Why would a city agree to merge with a distressed, money-draining suburb?
There is no solution for these suburbs: they aren't economically sustainable, their income and household density is too small to support the vast infrastructure they require. The lower the density, the more miles of roads, pipes, wires are needed per capita, and more policing, fire services, etc.
Let them fail and wipe them out. Instead of wasting money trying to sustain a broken system, provide resources to facilitate moving to mid and high-density housing in the central city.
If people still want to live in large houses in low-density areas, let them pay for it.
'What about the people there?' you might say. They're not literally rooted to the spot. If there is no way to be productive there (aka jobs) they can and should move. If we were all cavemen hunting the local game and it moved we wouldn't say "but the game was always here, it should stay here forever". It didn't stay there forever. It moved. If you want to catch some of that game, you move.
That's emotionally difficult in a world where we all think we're post-economies. But we aren't and it's a simple concept; things that aren't working need to fail and be abandoned.
If a homeowner's neighborhood is dying, then their home value is practically zero. And even if their house had some market value, the potential number of buyers is so small that the home could sit on the market for years, all the while incurring maintenance costs.
And as the neighborhood dies, the pool of available work shrinks. Wages shrink and job opportunities dry up. Economic diversity plummets, leaving the region more exposed to sudden shocks. Towns become increasingly reliant on parasitic industries -- payday loans, gambling, furniture leasing, etc -- that further depress wealth and prey disproportionately on the structurally impoverished.
Even a relatively well-off resident of a dying suburb -- someone with savings, a paid-off house, and no attachments to the area --
would be hard-pressed to finance a move to a healthier locale.
And most residents of these areas -- for obvious reasons -- don't fit this profile. Most don't leave because they can't afford to leave. They don't have savings. They live paycheck to paycheck. They're underwater on their house. They're on a tiny fixed income and can't afford the cost of living elsewhere. They're a public employee two years away from a pension and, if they move now, they forfeit a liveable retirement. They're the sole caregiver for disabled family members. Their skills aren't valuable in another market.
Too often, we assume that poor people make poor choices, without considering that they might actually be making the best of the shitty slate of options available to them.
I think most reasonable people are in agreement that the suburbs -- especially industrial suburbs -- were and are an unsustainable model for development. They will need to be abandoned. But the process of that abandonment matters.
If we go about it the wrong way, as we are in the Rust Belt, then we condemn the people stuck in those areas to a lifetime of poverty. And those people don't just go away when we turn out backs on them. Their problems will become our problems. So, for economic and humanitarian reasons, we need to find a responsible way to decommission post-industrial towns and relocate their residents.
My mom pays 200-300 a WEEK for her car. Many people on here would say that's a terrible idea and she should just buy a cheaper used car for 1000-2000 dollars, but they don't realize she needed the car NOW or she'd lose her job and she doesn't have that cash laying around. No one would give her a normal loan and none of us could afford to help her at the time. It really seems the only people in the world willing to help her are the people that need 200-300 a week to sell her a car. And that's just the car. Housing, food, clothes, and nearly everything else can be explained with the same rationale.
Your line here is key: "Too often, we assume that poor people make poor choices, without considering that they might actually be making the best of the shitty slate of options available to them."
I suspect that the reason it doesn't work is that the theory is off. Lack of the initial capital (to bootstrap the virtuous cycle) is not the real bottleneck; it's the ability to commit to a plan where there is a big long-term benefit. Such a charity would run into the same problems as for-profit lenders and CCs -- not enough people paying back the money.
On the other hand, the $200-300 being charged might represent a risk level of the whole class of rentals being made... it's hard to know without on the ground information.
Of course, using Amazon requires Internet access, which can also be a problem.
One thing I both do understand and lament is how the more impoverished communities are culturally tuned to turn on each other than work together. If your household is too poor to afford a lot of the things that are taken for granted - a working kitchen, for example - having four neighbors work together to have one working kitchen they could all share and set up time slots to use would go a long way to getting out of poverty.
But you really just cannot rely on other people in those situations. Its a prisoners dilemma where the prison is poverty. It takes one person taking advantage of cooperation to ruin it.
There's also the fact that if you can't afford to bulk buy a few extra rolls of TP, you sure as hell can't afford a quarter of a kitchen.
People seem to forget when they talk of the poor: "If only they invested in X, Y, or Z". The whole point of someone struggling financially is that they CANNOT invest, because they have zero, and often negative "extra" money. "Paycheck to paycheck" is not a euphemism, it's a literal situation. Even one missed hour of pay is devastating to these people.
Poor people who have close enough personal relationships to justify trust share resources all the time (source: spent several years in my late childhood in a family on welfare in public housing.)
Now, lots of poor people don't have close relationships with people with resources to share, and arms-length contracts with resort to the courts for enforcement don't work for them when personal trust isn't enough, because they can't afford the cost and delays of enforcement.
Again, it's expensive to be poor.
I'm guessing that at the prices the parent listed, the person isn't buying a $70k luxury car for $1000+ a month, but has bad credit and can't put any money down on the car so they're going to radically overspend. I'm really hoping that it's a late model Honda or Toyota that will go 300,000 miles and not something that was salvaged.
I just bought a home. Even with excellent credit I still had to put down roughly 10k on the house (which was only 3%!) -- that includes the down payment, option and earnest money, fees for stuff like appraisal, inspection, and more.
10k is a lot of money for a lot of people. Granted they can get some of that back if they sell an old house, but as you said if the house value is low to zero they can only get the land value for it, if there is any. Now they're starting over from square one, paying off a new house.
And that 10k isn't even covering other expenses, like repairs I need to do, furniture (pretty much buying everything new now), moving supplies/expenses, first utilities, and more. Homeowning is not cheap, especially not upfront (though it does get a little easier beyond the initial investment).
 Keep an eye on home values 6-12 months from now; once you think you might have 20% equity, attempt to refi into a conventional. Should save you $150-200/month on the FHA monthly premium.
It's increasing common to see non-FHA loans in the 3% ballpark (among anecdotal evidence from my friends and coworkers who've recently purchased). My gut keeps telling me something is wrong, but no other indicators seem to agree.
Spending public funds on these endeavors ends up being something of a middle class bailout. Are folks who were fortunate enough to be able to purchase homes in the first place. 70% of those in the bottom 20% of the income distribution do not own their homes.
I'd love to see either state or federal buyback programs. Using the same appraisal rates used to calculate a property value when setting property taxes most states could offer to buyback properties at 80% of their assessed market value and then have redevelopment programs to reinvigorate dying neighborhoods like in the OP.
It lets the poor escape dying neighborhoods much easier, and it also creates a pathway to save these dying cities for relatively low investment by creating job opportunities to fix the state possessed properties or put them to auction so they can be competitively worth fixing. Either way the state should not be out the money for very long - you have a depressed area that has terribly low property values because its an impoverished slum, let the residents sell the land off as a means to get out of that hell, and then make a deal with a redevelopment firm or use the civil engineers corps and then sell the resulting revitalized properties, hopefully after some mixed used development.
That last point is probably the strongest reason why the US in particular has these widespreading "dying neighborhood" problems. Zoning for the most part has been an abject failure. It was conceived to segregate the rich from the poor and has failed to recognize that a thriving community needs work and play to intermix and develop organically. It also exists to constrain development to prevent cities from growing up and increasing density to meet population demands, all to prop up the real estate investment bubble making the semi-rich filthy rich.
I keep hearing stories about this, but I thought that any such pension this absurd was illegal or retroactively corrected. Is it really possible to lose an entire pension for quitting some trivial amount of time before some cutoff?
I would think that it would, at most, mean that you would delay the pension, or lose a few percentage points off of it, or be required to make some "down payment" before it starts.
Where are these pensions where a huge value can evaporate over such a small thing?
 e.g. under an "age + years of service" rule, each year worked gets you two units closer to retirement, and if you quit, that just means you become eligible at half speed (age goes up but years of service doesn't).
As an anecdote, a relative -- who had 25 years of public service when he was 57 years of age -- would have only received 35% of his pension if he had taken early retirement (or jumped ship to private industry) at that time.
Keep in mind, also, that most public employees are ineligible for Social Security. And most of these economically distressed towns tend to be concentrated in counties and states with severe debt issues, where raiding pension funds is not uncommon. And sadly, benefit reduction continues to be an option in public debt discussions.
I would not expect it to be fun to loose $100k in home value moving away from an area that's dying. But that is part of being an adult and being adult enough to be allowed to make such an investment. Sometimes the investments go well. Sometimes they go poorly. And avoiding that risk is extremely easy; lots of people rent. I don't think we should bail our people's bad home investments just because they're poor. If they need to go bankrupt, there's already a process for that. And if that process is bad, we should just improve that process.
You're making a raft of assumptions -- they have the means to ride out a period of unemployment, or can afford the extra travel required to reach a new job in a healthy area; they can afford to rent in a healthy market; their skills transfer; they don't have a family member in long-term care in the area; they are not on a fixed income; et cetera -- because, as you say, you don't remember very well what it's like to be poor.
And that's OK.
I understand why you make those assumptions, and I'm happy so many people have the privilege to do so. The shitty things poor people have to put up with are all but invisible unless you're poor. Poverty has a stigma in the US that prevents us from talking openly about these issues. But once you see them, it's frustrating to hear someone say, "But [leaving] is part of being an adult," as if staying in a shitty, crime-ridden, failing municipality is a personal choice.
I want to emphasize this point: If you see people living in a one of these places -- drinking lead-infused water, sending their kids to skeletal schools, miles from an operating hospital, with intermittent emergency services, with no trash pickup, etc -- remind yourself that it's extremely unlikely they're there by choice.
My question though is--what suggestions do you have for solving this? We shouldn't prop up dying suburbs. We don't have universal basic income yet (not that that would solve for all such cases), and there don't really seem to be a whole lot of options.
If I imagine myself in such a desperate situation, I feel like my only options would be to stay there while things stagnate, watching things get worse and worse while trying to scrimp and save my way to something that would let me take a gamble and move, or just pack up a few things, yard sale anything I could, buy a bus ticket, and gamble on being homeless somewhere with better opportunities. And that's if I wasn't elderly/disabled/otherwise incapable of doing this.
The only larger solutions I potentially see are policy changes for social safety nets with these situations, which frankly, are going to be damn near impossible to get passed given the current government, and also the fact that a huge chunk of these places are in red states that would never do anything at the state level for these folks.
Again, not disagreeing with anything you say, but is there actually a potential solution beyond "let these people and places fade away" like so many people have in humanity's past?
1) Force neighboring jurisdictions to take control of blighted areas, increasing the effective tax base, as advocated by TFA. There are NIMBY and fiscal reasons why this is hard, so counties and states might need to step in.
2) Offer free housing swaps to residents of dying suburbs, increasing density in a few targeted areas. This would reduce the cost of delivering services substantially -- fewer customers in a smaller target area -- while slowing the spread of blight.
3) Use state or federal funds to buy back foreclosed and abandoned properties in blighted areas, then employ out-of-work locals to help with remediation. A combination of this and #2 would even make full ecological restoration a possibility, converting large blighted areas into public parks and other amenities. This would have a long-term positive impact on property values and could even reverse the cycle of abandonment.
Hell, even straight-up paying people a year's rent just to move out, then leveling the abandoned homes, would be cheaper than the long-term costs of ignoring the problem altogether.
A possible problem might be that a failing area is likely to be undesirable and therefore have low property prices and concomitant taxes. Moving to a more desirable area might be unaffordable. Many people have a strong emotional connection to their home, and would find it difficult to sell it (perhaps at a considerably lower price than they think it is worth) and move somewhere smaller.
Further, there may be people who are "post-economy" in the sense that they have retired. From their point of view, they've paid their dues and have no need to follow the jobs any more. They may have built up local social ties that they don't want to sever by moving.
My point isn't that failing places need to be propped up indefinitely, but that there's a middle ground between "successful, valuable" things and "failing, worthless" things. And there are infrastructure projects (e.g: rural broadband) which can help retain jobs and communities in "failing" places relatively cheaply.
As to taking a loss on their home. That's already happened, staying there vs renting somewhere else has significant direct costs. If a community can survive on it's own then awesome, but subsidies are simply a terrible idea.
True, but right now we are erring so far on the side of preserving the status quo that it's almost a moral axiom that the character of neighborhoods should be preserved forever and people should never be forced to move for financial reasons.
The debates over gentrification are rife with this philosophy. Ultimately it does much more harm than good for all except a lucky grandfathered-in few.
I think the author lead with East Cleveland for a reason. According to Wikipedia , East Cleveland contains the nation's first industrial park, historical millionaires' homes, and part of one of the main arteries into the city of Cleveland. Poking around on Google Maps shows that it also contains parts of two large and attractive parks (one attached to a historical cemetery where a US President is buried).
It would be hard to write this area off entirely.
You can’t just walk away from cities or towns because they no longer fit with our ideas for how cities and towns should be. Cities and towns already are. They need to function, well. Creative destruction is not an acceptable solution. This is the kind of view that gives idealism a bad name.
Wrong, due to an specific Anglo-American cultural meme. Civilization has flourished in cities as long as there has been civilization. In the U.S. (uniquely), we ruined cities post WW2 by subsidizing highways and cars and low density suburban mortgages, due to said cultural fetish. Plus a whole lot of racism.
In France, to my knowledge, there was never a time when the central city was considered lower class than the suburbs (ahem, Paris, ahem). And I think this is generally true.
We're talking about the US, so those "memes" are relevant.
The idea that cities are decrepit and suburbs are the future is a recurring one. Charles Dickens’ soot covered cities (in england, so I guess anglo-american?) existed and the middle class moved to the suburbs, much like americans.
The trend back into city centres today is wider than the US too.
Orrrrr a good amount of racism lead to a great White Flight which trapped minorities in downtown areas that were left to rot.
That's reductionist and possibly even causally reversed, like saying bad yelp reviews are the reason a restaurant closed.
Rates of crime increased 600% (robbery)  in America overall during the 1960-1980. That's enormous. The increase in crime was mostly in urban areas, not rural, so there was even more than an 600% increase in some areas. This was well before Reagan's and Clinton's strategy of mass incarceration.
It's deeply unfair to suggest that a family - of any race - that decides to move to the relatively affordable, calm suburbs, where they can own a full home and have a backyard, and avoid the massive increase in crime - was due to "a good amount of racism" as the primary reason.
If your neighborhood violence increased by more than 600% over the span of 10 years, and you were having kids, you might just decided to move somewhere else, no?
The Levittown/redlining/white flight/whatever was already well underway by the 60s. Yes, crime increased in urban areas up through the 80s, but some of that is best explained by those urban areas being essentially economically abandoned by that time. Crime follows poverty, and when the tax money leaves, the result is fairly predictable.
Not sure if that counts for you as racism but there it is.
White flight was a reason why people wanted to take advantage of these new possibilities but was not the only reason. Land in the city is expensive. Land in suburbia was (and still is) far cheaper. For $xx/month you can have twice as much "visible wealth" at the expense of a longer commute, which was then portrayed as simply a part of the "suburbian experience" (see the car ads of the time and their romanticization of the commute).
I don't think there is consensus that white flight gave birth to suburbs in the first place. Rather, white flight is often used to explain the birth of future and farther suburbs as whites (being by and large the original inhabitants of the first suburbs) fought to keep that status quo and moved to newer suburbs and set up HOAs and zoning laws specifically designed to prevent poorer (and, directly, "more colored") persons from moving into their newly minted neighborhoods.
The same thing (i.e. the creation of suburbs) is now happening in Eastern Europe, at least it's happening in the country from where I'm from (Romania) without racism playing that much of a part in it. Yeah, some of the middle-class people who chose to move to the suburbs mentioned as motives "wanting to get away from the gipsies", but most of said middle-class people used to live in communist apartment-blocks where there were almost no gipsies (the latter mostly inhabit the oldish houses from the downtown area, formerly owned by the local Jewish community).
The main reason for people moving out to the suburbs are those that you underlined: it has now become economically feasible for many families to own 2 cars and to buy a piece of land and to build a house on it. That's it. It's nevertheless pretty interesting seeing us repeating the same urbanism mistakes that the US did in the 1950s-1960s and the Western European countries started doing from the 1970s. We're now at the phase where we like to invest money into building road-bridges over everything, in order to reduce commute times, as the saying goes. There are very few people (myself included) who still say that this is not the good way going forward and that we should learn from others' mistakes, but we're seen as either nostalgics ("why we would still invest in obsolete things like tramways? tramways are communist!") or as "know-nothings".
And it's true that at least there it has nothing to do with racism, it comes I wanting a bigger house, a yard, a fence, a safe place for kids to play in and so on. Now, sure those things have been there in the country-side in the villages, but unfortunately the jobs are all in the city center. Some villages less than an hour drive from the city have seen new development, but beyond that it is the suburbs - the American Dream right in the heart of Eastern Europe.
The downside is that now the roads are swamped in cars. Unlike some American cities, those cities were not designed to have that many cars so there is no place to park them, they are driven and parked on sidewalks, they clog streets and public transport can't move during rush hour. But what to do, they have more money, they can buy cars, there is land around the city. Maybe tax cars more, add a luxury property tax? The thing is the people who live in those suburbs are also the one running everything (either through corruption or just simple economic power).
The problem is that is quite expensive to build attractive apartment buildings that either have enough underground parking space for cars or you have to convince people to give up on having a car.
Not everything is best viewed through the lens of macro-politics and big concepts. Ucaetano is willing to “Let them fail and wipe them out” based on their balance sheets and (I assume) a distaste for whatever model was used to set them up in previous generations. stevenleeg wants to put the problem at the feet of discriminatory and racist policies from days past (and their modern consequences).
This is a terrible (IMO) approach to politics. There is a practical problem at hand. The solution cannot be to not have created the problem in the first place. If a population is too poor to support its municipal costs, the solution cannot be to let the suburb rot. There is no creative destruction option. If you let the suburb rot, all you’ll have is a more rotten suburb.
The solutions needs to be practical ones. If the infrastructure is decrepit, renew the infrastructure. If the munincipal funding model that works for wealthy suburbs can’t work in poor suburbs, it can’t be the funding model for poor suburbs. Maybe there are some more grandiose ideas, like preventing the rich/poor suburb dichotomy from existing but those are unlikely to work unless the practical problems are first solved.
I don’t understand this conversation at all.
Welcome to America!
Seriously, we don't understand it either - but we sure will fight about it. No matter how tenuous, we can blame anything on our favorite causes.
Everyone seems to want to spend time blaming and fighting instead of actually picking up a broom and cleaning. Our journalism competes with reality television and our political parties are treated like sports teams.
I don't understand it either, and I live here.
The way I see it, this whole conversation is just a proxy for money. The suburb doesn't have enough; it has no tax base and can't afford its municipal services. What they want to do is attach to a city and use the city's services. Now, there might be efficiencies of scale with service delivery to a larger population. But if you look at the history of many large cities in the US, many suburbs made the conscious choice not to be part of the city precisely because they didn't want the higher taxes, on sales, on property, on income, etc. that living in a city requires.
You say "renew the infrastructure". Are you writing the check? Your comment seems to assume we can just invent money out of thin air.
I'll be honest, I'm pretty fed up with this entire bailout mentality. I live in a high-tax, high-expense city. Meanwhile, I pay the federal universal service fee so that someone in Nowhere, USA can have a phone. I see low taxes on carbon emission, mortgage interest deductions on huge suburban palaces, a massive expressway system, agricultural subsidies, a postal service that charges the same rate to deliver mail across town as to Nowhere, USA, and I'm just tired of it. And I'm also tired of last generation passing the cost of their bad decisions on to us, in the form of underfunded pensions, a major housing crisis engineered by the Boomer generation, and 100% of GDP federal debt.
So yeah, guilty as charged re: "macro-politics and big concepts", but, enough is enough. If these people couldn't be bothered to move as their city crumbled over the last, I don't know, 30 years, I'm just not crying, as I pay through the nose for rent in a big city.
I think we might be more on the same page than not. Money problems is exactly the level that we should be talking about it.
What I was reacting to and labelling “macro politics” is trying to relate this to the most abstract (relative to the issue at hand) political viewpoints. On one side, calling for a Misesian creative destruction. On the other hand, insisting that the root of the problem is racism in the 70s and that’s what needs to be addressed.
To me, it seems like a problem of financing localities that have particularly bad balance sheets. That’s what I mean by practical and I think we agree on it mostly.
This is a very common problem. Every country that has locally financed authorities runs into it. Maybe a locality is poor (like this one). Poor people still have the same sewage needs as rich people, but they pay less tax. Maybe a local real estate is cheap or low turnover, and tax is tied to property values or real estate sales. Maybe the commercial-residential split is important?
I’m not particularly in any camp about how to fix it. It’ll depend on whatever the norms of the place are. I don’t know American norms so well, but there are an ultimately finite set of options. Maybe merging/gerrymandering is the right idea.
I’m not unsympathetic to your gripes either. I also think my country (ireland) has had (and still has) bad financial management, morally questionable bailouts, official public debt and a scarier unofficial stack of liabilities like pensions and other hand-me-downs.
But, are you really going to draw a line in this sand? A poor suburb that can’t afford police or sewage, because the way a map was drawn left it with more liabilities than income?
On a slightly more charitable note than my last post, I'd be interested to see the actual balance sheets of these municipalities. I wouldn't be surprised if the root issue is underfunded pensions, because frankly, even a relatively poor city of people making 15k/year could probably afford sewer and garbage. I think people are just pissed because they bought into the American dream of a house, didn't save enough for retirement, and were planning to use their home equity as their retirement account. Otherwise, there just isn't a great reason not to move. I look at the hardships endured by generation after generation in this country (the US), from the pioneers putting it all in a wagon, the hard labor of homesteaders moving one-ton rocks in their backyard, to the smuggling of slaves out of the south during the civil war, and just wonder, what's happened to us? When did we become such a nation of entitled whiners?
I am sympathetic to pensions. Nobody saw the declines in interest rates we've had in the last ten years and in my mind, that's essentially an unforeseeable eventuality that might call for a special tax. In the overwhelming majority of cases I've seen, the underlying problem is crowding out of municipal budgets by pensions. We need to get this under control and I'm happy we're starting to talk about it.
Over here, we're mostly hoping the French will come out of left field, surprise everyone and figure something out. Chances seem good, you know what they get like when they're stirred up.
Homesteaders heading west to get away from whingers were being replaced with irish people getting away from their own whingers. Both Ireland and New York still exist. Whingers too. Many localities set accounting books on fire along the routes. Maybe it's more a matter of perspective. You describe the past in terms of people doing things. The present, in much more numerical terms. But, crazy finances aren't new. People doing things isn't new.
This does not mean abandoning the people who live there, but the opposite. It requires us to take seriously the people who find themselves living in a dying place, to know their lives, to build different and better places for them to live in and plan a gradual transition and eventual shutdown.
But for any of this to happen, the government needs to admit the problem at hand and the people need to trust their government. After decades of racist real estate policy and constant neglect of the needs of the working poor, and entrenched self-interested careerist local politicians neither are likely to happen.
Unfortunately it seems that the macro politics is very important here - it affects the issue of whether people outside the area care about what happens in the area.
I think there's also an American tendency to place responsibility for fixing a problem at the feet of those who caused it in the first place, regardless of whether those people are still involved with the subject, or even alive.
Know how I know you're not an American...?
A rotten suburb is not a problem if nobody lives in it.
Cities, towns and suburbs do not go away. If they suck, they still stay where they are. People live there, even if the population declines a bit. If the schools are shit, people get poor education. If civil society, policing, job markets and community development sucks… you get the picture.
There is no walking away option. No scenario where this suburb does not exist. That’s crazy talk. The only context this kind of talk makes sense in is some disconnected political theory, with no relation to the reality of.
It’s not rational or intellectual. It’s fanatical.
Can't they move somewhere else? They can't because it costs money. Why can't their government just give them the money? It might be cheaper than their infrastructure costs.
In that situation, the problem has to be solved on the level above. The State as a whole should pay the cost, since it is the State as a whole that would benefit.
And people in suburbs will just get free cheque from government to move? That is incredibly unfair to people living in cities hence it creates moral issue.
If not, it is not more unfair than when health insurance uses the money of healthy people to pay for treatment of sick people. Or when the Federal Government uses the money of people who live in the mainland to pay for hurricane relief for people who live near the coast.
Where do you stop? Should a family of four (two young children) that lives in a 1 bedroom apartment in city be given a 2 bedroom apartment by the city government? They obviously need it.
I agree with socialised healthcare and education. First one because health is not some thing you choose but is affected heavily by genetic lottery (yes unhealthy lifestyle is a problem but it’s hard to objectively quantify) and second one because it means levelling of the opportunity field for young people not born to wealthy parents (again this is related to lottery of birth, what kind of family you are born into).
But housing is very different from healthcare and education.
Sick people are less productive. Uneducated people are less productive. People who are stuck on a dying suburb where there is no business and there are no jobs are less productive.
There simply won't be enough money around to renew "infrastructure" in these areas. I use the term loosely. We're just talking roads/sewer/water/etc. lines, nothing most europeans would actually consider civil infrastructure like public transit.
You can say walking away is not an option, but continuing to just keep these communities on life support isn't either. There is no option for "make all of suburbia great again" simply due to mathematics.
First, most suburban infrastructure is not unsustainable, despite how many armchair urbanists wish otherwise.
But even if were, people don't have the option to leave anyway, so it doesn't matter. If your poor, and live in a poor area, you don't have a 'walking away option'. Even if you sold your shitty house in a shitty suburb, it wouldn't net you enough money to live anywhere else anyway. Or if you rent, you already live in the cheapest place possible, so how will you afford the higher rent anywhere else?
Detroit is pointed at as an example of people walking away ... but Detroit still has over 600,000 people. East Cleveland is mentioned in the article, but 17,000 people still live there. Flint had poisoned drinking water for more than a year straight, and 97,000 people still live there today. You can literally poison every citizen with bad infrastructure, and the place will still exist.
When you say "walking away is an option", you are speaking only theoretically. When /u/dalbasal says "Cities and towns do not go away. People live there, even if the population declines a bit.", that's a simple realistic truth. Barring a few extremely rare exceptions, places don't go away.
> You can say walking away is not an option, but continuing to just keep these communities on life support isn't either. There is no option for "make all of suburbia great again" simply due to mathematics.
Sure it is. We just need to pay for it. Which we will eventually be forced to do, and then will do so because it's the cheapest and easiest option.
We have plenty of money to support every suburb. We have enough money to build 2x more suburbs, support all of those, and double the entire freeway system and support that too. We just choose not to spend it. We waste our infrastructure funding on not-infrastructure. At some point, we'll be forced to support the people or the people will die.
Roads are cheap. Pipes are cheap. Powerlines are cheap. Freeways are cheap. Urban Planners will insist it's not true because of their political desires. But if you actually do the mathematics you mention, these things don't really cost much. Compared to the benefits they provide, infrastructure is dirt cheap.
Exceptions are frontier towns, mining booms, war torn cities.
In 99% of cases, cities stay where they are, bankrupt local authorities or not. Populations decline a little. Quality of life declines a lot, but the problem doesn’t just go away.
And anyway, what does unsustainable mean? What can’t be sustained exactly? It sounds like what can’t be sustained is the financing model for poor localities. Why not walk away from that?
There is no suburb so rotten that someone won't buy up pieces of it to extract as much money as they can from its local economy, and then not spend that money back in.
It's more complicated than that.
First, there's the history of red-lining, and no requirement that housing be "integrated" (which meant non-discriminatory back then), so you had people like Levitt only allow whites to buy home.
Second, the government financed most of the critical infrastructure necessary to "bootstrap" beyond just highway and roads. So if your water, sewer, electric, and school infrastructure was all built wholly or partially funded via federal or state grants or "pork", you could keep your taxes low because you have lots of shiny-new infrastructure that's cheap to maintain that you didn't need to finance yourself through municipal bonds. This allowed your tax money to be poured directly into hiring the best teachers, building parks, etc. Getting all that infrastructure for free greatly masked the inefficiencies of the suburbs and why, today at least, suburbs often carry huge property taxes burdens or offer very limited services (like not even curbs or sidewalks) and rely on a county/township to cover the essentials.
The Suburbs are basically a public housing project for the middle class. If you actually required the average American to pay for their suburb with little or no help from the federal government it never would have gotten off the ground.
We also had the surge in population in the west compared to the old cities of the east.
We are also seeing a gentrification of urban areas.
I could be wrong. Is there some major difference between the Canadian and American cases?
My working hypothesis is that the car was the main cause, and that the cause of regentrification is that suburbs reached their natural geographic limits.
Race and crime may have been an additional stimulus in the us, but I feel like on this question americans are guilty of not even bothering to glance at the natural experiment running to their north.
But again, I might be wrong: am I missing something about the american case? One thing I can think of is that I’m not sure Canadian downtowns ever got quite so abandoned.
Age demographics are very important for countries and cities. Due to the nature of demographic trends, there are a ton of people 20-35 in the USA right now, more than there are "baby boomers". Due to the similarities in taste due to age, many, many, people want to live in cities right now, which drives gentrification. Whether or not that continues probably has a lot to do with birth rates going forward for people 20-35.
What are the age demographics of Canada?
As millennials stop being poor, they start behaving more like the generations of before. College grads are starting to buy houses in the suburbs: http://www.npr.org/2017/09/15/551232392/as-millennials-get-o...
You end up with lots of fodder to spin tales that can reinforce just about any narrative you like.
In most cases, it was very dumb on any metric to stay in the city if you had the means to move.
Look at any comment on the local newspaper and it is nothing but racist anti-city comments, www.mcall.com. Even mayors from suburbs even wrote opt pieces on how their economy doesn't need a city, which is completely insane. People just hate cities and it does come from a emotional and non-rational mindset.
Allentown's demographic shift was huge to where 75%+ of the students are of Latino heritage and 90% qualify for free Federal Lunch Program in Allentown School District. The hate is real against everything Allentown.
Allentown's decline has many factors, from my limited knowledge. The is the decline and departure of the steel industry. There are opiods.
If a billion in investment hasn't significantly helped (or has it?), what do you think is the solution to "fixing" Allentown?
>Well buddy, They have been shooting each other here since they opened I78 and they started moving here. 20+ years now. They have ruined a once great all American city with this BS and it is true. When it gets cold they go back inside.
That's the key word. Not "white flight". The mass production of the automobile is what historians generally agree enabled the suburbs - not critical mass racism.
Cities and towns might look like permanent fixtures of civilization if you place them on a scale of mere decades; but they come and go, grow and shrink, appear and disappear, and are eventually reclaimed by nature on a scale of centuries and millennia. They are man-made machines just like steam engines and web services, and should be treated as such. There's nothing sacred about them! The only question is how to care for the people who are affected when a machine they've been relying on goes down.
Creative destruction is not a panacea, but it should be on the table as a legitimate option to be weighed against other options. This isn't idealism, it's being realistic.
Speaking of being realistic, I suspect that there are many cases where relocating residents and shutting down the town in an orderly manner would be far less costly, more humane, and perhaps even environmentally better than maintaining the decaying infrastructure indefinitely and making yet another generation of an already disadvantaged population grow up in a place without hope.
Read: "Non-white people were living there."
Seriously, don't try to whitewash what happened. White people fled the cities because non-white people were starting to live in those areas too.
Excellent! Same with urban mass transit, then.
Second, local roads (i.e. the majority) are mostly funded through the general fund of municipalities.
Here's an overview of how laughably short gas taxes fall when it comes to paying for the roads: http://frontiergroup.org/reports/fg/do-roads-pay-themselves
First, bicyclists make use of the roads so there should be a congestion free.
Second, diesel taxes are aimed at trucks but also ensnare diesel cars which don't wear the road more than an equivalent passenger car so we need a vehicle specific paradigm. This is probably the appropriate way to price in scarcity - most motorcycles consume more fuel than most hybrids but motorcycles should wear the road less.
I also agree that congestion is the key. Congestion isn't a constant throughout the day, yet fuel taxes are. If we want to maximize our investment in all those roads, we should have higher pricing when that resource is most scarce.
At present, bicyclists mostly represent a mode shift away from driving, which represents a net mobility increase for a given congestion equilibrium. I suppose at some point we could have so much mobility being provided by bicycles that we experience significant congestion (I say we, as in the USA, as opposed to places like Amsterdam that have the lovely problem of bicycle congestion today).
That said, I'm not sure I'd ever be a huge fan of pricing bicycle travel the same way I'd price car travel. I guess I'd argue that bicycling is something between a really, really low cost means of providing mobility that benefits society as a whole, and a straight-up virtue good. I'd call bicycling a virtue good in that, the more of it a bicyclist does, the better their health, which has even more positive externalities for society as a whole.
I challenge that, bicyclists who do things like run red lights seem to increase congestion.
Although, once I got past face-palming, I could read your comment as charitably as possible and interpret that what you're saying is "bicyclists who do things like run red lights seem to increase congestion [over bicyclists who don't.]", but I think that's a stretch.
I did find one counter-point, this study , but it's key to note that it's a simulation for a non-existent scenario, and IMHO it would be stupid to have a 10% proportion of bicycles and not have appropriate infrastructure.
So mass transit should be partially publicly-funded. Suburbs should not.
Mass transit reduces congestion, reduces land usage, reduces environmental damage, reduces poverty, reduces pollution, increases quality of life and is usable by the vast majority of the population.
Suburbia infrastructure only serves those living in suburbs and has the opposite effect of each metric listed above.
I mean, we aren't putting the costs of hurricane relief efforts on people's car tabs yet, but give it a few years.
It's probably super difficult to exactly quantify how much something costs, but I think it should be provable that public transit is cheaper per person than the maintaining the network of roads we have. Of course, it's also hard to quantify the worth of those roads when we have a natural disaster and public transit stops working...
In all of those cases, the fares plus gain in property values far exceed their costs. Indeed, every one of those authorities realizes that it would be net money loser on the sales/property/business taxes generated if they could stop paying maintenance and shut down the transit systems for free.
 Edit: except maybe that one.
Even the London tube does pretty well by this measure.
A quick analysis shows that while a system like BART may operate at a loss of about one dollar per trip, that is not far off from the costs of operating our car and road network. Based on average fuel economy, and road expenses the state of California subsidies driving at a rate of about 6.2 cents per mile. I didn't find any hard sources, but a few references that the average commute may be about 12 miles. That would make the average subsidy for a commute to be about $0.75.
- BART looses about a dollar per trip:
- California gas tax covers 22.7% of road costs: (https://taxfoundation.org/gasoline-taxes-and-tolls-pay-only-...)
- Average fuel economy is 23.6 miles / gallon in the USA: (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/12/13/cars-...)
- The gas tax is 48.6 cents per gallon.
- Total road expense per gallon of gas sold: 0.486/0.227 = $2.14
- Subsidy: 2.14-0.486 = $1.65
- Per mile $1.65/26.6 = $0.062
If the outer suburbs manage all the services you mention with an even lower density then of course the inner ring suburbs could do the same and should in fact do better. This is not an insurmountable obstacle.
However, OP doesn't diagnose the failure and therefore has no answer other than having the cities throw money at these suburbs.
EDIT: I see your ninja edit but it's inconsistent. Either poor people are a drain on resources that the middle class wants to avoid or they're a great profit centre for the municipality.
It's not about them being a drain on the _city_ resources, but undesirable beneficiaries of the wealthier denizens' "resource pool".
I'm not arguing in favor of the OP's point or against yours: it's much less economics driven and much more socioeconomic status driven. People don't want to share their neighborhoods with those less well off than them because they want to feel metrically superior wherever possible ("I can afford to live here and they can't") and they don't want to "bring down property values" because there's someone that doesn't meet their vision of "minimum acceptable wealth" living withing a stone's throw of themselves.
Rich enough to feel they’re above a mere apartment, not rich enough to afford a condo.
 american also seem obsessed with the idea that houses are for owning and apartments are for renting. Having grown up in buildings full of people/families owning their apartments and sharing costs of building upkeep, I never understood this. Maybe the co-op approach is a remnant of socialism and I’m the weird one.
Personally I’d much prefer to own a nice flat downtown than to waste my life commuting.
Sharing space with the hoi polloi is half the fun of living in a city anyway. Gives your neighborhood some character, interesting people to talk to and to see out and about.
Nothing worse than a neighborhood full of your average middle class suburbanite to drain all the life out of a place. I’ll never forget how utterly terrible living in Menlo Park was. shudder
Edit: sorry that is probably offtopic. My initial point was that real estate is actually more expensive closer to city centers. Maybe “the rich” aren’t so rich after all.
I have grabbed three quick images to show you why I moved further away - after spending my whole life in urban areas.
The cookie-cutter typical suburbs of most mid-tier US cities though? I cannot imagine a worse combination of all the bad things from rural living, combined with all the bad things from urban living. Utterly soulless, and I feel actively depressed if I must spend more than a day or two stuck in one.
My personal theory is that the social strife we are increasingly seeing in the US is due to the breakdown in the sense of community nationwide. I posit that suburbinification was by far the largest driver of this. This is bad enough, but when you realize 90% of the suburbs in the US are unsustainable subsidies for middle class folks it gets even harder to swallow.
Getting out was great. It's not realistic for many, but it has been fantastic. The comment mentioned moving further afield, beyond suburbia, so I wasn't entirely sure what was meant.
I'm about 25 miles from a village with 1200 residents. I'm in a pn unincorporated township that has six residences and a couple of hunting camps. Once the locals (I call them the village people) get to know and accept you, I've never seen a greater sense of community.
I suspect you're onto something with the sense of community. Even the unpopular people here, of which there are a few - some self-selecting for the role, wouldn't be allowed to go hungry or homeless. In my township, there is no crime and everyone knows where my keys are, just in case the door is locked.
In the village? Well, there are minor property crimes at the rate of maybe two a month. Most of those can be attributed to tourists. There are only 1200 residents but they may swell to ten times that many people during the height if tourist season.
The sense of community is not something I'd experienced elsewhere. Ever. Even as a child, my family moved a lot due to my father being in the military. It was unfamiliar feeling and very disconcerting at times - but it is something I've come to cherish.
This is the first time I've really felt at home.
You know you're an accepted member of the community when they are telling you the gossip and it is no longer about you. It has its charms.
I don't have words for it, but the sense of community really does have an overall effect on the people. There is true compassion, even when it isn't a crisis. It doesn't take a flood to make people help their neighbors.
I strongly suspect you're not something with that.
And for me, a "cookie-cutter" suburb like Plano, TX is utter paradise. We're all different.
I don't believe in a soul, and I've never understood what anybody has meant when they complain about something being "soulless". And I've never been interested in being part of a community.
I want to live in a single-family home with a yard, little undeveloped space, six-lane arterials on a grid, strip malls at every intersection, at least one hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant in every strip mall (Plano is a very ethnically-diverse cookie-cutter suburb), etc. That's my dream town.
2m from my house: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1a/Ixelles_...
15m from it: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/13/Br... http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Lw2dPOfarIk/VjD8K-tXApI/AAAAAAAAOy...
25m from it: https://i1.wp.com/www.zonienwoud.be/wp-content/uploads/2015/... https://c2.staticflickr.com/2/1369/5154609222_5837e11ab5_b.j... https://urbanfragment.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/forc3aat-d...
What you're not seeing is I've got about 3200 acres of mountainous woodland. I can have a few hundred people on my lawn, complete with live music, and the nearest neighbor will only hear it because they joined us.
That's the difference. I'm more likely to see a moose than I am to see a stranger.
And that's why I moved away from urban/suburban areas. As near as I can tell, more wealthy/rich people are doing much the same. In the ten years since I bought the property, the cost of land has skyrocketed. People are buying remote and moving well past suburbia.
Comparatively speaking, I bought the property at a very low price. What I paid ~$500/acre for is now three to four times the price - in just a decade.
...but now that you (and everyone else) owns that land - no one else (unless you let them, or there's some kind of government-mandated form of easement to allow for it) can use that land: They can't hunt on it, they can't fish on it, they can't go off-roading on it - they can't even hike on it and enjoy nature.
So in other words, it's a classic case of "I've got mine..."
I don't blame you for this - if I had the wherewithal I'd do the same. Heck, as it is (for my budget), my wife and I have been talking about moving out of the city and on to a plot of land (much smaller - even with the cheapest land we couldn't afford 3200 acres - not to mention any upkeep or whatnot, nor taxes). Not that we dislike our neighbors or anything, we're just getting to a point not liking the bustle of the city as much. Our greater concern is more of "how long will it take to reach a hospital for an emergency" (well, that and high-speed internet access - but even that is becoming both less of an issue, as well as something I am beginning to wonder if it might be better to be without).
But more and more, these spaces which used to be public property are becoming private, and rarely do the owners (whether individuals or corporations) allow for any others to set foot on the property, at least legally. I guess, though, that this isn't anything new.
The public was using the land before my name was on the deed. I have a legal right, but not an ethical right, to prohibit reasonable use.
Instead of signs that say no trespassing, there are signs with my phone number, marked trails, and parking.
It is absolutely beautiful. It was comparatively inexpensive and you can hike all day and still be on my property.
At the rate similar land is selling, and the single occupancy homes going in, it appears that more monied people are moving in.
However, a million dollars will buy you a couple hundred acres here AND allow you to build a nice house on it. If you're patient, you can get the land much cheaper. I bought during the recession and the land was auctioned by a paper company that was going out of business. I pretty much stole it.
I do see the appeal of urban living and I can find beauty in the structure. What I really appreciate is the combination of aesthetics, tranquility, and privacy.
On the subject of privacy, I am able to be more private in my location than I am if I lived in a city. However, the trade off is anonymity. I can be much more anonymous in an urban area.
I can pee on my lawn and nobody will know. If I pee on someone else's lawn, they will know exactly who I am.
I'm not a hermit, I have an active social life and a girlfriend. But, I do enjoy the solitude and tranquility. I also enjoy the furry woodland critters and the lifestyle that I can have here. (I can't really hunt moose in Manhattan and it's doubtful that I'd see one on my lawn.)
I "commute" about 15-30 minutes away to my job (software engineer) where my employer is located in an industrial business park area, on the more outer edge of the city (but not the extreme outer edge).
My last three or four employers have been like this mostly, but this one has been the closest to home, and it is pretty nice not having to drive so far for a change.
If the outer suburbs manage all the services you mention
with an even lower density then of course the inner ring
suburbs could do the same
Nearby South Euclid has a population of 22,295. In 2010 the median household income was $59,423.
And due to progressive taxation, South Euclid's relative tax revenue is probably even higher than those household income figures imply.
No city views the existence of its suburbs as a serious problem. Most cities are in crisis re: gentrification and affordability in the urban core, a problem that suburbs directly solve by providing substitutes for urban apartments.
Is the city "full" or something?
Putting aside the reasons (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc, all being willing to pay well, people wanting to live in an urban area, etc etc) the ground truth is that developers can charge a ton of money for a residence in Seattle now.
So they do.
No one's building anything affordable because hey - why not get paid a ton more for doing basically the same work by developing a luxury apartment/condo/etc.
So it's not that the city's full, it's that most people can't afford to live here anymore.
The suburbs contribute supply and absorb demand.
If developers built similar quantities of “affordable” units, we would have just as much trouble getting them, but due to waiting lists/lotteries/bribes/whatever instead of rental prices.
Given the sorry state of the apartments left after urban decay, “luxury” apartments are the only kind that won’t be a huge decrease in quality of life to middle class former homeowners.
> If people still want to live in large houses in low-density areas, let them pay for it.
They did, though. I mean, suburbs are rarely directly financed by larger cities and initially, inhabitants of suburbs are, on average and in the United States, wealthier than their counterparts in the city (and nearer suburbs). The problem is that a certain class of people is only willing to foot that bill provided certain discriminatory characteristics are present. When those characteristics (such as racial segregation by means of socioeconomic discrimination via HOAs and zoning laws) fail to accomplish their purpose (the top-earning percentiles of those "undesired" classes of persons gain enough to love in, decreasing the desirability of the suburbs in the eyes of the people that initially wanted it, driving its prices down, allowing more diverse population groups to move in, rinse and repeat), those inhabitants that could moved on to other, wealthier and more exclusive suburbs even farther out.
The problem now is the suburbs in between, comprised of people "willing to pay" for the "status" of not living in the city but not able to afford it. You're essentially arguing to _increase_ segregation between the wealthiest and poorest striations of society, which would effectively redefine what it means to be middle class in America and possible wipe out the concept of lower middle class entirely.
Suburbs, sprawl are subsidized by urban areas. By zip code, county, state, region.
Unless you're claiming that by working in the city and commuting home to the suburbs, people are being subsidized by the city. But that would be silly.
Not a claim. Merely a statement of fact.
You're missing in your equation:
1. Population density. If the population density is lower, the cost to maintain the infrastructure per resident is higher. The claim is that even though suburbanites are richer, they are not rich enough to offset the extra cost per resident.
2. A lot more businesses (and big businesses) in the city vs the suburb. This is a significant revenue stream.
I've seen maps and claims where even in the city, it is usually the downtown area that subsidizes the rest of the city (let alone suburbs).
No, I'm arguing in favor of higher-density cities with a mix of low, mid and high income under a larger governmental entity.
Despite how trite universal basic income is to bring up in threads these days, UBI could do a lot to help failing communities throughout the US. Much of the demand for housing in urban areas comes from people who may choose to live a less prosperous/expensive life elsewhere, if it were an option. This could change the dynamic of urban/suburban/rural life in the US. Whether or not that's a good thing is debatable, but I think with UBI a lot of people would leave expensive CoL areas.
It's pure speculation on my part, but it's the only rational reason I can find.
Not even that, just wipe it out, disincorporate and let nature retake it, or hand it over to agriculture. That's what Detroit is doing.
Perhaps neighborliness. Perhaps a sense of community. Perhaps because neither city can move and arbitrary political borders are permeable to hard problems, i.e. if the roads in one city are impassible then people cannot get to the other. The other city owns the problems whether it acknowledges it or not.
I thought this too while reading. Only thing I can think is due to proximity, the suburb is a risk to the city. If the plight continues, it will eventually leak into the city in the form of crime, etc.
From a purely self-interested perspective, it would increase their control of what happens in distressed cities. They could rezone the suburbs and build transit there to increase supply in case the city does not have enough. They may be able to help enforce law and order in areas that were outside of their jurisdiction. They may have friends and family living in the distressed city. They may have some basic compassion for their fellow humans.
Suburbs, by definition, are already medium density, by the way.
Also, there's suburbs and there's suburbs. There's a huge gulf between a town like Elizabeth NJ or Newton, Mass, and a Temecula housing development.
That's why Detroit is buying the homes in those suburbs and demolishing them.
What do you also consider as failing?
Silicon Valley, for one. Most SV companies are in the suburbs.
Google in Mountain View, Facebook in Menlo Park, Apple in Cupertino, EA in Redwood City, etc...
Ironically, part of the reason traffic in Boston is so poor is due to not wanting to destroy poorer areas when roads were being built.
This is the unfinished road I was referencing.
> Let them fail and wipe them out. Instead of wasting money trying to sustain a broken system, provide resources to facilitate moving to mid and high-density housing in the central city.
1. Businesses evict themselves from it, usually due to:
2. People being unable to afford anything else.
So what happens when you have hundreds of thousands of people who literally can't afford to move?
A negotiation for merger between Cleveland and East Cleveland was shot down last year because of some pretty ridiculous demands by the EC leadership:
Some discussion at the time: https://www.reddit.com/r/Cleveland/comments/4zeubq/east_clev...
Inner suburbia like Whitehall is not coming back. Highway infrastructue shuffles more traffic between suburbs around Columbus and many other citys rather than traffic into the city core. Poor people displaced from hip new downtown building are moving into these abandoned inner burbs and bringing all the crime with them.
That's not how real estate works. It's not a car. Usually, when a city experiences a boom, its suburbs benefit by housing workers from the booming industries.
If people choose to extend their commute or pay higher prices for residences in the city just to avoid you, I'm guessing you gave them a very good reason to avoid you. Why did the original middle class residents leave?
At least some infrastructure is reusable and you get residences closer to the city therefore much more valuable than outer suburbs which are doing better. You beat the city by offering a real backyard. There, sold.
Some people will still live farther out and others will remain in the city but you should have no trouble finding younger families happy to live there. This is not the issue.
These communities seem to me like unsustainable resorts built for the upper middle class of fifty years ago.
Combine that with redlining and so many of the weird patterns make sense: a suburb wasn’t designed to be a viable community as much as a de-facto private school district which only has students like your kids.
To be fair, the article is talking about relatively close-in suburbs. Things will look worse when the even more farflung exurbs start having a lot of deferred maintenance catch up to them.
New England is an older part of the US and patterns are obviously different with newer cities.
The flyover states are really where this conversation needs to be focused on, as these are the communities that will first be hit hard.
Small towns that eventually got absorbed into a giant metroplex are not the usual in the country. I think most folks see them as entirely different when it comes to sustainability models/etc.
There is a fundamental national issue with how things are done in the US that will bite us in the ass as we get even less competitive over the years.
I guess it all comes down to which view you wish to support. people who favor city living tend to ignore crime, noise, and pollution, while harping on suburbs as all being gate communities that consume taxes provided by cities.
whereas those in the country, which is different than city subburbs tend to see it all in the reverse
My city, Miami, dilapidated shacks are being snatched up for 300-500k, cash. And they are <20 minutes from the city core. That is what a ring suburb in a thriving city looks like.
If they aren’t getting developers sniffing around driving up the tax base then merging with the city won’t fix it.
One thing that jumps out as soon as you look at a map is that East Cleveland isn't a geographically distinct built-up-area. It's not really a city of its own, I suspect much of its employment comes from Cleveland proper.
It seems to me that a lot of these urban sprawls should be merged into what the UK would call "unitary authorities", which could then better make area-wide planning decisions.
Perhaps property tax grows the fewer property tax-paying people are in a street/small area. Ulitimately making the one guy at the end of a deserted street pay for the sewer pipe and road going all the way up the street.
It must be a result of inefficient and damaging market forces, poorly planned maintenance expenses, and selfish political manipulations that make it cheaper for one person to live at the end of a culdesac than to live in an apartment building.
Think about it. Individual electric, sewer, water, roads, foundations, roofs, garages, exteriors, etc. on each house, with services and businesses like groceries, trash pickup, police/fire/ambulance, and transport spread over a broad area, should not be able to compete with a system in which these costs are shared and services are concentrated between many residents.
Yes, there are downsides to apartment living. I personally own my house, and enjoy that. But it's absurd that I can buy 2300 square feet of house and 2 acres of land for $1200/mo in mortgage, taxes, bills and maintenance when a 2-bedroom apartment outside my small Midwestern city rents for $1100/mo. And I paid extra for a newer house, larger lot, and nicer neighborhoods - you can buy less desirable spots for $800/mo, less than renting in less desirable apartments (assuming you have decent credit and a small down payment)! I should be paying way more, or they should be paying way less, if we're going to have balanced costs on the local economy.
In my experience, that is not true because of the location of the apartment buildings. Anecdotally, most apartments I know of are in an area where space, thus housing supply, is at a premium and demand is high, not out in the suburbs where land and housing are already cheap. Why would you pay $X/month for an apartment when $X/month will also suffice for a mortgage?
I'm trying to say that a more rational system would put efficient, inexpensive apartment buildings where they would be cheaper, and more accurately ascribe higher costs to inefficient, expensive suburban single-family homes.
It's because the system is stupid and ineffective that apartments are in premium locations and suburban housing is artificially cheap. This ineffectiveness results in arguments like the parent article where people propose that the artificially cheap suburbs should be propped up by 'merging' with the wealthier and more efficient city who would be able to afford their poor choices.
I understand what you are trying to say but it contradicts how currently market is working, because in order to make sense city's apartments should be cheaper compared to suburbs, but given that population in cities is increasing, it means demand for apartments in cities is increasing, so increasing pricing too, and then we go back to square one - suburbs are cheaper to acquire.
New York City resident here. There aren't that many inexpensive apartments. To put things in perspective, one new apartment building in my neighborhood came with about 100 affordable units that ranged in price from $500 to $900 per month.
I'm sure that many people living in dying suburbs would love to move into the city and live in one of those apartments. But more than 80,000 people signed up for the lottery to get one of those 100 apartments.
If you don't have money it is really, really hard to move to the city, and inexpensive apartments are hard to get.
That's one of the reasons I oppose opening our borders to a flood of additional low-skilled, low-educated people. It hurts the ones who are already here.
I'm sure this will attract a lot of downvotes, and I'm perfectly fine with that, but I'd appreciate it if the downvoters would also point out the flaws they perceive in my logic.
How many more cities will see this fate happen to their outer edges?
Although it was home to one of the most prominent African-American business districts, the highways that were created through the Federal Highway Act of 1956 destroyed Hastings Street, home to many of the thriving businesses. Because of this Paradise Valley can not be found today. In the early 1960s, the City of Detroit demolished much of the Black Bottom district as part of an urban renewal project. It constructed major freeways through this area: the Chrysler Freeway (Interstate 75 and Interstate 375).
It's utterly silly to think that building suburbs in the 50s and 60s was malignant, purposeful behavior. Things change, our population has increased and our understanding about economics, technology and our resources has evolved.
While it wouldn't solve the immediate issue it might mitigate some of the issues that cause the flight to suburbs in the first place.
Essentially, we make a huge tapering hole in the ground, with each "tier" being part of the roadway for trucks and other mining equipment.
Light isn't really an issue, except at the very bottom, but even it receives some light during the day. Moving the dirt isn't a problem either - I'm not sure where it goes, but the tailings end up somewhere (it isn't all consumed in the mining operation).
As far as a view? Well - if such a construction was done for housing, the tiers could be rows and rows of buildings hugging the sides of the pit, potentially looking out and over at other buildings across a large expanse - like looking out over a valley (if you've never been to a deep pit mine, take a trip to one sometime - it's quite amazing). With trees, plants, etc - perhaps water features and maybe a lake at the bottom - I think (in theory) it could be quite lovely to look at and live in.
It would be nice if the deep pit mines we already have dug could be repurposed, but the problem with many are the amount of contamination caused by the mining and other activities during the operation of the mine; I doubt it would or could ever be fit to live in. Some of these mines are backfilled with the tailings afterward, but not all.
Even if the long term HVAC savings would make it cost-effective, we already know humans are all about that quick buck, save money now and beggar thy future.
Also what's not helping is public opinion that multi-story buildings (9+) are some ghetto projects, unless it's a luxury condos.
Now Nela Park is down to about 300 people and GE is looking at exiting the lighting business completely.