I would call it the Urbanista War, not the Progressive War. I fail to see anything progressive about telling people where they should live.
Though Kotkin's political conclusions are silly, there is no question that people who think they know better want everyone to live in "the city", whatever that is, and are becoming increasingly pushy. Locally, the best evidence of that is the $3.4 HUD Sustainable Communities Grant. This financed the 1LV report, which appears to be designed to encourage people to live in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. It financed the Justice For All report, which simplistically lays the blame for the complex problem of wealth disparity at the doorstep of the white man.
Kotkin is the bane of urbanistas, but it is hard to dispute his factual assessments. First, while many people may have urban addresses, most of them live in lower-density suburban areas of a city. Second, contrary to urban mythology, suburban growth accounts for 90% of all metropolitan population increases, and growth in the suburbs is more than double the growth in cities.
This data make me wonder about the business plans used by developers J.B. Reilly and Dennis Benner in Bethlehem and Allentown. They have proposed massive apartment buildings in the densest areas of the city that might never be occupied. I hope they are relying on more than wishful thinking, spiced with subsidies.
The big problem with the urbanistas, and all their demands for densification, maze gardens, hockey rinks, high-speed rail and walkability, is that it is all based on the myth that people love living in the cities. They don't. Kotkin explains.
[T]he progressives’ war on suburbia is essentially an assault on the preferences of the middle class. Despite the hopes at HUD, the vast majority of Americans—even in most cities and particularly away from the coasts—actually live in single-family homes in low- to mid-density neighborhoods, and overwhelmingly commute by car. If we measure people by how they actually live, notes demographer Wendell Cox, more than 80 percent of those in metropolitan areas have what most would consider a suburban life style.I see this during zoning hearings, when people complain of problems that are really the result of living in a city. Parking, traffic and even sunlight are raised because these people simply wold prefer a less dense environment.
My personal preference is for a more urban setting. I hate cutting grass and actually like living in an apartment. I love bicycles, and hope to pick that up again, once the cold weather is gone. But I'm insane. Most people still like big yards, swimming pools and their cars. It's just the way it is.
Having said that, the cities are currently subsidizing police protection in some suburban communities. I'll tell you about that below.