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Why do people hate the suburbs? - Page 5

post #81 of 116


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post

I guess what I don't understand is, what's so soul crushing about having someone else's house having the same floor plan as yours?  Is it soul crushing to have someone buy the same outfit at the store, or the same make, model and color of car?  Why does it matter if someone's house looks just like yours?  Aren't the price, functionality and location the important things?  Why does it matter if the houses are "cookie cutter" if they work for the people living in them?  Does the stove in the kitchen not cook properly if it's in the same place for a hundred people in the same development?  Do Christmas lights not hang right if they are hanging in the same spot for a hundred other people too? 


My objection is that most of the "cookie cutter" developments weren't designed for the home owner's price/functionality/location.  They were designed to maximize profits for the contractor/developer.  They don't care that they have an odd wall connection in the upstairs which would have been better used by the homeowner if it had been converted to a built-in book case (or expansion of the room next to it); they care that to do so, they would have needed to expend $X more in materials and labor, and it would have taken X days longer.  They didn't put an r49 insulation in even though they ought to for your location, because it would add too much to the upfront cost of your home and you are taking out a big mortgage and might balk at the higher upfront cost for energy-efficiency design features.  They designed your home without a pantry because not as many people cook regularly at home anymore, so they don't build them, and now you're going to be storing kitchen things in the basement or garage because you don't have room for it in your kitchen (I've seen quite a few homes like this, my SIL lived in one like this, newly built). 

 

That upfront lower cost of a developer-designed home might be lower - but how will the long-term energy use costs of that home hold up?  Even assuming energy costs don't ever go up at all - many of those energy-efficiency features which add to initial price, are paid off and paying the homeowner back in less than a decade - from then on, it's money in the homeowner's pocket.  But it won't be going into the contractor/designer's pocket, so they've got no reason to do it even though it will directly impact the long-term functionality and economics of living in that home. 

 

And is the location any good, for the long term?  When (and it is WHEN) gas goes up to $10 or more a gallon, and energy costs have also gone up - will suburbanites be able to afford to commute to work in the city?  What work opportunities will they have in their suburbs?  [and Chamomile Girl and Cat's Cradle have both pointed out, suburb has different meanings to different people - the classic definition is the suburb is an outlier of an urban area, built to house workers who will then travel IN to the city for work. With urban sprawl, some small towns outside cities have become for all intents and purposes, 'suburbs' in terms of how they are used - despite the fact that they may fortunately still retain local downtowns, businesses, etc.]  

 

When gas prices and transport prices go up so significantly - when it becomes cost prohibitive to transport lettuce from California to New York City - what will people do for food?  Their homes are built on the good farmland which used to provide fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats if desired to the people in their area.  We can convert our lawns to gardens (if HOAs allow it) - but grazing cattle on them is a bit more difficult to do. 


Edited by elanorh - 1/6/11 at 9:53pm
post #82 of 116

 

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elanorh View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by vbactivist View Post

On my street (which is in a true suburb of a very large city) there is are bungalows, victorians, "traditional"s, ranches, split levels. 

 

Even frank lloyd wrights houses (and can anyone really argue that he was not a great architect??) tend to look similiar in neighborhoods...


Well, my husband calls him "Frank Lloyd Wrong."  wink1.gif  I'll have to ask him sometime what his major objections are to Wright's architecture.  He doesn't think it's awful, IIRC - but that it's not as good as some people believe. 

LOL!!!  I am going to call him that the next time I'm with my dad, who loves FLW. 

 

He wasn't a very good husband, that's for sure.
 

post #83 of 116

 

Quote:
- but grazing cattle on them is a bit more difficult to do.

 

 

chicken3.gif  Urban and suburban chickens!  It's going before the Sacramento city council eventually. 

post #84 of 116


Well, my husband calls him "Frank Lloyd Wrong."  wink1.gif  I'll have to ask him sometime what his major objections are to Wright's architecture.  He doesn't think it's awful, IIRC - but that it's not as good as some people believe. 

LOL!!!  I am going to call him that the next time I'm with my dad, who loves FLW. 

 

He wasn't a very good husband, that's for sure.
 


I just asked my husband, and was treated to his Frank Lloyd Wrong rant.  Here's what he had to say:

 

Frank Lloyd Wrong - designed buildings with style but buildings which were not always that functional for the people living in them.  He took some liberties with the structures of some of his homes which has necessitated extensive repairs in those homes (for the sake of design).  He was a good architect but he's been deified by a generation of old, balding, khaki-clad architects and architectural critics. 

 

Obviously, he's not a fan.  wink1.gif  For the Worst Christmas Gift thread - one year he received a Frank Lloyd Wright dayplanner (and he doesn't use a dayplanner, he's got everything online).  That went in the bin very quickly. 

 

One of his favorite architects is Fay Jones.  Here's a link to some images of his work (Jones, not dh):  http://www.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&biw=1152&bih=674&tbs=isch%3A1&sa=1&q=fay+jones+chapel+images&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

post #85 of 116

Wow, his stuff is beautiful!

post #86 of 116

I like my sub home.Each home on this road is different,but *blah* everyone is doing white vinyl covering.Must be on sale.My house will POP with color when I redo the siding!

 

 I would hate living somewhere where I was not able to have chickens,front yard garden,or get ticketed for weeds.Oh and some places ban cloths lines,so that would stink too.

 

When I look at home listings there is so much to consider besides the sq foot and bed/bath number.

post #87 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by elanorh View Post


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post

I guess what I don't understand is, what's so soul crushing about having someone else's house having the same floor plan as yours?  Is it soul crushing to have someone buy the same outfit at the store, or the same make, model and color of car?  Why does it matter if someone's house looks just like yours?  Aren't the price, functionality and location the important things?  Why does it matter if the houses are "cookie cutter" if they work for the people living in them?  Does the stove in the kitchen not cook properly if it's in the same place for a hundred people in the same development?  Do Christmas lights not hang right if they are hanging in the same spot for a hundred other people too? 


My objection is that most of the "cookie cutter" developments weren't designed for the home owner's price/functionality/location.  They were designed to maximize profits for the contractor/developer.  They don't care that they have an odd wall connection in the upstairs which would have been better used by the homeowner if it had been converted to a built-in book case (or expansion of the room next to it); they care that to do so, they would have needed to expend $X more in materials and labor, and it would have taken X days longer.  They didn't put an r49 insulation in even though they ought to for your location, because it would add too much to the upfront cost of your home and you are taking out a big mortgage and might balk at the higher upfront cost for energy-efficiency design features.  They designed your home without a pantry because not as many people cook regularly at home anymore, so they don't build them, and now you're going to be storing kitchen things in the basement or garage because you don't have room for it in your kitchen (I've seen quite a few homes like this, my SIL lived in one like this, newly built). 

 

That upfront lower cost of a developer-designed home might be lower - but how will the long-term energy use costs of that home hold up?  Even assuming energy costs don't ever go up at all - many of those energy-efficiency features which add to initial price, are paid off and paying the homeowner back in less than a decade - from then on, it's money in the homeowner's pocket.  But it won't be going into the contractor/designer's pocket, so they've got no reason to do it even though it will directly impact the long-term functionality and economics of living in that home. 

 

And is the location any good, for the long term?  When (and it is WHEN) gas goes up to $10 or more a gallon, and energy costs have also gone up - will suburbanites be able to afford to commute to work in the city?  What work opportunities will they have in their suburbs?  [and Chamomile Girl and Cat's Cradle have both pointed out, suburb has different meanings to different people - the classic definition is the suburb is an outlier of an urban area, built to house workers who will then travel IN to the city for work. With urban sprawl, some small towns outside cities have become for all intents and purposes, 'suburbs' in terms of how they are used - despite the fact that they may fortunately still retain local downtowns, businesses, etc.]  

 

When gas prices and transport prices go up so significantly - when it becomes cost prohibitive to transport lettuce from California to New York City - what will people do for food?  Their homes are built on the good farmland which used to provide fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats if desired to the people in their area.  We can convert our lawns to gardens (if HOAs allow it) - but grazing cattle on them is a bit more difficult to do. 


Have you ever done any real research into one of these subdivisions you discussing?  Like actually researched how these homes are sold to people?  Because what you describe doesn't really fit in the process.  Pantry...my home has one because I picked a floorplan with one.  My sister's home does not because she picked a floorplan that doesn't...because she didn't want a pantry.  If a home doesn't have a pantry, it's not because the builder decided that they didn't want to build it, it's because the original buyer of the home decided they didn't want one.  Building a home or buying a home is a pretty big deal to most folks and they do their research.  They aren't going to buy a home that doesn't have what they want.  If the home isn't going to function well for them, they aren't going to buy it.  If a builder isn't listening to their customer and providing what they want, they aren't going to be in business very long. 

 

And on the other side of the coin, if ANY business, be it a development builder or a custom builder, isn't worried about profit they aren't going to be in business very long either.  Custom builders provide that higer cost insulation because it's important to their customers, not because it's better for them.  And I am sure they charge more accordingly as well.  Lower quality insulation may be the standard in the developments, but that doesn't mean it's the only option.  If it's important to that specific customer, upgrades are usually available.  At additional cost of course, just like anywhere else. 

 

Location-A substantial number of suburbanites don't commute to the city.  The live in suburbia because they work there too.  Those nasty big box and chain places that people dispise so much do employ people and those people often live right there.  The managers and cashiers and greeters at Walmart aren't going to commute far to work at Walmart, so of course they live in that cookie cutter subdivision less than five minutes away.  And these places are full of locally owned small businesses, of course those owners live in those same cookie cutter subdivisions.  Not to mention that these places usually start out in the middle of cornfields, but business often spring up around them.  I mentioned previously that the only places within walking distance are a DQ and a gas station, but actually I was wrong.  There's a hospital too the one I had my kids at.  It was build just like 3 years ago.  A friend of mine bought her house when it was in the middle of a corn field, but now there's a Y opening up that's within walking distance, and the district opened a new school right there also.  And, if they walk through the Y's ginormous parking lot and athletic fields, there's quite a bit of other stuff that's recently opened up right there too. 

post #88 of 116
Quote:


Have you ever done any real research into one of these subdivisions you discussing?  Like actually researched how these homes are sold to people?  Because what you describe doesn't really fit in the process.  Pantry...my home has one because I picked a floorplan with one.  My sister's home does not because she picked a floorplan that doesn't...because she didn't want a pantry.  If a home doesn't have a pantry, it's not because the builder decided that they didn't want to build it, it's because the original buyer of the home decided they didn't want one.  Building a home or buying a home is a pretty big deal to most folks and they do their research.  They aren't going to buy a home that doesn't have what they want.  If the home isn't going to function well for them, they aren't going to buy it.  If a builder isn't listening to their customer and providing what they want, they aren't going to be in business very long. 

 

And on the other side of the coin, if ANY business, be it a development builder or a custom builder, isn't worried about profit they aren't going to be in business very long either.  Custom builders provide that higer cost insulation because it's important to their customers, not because it's better for them.  And I am sure they charge more accordingly as well.  Lower quality insulation may be the standard in the developments, but that doesn't mean it's the only option.  If it's important to that specific customer, upgrades are usually available.  At additional cost of course, just like anywhere else. 

 

Location-A substantial number of suburbanites don't commute to the city.  The live in suburbia because they work there too.  Those nasty big box and chain places that people dispise so much do employ people and those people often live right there.  The managers and cashiers and greeters at Walmart aren't going to commute far to work at Walmart, so of course they live in that cookie cutter subdivision less than five minutes away.  And these places are full of locally owned small businesses, of course those owners live in those same cookie cutter subdivisions.  Not to mention that these places usually start out in the middle of cornfields, but business often spring up around them.  I mentioned previously that the only places within walking distance are a DQ and a gas station, but actually I was wrong.  There's a hospital too the one I had my kids at.  It was build just like 3 years ago.  A friend of mine bought her house when it was in the middle of a corn field, but now there's a Y opening up that's within walking distance, and the district opened a new school right there also.  And, if they walk through the Y's ginormous parking lot and athletic fields, there's quite a bit of other stuff that's recently opened up right there too. 


My take on elanorh's post was that she was talking about the classic concept of the suburb - something that I touched a little on in my previous posts.  I think we all agree that the modern suburb has essentially taken on new meanings and contains much different dynamics than the original suburbs.  I used the example of Levittown in one of my earlier posts, and that is a prime example of the type of housing that elanorh discusses.  You can find Levittown-type housing (usually built during the 40s and 50s outside every major city).  My DH grew up in that type of suburb outside of Baltimore - it was literally stuck in a cornfield - with no access to any services for years unless you had a car.  Back in the old days of suburbia, there were a lot less choices for the end user.  If you visit Levittown now, and even decide to buy a house there, you'll notice that many of the houses have been modified to suit the previous owner's needs.  Even the neighborhood has changed.  Levittown town was built and promoted, however, as a 'safe' place for white people to live with the ability to commute into the city for work.  Modern day suburbs have changed a lot, but having worked in the construction industry for a while, I know that there are certain economic and social factors at play when developments are built and how they evolve.  I think we can better define this whole thing as "urban sprawl" with people with means either being able to afford higher end housing in the city (with choices and access to services) or living in 'better' areas outside the city (with choices and access to services).  The rest is a mix of people in the middle (with some choices and services) and then low income people (whose access to quality food, schools and safety tend to be limited).  I think that ultimately, the ability to be 'mobile' and have access to your personal idea of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness play the most crucial role in how you view your location.
 

post #89 of 116

We have a whole frank lloyd wright development in Middleton.  I think they are pretty houses but LORD are they close together!!  Most people I talk to agree they wouldn't want to live in the neighborhood although there is a really nice park in the center because everything is so scrunched.  and pricey.  and although I LIKE his stuff, he has a very specific style so all the houses look the same all bunched together like that haha.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elanorh View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by vbactivist View Post

On my street (which is in a true suburb of a very large city) there is are bungalows, victorians, "traditional"s, ranches, split levels. 

 

Even frank lloyd wrights houses (and can anyone really argue that he was not a great architect??) tend to look similiar in neighborhoods...


Well, my husband calls him "Frank Lloyd Wrong."  wink1.gif  I'll have to ask him sometime what his major objections are to Wright's architecture.  He doesn't think it's awful, IIRC - but that it's not as good as some people believe. 

post #90 of 116
Quote:


Have you ever done any real research into one of these subdivisions you discussing?  Like actually researched how these homes are sold to people?  Because what you describe doesn't really fit in the process.  Pantry...my home has one because I picked a floorplan with one.  My sister's home does not because she picked a floorplan that doesn't...because she didn't want a pantry.  If a home doesn't have a pantry, it's not because the builder decided that they didn't want to build it, it's because the original buyer of the home decided they didn't want one.  Building a home or buying a home is a pretty big deal to most folks and they do their research.  They aren't going to buy a home that doesn't have what they want.  If the home isn't going to function well for them, they aren't going to buy it.  If a builder isn't listening to their customer and providing what they want, they aren't going to be in business very long. 

 

And on the other side of the coin, if ANY business, be it a development builder or a custom builder, isn't worried about profit they aren't going to be in business very long either.  Custom builders provide that higer cost insulation because it's important to their customers, not because it's better for them.  And I am sure they charge more accordingly as well.  Lower quality insulation may be the standard in the developments, but that doesn't mean it's the only option.  If it's important to that specific customer, upgrades are usually available.  At additional cost of course, just like anywhere else. 

 

Location-A substantial number of suburbanites don't commute to the city.  The live in suburbia because they work there too.  Those nasty big box and chain places that people dispise so much do employ people and those people often live right there.  The managers and cashiers and greeters at Walmart aren't going to commute far to work at Walmart, so of course they live in that cookie cutter subdivision less than five minutes away.  And these places are full of locally owned small businesses, of course those owners live in those same cookie cutter subdivisions.  Not to mention that these places usually start out in the middle of cornfields, but business often spring up around them.  I mentioned previously that the only places within walking distance are a DQ and a gas station, but actually I was wrong.  There's a hospital too the one I had my kids at.  It was build just like 3 years ago.  A friend of mine bought her house when it was in the middle of a corn field, but now there's a Y opening up that's within walking distance, and the district opened a new school right there also.  And, if they walk through the Y's ginormous parking lot and athletic fields, there's quite a bit of other stuff that's recently opened up right there too. 

You guys are talking about two different times in history.  Being able to choose a specific floorplan is a much more modern phenomenon, while elanora is referring to how things were done from the forties to about the eighties when suburbinization was at its peak in the US.  

 

See, the location argument you lay out here bothers me.  Because everything you outline comes at the expense of the cities where people move from to live in your suburb.  There is a new hospital near you because they decided it was easier to build a new one than update an older one (I'm generalizing here...I don't know the story of your specific hospital). Its part of the throw-away society we live in.   Because of the ticky-tacky houses in the cornfields cities like Detroit are dying.  All those old beautiful houses empty and falling down (or being burned down more specifically) because people fled to build houses in the cornfields to get bigger houses and to get away from "those" people.  I find it so incredibly sad.  So, yeah its part of the nature of capitalism that the goods follow the market.  But the whole phenomenon of surburbinization is historically troubling.  The trend for the houses in suburbs to gradually get larger and larger is also troubling from an environmental point of view.  Because as stated upthread most new houses are not built to be energy efficient, just to be friggin' BIG.  And I'm going to be uber-judgemental here and say that most people do not need as much space as they think they are entitled to. So its another big freaking waste.

 

Finally I do, honestly, really think that living in the suburbs can be soul crushing.  Location matters for my sanity at least.  Although for me its not so much about the sameness of the houses, but rather the dominant mindset of the people tends to be much more conservative and intolerant in the 'burbs, which I find damn oppressive.  Hate it.   Though the place I lived that I hated the most we were close to the city center thank goodness because our walks to look at the mighty fine old houses in our neighborhood were the only thing that kept me from total despondency.  The sad part was this was in a city where the suburbs were where the money was so the old houses were often falling apart (and I got quite a lot of well-meaning crap about where I chose to live...its a very racist and segregated city).  But honestly, sincerely, really it was the only redeemable feature of said city.  If I had lived in the suburbs I would have gone insane.

post #91 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
Finally I do, honestly, really think that living in the suburbs can be soul crushing.  Location matters for my sanity at least.  Although for me its not so much about the sameness of the houses, but rather the dominant mindset of the people tends to be much more conservative and intolerant in the 'burbs, which I find damn oppressive.  Hate it.   Though the place I lived that I hated the most we were close to the city center thank goodness because our walks to look at the mighty fine old houses in our neighborhood were the only thing that kept me from total despondency.  The sad part was this was in a city where the suburbs were where the money was so the old houses were often falling apart (and I got quite a lot of well-meaning crap about where I chose to live...its a very racist and segregated city).  But honestly, sincerely, really it was the only redeemable feature of said city.  If I had lived in the suburbs I would have gone insane.


I can understand that to some extent. I moved from an old, liberal town in northern CA to the master-planned community of Irvine in Orange County, CA about 10 years ago and I almost lost my mind. The conservatism, the focus on looks and material goods, the sea of blondes in Juicy Couture with Coach bags tucked under their arms, the bland grid of the town itself, the characterless strip malls -- it was really depressing (and I've never lived in a big city, so it wasn't urban snobbery). But over time I made friends and realized that although the general area does have a specific political and social tone, just like anywhere the people are individuals, and even in that setting I was able to find like-minded people (mostly transplants from other liberal areas), and made a group of friends who were just as varied and full of character as my group up north.

 

We live in a different town now, one I find much more likeable in terms of its layout and topography (there are huge protected wilderness areas surrounding us), so that helps a lot, but I really do think that even areas like you describe above are what you make of them. Don't get me wrong -- I knew the instant I set foot in Irvine that I couldn't live there long-term, but I'm convinced that there are great people everywhere. 

post #92 of 116

Just a side note, which to me is very relevant:  the internet has changed everything!  I'm sort of old here and prior to 90's, there was no such thing as the interent.  I couldn't wait to get out of my semi-rural town to move to the city.  Access to the things that were important to me (for both work and leisure) was basically non-existent.  Moving to a large metro area gave me easy acess to these things (stuff like materials, supplies, the types of books and references that I needed). It also gave me access to like-minded people. I so wish that I could have had internet access growing up as we know it now.  Our local shops and libraries didn't cut it...at least for what I was interested in.  While I'll probably live in the city for the rest of my life, the idea of being back in a remote or semi-remote area doesn't seem so ominous to me now.  You can be connected to the larger world now wherever you are.  Just a thought.

post #93 of 116

I think the real thing for me though is, the title of the thread is "why do people hate the suburbs?"  And, so much of what people have mentioned hating about the suburbs are things that simply aren't the case in all the burbs, or even most.  You can find suburbs with cookie cutter houses, and you can also find burbs where the houses are much more individualized.  You can find burbs that are monocultural, you can find burbs that are mulitcultural.  You can find burbs that are sprawled out all over, and you can find burbs where everything is close together and there is plenty of stuff within walking distance.  You can find new burbs with brand new Walmarts and Best Buys, you can find burbs with locally owned butchers and Indian grocers...and often, you can find both in the same burb.

 

It just seems like many folks who hate the burbs do so because they have assumptions about all burbs based on a few experiences.  Especially since we can't even seem to agree on just what "the burbs" really are anyway!

post #94 of 116


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post

I think the real thing for me though is, the title of the thread is "why do people hate the suburbs?"  And, so much of what people have mentioned hating about the suburbs are things that simply aren't the case in all the burbs, or even most.  You can find suburbs with cookie cutter houses, and you can also find burbs where the houses are much more individualized.  You can find burbs that are monocultural, you can find burbs that are mulitcultural.  You can find burbs that are sprawled out all over, and you can find burbs where everything is close together and there is plenty of stuff within walking distance.  You can find new burbs with brand new Walmarts and Best Buys, you can find burbs with locally owned butchers and Indian grocers...and often, you can find both in the same burb.

 

It just seems like many folks who hate the burbs do so because they have assumptions about all burbs based on a few experiences.  Especially since we can't even seem to agree on just what "the burbs" really are anyway!

 

I completely, totally agree. I'm reading descriptions of soul-crushing suburbs that some have described, and I'm shaking my head thinking man...that sounds NOTHING like my suburb. Maybe they need to specify, like 'post-war, cookie-cuttered, strip-malled, endless cul-de-sac'd and soccer-mommed suburbs' or something!!

 

My suburbs are GORGEOUS. Beaches, rivers, estuaries, some pockets of cookie cutter but definitely not my neighbourhood. Crazy-diverse multiculturally, mix of classes (city planning thing - subsidized housing mixed in with many neighbourhoods), lots of one-of restaurants (also REALLY multicultural). It sounds like kind of a dream...it is! The city by me is I think ranked among the  most expensive in the world (the world!) Unless you're oozing with offshore wealth or on skid row in the 'bad' part, no one else lives there. It`s a great place to visit, but I can do without the congestion, tourists, noise, pollution and pretentiousness. That`s simply soul crushing ;)
 

post #95 of 116
Quote:

 

I completely, totally agree. I'm reading descriptions of soul-crushing suburbs that some have described, and I'm shaking my head thinking man...that sounds NOTHING like my suburb. Maybe they need to specify, like 'post-war, cookie-cuttered, strip-malled, endless cul-de-sac'd and soccer-mommed suburbs' or something!!

 

My suburbs are GORGEOUS. Beaches, rivers, estuaries, some pockets of cookie cutter but definitely not my neighbourhood. Crazy-diverse multiculturally, mix of classes (city planning thing - subsidized housing mixed in with many neighbourhoods), lots of one-of restaurants (also REALLY multicultural). It sounds like kind of a dream...it is! The city by me is I think ranked among the  most expensive in the world (the world!) Unless you're oozing with offshore wealth or on skid row in the 'bad' part, no one else lives there. It`s a great place to visit, but I can do without the congestion, tourists, noise, pollution and pretentiousness. That`s simply soul crushing ;)
 

 

Dang, then I should get my middle class toushe out of there!  ROTFLMAO.gif

 

In all seriousness, stereotyping is a two-way street, based on people's limited perceptions of the "other." 

 

post #96 of 116

*nm..


Edited by Cascadian - 1/7/11 at 10:44am
post #97 of 116


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post




Have you ever done any real research into one of these subdivisions you discussing?  Like actually researched how these homes are sold to people?  Because what you describe doesn't really fit in the process.  Pantry...my home has one because I picked a floorplan with one.  My sister's home does not because she picked a floorplan that doesn't...because she didn't want a pantry.  If a home doesn't have a pantry, it's not because the builder decided that they didn't want to build it, it's because the original buyer of the home decided they didn't want one.  Building a home or buying a home is a pretty big deal to most folks and they do their research.  They aren't going to buy a home that doesn't have what they want.  If the home isn't going to function well for them, they aren't going to buy it.  If a builder isn't listening to their customer and providing what they want, they aren't going to be in business very long. 

 

And on the other side of the coin, if ANY business, be it a development builder or a custom builder, isn't worried about profit they aren't going to be in business very long either.  Custom builders provide that higer cost insulation because it's important to their customers, not because it's better for them.  And I am sure they charge more accordingly as well.  Lower quality insulation may be the standard in the developments, but that doesn't mean it's the only option.  If it's important to that specific customer, upgrades are usually available.  At additional cost of course, just like anywhere else. 

 

Location-A substantial number of suburbanites don't commute to the city.  The live in suburbia because they work there too.  Those nasty big box and chain places that people dispise so much do employ people and those people often live right there.  The managers and cashiers and greeters at Walmart aren't going to commute far to work at Walmart, so of course they live in that cookie cutter subdivision less than five minutes away.  And these places are full of locally owned small businesses, of course those owners live in those same cookie cutter subdivisions.  Not to mention that these places usually start out in the middle of cornfields, but business often spring up around them.  I mentioned previously that the only places within walking distance are a DQ and a gas station, but actually I was wrong.  There's a hospital too the one I had my kids at.  It was build just like 3 years ago.  A friend of mine bought her house when it was in the middle of a corn field, but now there's a Y opening up that's within walking distance, and the district opened a new school right there also.  And, if they walk through the Y's ginormous parking lot and athletic fields, there's quite a bit of other stuff that's recently opened up right there too. 


Actually, yes, I have.  And for you to assume that the only people buying homes and moving into subdivisions are buying brand-new homes wherein they had input on the design process isn't accurate.  At all.  Maybe you heard about the Housing Bubble???  Yes, we continue to have new subdivisions built all over the country - there is in fact a glut on the market.  One of my sisters lives in a very popular area in NW MT - and the city where she lives has, per their estimates, about 5 years of speculative homes built.  Empty developments sitting there, houses built and waiting for a buyer.  My SIL's home (mentioned earlier) was in a subdivision which was "hot."  She could either take the home they offered her, or wait for a year for them to build to her specs.  So she took what they offered.  They were in a tornado-prone area (not tornado alley, but they do get tornadoes every year) - but everything was slab on grade (quicker and easier for the contractor, but NO basements - and none of their set floor plans had 'safe rooms' for tornadoes built into them either.  Again, if SIL wanted to wait for quite awhile, she could have had that designed into her home.  But she took what they were in the process of building and willing to sell her. 

 

*Someone* is moving into all those suburban homes built in the '50s, '60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, and early part of the last decade.  And *someone* is buying the speculative homes that were built three years ago.  The percentage of people in this country who can afford to purchase a newly-built home is not a large number, especially more than once in their lives.  Most people are moving from a previously-owned home into a previously-owned home.  That's the nature of the beast.  So, no, they don't have a say in whether there is a built-in shelf in their kid's room, and they don't have a say in whether there is a pantry.  As you point out, they DO have a choice about which home they purchase.  But in markets which are constrained (high prices for homes, high cost of living, etc.) - they don't really have much of a choice.  Dh and I looked for a long time to find our home.  It didn't have all the features we wanted.  But housing prices kept going up and we couldn't afford to wait because if we did, we would have had to settle for even less of what we wanted.  I suppose we could have relocated to a different city/state and found a suburb where the developers were able to build a home to our specs in our timeframe but that's a bit ridiculous given that we both had jobs and family in our area and wanted to live here, not in Indiana or etc. 

 

Not all the workers can live in the suburbs while working those big box stores.  In fact, in parts of the Mountain West, they must commute from a neighboring county or even state, to their jobs.  Jackson Hole, Vail, and even my own lesser-known community spring to mind.  Some employers in Vail were creative enough to build employee apartments above their gas stations etc. to try to combat this, but the fact remains that property prices in some areas simply make it impossible for the low-wage workers (even when paid more than the average for workers like them elsewhere in the country) to live there. 

 

Also, as I mentioned earlier, my husband is an architect and so are many of our friends (scattered around the country, university friends).  It is insulting for you to assume that the reason that they are designing energy efficiency features into the homes and office buildings they design simply because their clients ask it of them.  Frankly, they often put those features in after talking their clients into doing it and explaining the long-term cost savings to the clients.  They are educated, passionate professionals who know how important it is to do this, for the future of the planet and the long-term financial usability of the property.  And, architects aren't typically paid more for specifying an r49 insulation or incorporating passive solar into their design.  They do it as a responsibility for their clients.  The contractor might charge more for the additional materials.  [Not all architects do this automatic incorporation of energy-conscious features, but dh and his friends do as much as possible]. 

 

As Cat's Cradle said, I think an aspect of our disagreement in this discussion stems directly from differing definitions of "suburbs."  I tried to clarify that in my recent post - that obviously there are going to be gradations and differences including 'suburbs' which were once self-contained small towns and have been absorbed through urban sprawl. And I defined my take on "suburbs," which is the one I learned in my Urban History course -- the area of development which houses people outside the city, away from their work, and from which they commute TO work in the city, typically with very few amenities or local businesses and not usually walking-friendly.

 

Finally - we continue to talk about suburban areas which used to be cornfields and now, after several years of being a suburb, have their own DQ's and a gas station and a hospital.  But the fact remains - they were once cornfields.  Where are we growing that corn now??????  We have a finite amount of agricultural land in this nation.  We are already importing foods from other countries.  If we continue to advocate and defend gobbling up agricultural land so we can all have our big suburban homes, we will find ourselves in a situation where, rather than exporting food to other countries, we are importing it.  And while in some parts of the country, a little 1/8 acre lot might grow most/all of what a family needs for food (even some backyard chickens) - that's not true for *all* of our country.  In places with limited rainfall, and/or less temperate climates, etc., it would not be possible.  I live in a grain-growing area but I could NOT grow the wheat, oats, and barley we eat as well as all our fruits and vegetables on our lot (and it's larger than most of our neighbors' lots).  Let alone goats or some other larger meat source than chickens (assuming they were legal, which is a gray area in our city). 

 

Is it responsible for us as a society to continue this entitled expansion into our farm and ranchland and open spaces, this commuter lifestyle with our Kentucky Bluegrass lawns carefully watered, fertilized, and mowed regardless of our ecosystem and the wildlife we are displacing and the agricultural people who have been forced into selling their farms/ranches in part by the skyrocketing property values caused by the developments around them?

 

When you move into that cornfield, think about what used to be there.  What happened to that farm family, their way of life, their dreams for their children and grandchildren. 

 

This isn't just about whether you have the sort of house you want (assuming you can get it).  It's about a continued cancerous expansion of our suburbs which leaves our cities weaker and which jeopardizes our nation's ability to feed itself (and to feed others as well).  Chamomile Girl's post #90 (middle paragraph) sums this up well, I think.

 

Does anyone else have the Talking Heads' "(Nothing But) Flowers" playing on loop in their heads as a result of this conversation?  wink1.gif  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3t5nmgRVMs&feature=related

post #98 of 116


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post

You guys are talking about two different times in history.  Being able to choose a specific floorplan is a much more modern phenomenon, while elanora is referring to how things were done from the forties to about the eighties when suburbinization was at its peak in the US.  

 

See, the location argument you lay out here bothers me.  Because everything you outline comes at the expense of the cities where people move from to live in your suburb.  There is a new hospital near you because they decided it was easier to build a new one than update an older one (I'm generalizing here...I don't know the story of your specific hospital). Its part of the throw-away society we live in.   Because of the ticky-tacky houses in the cornfields cities like Detroit are dying.  All those old beautiful houses empty and falling down (or being burned down more specifically) because people fled to build houses in the cornfields to get bigger houses and to get away from "those" people.  I find it so incredibly sad.  So, yeah its part of the nature of capitalism that the goods follow the market.  But the whole phenomenon of surburbinization is historically troubling.  The trend for the houses in suburbs to gradually get larger and larger is also troubling from an environmental point of view.  Because as stated upthread most new houses are not built to be energy efficient, just to be friggin' BIG.  And I'm going to be uber-judgemental here and say that most people do not need as much space as they think they are entitled to. So its another big freaking waste.

 

Finally I do, honestly, really think that living in the suburbs can be soul crushing.  Location matters for my sanity at least.  Although for me its not so much about the sameness of the houses, but rather the dominant mindset of the people tends to be much more conservative and intolerant in the 'burbs, which I find damn oppressive.  Hate it.   Though the place I lived that I hated the most we were close to the city center thank goodness because our walks to look at the mighty fine old houses in our neighborhood were the only thing that kept me from total despondency.  The sad part was this was in a city where the suburbs were where the money was so the old houses were often falling apart (and I got quite a lot of well-meaning crap about where I chose to live...its a very racist and segregated city).  But honestly, sincerely, really it was the only redeemable feature of said city.  If I had lived in the suburbs I would have gone insane.

See, we can't really argue about which historical period we're talking about, unless we open it up on both sides.  So far, anti-burbs folks are talking about the historical emergence of the suburbs, as cookie-cutter houses for the elite who wanted to move away from non-whites in the city.  That's fine, but then really we need to talk about the historical erection of tenements in the city, as places where poor immigrants and POC were/are stockpiled and live disease-ridden, poverty-riddled lives, where there was little opportunity, and rent gouging was common practice.  Places that were quickly built (like the suburbs, historically) with little thought for the safety of the occupants, and no thought for their happiness and value as members of the urban community.  So, we can't use history to bash the suburbs without also turning a critical eye on the cities.

 

Further, I have lived in a city because I moved to one.  But my mother, father, and none of my grandparents ever lived in cities.  Absolutely no one in my family, in the whole family history in this country, ever lived in a city.  Talking about big cities as if they're the genesis of civilization in this country is kind of, well, urban arrogance, IMHO.  Especially when family farms in the west are going under and selling water rights to corporations, rendering the land a dust bowl, so that the river can continue through the land in order to supply big cities with water.  It's just not really fair to talk about "at the expense of cities" without looking at the other side of the coin as well.

post #99 of 116


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramama View Post

 

See, we can't really argue about which historical period we're talking about, unless we open it up on both sides.  So far, anti-burbs folks are talking about the historical emergence of the suburbs, as cookie-cutter houses for the elite who wanted to move away from non-whites in the city.  That's fine, but then really we need to talk about the historical erection of tenements in the city, as places where poor immigrants and POC were/are stockpiled and live disease-ridden, poverty-riddled lives, where there was little opportunity, and rent gouging was common practice.  Places that were quickly built (like the suburbs, historically) with little thought for the safety of the occupants, and no thought for their happiness and value as members of the urban community.  So, we can't use history to bash the suburbs without also turning a critical eye on the cities.

 

Further, I have lived in a city because I moved to one.  But my mother, father, and none of my grandparents ever lived in cities.  Absolutely no one in my family, in the whole family history in this country, ever lived in a city.  Talking about big cities as if they're the genesis of civilization in this country is kind of, well, urban arrogance, IMHO.  Especially when family farms in the west are going under and selling water rights to corporations, rendering the land a dust bowl, so that the river can continue through the land in order to supply big cities with water.  It's just not really fair to talk about "at the expense of cities" without looking at the other side of the coin as well.


Ramama, can you see how the suburbanization and inappropriate sprawl and water usage in those cities and the *suburbs around them* is directly causing these situations where water rights are being bought up, and where farmers and ranchers watch water flow past their properties and straight to California to water peoples' lawns instead of watering hay ground, wheat, cattle? 

 

ETA:  My family on both sides were also rural, agricultural folk and have been since they arrived here - prior to the Revolutionary War on my mother's side.  There are a few of us who are living in cities or suburbs now, but that's this generation - prior to this, it was all farms or ranching.  I think that colors my concern about suburbs and urban sprawl and irresponsible use of land.  I think we have been socially programmed to think that the suburbs are 'what we need' for open spaces, clean air, areas for kids to play (as close to the country as we can get unless we're actually farming or ranching).  In reality, cities can and have created community areas with green space, etc. More apartment buildings are being designed with rooftop gardens, as abandoned neighborhoods are razed and reclaimed those city neighborhoods are being rebuilt with a greater community focus (the Stapleton developments in Denver are a pretty good example of this - some might say they are in fact a suburb, but I would say that they function very well as a city neighborhood instead, due to conscious development decisions).  The belief that the only 'good' option is the suburbs, ignores the increased footprint, energy use, and environmental impact which a single-family suburban lot has compared to the population of an urban city area.  The e2 documentaries which were on PBS had a fascinating section on the urban interface with energy issues - including examinations of NYC and Portland OR as well as other cities in other countries.  I highly recommend putting it in one's Netflix queue.  (All the e2 series is good, there's one on building, one on transport, and one on energy, IIRC). 


Edited by elanorh - 1/7/11 at 10:49am
post #100 of 116


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elanorh View Post


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramama View Post

 

See, we can't really argue about which historical period we're talking about, unless we open it up on both sides.  So far, anti-burbs folks are talking about the historical emergence of the suburbs, as cookie-cutter houses for the elite who wanted to move away from non-whites in the city.  That's fine, but then really we need to talk about the historical erection of tenements in the city, as places where poor immigrants and POC were/are stockpiled and live disease-ridden, poverty-riddled lives, where there was little opportunity, and rent gouging was common practice.  Places that were quickly built (like the suburbs, historically) with little thought for the safety of the occupants, and no thought for their happiness and value as members of the urban community.  So, we can't use history to bash the suburbs without also turning a critical eye on the cities.

 

Further, I have lived in a city because I moved to one.  But my mother, father, and none of my grandparents ever lived in cities.  Absolutely no one in my family, in the whole family history in this country, ever lived in a city.  Talking about big cities as if they're the genesis of civilization in this country is kind of, well, urban arrogance, IMHO.  Especially when family farms in the west are going under and selling water rights to corporations, rendering the land a dust bowl, so that the river can continue through the land in order to supply big cities with water.  It's just not really fair to talk about "at the expense of cities" without looking at the other side of the coin as well.


Ramama, can you see how the suburbanization and inappropriate sprawl and water usage in those cities and the *suburbs around them* is directly causing these situations where water rights are being bought up, and where farmers and ranchers watch water flow past their properties and straight to California to water peoples' lawns instead of watering hay ground, wheat, cattle? 


Yes, I do see that, which does negate my point at all.  Talking about the expense of the cities is arrogant, and small-picture thinking.  The pros and cons go both ways.  I just refuse to accept that suburbs exists at the expense of the cities.  It just seems like people are being forced to accept all the short-comings of the burbs and not being permitted to analyze the urban lifestyle in the same acute way.

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