I was in downtown Dallas, cursing the other day. Traffic? No, one way streets. STUPID one way streets. Here we are trying to conserve fossil fuels and make Dallas a “walkable” city with bike lanes, the newest urban fad du jour. (Truth is, I’m sick of hearing about bike lanes. While I might ride on weekends all over the place, who the hell is going to ride a bike to work Monday through Friday, get all sweaty and smelly, in Loubies?) What happens is you end up driving twice as long to find a parking place, of which there are too few, wasting both gas and time.

Walkable Dallas? What a joke!

Then the U.S. Census Bureau released figures last Thursday estimating cities’ growth between 2010 and 2011. Eight of the 15 fastest growing cities in the U.S.A. spring from  Texas. Five — Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Denton, Carrollton — are in North Texas. You can so guess the others:

New Orleans
4.9 360,740
Round Rock, Texas
4.8 104,664
Austin, Texas
3.8 820,611
Plano, Texas
3.8 269,776
McKinney, Texas
3.8 136,067
Frisco, Texas
3.8 121,387
Denton, Texas
3.4 117,187
3.3 619,968
Cary, N.C.
3.2 139,633
Raleigh, N.C.
3.1 416,468
Alexandria, Va.
3.1 144,301
Tampa, Fla.
3.1 346,037
McAllen, Texas
3.0 133,742
Carrollton, Texas
3.0 122,640
3.0 432,427

Yeah, go Round Rock, Austin and McAllen. The study says that urban areas are actually growing faster than suburban areas across the U.S., EXCEPT in Dallas. We are opposite of what the rest of the U.S. is experiencing. Nationally, for the first time in a whole dang century, growth in most major U.S. cities outpaced that of their suburbs. Except in Dallas, where our suburbs out-grew us. Dallas grew only 2.1%

This is exactly the conversation I had with Scott Beck. Dallas, I told him, is not going to be this dreamy urban core with everyone congregated and claustraphobically clustered densely downtown. Dallas is growing like LA or (God help us) Houston, even kind of like lake-cinched Chicago with mini urban clusters, or depots. We have downtown with those dang one-way streets, the Arts District, Uptown where you can walk better than you can downtown, Oak Lawn, Preston Center, Lakewood, North Dallas where Valley View Mall will anchor as a new Mid Town. Later this month, you’ll find 30+ Texas food trucks serving unique  cuisines July 20-22 and every 3rd weekend of every month at Valley View Center at Dallas Midtown. Indoor and outdoor activities for everyone to keep out of the heat. Indoor: live music, beer garden, bounce houses, mechanical bull, carousel, vendor booths, art fair and more. Outdoor: bungee trampolines, radio give-a-ways and more. In far North Dallas areas like Prestonwood and Beltline will become a city depot. South of downtown, you have Bishops Arts, UT, Trinity Groves, South Dallas, east there’s the Deep Ellum,  Cedars and Southside. I know I’m missing some, so sorry, but you get it — Dallas is going to be more and more defined, I think, by its neighborhoods, not too unlike Chicago.

And you’re going to have to drive to get there, especially in August. I kiss my hybrid every day. I will only buy hybrid or diesel autos. We will drive, park, and then do some walking, as long as we keep Uggs and water in the car.

Between 2010 and 2011, Dallas grew 2.1 percent, according to the census. But this is the same story I’ve been writing: Dallas growth was outpaced by the northern suburbs of Plano, Frisco, and McKinney. They each grew by 3.8 percent. Even Denton, where the home squatters squat, beat Dallas, growing by by 3.4 percent. Even the city that is snuggled next to Farmer’s Branch, deemed racist and discriminatory for making it a crime to rent to non U.S. citizens, Carrollton , beat us by 3 percent.

Yet overall, the population in cities is expanding. Cities grew by 1.0 percent across the nation between 2010 and 2011. However, “large cities (285) tended to grow faster than the national rate at 1.3 percent. Large cities in the South (99 places) showed the largest growth at 1.8 percent, followed by those in the West (113 places) at 1.4 percent. Large cities in the Northeast (25 places) grew by 0.7 percent and the 48 large places in the Midwest grew by 0.6 percent.”

Three out of every five people in the U.S. live in incorporated areas.  Everyone else values togetherness:  “More than a third of the nation’s population (37 percent or 116.2 million people) lived in cities with populations of more than 50,000.

So what is it about Dallas that makes our suburbs grow faster than Dallas, faster than our urban core? The urban greens want to jam everyone into a richer, more fulfilling and they claim a more sustainable lifestyle with us all living in high rises. (Pray your neighbor doesn’t leave plastic on the stove.) We have pumped billions into a new arts district, are arguing over what to do with the Trinity River, and fighting about building yet another highway. If we build it,  they say, we are just giving more crack to the car addicts. But have you been to Costco when gas hit $4.00 a gallon? Everyone and their step-niece is there, pumping, filling trucks and Suburbans.

I think we won’t stop ’till we get to Oklahoma, honestly.

When I was a child, I worried about the farmland in between O’Hare Field and where we lived, near Elgin in East Dundee. Every year we went to the airport, and more development — homes, huge office buildings, hospitals — cropped up creeping further and further west hugging that tollway for dear life. My father told me I’d live to see the day when it all filled in. He was right: last time I was in Chicago in May, I drove west to Rockford, 75 miles west of Chicago. The farmland between Elgin and O’Hare is all but gone. Friends tell me people now commute to Chicago –the city 75 miles east — from Rockford!

How come, I ask the urbanists, people aren’t moving back into Chicago? (Houston is almost a dead tie for population, 2,707,120 in Chicago, 2,145,146 in Houston. ) Greater Chicago has lost 6.9% of it’s population since 2010. Rockford, Ill. has grown by 1.8%.  The city only expanded by .3%  in seven years, but sustained annual losses of roughly 20,000 in the last decade, when everyone moved to the outlying exurban areas of Will and Kendall counties.

Dallas is losing the urban battle. Even Atlanta is growing faster, what with Al Hill III and all. In New York and most major U.S. cities,  young, creative types say they are sick of commuting and are heading for the City Center, part of the reason why the only thing you can get a loan for these days is an apartment building, the next bubble, economists told us at NAREE. In Dallas, young people get married and live close in, maybe an M Street cutie or a mid-century in Oak Glen. But she gets preggers, they check schools, and zip they are off to the suburbs. They want a community, they tell me, where their kids can play in safety, they want good schools, and space. Go north you get a four-bedroom house for less than $300K, maybe a club in the development, and an hour-long commute. So what — get a nice fuel-efficient car and work from home two days. That, or the breadwinner flies off from DFW half the week.

Is the suburban lifestyle a relic from post World War Two,  subsidized by pro-sprawl policies and developer’s lobbyists? Doesn’t matter. They could save their bribes and lunches: at least here, people prefer the suburbs to the city.