Monday, December 9, 2013

Whither the suburbs?

Too often there is an antagonistic relationship between the core city and its suburbs.  Cities who waste their resources poaching jobs from their surrounding suburbs - and vice versa - work to create a toxic relationship when a harmonious relationship would help further all parties.

There has been a trend lately for companies to relocate from the suburbs to the core city.

After decades of big businesses leaving the city for the suburbs, U.S. firms have begun a new era of corporate urbanism. Nearly 200 Fortune 500 companies are currently headquartered in the top 50 cities. Many others are staying put in the suburbs but opening high-profile satellite offices in nearby cities, sometimes aided by tax breaks and a recession that tempered downtown rents. And upstart companies are following suit, according to urban planners. The bottom line: companies are under pressure to establish an urban presence that projects an image of dynamism and innovation. 

I believe this trend correlates with the decline in driving and car ownership among young adults.  As such, cities and the surrounding suburbs should work to create a harmonious relationship.  It is in their benefit, because now poverty in the suburbs is rising.

Suburban poverty across the country grew 53 percent between 2000 and 2010, more than twice the rate of urban poverty, according to a recent report by the Brookings Institution. For the first time, more poor people live in the suburbs than in cities.

Remember that suburbs and cities ideally are to the mutual benefit of each other.  When that relationship becomes toxic, like Detroit, the results are bad for both the city and the suburbs.  The bankruptcy in the city of Detroit was preceeded by suburban Detroit bankruptcies in Pontiac and Hamtramck.

This is an opportunity to for cities and their suburbs to coordinate on issues like regional transit and economic development.  Whether a commuter rail line or a highway expansion should be built is something that cities and their suburbs should explore with the question "what will benefit the region best"?

No comments:

Post a Comment