Why Suburbanization Will Continue
In spite of New Urbanism, long commute times and pockets of downtown revitalization there is not much evidence that the trend toward suburbanization will stop. One of the reasons is zoning in the urban core. Older zoning laws and regulations placed one type of land use in one area and another type of land use in another location. Single-family housing, for example, was separated from the commercial district. New Urbanism and similar initiatives are about mixed use and higher density, something that is difficult to accomplish under current zoning laws in many cities. Another factor is ease of development. For a developer it is often – dare I say usually – easier to deal with the suburban city officials than with officials in the central city. Suburban cities typically have raw land and pride themselves on working with developers as partners. Ask any developer in a metro area whether it is easier to work with a suburban jurisdiction or the center city jurisdiction. To be fair, even center city planning and development officials have more obstacles to overcome than their suburban counterpoints even when they want new development. Nevertheless, because of the two above factors, and others, our country is structured for suburban development more so than urban development. And that is why suburbanization will continue.