24.5.16

THE DREAM BECOMES A NIGHTMARE.

When the housing bubble popped, a lot of canonical planned-use developments heavily skewed to sport-utes and culs-de-sac stopped expanding.  That's a mixed blessing for me, as Cold Spring Shops headquarters exists because a local builder was willing to talk with me about crazy ideas like a basement under the garage, a wide stairway on a straight line from the garage downstairs, and a bookshelf the entire expanse of a wall.  As long as the sport-utes were rolling in from Naperville with people ready to sign up for the one interior plan disguised with four different exteriors, and the lenders were lending money, that wasn't happening.

But the economic environment is changing, and Fortune's Leigh Gallagher envisions The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving, and here comes Book Review No. 9.  The book touches on a lot of Strong Towns themes including the inadequacy of the tax base, the over-reliance on cars, and the anomie (although that idea goes back to the late 1950s in cultural studies.)  Ms Gallagher acknowledges the influence of Strong Towns thinking in her writing, there's an interview here.

For policy purposes, the end may not yet be here.  Consider a dissenting perspective from Joel Kotkin at Forbes.  "It’s time to put an end to the urban legend of the impending death of America’s suburbs." There are weaker suburbs and stronger suburbs and migration patterns reveal a preference for stronger suburbs, or perhaps for opportunities to live among other functional people. "So when millennials move they seem likely to not move to the nice old suburbs, or the deteriorating one, but those more far-flung suburban communities that offer larger and more affordable housing, good schools, parks and lower crime rates."  Sounds like an evolutionary stable strategy to me.

(Cross-posted to Fifty Book Challenge.)

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