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Auggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 11:57 AM
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Is Suburbia Turning Into Slumburbia?
By Carol Lloyd, Special to SF Gate
Friday, March 14, 2008

After decades of middle class flight from the cities in search of safe neighborhoods and good schools a flight that continues today even from gentrified cities like San Francisco it's hard to conjure the image of a truly derelict suburbia. Will all those manicured lawns sprout weeds and broken bottles like a Baltimore back alley? Will drug dealers take over the local cul-de-sac?
Will squatters set up camp in the neighbor's McMansion?

All this seems unfathomable, but it's the prediction du jour for some urban planners who make it their business to track the larger sociological implications of our land use.

"Over the last few decades we've structurally overinvested in fringe real estate," explains Christopher Leinberger, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institute and a former developer. "Builders are experts in overbuilding, in terms of cyclical overbuilding, like lemmings to the sea. But this time it's different. It's not just a cycle. It's going to take more than two or three years to recover from this."

Last fall, Leinberger published "The Option of Urbanism," a book about the changing sociology of the built environment. Like Florida, he sees the growing attraction to urban living as a matter of critical importance. This month, his essay in the Atlantic magazine provocatively asserts that McMansion developments would deteriorate into crime ridden, impoverished slums. In the piece he mentions several instances of suburban neighborhoods getting hit so hard by the recent downturn that they already exhibit the tell-tale signs of deep decline: Looters stealing copper pipe and siding from new homes, gunshots puncturing picture-perfect facades, squatters taking up residence in abandoned houses.

When asked if the edge suburbs are turning into slums, Florida concurs with Leinberger's ominous vision, "Yes, they are already well on their way," he says. "The knowledge workers can't afford the time cost, they can't afford the commuting time."

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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:09 PM
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1. I read a book by William Julius Wilson called "When Work Disappears"
that talks about the outsourcing of our jobs as a process that started with the move of factories out of inner cities to the burbs and then to cheap labor wherever it can be found. Under these circumstances and adding the high cost of oil to drive to work it would seem that suburbs may very well be heading for big trouble.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:14 PM
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2. yes, & predictably.
When the money rises to the top, it creates slums.

The process happens in every boom/bust cycle.

My little city's downtown never recovered from the 80's.
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Auggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:36 PM
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3. In February the only Bay Area city to see an increase in median home price was...
San Francisco
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AlCzervik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:40 PM
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4. half the homes on the market here are foreclosures and we also have homebuilders who
left town leaving neighborhood's unfinished with a promise "We'll be back when things get better" and one of the filed for bankruptcy. Also business's are starting to close as well, not en masse but enough of them so you actually notice.
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