Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Assault on Suburbia -

- threatens the American Dream, and kills it for future generations.  

The article featured here should be read, re-read and shared by everyone who still believes in the American Dream, and those who may have lost hope of achieving it but still want it for themselves and their children.  The message here is important, and the truth needs to be told about what is going on and why.   Use the link to access the complete article.

Read this and pass it on!

Countering Progressives' Assult on Suburbs
August , 2015  By Joel Kotkin
The next culture war will not be about issues like gay marriage or abortion, but about something more fundamental: how Americans choose to live. In the crosshairs now will not be just recalcitrant Christians or crazed billionaire racists, but the vast majority of Americans who either live in suburban-style housing or aspire to do so in the future. Roughly four in five home buyers prefer a single-family home, but much of the political class increasingly wants them to live differently. 

Theoretically, the suburbs should be the dominant politically force in America. Some 44 million Americans live in the core cities of America’s 51 major metropolitan areas, while nearly 122 million Americans live in the suburbs. In other words, nearly three-quarters of metropolitan Americans live in suburbs.

Yet it has been decided, mostly by self-described progressives, that suburban living is too unecological, not mention too uncool, and even too white for their future America. Density is their new holy grail, for both the world and the U.S. Across the country efforts are now being mounted—through HUD, the EPA, and scores of local agencies—to impede suburban home-building, or to raise its cost. Notably in coastal California, but other places, too, suburban housing is increasingly relegated to the affluent.

The obstacles being erected include incentives for density, urban growth boundaries, attempts to alter the race and class makeup of communities, and mounting environmental efforts to reduce sprawl. The EPA wants to designate even small, seasonal puddles as “wetlands,” creating a barrier to developers of middle-class housing, particularly in fast-growing communities in the Southwest. Denizens of free-market-oriented Texas could soon be experiencing what those in California, Oregon and other progressive bastions have long endured: environmental laws that make suburban development all but impossible, or impossibly expensive. Suburban family favorites like cul-de-sacs are being banned under pressure from planners.

Some conservatives rightly criticize such intrusive moves, but they generally ignore how Wall Street interests and some developers see forced densification as opportunities for greater profits, often sweetened by public subsidies. Overall, suburban interests are poorly organized, particularly compared to well-connected density lobbies such as the developer-funded Urban Land Institute (ULI), which have opposed suburbanization for nearly 80 years. 



  1. Looking at it from my own "Liberal perspective" - that article is rather inaccurate.
    I'm about as Liberal as you might see around here, and I am currently helping do some organizing-work with the group, "Stop Demolishing Portland".

    Some of our issues are;

    -The densification of single-family neighborhoods
    -The loss of affordable housing/starter-homes as they are replaced with multiple, much-larger houses
    -The loss of the yards that belonged to these homes, due to the rampant lot-splitting. The City is allowing houses to be built with just a strip around each house - we question how emergency responders will even be able to access the side-windows of many of them, let-alone where kids will play.
    -The lack of regulation surrounding the methods used to demolish an older house.
    Anything pre-1978 is going to emit lead (and probably asbestos) dust when it's smashed. Brain damage in children from lead exposure, even in small amounts, is well-documented.
    -The loss of privacy & sunlight to the neighboring houses & yards.
    Do you folks believe that your neighbors' "private property rights" includes being allowed to build 3-story row-houses right up-against both sides of your one-story home - permanently ruining your views, privacy and garden-spots-?
    Even if this will ultimately raise your taxes & lower the value of your own once-charming/private/peaceful home - you're OK with the lack of regulations that enabled developers to do this-?
    -The no-parking-spaces apartment buildings being built into "urban canyons" along Portland streets. *These* are environmentally offensive.
    In a city with such inadequate public transportation, very-few people are going stop owning a car just because their new apartment didn't come with a parking space. Instead, they are crowding-out the residents in the adjacent residential areas.

    Metro's research on the demographics of the future masses of people who will be moving here shows that the vast majority will have "lower than average" incomes and will likely not be home-buyers.
    The influx currently buying-up homes in Portland are folks seeking these expensive new homes in the trendy neighborhoods.

    The City of Portland currently has *ample* vacant land to meet Metro's density requirements.
    But it's not in the trendy neighborhoods, so they are allowing developers to tear-down anything that has some yard space and replace it with multiple tall/skinny homes. The developers had found some old language in the City codes that is allowing them to use the old underlying lot lines, this has led to a massive amount of lot-splitting.

    Personally, I'm certain that the main reason for the City allowing all this is the large-bump in property tax revenue that will result from it. Hales & Novick were an utter failure at trying to fund street maintenance, and they wanted to find a new revenue stream, but without having to propose a new "fee" or "tax".
    Hales' career-long ties to the building industry has made him myopic - this was, apparently, the best idea he could come up with.

    I hope you will look at our Facebook page, and see what we have to say about "suburban living".

    And I hope you will also take a moment to look at one finished-result of what I've described here (there's another house just like this one, to be built next to it) - http://www.portlandchronicle.com/sale-pending-on-first-sunnyside-skinny-house/

    Happy Sunday,

    Karen Crichton

  2. I am guessing you are referring to the author's title, "Progressives' Asault.." and being put off by the progressive/liberal name-calling. My take on it is that the author is talking about an elite group of theorists, planners and developers who have as their goal, intense densification of all urban areas, and in extreme cases, the transformation of low and medium-density suburbs into medium and high density TODs. These folks are not humane - they do not care what people want or need - the only thing that matters is their ideas about how everyone else should live, even if their ideas are a disaster.

    The best example of this kind of thinking can be seen in the TED Talk video on "Retrofitting Suburbia", where the suburbs are eventually erased and returned to a natural state with everyone herded into extremely dense urban areas. In these scenarios, the single family home with a yard is a dinosaur - sorry to see it go, but it was necessary to kill the beast. The adherents to these ideas sometimes place all natural and wilderness lands off-limits to humans.

    Some radicals believe that individuals should not be allowed to own land at all - that all land belongs to the "commons" which I take to be the state. Communism and other forms of wealth distribution are frequently centered around housing and land ownership and are tied to current calls for rent control and inclusionary zoning which only make matters worse. These are appealing, short-sighted, populist gimmicks to gain political support, but they do more harm than good.

    Getting back to the progressive thing - if one had to come up with a label for the block of people who believe in dense cities and suburbs with little or no parking, I think progressive fits. A classic liberal believes in having an open mind to all ideas - the type of control freaks outlined in this article obviously do not.