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they exist for a reason: water, sewage, traffic, pollution

Not really. See Edward Glaeser's The Triumph of the City, Matt Yglesias's The Rent is Too Damn High, and Ryan Avent's The Gated City for more; pay particularly close attention to the sections about how urban life tends to be far more sustainable than alternatives.

I got these books simply because of this recommendation. Will check them out, thanks.

You're welcome! They're all impressively researched while being relatively easy to read. If you want to add one more, Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic is good too.

As all four books point out, there's basically no intellectual case to be made in favor of low height limits, strict parking requirements, and lot setbacks in urban or heavily urbanizing places. The only "case", such as it is, comes from NIMBYism and existing landlords or landowners who are seeking to nominally protect their perceived investment.

Hey, I (much) prefer urban life. Starting from the ground up, I wish they'd built Palo Alto and Menlo Park to be real cities. I wish I lived in a city with a real subway, and the people density to support it. And women.

But all that's not the same thing as adding skyscrapers today's mid-Peninsula. Most of these responses are coming from an idealistic blank-sheet mindset. In the real world, we don't have the option to start from scratch.

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