Friday, February 22, 2008

The ascent of single-family suburban slums?

   I often write skeptically about the long-predicted demise of the suburbs and the return of urban living.  But some interesting counter-arguments are made by Christopher B. Leinberger, of Brookings and the University of Michigan, in the March issue of the Atlantic Monthly.  Like others, he asserts that Mcmansion Americans are beginning to reject the auto-dominated suburban culture and today desire "walkable" places.  (Although the choice of Northern Virginia's Reston Town Center as an exemplar seems to me to be simply a revision of the suburban ideal, not a rejection of it.)  Most provocatively, he suggests that much of the isolated suburban developments built during the recent the housing bubble may be so undesirable in coming decades that they end up as the refuges for the very poor, posing tremendous challenges for local government and land use law.

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