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Building a better 'burb

Original post made by Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2010

The Long Island- and Maryland-based Rauch Foundation, whose efforts focus on issues relating to children, leadership and the environment, knows this and has dedicated some serious energy to addressing it where they live: on Long Island, a perfect laboratory given that it’s a textbook case of suburban sprawl.

Long Division, concerned about the contamination of Long Island’s aquifers, aims to establish a regional strategy to promote both growth and contraction. Proposing alternatives to conventional single family housing — like a compound that might include apartments and a community garden or another that consists of multifamily housing, communal space and small-scale retail — is an important strategy for developing more sustainable approaches to sprawl.

Also interested in food was the team of Amy Ford-Wagner, Tom Jost, Ebony Sterling, Philip Jonat, Emily Hull, Will Wagenlander, Meg Cederoth, Melanie George, David Greenblatt and Melissa Targett, which, with their project, AgIsland, looked to put the “farm” back in Farmingdale by proposing the replacement of office parks with organic farms.

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Comments (3)

Posted by Julie Annie
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2010 at 7:44 am

This article was so tongue in cheek almost no readers understood it in NEW YORK!!


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2010 at 12:09 pm

For me, none of the above addresses the core problem, extremely expensive housing costs that drive young adults away. Virtually no one I went to school with, including myself, lives on Long Island any more, due to the poor cost/benefit ratio Long Island offers.

Better suburbs means:
- lower population tensity
- more roads
- more freeways
- higher speed limits or no speed limits
- more space for cars
- no public transport except aeroplanes
- anything that helps people to avoid seeing other people
- no high-raises of any form
- no multi-level car parks

We and our children all left the island due to high costs in taxes and time -real estate taxes were very high and the time costs of going anywhere were frustrating. Also, the job market for our children was such that they left for greener pastures in opportunity and lower costs.

The obvious solutions—charging hefty parking fees everywhere, including malls and minimalls, imposing a hefty carbon or liquid-fuel tax like those in Europe or Japan, and appropriate zoning restrictions—are political nonstarters. So suburbs will continue to sprawl and spew carbon.

dislike suburbs intensely but living in an inner-city urban cave (a k a, co-op, condo, apt) is not much better. People really do not know how to behave themselves, to be respectful of those living beneath and beside them. City noises from construction, vehicles, and businesses; crime and homelessness; lack of green space and fresh air; smells from cooking, sewers, dumpsters, etc all contribute to making city living a nightmare. This is the reason people fled the cities to begin with.

It's hilarious to find all the suburb-bashers here. Just last week NYT had an article of a couple who paid $2 million for a 2 bedroom condo in the Upper West Side in the city so that their kid could be on the waitlist to go to an overcrowded NYC public school.

Do you blame the parents who move to the suburbs facing that kind of circumstance?

The main reason why NY including Long Island is so dysfunctional and expensive is in the insane wage disparity.

Solutions. Get out of the car. Buy from local smaller stores. Read the local newspaper. Force yourself to say hi and be friendly. Walk whenever you can. Take the bus and the train. Redesign your day to include these activities.

I did. Buying my coffee at a small locally owned and operated coffee shop with no drive through window in a small way brought big changes to social path. Wen I am there in the morning I feel like I am In-The-Know of my community. We do a lot of small talk at that small shop. Taking the bus whenever I can slows my pace and improves my social-space consumption. If I had to grade myself on friendliness I'd say I've gone from an D+ to an A. That friendship stuff is much more important than we think.

Having lived in many suburbs in my life, I would say the main problem is the lack of mixed-use zoning. The charm of cities is the ability to walk to stores and the diversity of its residents. Walking itself is also very important - suburbs without sidewalks, or only sporadic sidewalks, perpetuate the dependence on cars, even to cross the street in some instances. Maybe blocks of foreclosed houses are an opportunity presenting itself to re-think suburban planning to incorporate small markets and stores within the walking areas of a neighborhood, and (despite screams of nimby) small rental apartment buildings - which can, believe it or not, be tastefully designed and built.

Web Link


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Drive thru coffee shops, now that's something Palo Alto doesn't have!


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