Really thoughtful piece by Jacqueline Floyd, who lives in “a peaceful Denton County suburb”, in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News. She says that after all of last week’s Rah Rah Urbanism activity — you know the New Cities Summit and the U.S. Conference of Mayors — that there is a looking-down-the-nose at suburban dwellers element going on.
Kind of like that “you live north of LBJ? I am so sorry” ‘tude. Jacqueline says bring on the new urbanism but don’t demonize the ‘burbs and all who live there:
As a spirit of “new urbanism” is making serious inroads in Dallas, its satellite communities are fielding the blame for a host of woes: not just freeways and sprawl but such elemental human failings as greed, bigotry and mindless consumerism.
I liked her points, and I agree with many. The fact is, a lot of journalists, many in fact who are writing some of those Rah Rah stories, live outside of Dallas, in the suburbs. Why? Because that’s where they can afford to live and educate their children. Because let’s face it: you get a better deal on a home in the suburbs than you do in Dallas. You get cookie cutter, yes, but your chances of being slashed with a box cutter tend to be less, too.
Let’s take $300,000: here’s what you get in Melissa, here’s what you get in Dallas:
Here is 1536 square feet in Hexter Elementary. Two bedrooms, two baths, wonderful floor plan, updated, ready for move in! Refinished hardwood floors, granite kitchen with stainless and a lazy Susan. Baths are updated, cabinets have fresh paint and light fixtures. Great back yard and garage space, sprinkle system, 1 mile bike to lake, 2 blocks to exemplary Hexter Elementary. Oh by the way, this home is
north of LBJ, near Frankfort & Preston. at 608 Hambrick, Lake Highlands.
Here is 2312 Patriot Drive in Melissa built by Highland Homes, LTD – August completion! You get 2484 square feet (almost 1000 more!) with 4-bedrooms, 2.5 bath home with family room, study, game room, planning desk, and 2-car garage. The master suite is extended and has an upgraded bath, the outdoor living area is extended, and there are wood floors in entry, kitchen-nook, and family room.
When we moved here eons ago, we faced the same choices. My husband was an intern, I was a reporter. We had no money. Many of the interns and residents were buying up at Trinity Mills Road in Carrollton, Fox and Jacobs homes that were brand spanking new and we could pick our very own colors. Imagine that! I had just come from a box in New York City that cost and arm and a leg, to the nirvana of a Cedar Springs apartment with a cultured vanity countertop — that was luxury! Home ownership was still a scary concept, but the thought of moving into a brand new home that was clean and needed no repairs was so tempting.
It was also a 40 minute drive for both of us. Worse, one of the residents at Parkland had fallen asleep driving home — this was prior to what our generation of docs teasingly refers to as the “wimp-ization of residents” — the limiting of their work hours.
The house we could afford in Dallas for the same price was a wreck and needed a lot of work and repairs, all of which we had no money for because it cost so much. But it was 10 minutes from work.
Turns out, we bought inside the LBJ loop and have lived there, here, ever since. I hate the waste of commuting hours, one reason why I prefer home offices.
She’s right, too, that there’s a heck of a lot going on in those suburbs — jobs, micro-arts centers, and lot of immigrants who open up the best ethnic restaurants and stores. In my home town of Chicago, the city is where the various ethnic communities live in clusters: the Italians used to live on and around Cicero Ave, the Greeks in one ‘hood, the Poles, Germans etc. That’s because when people emigrated to the U.S., they found comfort in living with people from their home country. My grandmother was sent to the U.S at the age of 12. She was to find her older brother and friends from the old country who would watch after her. That’s how ethnic neighborhoods populated. We don’t have that in Dallas, because most immigrants headed north of Dallas to more affordable housing and better public schools.
But the infill is coming, as more young people buy dilapidated homes in East Dallas and gentrify, which is why the decision to put a Sam’s Club on Central is SO ridiculous. Build up the fabulous momentum in Bishop Arts. Was there this weekend, and the area is CRAMMED with young people and also Baby Boomers!
I also am seeing wonderful products of the suburbs, brilliant young kids who have emerged from Richardson and Plano public schools, went to top colleges, now taking on leadership roles, giving the Dallas private school grads a run for their money.
It would be wonderful to live downtown if that’s where your work was, of course, or if you were so well invested a “trust fund” kid you could live anywhere you wanted to live. But many people travel for work, or make daily sales calls across the metroplex. I know cars are the next cigarette (BAD for your health!) but for some salespeople, their cars are their offices.
Until our public transportation rises to the occasion to accommodate commuters, there will be cars and people in them, driving, belching out second hand smoke. Folks in Silicon Valley think we need self-driving cars, which would be safer and way more fuel efficient. Dallas’ newest condo, Harwood’s Bleu Ciel, will have beefed up parking, two per every two bedroom condo.
Dense urban living jam packs a lot of population into a smaller footprint, so you use less green space, and fewer resources. Really, that’s good for our planet. But not everyone wants to or can live so densely, at least not without killing people.
That’s why I think we are better off restructuring the way suburbanites live: does every home in a development have to have a green lawn of St. Augustine? How about some gravel, buffalo grass and turf? Because of the way this city evolved, as depots, we are always going to have what Jacqueline called satellites:
The growth of transit-oriented developments near DART stations is a trend not just in Dallas but in suburban cities as well. The term “suburb,” in fact, should be used advisedly. Many of our “satellites” are full-blown, fast-growing cities with employment centers of their own.”
With really great ethnic restaurants.