Is Suburbia Doomed? Not According to Joel Kotkin, Who Accuses Urbanists of "Wishful Thinking"

Daquella manera/CC BY 2.0

Joel Kotkin, the darling of the suburbanites and anti-urbanites, didn't think much of Christopher Leinberger's article in the New York Times that I covered in What Caused The Real Estate Meltdown? The Collapse Of The Suburban Fringe. He calls all the talk about the move back to the city "wishful thinking." He writes in Is Suburbia Doomed? Not so fast.

Perhaps no theology more grips the nation’s mainstream media — and the planning community — more than the notion of inevitable suburban decline. The Obama administration’s housing secretary, Shaun Donavan, recently claimed, “We’ve reached the limits of suburban development: People are beginning to vote with their feet and come back to the central cities.”

Kotkin uses census data from the last ten years to prove his point, noting that in that period " just 8.6% of the population growth in metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people took place in the core cities; the rest took place in the suburbs."

Brookings Institution/via

Except seven of those ten years in the last decade were part of the biggest suburban real estate expansion in history, that left 18 million empty houses, foreclosures, bankruptcies and the American economy in tatters. If you look at the data for the last three years, the population changes go into serious reverse.

The right wing doesn't like that; they describe in Instapundit why the Federal Government is encouraging urbanity:

because more-dense cities are in the hands of community-organizer types. Which is also, of course, why Obama et al. want to force more people to live there.

Kotkin thinks that the suburbs will reboot themselves in the long term.

They will become, as the inner suburbs already have, more diverse with many working at home or taking shorter trips to their place of work They will become less bedrooms of the core city but more self-contained and “village like,” with shopping streets and cultural amenities near what will still be a landscape dominated primarily by single-family houses.

Talk about wishful thinking! What is far more likely is that as gas prices keep going up and housing prices keep going down, they will be the new slums.

Read Kotkin at the New Geography

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Tags: Urban Life | Urban Planning

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