Quote of the day – America’s future is in the suburbs

Advocates of the proposition that dense central cities are the way of the future have a few barriers to face – facts and consumer preferences.

Joel Kotkin at newgeography makes the case for not writing off suburbia:

For nearly a generation, pundits, academics and journalists have written off suburbia. They predict that the future lies in the cities, with more Americans living in smaller spaces such as the micro-apartments of 300 square feet or less that New York and San Francisco are considering changing their building laws to allow. Even traditionally spread out cities, such as Los Angeles, are laying out plans to create greater population density, threatening the continued existence of some neighborhoods of single-family homes.

Yet wishing something dead does not make it so. Indeed, the suburbanization of America is likely to continue over the next decade. The 2010 Census — by far the most accurate recent accounting — showed that over 90% of all metropolitan growth over the past decade took place in the suburbs.
Preferences are the key here, particularly paying attention to what people want as they age. The 2011 Community Preference Survey, commissioned jointly by the National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America, found that only a small minority — less than 10 percent — favored a dense urban location. Some 80 percent expressed preference for a single-family home.


  • the urban politician 6 years

    Joel Kotkin (and Joe Zekas, it would seem–since you feel the need to quote this human broken record every few months) seems to be fighting an imaginary enemy.

    What ever happened to the shaded area between black and white?

    You know, the acknowledgement that most people actually are nuanced and intelligent enough to recognize that a market for urban and suburban living can both exist in our society? Some like tea, most like coffee. Most like donuts, some like muffins.

    There are a lot of people who see things that way, myself included.

  • tup,

    And some like granola bars.

    I’ve never questioned the fact that we live in a big wide world with lots of differing preferences. We’re in agreement on the need for a nuanced perspective.

    I quote Kotkin with some regularity only as a corrective to the yahoos and their persistent ignoring of the majority’s clearly expressed preferences and the journalistic tendency to be, in Mailer’s phrase, “forever munching nuances like peanuts.” And, yeah, I realize that’s not a nuanced perspective on journalists.

  • SheridanB 6 years

    Um, so exurbs are tiny compared to “metropolitan” areas so wouldn’t growth rates be somewhat misleading since the amount of growth would be small compared to an overall number, yet having a skewed % due to the sample size?

    • SheridanB 6 years

      Oops, meant that for the other threat…

      I recall a survey a few years ago that found people favored “traditional” neighborhoods, but wanted new construction due to perceived concerns about maintenance on older houses (and probably availability as well). 10% is still a huge number (one wonders, did the survey include people in small towns as well as bigger metro areas AND was it only potential purchasers?) out of the national population. People also live in cities since they have to – work, etc, within that the can chose dense or sprawl and anything in between.

      • SheridanB 6 years

        Another reason for continued suburban growth is land availability, even in deteriorating areas land may not be available for development, i.e. any growth is going to occur there for that reason, notwithstanding plans, etc.