If you’re a reader of James Kunstler’s books and blog, you’re familiar with his argument that “the suburbs have no future.” Indeed, he predicts that even if the current subprime mess is resolved, the suburbs aren’t coming back.
Kunstler has never been very good with the timing of his predictions, but his casandra-like pronouncements seem to be matching up with reality if you go by some of the worst examples coming out of the States.  The foreclosures resulting in vacant housing are severely impacting the viability of some neighbourhoods.
Here’s an article from The Charlotte Observer – New Suburbs in Fast Decay – sent along by Portland Metro Councilor Robert Liberty.

In Peachtree Hills, police are summoned nearly 300 times a year, mostly for property crimes in the 147 homes. But the 4-year-old neighborhood, near Sunset Road, has also seen robberies, shootings and gang displays more commonly associated with violent urban areas — not new subdivisions.
Charlotte  Foreclosures [Click map for details.]
Fourteen-year-old Devon Smith was shot dead there in July. Graffiti memorializes his name on the sidewalks and benches. Spray paint also proclaims “Bloods 4 Life” and “PT Blood.”
“All I wanted was a safe place with some backyard space for my son to run around, but that’s not what we got,” says Stacy Hall, 36, a medical claims processor and single mom, whose Peachtree home was burglarized last year. They got away with $110 in day care money. And in November, she arrived home to find a police helicopter hovering and officers chasing men through her yard.
“I was like, `Where am I? L.A. or something?’ ”
A Chicago study found that when the foreclosure rate increases 1 percentage point in a neighborhood, its violent crime rate jumps 2.3 percent.

Cleveland seems to be very hard hit as well – particularly the inner-ring suburb of Slavic Village.  Stories here and here.
Slavic Village


  1. ahhh, james howard kunstler. the clusterfuck guy.
    at the last world urban forum in vancouver, there was a couple of movies about the death of suburbia floating around and this guy was in all of them. personally, i always figured he comes across as slightly crazy and that he wishes for everything to collapse around him.
    i remember one scene in one of the movies where he talks about the price of fuel and how the clusterfuck will happen soon. the movie was already a couple years old and the back drop was a petrocanada sign showing gas at 64.9. too funny.
    but in the end, suburbia is not going anywhere. you might even find some researchers that say the opposite is true (even way back to jane jacobs). however, this is not to say that suburbia will not change. in the end, people will try to live in a place that gives them the most utility and business will eventually locate where the profit is the highest. there is an equilibrium and if suburbia ever gets to the point where it gets intolerable to its citizens (ie the commute, crime, pollution, disaster), they move. it happened in detriot and new orleans and the world did not fall apart. cities change over time. they are organic in nature. besides, the infrastructure needed to move all these people back into the cities would be incredible and expensive. and the last time i checked, surrey is growing at about 1000 residents a month.
    as per the suburbs in nevada or cleveland, this problem has to do with bad lending, bad governance, bad speculating and changing economies. and i’m confident they will iron themselves out eventually.

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