of jobs now spread across a major metropolitan area.

 

p.s. For those of the NU faith open to voluntary choices, one challenge is to make dense housing appealing for families. Many people are fine with city living prior to marriage and kids, but they find the suburbs safer, more convenient, cheaper, etc. once they have a family.

 

p.p.s. I personally find some of the NU design extremely attractive, but I have to admit I personally chafe under the typical HOA regulations that come with it. If you have a condo or apartment, it doesn't matter as much. (Though I have received nastygrams for the sin of keeping my bike on the balcony, back when I was living in a condo.)

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I think $250/bbl oil, which seems quite possible to me within three to five years, would be painful but wouldn't end the suburbs as we know it. ...

What it will do, though, is force less wealthy people who have decided to live 50 miles from work in order to afford a house with a yard to make some very difficult decisions. I would expect, therefore, that cheap housing in the middle of nowhere will get even cheaper. I'm not sure the expensive housing will suffer to the same degree, as many people interested in such things can probably afford higher energy prices. All this would lead me to believe that high-density, closer-in, decent housing may be much in demand in the mid- to long-term future. Perhaps some of those condo towers have a future after all...

 

I AGREE with most of that.

But the rich will not be so rich in to years to come IMHO.

Stock markets are likely to tumble in stagflation, or depression. Many wealth protection ideas (like Hedge Funds), may not perform well, if "every thing is falling". And a sharp decline in the dollar, may wipe out the purchasing power of many portfolios.

 

As for the New Urbanists, I may be painting them all a bit too broadly. But things like this don't make me think they are open to market solutions: Smart Code

 

On your two principles:

 

1) "Cars come last": No objection, but folks should be able to choose this if they want. The mobility granted by ubiquitous car use has been a great thing for many across the world, and cars will have their place for a long time to come.

 

2) "Mixed-use": Undoubtedly, but this is really a zoning problem, even more than #1. Zoning made it illegal to replicate Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco, or any place like it in most of the US, on nearly any scale. As discussed, this will eventually change. Let people decide what they want to build - it certainly won't be any worse than what governments pick.

 

There will always be some town planning, and the New Urbanists are pointing out how unenlightened, and outmoded most town planning is now. I hope to see that changing. And I would certainly like to see cars discouraged, and even banned in some central parts of town. But that means shorting distances between work, home, and play. Economics will play a part in that, but better town planning, ending the era of "happy cars" would be very helpful too.

 

p.s. For those of the NU faith open to voluntary choices, one challenge is to make dense housing appealing for families. Many people are fine with city living prior to marriage and kids, but they find the suburbs safer, more convenient, cheaper, etc. once they have a family.

 

p.p.s. I personally find some of the NU design extremely attractive, but I have to admit I personally chafe under the typical HOA regulations that come with it. If you have a condo or apartment, it doesn't matter as much. (Though I have received nastygrams for the sin of keeping my bike on the balcony, back when I was living in a condo.)

 

I think many people who choose the suburbs, are just "following the fashion", and havent thought through the many negative aspects of the suburbs- which I will pick-up on another thread, inspired by your comment.

 

Can you say more about those HOA regulations?

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I AGREE with most of that.

But the rich will not be so rich in to years to come IMHO.

Stock markets are likely to tumble in stagflation, or depression. Many wealth protection ideas (like Hedge Funds), may not perform well, if "every thing is falling". And a sharp decline in the dollar, may wipe out the perchasing power of many portfolios.

 

 

 

There will always be some town planning, and the New Urbanists are pointing out how unenlightened, and outmoded most town planning is now. I hope to see that changing. And I would certainly like to see cars discouraged, and even banned in some central parts of town. But that means shorting distances between work, home, and play. Economics will play a part in that, but better town planning, ending the era of "happy cars" would be very helpful too.

 

 

 

I think many people who choose the suburbs, are just "following the fashion", and havent thought through the many negative aspects of the suburbs- which I will pick-up on another thread, inspired by your comment.

 

Can you say more about those HOA regulations?

 

Yes, there will be fewer "rich" people, but there will still be relative differences in what people can afford. I think one's viewpoint here depends on exactly how bad things will get. If you read the Oil Drum website, many folks there are essentially calling for something close to the end of modern civilization. I'm not that pessimistic at this point, though I think it's possible. (Note that modern civilization doesn't mean any particular government or nation.) A lot of why I am not quite that pessimistic is I think some of the doomsayers underestimate the adaptability of humans. But maybe that discussion belongs in a different thread.

 

I think a lot of people choose suburbs because the cities have one or more of expensive housing, high crime, high taxes, and horrible schools. At least the last three aren't inextricably linked with the concept of cities, but in the US they usually are. Many also don't like the density, but the combination of all these factors tips them over the edge. And then once you need a car to get to a job, the city becomes either very inconvenient or very expensive, or both.

 

It may be worth pointing out that the flexibility of workplace granted by automobile transportation is a significant benefit for anyone with specialized skills.

 

HOA regulations almost always have things to say about what color you paint your front door, but in my area they also require, for example, permission for gardens, and forbid them entirely in front of the house. (Since one is also generally only permitted to cut down a tree per year, the lack of sun sometimes renders the garden problem irrelevant anyway.) In the condo I used to live in, one was not permitted to store bicycles or dry laundry on the porch to maintain a certain "atmosphere". All of this tends to drive me nuts, though that's mostly a matter of personal taste.

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I think a lot of people choose suburbs because the cities have one or more of expensive housing, high crime, high taxes, and horrible schools. At least the last three aren't inextricably linked with the concept of cities, but in the US they usually are. Many also don't like the density, but the combination of all these factors tips them over the edge. And then once you need a car to get to a job, the city becomes either very inconvenient or very expensive, or both.

 

Agreed. This echoes my sentiments on an earlier thread, somewhere. A couple of days in Toronto's downtown earlier this week reminded me of why I like the country so much:

* Had to fly there and back via jet airplane - I haven't run the calcs but I suspect the pounds of fuel used per passenger is significant

* Split a cab with a lady to go downtown ~$25 each

* Every ride on the subway is $2.75, and it only goes certain places.

* Subway didn't run on Sunday morning, causing me to be late to St. Patrick's mass (luckily it was within walking distance)

* Took the subway/bus route back to the airport (thought this would be more energy efficient, and cheaper) and nearly missed my flight home due to the amount of wasted time. It probably took 3 times as long as the cab ride.

* Walking wasn't particularly enjoyable, as you have to be careful not to step on all the homeless people sleeping on exhaust and sewer vents.

 

Even with gasoline at $3/gallon, my feeling is that urban transportation is still more expensive than suburban/rural transportation. Gas will have to go much higher before I give up my home and move to an urban environment like this.

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I think a lot of people choose suburbs because the cities have one or more of expensive housing, high crime, high taxes, and horrible schools. At least the last three aren't inextricably linked with the concept of cities, but in the US they usually are. Many also don't like the density, but the combination of all these factors tips them over the edge. And then once you need a car to get to a job, the city becomes either very inconvenient or very expensive, or both.

 

It may be worth pointing out that the flexibility of workplace granted by automobile transportation is a significant benefit for anyone with specialized skills.

 

We need to define "Suburbs" more precisely.

Where there are jobs nearby, and limited use of expensive petrol is needed to get around,

people will do fine. The suburban areas that I am concerned about is the "stranded suburbs", that

are far from places of employment. Those areas may get decimated, until they get connected

 

There will remain some nice protected suburban areas for the very rich, but the number of real rich

will shrink dramatically IMHO. And the number of endangered "stranded suburbanite" areas blighted

by high oil prices will proliferate

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Agreed. This echoes my sentiments on an earlier thread, somewhere. A couple of days in Toronto's downtown earlier this week reminded me of why I like the country so much:...

Even with gasoline at $3/gallon, my feeling is that urban transportation is still more expensive than suburban/rural transportation. Gas will have to go much higher before I give up my home and move to an urban environment like this.

 

Some parts of the City are poor. very unpleasant and virtually unliveable, and may remain so.

But if the jobs remain in the cities, then people will want to be there too, and the gentrification process which started soem decades ago will continue (in select areas, and select cities), as some suburban ares get stranded and left behind.

 

The pleasant and liveable parts of the city will likely be the ones that reflect New Urbanist principles:

 

+ Mixed Use (and so: jobs are at hand)

+ Limited accomodation to automobiles

+ Respect for public spaces, so they are not ugly, stressful, and dangerous

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Some parts of the City are poor. very unpleasant and virtually unliveable, and may remain so.

But if the jobs remain in the cities, then people will want to be there too, and the gentrification process which started soem decades ago will continue (in select areas, and select cities), as some suburban ares get stranded and left behind.

 

The pleasant and liveable parts of the city will likely be the ones that reflect New Urbanist principles:

 

+ Mixed Use (and so: jobs are at hand)

+ Limited accomodation to automobiles

+ Respect for public spaces, so they are not ugly, stressful, and dangerous

 

 

STATISTICS - from today's Asian WSJ

 

No. Homes.. : 80 Million, in America

Mortgages... : 55 Million (which means an amazing 25 Million are debtfree!)

Late on Debt : 4 Million

Foreclosures : 1.5 Million, have had procedures started, up more than 50% from 2006

 

Price target. : Home prices could fall another 10-15% before hitting bottom, says the Us treasury

 

Negative Equity Estimates:

Current....... : 8.3 million homes

By 2009 Low : 12.2 million, or 24% of mortgage holders

 

Downsize, or get hammered??

 

"no one in Wahington wants to help 'speculators' who bought homes that they do not live in."

And those that "bought more home than they can live in... are going to lose out"

 

How long before, they stop helping the "stranded suburbanites" who own places too far from mass transport?

(Note: the notion of stranded suburbanites, recognises the reality of high oil prices, and the need to

restructure the American "living arrangement" away from the suburbs)

 

Email: capital@wsj.com

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