On Monday, March 27, I contributed to a conversation on “The 21st Show” titled “Illinois’ history with slavery and its links to the present.” You can listen here and I first talk at the 39:55 mark.
Some of the conversation is based on a co-authored research article in progress with Caroline Kisiel of DePaul University. We discuss the working out and legacy of race and property over 300 years of Illinois history. My previous work in looking at the development of several suburbs in western DuPage County – earlier work published here, here, and here – adds to the latter portion of this history as race and ethnicity influenced decisions about development, zoning, and who was welcome in different communities.
In New York, the governor wants the state to mandate housing production from local governments and to take over control of their land use if they fail to meet the targets. In California, a bill introduced to the state Assembly on Thursday would require approval of multifamily housing developments in walkable, transit-accessible and centrally located areas.
On Wednesday, the Oregon Legislature passed a package of bills that would require cities to set housing development goals and appropriate $200 million for affordable housing development. Earlier this month, the Washington state Legislature approved a bill legalizing accessory dwelling units, also known as “granny flats,” like an apartment made from a garage or basement. And the Washington state House of Representatives passed a bill last Tuesday that would allow multifamily housing units to be built anywhere in larger cities and near bus stops in smaller towns.
The trend is not just happening in blue states. Montana’s Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has proposed legalizing duplexes and triplexes all across the state and legalizing apartment buildings in all commercial areas. And the Oregon and Washington measures have drawn broad bipartisan support.
What does this add up to?
“We’re basically declaring a holy war on sprawl,” Matthew Lewis, communications director of California YIMBY, a pro-housing advocacy group that is backing the bill, told Yahoo News.
As the article hints, there are likely long fights over such efforts. Where exactly is the line between local control and the broader interest of the public? Particularly in communities with money and political voice, the fight may drag on.
Prairie Food will focus on local, organic and sustainably produced food. The co-op has cultivated relationships with Walnut Acres Family Farm in Wilmette, Rustic Road Farm in Elburn, Jake’s Country Meats in southwest Michigan and “quite a few dairy farms,” Kathy Nash said…
Co-op organizers say the model — local control, local ownership — has become especially relevant after the pandemic brought on food supply issues…
Food co-ops clearly define what “local” means. The Food Shed’s goal is to source 25% of all of the store products within a 100-mile radius. The McHenry County co-op purchased land on Route 14 and Lakeshore Drive to build from the ground up. The shopping space will cover around 7,000 square feet…
The Food Shed started from a desire to connect with local farmers and “tap into the local economy,” Jensen said. The co-op was officially incorporated in 2014.
If the comparison is between a 3,000 mile salad where the ingredients come from a long ways away or having food from within 100 miles or a few hours drive, then the co-op is definitely pursuing local food.
At the same time, the desire to buy local food is made more difficult in suburban settings where development has gobbled up land for decades. Looking back at some research notes I had, I found these facts about local farms:
-The amount of land in DuPage County devoted to farming dwindled toward the end of the twentieth century – down to 11% of the county’s land in 1987 and 95 farms in 1992 – according to the Chicago Tribune.
-Also in the Chicago Tribune, the last dairy farm in DuPage County closed in 1993 with the land sold to a developer. At one point, the county was known as “the milk shed for Chicago.”
-The last beef cows in Naperville left in 2005 with the sale of a farm to developers (also according to the Chicago Tribune).
So even as some suburbanites want local food, the developments and communities in which they live are at least partly responsible for pushing food production further away?
“Never have there been proposals for restrictions — on the contrary, this is a new opportunity: more choice, more services, more desire to thrive in one’s neighbourhood,” he said.
“Since the start of 2023, the concept of the 15-minute city has been subject to conspiracy theories, produced and shared by people already well known for spreading disinformation about Covid, the climate, vaccines and politics,” he said…
Particular claims debunked by AFP Fact Check in recent weeks have targeted the English city of Oxford and Edmonton, Canada. Claims surfaced in various languages, including English, French and Portuguese.
“You can’t leave a 15-minute city whenever you please … The city walls or restrictions or zones or whatever you want to call them won’t be used to keep others out, they’ll be used to lock everyone in,” says one man in a video viewed more than 59,000 times on Facebook, commenting on the Edmonton plan…
Supporters of 15-minute cities include the worldwide C40 cities alliance plus the United Nations and the World Economic Forum -– targets of numerous false claims that are subject to frequent fact-checks.
Would these particular fears about denser communities fit under long-running fears that a globalist structure wants to restrict the everyday lives and freedoms of workers? One way to control people is to restrict geographic mobility. Doing so would increase population densities and limit what people could access.
Far out? The site of Sunday’s Super Bowl is about 13 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix. Arlington Heights is about 30 miles northwest of downtown Chicago.
The distance is less of an issue than it was when State Farm Stadium was built, said Kevin Phelps, Glendale’s city manager. Some projections show that two out of three newcomers to the Phoenix area will live in the West Valley…
The last time Glendale hosted a Super Bowl, it had about 800 hotel rooms near the stadium. By next year, that number will be 3,000. The city has found that most people spend money on dinner and shopping within two miles of their hotel. But a new development has to deliver.
“You have to have a ‘there’ there,” Phelps said. “I don’t care how good your advertising is. If we told everyone to come to Glendale and they got here and there was an ice cream shop and a Denny’s and that’s all there is, you’d never get them back again.”
Just having a superb stadium experience is not enough. The stadium can anchor a larger entertainment district where people come for a variety of events, enjoy food and other experiences, and are willing to spend a few nights or a long day. The real activity and money is in the year-round potential of the property that at the center has a recognizable stadium but also has enough to attract people when there is not a big game.
Flytrex, which specializes in on-demand, ultrafast delivery for food and retail, is bringing food and grocery orders via drone to front and backyards.
According to a release, the service will be based in Granbury, in a partnership with restaurant chain Brinker International, home of Chili’s Grill & Bar, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and two virtual brands: It’s Just Wings and Maggiano’s Italian Classics.
The service is operating in cooperation with longtime partner Causey Aviation Unmanned under a newly granted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waiver allowing a delivery radius of one nautical mile – reaching thousands of potential homes. Eligible households can order food via the Flytrex app.
Their focus is on the suburbs, where on-demand delivery has previously been viewed as commercially unviable, since traditional couriers can make only two deliveries per hour in such areas. They have a video showing a drone at work on YouTube.
Granbury is a small town of just over 11,000 residents roughly 30 miles southwest of Fort Worth and on the edge of the Dallas metropolitan area.
How many deliveries can drones make in an hour compared to vehicles? Are there also advantages to suburban deliveries from not having to encounter many tall buildings or obstacles?
If drones are better for suburban deliveries, are suburbanites open to drones flying above their homes to bring them things they have ordered? Suburbanites also like a connection to nature and drones may not provide that if they are flying or they can be heard above homes. The same drones that enable a consumer lifestyle do not necessarily fit with an image of quiet suburban properties.
Racial discrimination is abhorrent and should be prosecuted. But as a Brookings Institution analysis of the 2020 census shows, race isn’t a barrier to suburban living. Blacks are moving to the suburbs at a faster pace than whites. Anybody can be suburban. It just takes money — especially in Connecticut. In 2017, developer Arnold Karp purchased a colonial house on tree-lined Weed St. in small, ultra-wealthy New Canaan. There are no commercial or multifamily buildings on the street. He now wants to build a five-story, 102-unit apartment complex with 30% set aside for affordable housing.
This analysis of suburban and primary city portions of the nation’s major metropolitan areas shows that these big suburbs are more racially diverse than the country as a whole. Moreover, in contrast to how white flight fueled growth there in the past, most big suburbs have shown declines in their white populations over the 2010-20 decade. Their greatest growth came from Latino or Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, persons identifying as two or more races, as well as Black Americans—continuing the “Black flight” to the suburbs that was already evident the 2000-10 decade.
Today, a majority of major metro area residents in each race and ethnic group now lives in the suburbs. And for the first time, a majority of youth (under age 18) in these combined suburban areas is comprised of people of color.
But, as a sociologist of suburbs, here is what is missing from the critics’ analysis: people of different racial and ethnic groups are not evenly distributed across suburbs and not all racial and ethnic groups have the same wealth, income, and resources to obtain suburban homeownership.
In other words, because social race and race and ethnicity in the United States are connected, it is not just about money in reaching the suburbs.
What is really at stake? From the critic:
Local control will be obliterated. Albany will call the shots on what your town looks like, how much traffic there is and ultimately what your home is worth…
Ensuring a supply of affordable housing within a region is more reasonable than demanding every town alter its character.
Suburbanites like local control and local government. These arrangements allow leaders and residents means by which to decide who can live in their community. This is often done through housing values and prices; ensure the land and homes or rental units expensive enough and the community can be exclusive.
Additionally, one of the problems of affordable housing – and other land uses less desired by suburban homeowners (including drug treatment centers and waste transfer facilities) – is that few suburban communities want it. Communities with means and political voices will keep affordable housing out. This means affordable housing is not plentiful often and is often clustered in particular locations. One reason states are pursuing this at a metropolitan level is that there is not enough affordable housing in the current system that prioritizes local decision making over what is good for the region.
Suburban residents may not like the idea of affordable housing arriving in their community. However, the legacy of housing in the United States is often one of exclusion and restriction, not about communities and residents coming together to provide housing for all.
Continuing to think of sidewalks cleared of snow (or not), why are sidewalks often viewed as the responsibility of a property owner? Are sidewalks a collective phenomena that benefit all or are there they parts of private property that individual property owners are responsible for? The latter response makes it easier to blame individual property owners for not clearing the snow. But, it is hard to imagine walking only the sidewalk in front of one property; the sidewalks connect to many other sidewalks.
Several factors contribute to less interest in a collective responsibility for sidewalks:
Laws and regulations can differ by municipality regarding sidewalks. Are property owners responsible for repairing and maintaining sidewalks? Are they asked to clear their own sidewalks?
As noted yesterday, fewer people are outside. Some people use sidewalks a lot but many people use them rarely. Snow and cold also reduce use.
The suburbs are individualistic, people may not know their neighbors well, and property values are only partly dependent on the neighborhood. People want to act self sufficient.
There is little interest in or experience of the kind of thriving sidewalk life Jane Jacobs described in The Death and Life of Great American Cities. In the picture Jacobs provides, people are constantly using sidewalks in a variety of ways. There are always people out and about, helping to create social norms and providing numerous opportunities for social interactions. Sidewalks in many suburban neighborhoods are more like empty tableaus where an occasional person and sometimes dog passes by. People would often prefer to live in quiet neighborhoods.
Help is often associated with payment. Yes, a neighbor could clear snow as a favor but kids occasionally look to make money by shoveling, people pay to have their driveways cleared, and HOAs take care of this in many neighborhoods.
Put these all together and a good number of sidewalks contain snow and ice. This could suggest that collective efficacy is low in these neighborhoods; I will explore a possible multi-site research design tomorrow.
Monterey Park, about seven miles east of downtown Los Angeles, has a population of about 60,000 people, about 65 percent of whom are Asian American and 27 percent are Hispanic or Latino, according to government data. In the 1990s, it claimed to have become the first city in the continental United States to have a majority of residents with Asian ancestry.
Joe McCue thought he had found a desert paradise when he bought one of the new stucco houses sprouting in the granite foothills of Rio Verde, Ariz. There were good schools, mountain views and cactus-spangled hiking trails out the back door.
Then the water got cut off.
Earlier this month, the community’s longtime water supplier, the neighboring city of Scottsdale, turned off the tap for Rio Verde Foothills, blaming a grinding drought that is threatening the future of the West. Scottsdale said it had to focus on conserving water for its own residents, and could no longer sell water to roughly 500 to 700 homes — or around 1,000 people. That meant the unincorporated swath of $500,000 stucco houses, mansions and horse ranches outside Scottsdale’s borders would have to fend for itself and buy water from other suppliers — if homeowners could find them, and afford to pay much higher prices…
Water experts say Rio Verde Foothills’ situation is unusually dire, but it offers a glimpse of the bitter fights and hard choices facing 40 million people across the West who rely on the Colorado River for the means to take showers, irrigate crops, or run data centers and fracking rigs.
Given conditions in the West and Southwest, this could become more common for suburban areas. See earlier posts here and here.
One key from the article: when you move into a home, is the water supply guaranteed (as much as possible)? It sounds like there was an agreement to sell water to this new development. If you have such agreements or live in unincorporated areas or depend on other water sources, will they always be there?
Water is typically one of the lower concerns of those moving to the suburbs. It is assumed to be there. There might be the occasional problem with pipes, particularly in older homes, but the water should keep flowing. Other infrastructure concerns tend to take precedence; are there enough roads for new residents? Schools?
Without cheap water, it is harder to live the suburban life. As the article notes, how does one wash laundry or dishes with limited or really expensive water? Flushing toilets? This does not even get close to beloved amenities, like swimming pools.