No Light Rail in Vancouver!
Reports of the Death of the Suburbs Are Premature
“The American suburb as we know it is dying,” says Time magazine. They are going to turn into the next slums, says the Atlantic Monthly. Both articles cite research by a planning professor named Arthur Nelson, who claims that by 2025 the U.S. will have 22 million “surplus” homes on large (over 1/6th acre) lots.
Nelson supposedly calculates this in a 2006 paper published in the Journal of the
American Planning Association (JAPA). Table 4 in the paper says that 38 percent of
Americans prefer multi-
Those turn out to be rather loose interpretations. The Myers and Gearin paper includes the following quotes and summaries of public surveys:
“Americans overwhelmingly prefer a single-
These surveys don’t provide much support for a claim that only one out of four Americans want to live in a home on a large lot — it’s more like three out of four. In fact, the main point of the Myers and Gearin article is that there is a market for multifamily and small lots, though it is small.
The information used by Nelson “may not be terribly reliable,” comments Emil Malizia, a planning professor who must be famous at the University of North Carolina for understatements, in the same issue of JAPA (and found at the end of Nelson’s paper). “The samples are self selected, . . . the responses may be heavily influenced by the data collection method,” and “people often do not behave in ways that are consistent with the preferences or opinions they express.”
In short, Nelson’s “surplus of 22 million large-
The suburbs may not be dying, but planners are doing their best to kill them.