NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 20, 2006

Suburbia, the preferred way of life across the advanced capitalist world, is under an unprecedented attack -- one that seeks to replace single-family residences and shopping centers with an "anti-sprawl" model beloved of planners and environmental activists. The latest battleground is Los Angeles, which gave birth to the suburban metropolis, says Joel Kotkin, a senior fellow with the New America Foundation.

Many in the political, planning and media elites are itching to use the regulatory process to turn L.A. into a dense, multi-story metropolis. Experts differ on the impact of these regulations, but it certainly has not created the new urbanist nirvana widely promoted by proponents of these policies.

According to Kotkin, suburbia has not been crushed, but simply pushed farther away:

  • Since 2000, notes analyst Wendell Cox, New York City has gained less than 95,000 people while the suburban rings have added over 270,000.
  • Much of the growth credited to "cities" has actually taken place in the suburb-like fringes.
  • Nowhere is the commitment to low-density living greater than in the United States; roughly 51 percent of Americans, according to recent polls, prefer to live in the suburbs.

It is time politicians recognized how their constituents actually want to live, says Kotkin. If not, they will only hurt their communities, and force aspiring middle-class families to migrate even further out to the periphery for the privacy, personal space and ownership that constitutes the basis of their common dreams.

Source: Joel Kotkin, "The War Against Suburbia," Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2005.


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