Revitalization

The Age of the Outer Ring Suburb is Over

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 28, 2011

An op-ed in Saturday's New York Times by Christopher Leinberger argues that the age of fringe suburbs is over:

By now, nearly five years after the housing crash, most Americans understand that a mortgage meltdown was the catalyst for the Great Recession, facilitated by underregulation of finance and reckless risk-taking. Less understood is the divergence between center cities and inner-ring suburbs on one hand, and the suburban fringe on the other.

It was predominantly the collapse of the car-dependent suburban fringe that caused the mortgage collapse.

Less than 20 years ago, the most expensive housing in the US was found in high-end outer suburbs, but a structural shift since then has moved the value back to city cores and inner suburbs. "Considered slums as recently as 30 years ago, [expensive urban neighbourhoods] have been transformed by gentrification."

The author notes the demographic one-two punch of wealthy Boomers and young people, who for various reasons no longer see a house in the suburbs as the pinnacle of success.

Many boomers are now empty nesters and approaching retirement. Generally this means that they will downsize their housing in the near future. Boomers want to live in a walkable urban downtown, a suburban town center or a small town, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors.

The millennials are just now beginning to emerge from the nest - at least those who can afford to live on their own. This coming-of-age cohort also favors urban downtowns and suburban town centers - for lifestyle reasons and the convenience of not having to own cars.

This is also reflected in falling rates of driving among younger people.

So what does all this mean for a place like Hamilton? Leinberger concludes:

The good news is that there is great pent-up demand for walkable, centrally located neighborhoods in cities like Portland, Denver, Philadelphia and Chattanooga, Tenn. The transformation of suburbia can be seen in places like Arlington County, Va., Bellevue, Wash., and Pasadena, Calif., where strip malls have been bulldozed and replaced by higher-density mixed-use developments with good transit connections.

He argues that policy makers need to "stop throwing good money after bad" and to invest instead in building what people want: "mixed-income, walkable cities and suburbs that will support the knowledge economy, promote environmental sustainability and create jobs."

That means re-investing in the kinds of infrastructure that make high quality city living possible. "Bus and light-rail systems, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements - what traffic engineers dismissively call 'alternative transportation' - are vital."

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 09:31:30

Meanwhile, down the QEW in a market (apparently) immune to real estate bubbles, the 'burbs and beyond are still the prime destination for many Torontoians, especially those who fulfill their genetic destiny, and then quickly realize that raising a family of 5 in a 2bdrm condo is pure lunacy.

With modest townhomes going for $1M+ in tonier parts of the city, the migration of families to Toronto's burbs continues (a SFH with a backyard? Land? LAND!!!), and was captured pretty well in the August issue of Toronto Life.

From that article: "Last year, Statistics Canada published a study showing that, for every person who moved from a neighbouring municipality into Toronto, 3.5 people made the opposite move."

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2011 at 17:12:51 in reply to Comment 71656

Also from that article:

The first thing you see when you get into Uxbridge is the Walmart sign. And it’s a funny thing to admit coming from Riverdale, but when I see that sign, I think, ‘I’m home.’

;-)

That article is a bit misleading because it talks about the exodus to "the burbs" and pokes fun at "propagandists" who don't like cul-de-sac suburbs - then goes in great detail about a bunch of examples of people who moved from Toronto to old neighbourhoods that happen to be in smaller towns - even talking about one family who moved within walking distance of downtown Dundas. If downtown Dundas is "the burbs" then I guess that article has a point...?

None of those families moved to a new construction home in what would be considered "suburbia" by anyone.

Comment edited by seancb on 2011-11-29 17:17:19

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2011 at 16:14:21 in reply to Comment 71656

You can't have a big family in a condo, there's an ocean of choices in between a highrise apartment and a massive 2-car-garage home out in the suburban sprawl a 30 minute drive from anything.

I see it all the time - people who visit me in Westdale or walk around in Strathcona and marvel at how walkable the neighborhood is (well, except for King Street) but lament how tiny all the homes and driveways and bedrooms are.

As if these two features are unrelated.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2011-11-28 16:15:05

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:26:31 in reply to Comment 71656

bingo. People are realizing they can get a 5-bedroom house in the outer ring for the same price as their 2-bedroom condo.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2011 at 13:54:11 in reply to Comment 71660

Unfortunately, the false economy of that bargain tends to rear its head over time.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-11-28 13:54:43

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By BACk (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 10:10:59 in reply to Comment 71656

I don't think Ryan was saying that we are ahead of the curve on this.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:18:21 in reply to Comment 71658

I don't think anyone was saying Ryan said that; just observing that gravity seems to have stopped working in the GTA. It'll be nice when we finally hit the ceiling and prices return to affordability, but for now, the 'burbs are an essential release valve for GTA families looking to escape their little boxes in the sky without taking on a half-million dollar mortgage.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:40:38 in reply to Comment 71661

The solution to bad urbanism isn't sprawl. The solution to bad urbanism is good urbanism: a variety of affordable homes that meet families' needs in functional communities. Homes in intact Toronto neighbourhoods are unaffordable precisely because they're desirable but we're not building any more of them.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-11-28 11:40:58

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By that'sright (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 18:06:10 in reply to Comment 71662

This year's annual Spirit of Red Hill Valley lecturer, Dr. Pamela Blais, author of "Perverse Cities : hidden subsidies, wonky policy & urban sprawl," spoke on reparable inequities that relate to this question.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:53:41 in reply to Comment 71662

Too true, and even worse, the ones being built are just plain bad. There has been a glut of stories lately on the long-term fate of the condo-precincts popping up in Toronto, and how they're not places families grow into. Bad buildings + bad planning may make them vertical ghost towns in 15yrs.

This was one of my favourites, from The Grid, earlier this month.

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By JM (registered) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:52:38 in reply to Comment 71662

and families are often "forced" into the burbs becuase its unaffordable to live in the city...

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By Malvina (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 14:01:27 in reply to Comment 71663

...or the supply of SFH isn't even there. Downtown Hamilton (bordered by Queen, Hunter, Cannon, Wellington) is largely predicated on one- and two-bedroom dwellings (or studio apartments), which limits the appeal to families. Meanwhile, a half-hour SE of King and James...

http://www.losanihomes.com/communityShow.php?community=2

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By SFH everywhere (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 14:49:27 in reply to Comment 71666

You picked the boundaries of your zone very carefully, about 2 km long and just over 0.5 km wide for a grand total of just over 1 km2. Not really a true indication of the city at all considering how huge it really is. While there are not a lot of SFH in that tightly defined area because of the presence of commercial and apartments (Jackson Square, Copps, City Centre and City Hall just to mention a few. Don't forget there are also a few parking lots within your area. There are a lot of SFH just outside your area. South of Hunter lots of them right up to the hill, North of Wilson again lots of them especially if you also go just a little east or west. This presence of SFH everywhere is why our density is so low compared to real cities like Toronto, Boston and New York here and virtually every city in Europe. This city is mostly SFH that is one of the reasons we have attracted so many commuters from Toronto.

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By Malvina (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 08:38:16 in reply to Comment 71691

"You picked the boundaries of your zone very carefully."

I picked downtown because it's, well, downtown. "The heart of the city," as the old folks like to say.

http://www.downtownhamilton.org/UserFiles/Image/Map.jpg

"Not really a true indication of the city at all considering how huge it really is."

Admittedly, yes, there's far more to Hamilton than downtown, just as the outer ring suburbs are not a true indication of the city as a whole. People will live where they choose to based on their personal tatses and means.

http://raisethehammer.org/comment/66795

In downtown proper (the borders of which were selected using an entirely common definition that has only recently been modified by EcDev to extend grant monies north and south along James from Liuna to St. Joe's), SFHs are relatively rare. It might even be true of Ward 2 as a whole (2005 average: 1.9 people per dwelling, the lowest in Hamilton, against a city-wide average of 2.6 per).

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/2244

Those numbers make it look like family dwellings are more common above the mountain than below it. But who really knows?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2011 at 16:20:43 in reply to Comment 71666

You can find single family homes very close to downtown in this city. How much does a home in Strathcona cost? Or Kirkendall? You're talking about a half-hour drive and I'm talking about a 15-minute walk.

I really think the west-side of Hamilton should be the model of planning for the future. Well, with a proper highway instead of converting city streets into one-way highways. Smallish, tightly packed homes (often even without driveways *gasp*), nearby shopping, simple grid roads, etc. close to downtown. The problem is that you can't just undo the sprawl.

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By Malvina (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 13:02:02 in reply to Comment 71669

My point was not proximity to downtown. It was downtown. Downtown languishes in part because its default population is transient. SFHs do exist downtown, but they are the exception and not the rule. And that matters. Statistics laid out on this very blog suggest that the lower city is slowly draining of people while every other area of the city is seeing growth, in some cases remarkable growth. And it's possibly because the movement of families is more demographically impactful than that of single people.

Westdale (which some will argue is the city's original sprawl suburb) is as far from downtown as Binbrook's Fairgrounds community is from Meadowlands East. And it sounds somewhat similar in some ways (eg. "19 acre community park with woodlot & trails / Brand new public elementary school opening early 2012"),and if you look at the Site Plan behind that ink, it's not that dissimilar from Westdale's eastern neighbourhoods. So maybe it is the model of planning for the future. There's just disagreement on which commercial core consumers endorse.




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By Malvina (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 13:05:12 in reply to Comment 71686

BTW, obviously Churchill Park is ~47 acres in size, which is why I said "similar".

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 20:50:23 in reply to Comment 71669

We just moved from one side of Victoria Park to the other in Strathcona and our 32-foot lot here costs more than every 33-foot home listed in that Losani link above, and half of the 36-footers. Those are brand new, this is 100 years old. Dive a dozen blocks south of me into the middle of Kirkendall, or straight north to the Kinnell/Inchbury area and my home would fetch another $25-$75,000 than we paid here. We knew we could afford to move to most parts of the city thanks to the equity we earned on our little home on Strathcona North, but intentionally waited for several years for a slightly bigger home and lot to appear in this neighbourhood due to all of the walkability, greenspace and neighbourhood retail nearby on James, the Market and Locke. Basically, our choice came down to buying a home at the top of our price range downtown and remaining a one-car family, or lowering our purchase price range and becoming a 2-car family in an outlying area.

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By reader (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2011 at 18:37:01

It's worth noting the last paragraph of the Times column discussed above--(& it's amazing that Hamilton folks look at 'outside' media--there was a time that a mayor here thought, who cares about them? Look only in this town).
Leinberger: "For too long, we over-invested in the wrong places. Those retail centers and subdivisions will never be worth what they cost to build. We have to stop throwing good money after bad. It is time to instead build what the market wants: mixed-income, walkable cities and suburbs that will support the knowledge economy, promote environmental sustainability and create jobs."

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2011 at 21:58:22

"It was predominantly the collapse of the car-dependent suburban fringe that caused the mortgage collapse."

I dropped my jaw at this statement. First, at the notion that such a "collapse" has already happened, and second, that one could determine a causal relationship with the biggest economic crash in 80 years. Seriously?

Inner-city condos in a few select neighbourhoods are now in many ways trendier than suburbs in many ways, but I've really seen little evidence that suburban growth is "over". Drive around Hamilton, Guelph or the GTA, and you'll still see hundreds of bulldozers. Homes in the western part of the lower city (Kirkendale, Durand, Westdale etc) have always been poor representations of lower-city housing prices...I've seen houses on my street go for five figures since I moved in, and I still see plenty of houses further south going going for triple what those in my area sell for. Now, prices around me are rising possibly more than those in the suburbs, but that doesn't mean an instant end to suburban growth. Until the twentieth century, and in most places other than North America, suburbs have always been slums, and almost always managed to find a way to grow in spite of that fact.

Has the shift away from suburban housing begun? Definitely. Have we hit or are we nearing a tipping point? Probably. But this is all far from a done deal and anything but over.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 09:36:40 in reply to Comment 71679

The context in the US is very different than in Canada, though. In the USA they're actively tearing down McMansions and rootless outlying neighbourhoods, but we mostly escaped the mortgage collapse up here.

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By Malvina (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 13:09:16

"The average price of a new, single-detached home will reach $465,000 in the Hamilton CMA in 2011. In just a few short years, the continuing diversification of the city's economy will result in an economy unrecognizable when compared to the past decades. This renewal will drive demand for real estate (rentals as well as ownership) in the city, especially in older neighbourhoods going through transition. Among these: Hamilton Mountain.

Hamilton Mountain, (aka The Niagara Escarpment) cuts through the middle of the city, and is primarily divided into three areas, East Mountain, West Mountain and Central Mountain. The socioeconomic composition of the Hamilton Mountain is diverse, having low-income public housing residents as well as million dollar estates, highly paid unionized workers and small-wage unskilled workers, and well-established families and recent immigrants. When Hamilton suffered from the economic crisis, a lot of people left the Mountain as more businesses and work were found in Hamilton's downtown core.

As a result, the older homes, which make up the majority of the Mountain - namely East Mountain - were unkempt and down-trodden. However, as accessibility around Hamilton Mountain became easier with the development of the Lincoln Alexander Expressway (a.k.a the LINC) and the new Red Hill Valley Parkway, residents could now get from one end of the city to the other within 15 minutes.

These expressways also connected to Hwy 403 at the west end and connected to the Red Hill Valley Parkway at the east leading to the Q.E.W., cutting the commute to downtown Toronto, Mississauga and Oakville. Over the years many people have moved to the area because of new construction homes - Hamilton Mountain will continue to have the most active markets for new home construction of single-detached homes and townhouses given the greater availability of land for development - and resale homes prices are attractive and affordable, compared to areas such as Toronto, Mississauga and Oakville."


http://www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca/cross-country/hotspots/item/700-hamilton-on-the-rise

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted November 30, 2011 at 13:15:33 in reply to Comment 71688

Good thing the public school board is going to close the only two highschools on the east mountain that serve all that demand for real estate in older neighbourhoods.

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By Blotto (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 13:09:48 in reply to Comment 71718

Quality of schools also has something to do with where families choose to put down roots. This is part of why areas like Westdale or Dundas are favoured over, say, Landsdale or Gibson. How many downtown families end up sending their kids to Westdale or Hillfield rather than SJAM or Vanier (ditto for elementary schools)?

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 18:47:36 in reply to Comment 71688

"When Hamilton suffered from the economic crisis, a lot of people left the Mountain as more businesses and work were found in Hamilton's downtown core."

Maybe I've been Rip Van Winkled, but I don't recall it happening quite like that. Downtown has struggled to attract business investment and residential development since well before 2008. Some would say that the core has never fully recovered from the 1982 recession. Spend an evening downtown after 6pm and compare it to the Meadowlands or Lime Ridge Mall or Upper James and get back to me on the fabled Mountain exodus.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 19:44:46 in reply to Comment 71699

I'll have to dig up the numbers, but as one example of what they might be referring to - the average real estate price on the Mountain was about $35,000 higher than Hamilton West (James St-Dundas border) 7 or 8 years ago. Now the Hamilton West price is about $35,000 higher than the Mountain average. I'm guessing they aren't talking about shopping malls, because as we know, you can't compare suburban malls to a downtown mall. The Spec did a special report on 'James and Upper James' a year or so ago and mentioned how many more businesses were located in a small block of James South compared to a 1-km long block of Upper James. While there wasn't a 'mass exodus' per se, there was certainly a shift in the balance of power of the past 5 years. 'Chain' retailers will be the last to come on board, but as we speak they are looking at all the new data for downtown and beginning to scope out properties. Another part of the problem in the retail sector is that suburban retail likes wide, car-oriented streets like Upper James or the Meadowlands. Urban retailers need people on the streets and Hamilton refuses to give them that by continuing the tradition of freeways like Main, King, Cannon, Queen etc.... killing any hopes of street-facing retail downtown in all but a couple of spots - James and Locke. And those two streets are seeing rapid rent increases and lowering vacancies. Locke is ridiculous - more expensive than Westdale now...and James is really swinging up in a big way.

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By SFH everywhere (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 15:02:00

I find it very ironic that this piece that you quote comes out of Washington. (I assume D.C. not the state) The Washington D.C. environs are one of the few places in the USA where they are still building new homes. Northern Virginia has an unbelievable amount of townhomes and new ones are constantly being built. The price has fallen a bit since the heyday of the housing market but a new 2 + 2 town house an hour to an hour and a half west of Washington is going for $300,000 and the price is climbing. Some of what the author wrote is definitely true in some places but not everywhere. I suspect that CHRISTOPHER B. LEINBERGER has no idea what he is talking about. Just because the paper decided to print his opinion does not make if fact. Of course if it fits in with your view of the world then I can see why you would be so eager to quote it and use it to bolster your own opinion.

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By sigh (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 16:36:10 in reply to Comment 71693

reply to above, & also to so-called Capitalist "Where is the statistical evidence in this article to back up these claims?" Go ahead, believe if you want that the Times ran the piece as if it was the Spectator and its letters dept. without checkin' nothing:
Christopher B. Leinberger
Visiting Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program. Brookings Institution
Christopher Leinberger’s expertise includes downtown redevelopment, real estate, financing, and strategic planning for downtowns and suburban centers. He directs the University of Michigan’s real estate graduate studies.
Downtown and suburban downtown redevelopment, financing progressive real estate, real estate development, metropolitan development trends, strategic planning for downtowns and suburban downtowns

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By SFH everywhere (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 03:33:56 in reply to Comment 71695

Have you been to the DC area lately? I was there 3 weeks ago and get down there on a semi regular basis. Proof is in the town homes being built, the traffic flowing into and out of DC every day. Large parts of DC are terrible slums where average white folk fear to tread. Last time I was there I got lost less than 5 minutes from the National Mall. Saw a Marine Sargeant on the sidewalk guarding a Marine Post. Asked him for directions and he told me in no uncertain terms not to go in a certain direction because I would be taking my life into my hands if I did. Why would anyone want to live in an area like that? Large parts of DC are like that. No wonder the burbs are alive and well all around DC. Northern Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and even Pennsylvania. The burbs are thriving in the DC area. Maybe Christopher B. Leinberger should get his eyes out of the class room and into reality. All he needs to do is take a short drive around the DC area.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 08:50:59 in reply to Comment 71705

Maybe Christopher B. Leinberger should get his eyes out of the class room and into reality.

Leinberger is a real estate developer first and foremost. I don't think he needs any lessons in 'reality' from a casual visitor.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 10:24:03 in reply to Comment 71710

must you always be so caustic? What do you get out of it?

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2011 at 16:15:34

Where is the statistical evidence in this article to back up these claims?

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 00:01:24

I've seen in the last few years people with growing families move further into the city rather than further out. Families are looking for more than just space, they are seeking community and balance in life. Schools and recreation in walking distance mean more quality time and less aggravation. No amount of square footage will ultimately keep a family together when stress affects those relationships. And I don't think anyone denies the correlation between long commutes and vehicle trips and stress levels. I really agree that the tide is turning.

Still, I'm told often enough that Hamilton is no place to raise a family for the same old reasons. This puzzles me because I bought a 4 bedroom house for less than the particle board semis going up on the mountain these days, walking distance to everything, and my street is full of kids every day. I'm single myself, but that seems to be the exception among people buying houses in this neighbourhood. The only downside I can see is that you won't find a house for $200k here in a few more years. There will however be many more neighbourhoods rediscovered and repurposed as more people finally get it.

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By Sky (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 00:03:53

Many very valid and diversified points; yet I cannot help but notice that no one is recognizing the fact that there are people who wish to be able to chose where they live...

“Gasp” ~ a driveway! Some of us grew up in the country (rural ~ sub suburbs) where a car was a necessity. Some stayed; and inherited their family homes. Others decided to move to the suburbs (outlying towns) ~ where they still enjoyed the larger lots, could most likely walk to local shops and also drove to see friends/family that stayed in the ‘outlying’ areas. Further still, others decided to move to the urban area (core) and own a condo or smaller parcel of property (without the maintenance) for the convenience (being able to walk to everything and possibly relying on a single vehicle.)

What do all three of the above scenarios have in common? FREEDOM OF CHOICE ~ we have the right to decide where we wish to reside, based on personal
experiences/reasons...ALL are valid and acceptable choices.

Balance must prevail as we move forward ~ to simply look at one point of view and feel that all must be based on one’s opposite opinion is just wrong.

In all due respect, we ~as a supportive society~, need to understand that there is no right or wrong on where people want to reside ~ there is plainly just a difference of opinion that must be respected. ~ Even if it is not the most ecologically, economically or politically correct (used very loosely) opinion of our fellow neighbour.

Most sincerely,
Danya

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 09:41:00 in reply to Comment 71704

I cannot help but notice that no one is recognizing the fact that there are people who wish to be able to chose where they live...

We've obviously been reading different threads because this discussion is all about choice and the fact that up until now people have had no choice but to flee to the suburbs because perverse incentives created the illusion that it was more affordable. As the cost of energy increases, and the repair bills on the post-war infrastructure that enabled sprawl come due, it's no surprise that this trend is starting to reverse.

In all due respect, we ~as a supportive society~, need to understand that there is no right or wrong on where people want to reside ~ there is plainly just a difference of opinion that must be respected. ~ Even if it is not the most ecologically, economically or politically correct (used very loosely) opinion of our fellow neighbour.

I haven't seen anyone here suggesting that people who choose to live in suburban or rural areas shouldn't be respected, only that their choice is often a false one predicated as it is on the massive subsidies that support this type of development.

We are now seeing the economic, social, and yes, environmental (thanks for pointing that out) costs of our choice as a society to promote an unsustainable living arrangement. At the same time, as Ryan points out, these costs are beginning to be felt at the individual level and many people are making different choices about where they want to live as a result.

Our cities can no longer afford to subsidize their sprawling fringes and still be the economic engines we need them to be. As well, we can no longer afford the continued loss of food producing lands. We can't shy away from this discussion just because some of the people who made their lifestyle choices based on perverse incentives might take it personally.

Perhaps you and mystoneycreek would like to get together and discuss the values that underlie people's lifestyle choices. The rest of us will continue to discuss the dollars and cents.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 10:42:50 in reply to Comment 71712

I haven't seen anyone here suggesting that people who choose to live in suburban or rural areas shouldn't be respected, only that their choice is often a false one predicated as it is on the massive subsidies that support this type of development.

Ditto. As far as I'm concerned, anyone can live where they want, so long as they are willing/able to pay for it. But right now developers are getting the public to insulate suburbanites from the true costs of their choices.

I have no interest in penalizing people for where they choose to live, but the other side of the coin is that I have no interest in the public subsidizing these choices, either.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted November 30, 2011 at 10:08:44 in reply to Comment 71712

Perhaps you and mystoneycreek would like to get together and discuss the values that underlie people's lifestyle choices. The rest of us will continue to discuss the dollars and cents.

MEOW!

lol

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 11:47:47 in reply to Comment 71713

MEOW!

Purr.... Cats make great company eh MSC but there's a huge difference between walkability (which ain't even a word) and livability (which is).

My neighborhood is walkable and sure I deride: I have a short walk to the bus stop though no fare for sore ride, I can stroll to the shops yet still buy nothing more, even so small, as is hung on the Wal nor lean tall there inside. I cry for thy walkable city scenes, seems living IT all in stride.

Alas, alas for Hamelin!
There came into many a burgher's pate
A text which says, that Heaven's Gate
Opes to the Rich at as easy rate
As the needle's eye takes a camel in! R. Browning

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-11-30 11:58:06

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 30, 2011 at 08:55:19 in reply to Comment 71704

There are many people in Hamilton who'd love to be able to afford to choose to live in the suburbs. Sadly, all too many are forced to raise their families out of two bedroom apartments instead. The high tax rate they pay on rental housing goes to help subsidize people far wealthier and more privileged living in enormous suburban lots.

The term "power to move" might be a little more accurate.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted November 30, 2011 at 06:17:51 in reply to Comment 71704

In all due respect, we ~as a supportive society~, need to understand that there is no right or wrong on where people want to reside ~ there is plainly just a difference of opinion that must be respected. ~ Even if it is not the most ecologically, economically or politically correct (used very loosely) opinion of our fellow neighbour.

I'm curious as to what you feel are the limits to this reasoning.

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By SFH everywhere (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 03:38:00 in reply to Comment 71704

Obviously you have not been paying attention. You do not know what you are talking about. Just be quiet and start towing the party line. The RTH faithful have spoken and they know what is best for everybody if you think otherwise you are sadly mistaken and need to adjust your opinion accordingly.

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By Malvina (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 08:41:30

Caveat: A single person or childless couple can live in a SFH just as easily as a five-person family, just as easily as eight cramped students or social assistance cases. Statistics aren't everything.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 14:32:15

I think I live in an inner-ring suburb. Yay!

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 17:09:49

I haven't had my tires slashed, car broken into, house broken into, snow blower stolen, car keyed, been threatened, door knocked on at 3 am for crack, woken up at 3 am from prostitutes fighting, removed prostitutes in the middle of giving blowjobs from my alley parking, fence peppered with shotgun pellets since I moved from the Gibson area to the mountain. Say what you want, rebuttal me with 'things are great in your downtown neighborhood' all you want, call me out of touch... but I have NOT had to put up with one bit of bullshit since I moved 2.5 years ago. I miss the feel of the old neighborhood and the closeness of everything, but life has been so much better since moving to this part of the mountain.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 01, 2011 at 10:11:07 in reply to Comment 71723

With the exception of the prostitutes and the shotgun pellets, either I or my neighbours have experienced all of the above in my lower city neighbourhood. But then I live in Westdale and the perpetrators are middle and upper-middle class young adults so these crimes are classified as harmless hijinks.

In spite of the frequency of these types of incidents, our property values remain high, which suggests to me that it isn't the crimes themselves that turn people off a neighbourhood, but rather the class of the people perpetrating them.

I am not suggesting you personally are a snob, mrjanitor. If you were, you wouldn't have moved into Gibson in the first place. But let's face it. As a society, it's not the type or frequency of the crimes themselves that create the impression of a 'bad' neighbourhood. Rather, we judge the severity of these incidents through the filter of our pre-existing stereotype of the neighbourhood. Thus we manage to convince ourselves that crack addicts banging on people's doors and breaking into their homes in Gibson is bad, but drunken students doing the same thing in Westdale is just a normal part of living near a university.

It's crazy the degree to which our feelings of security are simply class-based stereotyping.

Comment edited by highwater on 2011-12-01 10:20:34

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 01, 2011 at 14:59:17 in reply to Comment 71774

Yup. Worst vandalism I can think of? Out of the things that have happened to people I know directly? A friend of mine had teenagers jumping up and down on his car like a trampoline. This was on Upper Gage.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 01, 2011 at 07:41:06 in reply to Comment 71723

Here's a counter-anecdote: I've lived in the lower city (in Durand and Kirkendall) and worked downtown for 15 years, and I generally walk or cycle everywhere I go. I've only ever witnessed one crime: an aggravated assault outside a pup near Fennel and Upper Wentworth.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-12-01 07:41:13

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By city life (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 23:42:28 in reply to Comment 71723

I haven't had any of those things happen to me since I moved into downtown 5 years ago... so which of our experiences represents the real truth? Either you are very unlucky or I am very lucky. I live downtown and my car has been broken into twice - once when visiting montreal and once when visiting windsor, but never while parked in Hamilton. The worst we've experienced was having bikes stolen from the back yard - most of which were unlocked (my own fault, really). There is some street noise sometimes, but it's usually drunk bar crowds and it usually passes quickly and without incident.

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By Gibson (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2011 at 18:11:11

Unfortunately the comment from MrJanitor is spot on. I still live here, Gibson area south of King, and wonder how much longer I should put up with all that crap.
I know stats will tell me my house is more likely to be broken into in the suburbs, but all of the other crap is why people move.
Am I any safer in the burbs, probably not. But perception is what counts.
To anyone who thinks MrJ is exaggerating, walk along King between Sherman and Victoria at night (even during the day), check it out for yourself.
In relation to this thread, i agree some suburbs may become ghettos in some places. I can not see it happening here any time soon.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 01, 2011 at 01:07:45 in reply to Comment 71724

There's a lot of different neighbourhoods downtown and they can be quite varied. Even within them...I live in a pretty "rough" area but have never had any of those problems. On the other hand, friends of mine who live a block away have had no end of trouble.

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2011 at 10:38:47 in reply to Comment 71726

my impression is that most crime is extremely localized - a small number of criminals are responsible for a massive amount of havoc. The cops know who these people are and put them away once in a while for a few months and things quiet down; they get out and the process begins again. Two lessons: there certainly aren't mobs of criminals running around doing petty theft, and criminals doing petty theft aren't exactly masterminds. They stick pretty much to their routine and try to minimize their risk as best they can.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted December 01, 2011 at 02:22:15

Anecdotal evidence doesn't prove a thing except on a personal note (I.e Mr.Janitor having a bad time) matters only to him. That is important to individuals. Large statistical data on trends in neighborhoods matter in truth. One bad review on an online message board can seriously damage many peoples perception of a place. For example I live near Cannon and Victoria and never have problems. Very quiet, too quiet really. Talk to someone on SC mountain and they think I live in Beruit.

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By Nox (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2011 at 08:02:46

There may be an unspoken "upside" to that arrangement, and that is that first time buyers, niche entrepreneurs, young couples and creative workers are able to afford to live in areas in the heart of the city that, were the dynamics of sprawl and hapless urban policy not in effect, potentially be out of their reach. Inner-city dwellers may also be insulated from costs that would accompany a realistic appraisal of worth.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 01, 2011 at 09:22:56 in reply to Comment 71769

Inner-city dwellers may also be insulated from costs that would accompany a realistic appraisal of worth.

True, but at least it's based on the market's current assessment of their worth and not on massive public subsidies of their supporting infrastructure.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted December 01, 2011 at 13:37:44

It's crazy the degree to which our feelings of security are simply class-based stereotyping.

AND

Two lessons: there certainly aren't mobs of criminals running around doing petty theft, and criminals doing petty theft aren't exactly masterminds. They stick pretty much to their routine and try to minimize their risk as best they can.

BINGO! I've been in Beasley for more than 5 years now, despite the fact that my Burlington-dwelling parents nearly shat a brick when they saw the neighbours and the bars on the windows. In all my self-righteous, grad-student glory, I implied they were being snobs, and we moved in anyway.

Since then, I've only ever felt insecure twice: when we found evidence that someone had been prowling in our backyard, and when some bulky meathead with a big dog told me to "get the fuck lost" when I confronted him for harassing and assaulting a woman on the street.

Those events were early on, and if they taught this suburban, lily-livered weakling anything, it was that security is a function of knowledge and confidence: the knowledge that, statistically, there was little to be afraid of (my neighbours were no more likely to be criminals than anywhere else in the city), and with that comes the confidence to go about your daily life without worrying about being a victim.

This conditioning is constantly reinforced depending on where you live and the life you see around you (or, in the burbs, on TV). My folks turn on their alarm system when they drive out to the Costco for milk (insane!), and I walk out my unlocked front door and walk two hundred metres to the bakery for mine. Their spidey sense tingles when they see an unfamiliar car parked near the house; I don't even blink as I walk past a car where my 80yr old neighbour is getting a hummer.

That's just life in the inner city, and it doesn't mean you're unsafe.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 01, 2011 at 19:33:39 in reply to Comment 71778

I live near Borelli, and have to heartily agree. As low-income neighbourhoods go, it's pretty damn friendly and family oriented. This isn't to say that we don't have our problems, but I can't say that I often feel unsafe.

My years downtown and in the North End have taught me to be very aware of my surroundings, but also that most people who look "scary" really aren't, and that most of the rest are more than willing to treat you with the same respect you show them. It's far from perfect, but I'm not really sure that I ever want to go back to living in a truly "nice" neighbourhood after the sense of freedom and vibrancy I've witnessed here.

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