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5212Re: [CF] Re: Air Conditioning, Cars, and livable places

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  • Douglas Muller
    Jun 3, 2002
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      --- Ronald Hands <ronald.hands@...> wrote:
      > It's a fascinating chapter in a deeply-absorbing book, which also
      > has
      > chapters on two other U.S. cities: Atlanta -- "one big-ass parking
      > lot
      > under a toxic pall"; and Boston -- a city with "clear, bright
      > prospects
      > for the future"; "my own prediction is that Boston will be America's
      > most habitable big city in the first quarter of the new century."

      What's sad to me is that "habitable" almost always goes hand-in-hand
      with "really friggin' expensive." I lived in Boston for five years and
      left last year in part because of the huge increases in cost of living
      that had occurred during my time there. When I lived there, my
      three-bedroom apartment in Somerville (a 15-minute walk from the
      nearest T stop) went for $1400 a month--a reasonable figure split three
      ways; the folks who moved in after me paid $2400, a 70% increase. Of
      course, this is most acute in areas like mine that were near vibrant,
      livable nodes (in my case, Harvard Square), which means that
      working-class people who used to live there have to find places in more
      distant locales, often necessitating car ownership, greater commute
      times, isolation from that urban-neighborhood feeling, etc. Meanwhile,
      the white-collar workers who moves into these neighborhoods for their
      livability find themselves unable to enjoy it--they have to work too
      hard just to pay the rent.

      I dunno... while I like smart growth in theory, it comes at quite a
      price. Usually this is pitched as a good thing by advocates ("Home
      values near new transit lines increase twofold!" "Your neighborhood
      becomes wealthy!" etc.), but there's a whole story of displacement that
      goes along with it.

      The solution is not Las Vegas or Atlanta, or course... it's something
      else. If anyone knows of any successful efforts to promote smart growth
      and simultaneously stave off exorbitant increases in real-estate costs,
      I'd love to hear about them.


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