We’re pretty open-minded people over here. But there is one bias we have that we’ll admit to. And that bias is that city living is better for people, better for housing, and better for the planet. If you’re a suburbanite, please note that the following is just an opinion and is not intended to insult anyone. We’re simply making a case for why we love cities so much.
Lets start with the basics. Cities are meccas for ideas. Many types of people from many different places live together in a dynamic entity called a city. Diversity is the spice of life, and cities are where you find the most diversity, not just in people, but in the ideas they bring along. These ideas manifest themselves in culture — art, food, entertainment, clothing, architecture, and so on. We’re all for culture, and the heterogeneous nature of cities’ populations lends itself to new ideas, innovation, and progress.
Next up, density. Because city cores are dense, efficiencies grow out of higher concentrations of people. Efficiencies such as mass transit, highrises with tiny geographic footprints (how many trees do you have to cut down to build a highrise versus a subdivision with the same population?), and striving for sustainability on a grand scale all benefit from density.
With regard to real estate – particularly in San Francisco – scarcity plays a major role in home values. Cities that have geographic boundaries such as mountain ranges, lakes, and oceans tend to have limited land on which to build. And certain cities *cough* San Francisco *cough* have relatively static levels of housing– especially in certain neighborhoods. These forces create an environment where housing prices tend to be more stable than in areas where development has no natural or political barriers. Case in point, an article that was released by Reuters on Friday…
It discusses how badly suburban and exurban communities have been hit during the current housing downturn. The reasons for the lack of resilience are simple. People are sick of high gas prices, long commutes, spending half their lives in traffic jams, dependency on the automobile for everything, and the McDonaldization of housing. People are falling back in love with city living again, and this is a mega-trend we’ve noticed taking shape around the country for over a decade now. This most recent downturn’s impact on the ‘burbs gives us further evidence that the mega-trend is very real.
Check out the article by clicking HERE if you wish, but if you don’t have time, here are some quotes:
“What we’re already seeing is these new, very cheaply made suburbs showing how little resilience they have to economic fluctuations. I see them becoming not only more desperate, I see them becoming potentially nonviable,” says Jeff Speck, an urban planner and co-author of “Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.”
“There is an increased interest in people living closer to their work, living in more complete neighborhoods, and living near transit,” says Joe Molinaro, who manages the trade group’s smart-growth program.
One of the key advantages of the suburbs — their affordability — is eroding as well. A recent Brookings study of the Washington region found that transportation costs eclipse any housing savings for those who live more than 15 miles from work.
Source: Reuters.com 4/10/2009 Andy Sullivan
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