What’s the point?

I have never understood the disdain most urban planners have for suburban America. My neighbors and I enjoy living in homes on about a third of an acre around a cul-de-sac.

We enjoy living in a city with low crime rates and great public schools. We like having a yard where our children and grandchildren can play catch without walking or driving to a park.

I love waking up to the sound of a dove cooing outside my window and sometimes catching a glimpse of a fox when I walk to the mailbox. I get a kick out of seeing an owl perched on top of my son’s basketball goal when I pull into my driveway at night. And even though I get frustrated when my pansies become fodder for my woodland neighbors it is thrilling to catch an offending deer in my yard and stand there waiting to see which one of us will blink first.

Yes, I love living in the suburbs and apparently my neighbors do too. Many of them are educated, relatively affluent people who moved from all over the world to call Alpharetta home. They could have chosen anywhere in metro Atlanta but they have set down roots in Alpharetta because this is where they wanted to live and raise their families.

Of course very few of us have always lived in Alpharetta. Over the years we have lived in apartments, town homes and houses in cities populated by a variety of ethnic and economic demographics in cities all over the world. Each was appropriate for that particular stage of our lives. But at no point in time did any of us ever think our preferences were superior to those of people who chose to live differently.

That’s why I’m always amazed by people who profess to know what’s best for everyone else. Especially the city planners who make a living by telling everybody else how they should live. A perfect example is Richard Florida whose book Rise of the Creative Class gained him celebrity status more than a decade ago but is now peddling a book titled The New Urban Crisis which proposes solutions to the negative consequences caused by his previous recommendations.

So it was refreshing to run across this video titled The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us the other day. The video is nearly an hour long so most of you may not have time to watch the whole thing but it provides a perspective from Joel Kotkin, a founder of the website NewGeography.com, that I have never heard explained so well anywhere else.

Joel Kotkin

If you can’t watch the whole thing you should at least watch the last four minutes. Mr. Kotkin’s response to the final question beginning at the 52:28 mark provides a poignant summary.

You can have some more density in suburban areas but if you densify them too much then whats the point?

Why would I live there?

I couldn’t agree more. An overwhelming majority of American adults people prefer to live in suburbs when given the choice. They prefer suburbs to dense urban cores.

So when great suburban cities like Alpharetta add density to the point of losing the character that makes them more attractive to us in the first place… whats the point?

What’s the point?

5 thoughts on “What’s the point?

  1. Hello, Jim;

    Thanks very much for the note, and the lead to The Human City. Very thoughtful comments in the last 5 minutes.

    I understand that another “Avalon-like” project is being considered for Forsyth County, hardly a dozen miles up Rte. 400.

    Hope we don’t strangle on our own congestion. Enjoy the afternoon. Sandy Williamson

  2. Thank you for sharing this video and for continuing to try to protect the current citizens of Alpharetta. We are transplants. We moved from an urban neighborhood. As you stated, we chose Alpharetta. My husband works in midtown, so there would be much easier places to live! But we fell in love with what Alpharetta offered. That was just 5 years ago and so much has changed (most of it not to our liking). We struggle to understand what drives our mayor and city council.

  3. Pingback: Will Alpharetta be the Pariah of the Metro? | Alpharetta Post

  4. What’s the point? Maximizing return for the folks/firms who bought property for the intent of investing, and maximizing profit for the developers of said property.

    I’d like to know where all these folks pushing for this density live — is it in a traditional suburb or in a dense mixed-use/live-work-play development? My guess is the former.

  5. The high density developments just keep taking over Alpharetta. This recent article in the Alpharetta Herald is titled “$300M Windward Park: It’s Avalon All Over Again.” http://www.northfulton.com/stories/300m-windward-park-its-avalon-all-over-again,107907
    And I just read about another rezoning application for another large mixed use development along Haynes Bridge Road near Morrison Parkway:
    If you oppose the amount of high density developments and rezoning, please let the Planning Commission and City Council hear from you! (If you can’t attend the meetings, emailing them is an option.)

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