March 28, 2007
Garnett on the Burbs
Nicole Stelle Garnett (Notre Dame Law School) has posted Suburbs as Exit, Suburbs as Entrance on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Most academics assume that suburbanites are “exiters” who have abandoned central cities. The exit story is a foundational one in the fields of land use and local government law: Exiters' historical, social, and economic connections with “their” center cities are frequently used to justify both growth controls and regional government. The exit story, however, no longer captures the American suburban experience. For a majority of Americans, suburbs have become points of entrance to, not of exit from, “urban” life. Most suburbanites are “enterers” - people who were born in, or migrated directly to, suburbs and who have not spent time living in any central city. This Essay situates the underappreciated suburbs as entrance story within the current debates about growth management and regional governance. The exit paradigm provides a powerful normative justification for these policies. When it is stripped away, proponents are left with utilitarian arguments that are challenged by economists who argue that metropolitan fragmentation is efficiencyenhancing and that may ring hollow with suburban enterers. This Essay seeks to sound a cautionary note in the growth management and regional government debates. The exit story is an outdated rhetorical flourish that tends to oversimplify the case for - and camouflage the complexities of - these policies, especially the distributional and transitionalfairness concerns raised by restricting suburban growth.
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