Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hope for the Burbs, James Bacon, Bacon's Rebellion

This is a very thoughtful post on  Bacon's Rebellion regarding "new urbanism" and emphasizing the NEED for suburban counties (especially inner suburban counties) like Fairfax to change to a more (but not wholly) urban model based on presentation by Georgia Tech's Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor of architecture.

Here are some excerpts:
Change is not only desirable, it’s necessary, Dunham-Jones contended. The low-density suburbs consume two to three times more energy per capita than central cities, making them vulnerable to upward spikes in energy prices. Local governments are suffering fiscal stress from the burden of maintaining a sprawling infrastructure. Poverty is an increasing problem as poor people, either immigrants or poor people leaking from inner cities, move into older, run-down suburban neighborhoods. At the same time, housing affordability is becoming a middle-class issue as rising transportation costs kill the old “drive ’til you qualify” housing model. Last but not least, Dunham-Jones cited  suburbia’s  automobile dependency as a public health issue. Infectious diseases (despite the ebola virus hype) are not a major health hazard in the U.S. The real problem is chronic disease stemming from obesity and sedentary lifestyles, which leads to diabetes and heart disease.
Demographics also are driving the transformation of the burbs. People still think of the suburbs as Leave It to Beaver land of households with school-age children. But a majority of households in the burbs now are childless. . . .
There is more than enough land in suburban counties to make room for the surge of Americans looking for urban lifestyles in suburban counties without disrupting the lives of people who still want to live in their conventional cul-de-sac subdivisions. One third of all malls are dead or dying, said Dunham-Jones. . . Meanwhile, as Millennials show a strong preference for working in an urban environment, businesses are less interested in putting their workforce in suburban office parks.
Click here for the full post, including Dunham-Jones' three solutions to the suburban issue.  

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