Out of Control Policy Blog

Mocking suburbia

Though I like to make a clear distinction between design-minded advocates of New Urbanism and the almost fanatical social engineer disciples of Smart Growth, there are still a lot of folks that equate the two. I found a great example today, and it's one that should rattle you if you (a) live in the suburbs and like it; (b) understand that older, inner-ring suburbs have become thriving melting pots and destinations for newly arrived immigrant populations; (c) understand that suburbs have been making tremendous strides in creating cultural amenities over the last couple of decades.

Here it goes...it's a rewrite of the Congress of New Urbanism charter from a snarky, anti-sprawl slant:

    The Congress for the Continuation of Sprawl views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society's built heritage as the preferred method of development in America.

    We stand for the deterioration of existing urban centers and towns within incoherent metropolitan regions, the continuation of sprawling suburbs as opposed to communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the destruction of natural environments, and the collapse of our built legacy.

    We recognize that our physical solutions may not solve social and economic problems; neither do we promise long lasting economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health.We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles:

    neighborhoods should be ethnocentric in use and population; communities should be designed with the automobile in mind, with a lesser emphasis on the pedestrian; cities and towns should be shaped by laissez faire growth and amenities should be sufficiently separated, so as to facilitate reliance on the automobile; sub-urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that disregards local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.

    We represent a broad-based citizenry, composed of public and private sector leaders, and multidisciplinary professionals, who are reaping the temporary benefits of sub-urban sprawl.

    We are committed to clear-cutting forests and replacing them with asphalt and standardized "big box" buildings, despite the loss of local identity and community.

    We dedicate ourselves to the decline of our homes, blocks, streets, parks, neighborhoods, districts, towns, cities, regions, and environment.

What condescending drivel... For a dose of reality on suburbia, check out this post.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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