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View Diary: Cars Cause Republicanism (338 comments)

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  •  Social Isolation (none)
    Cars certainly contribute to our ability to isolate ourselves but why do so many of us choose to do so in the first place?

    My family finally bailed 5 yrs ago from the city neighborhood we lived in for nearly 15 years.  During that period we were burglarized 4 times (once while in the house at night), had to deal with the constant thump-thump of cars, powered by speakers, flying up and down our street at all hours, 2 crack houses (one raiding involved evacuation of the entire neighborhood) and drunk/high folks banging on our door late at night thinking they were at a friends a block over.

    Depending on who was renting the house next door it was often a given that every weekend/holiday morning we'd be in our backyard picking up cig butts and broken glass so our kids could play there.  Neighborhood walks invariably involved demands (not requests) for cigarettes and/or spare change after a homeless shelter was established a few blocks away (anyone who tells you they don't lower property values has never tried to sell with one in their midst).

    Our suburb is quiet and very walkable.  The twisty nature of the roads make it impossible to speed.  Noise ordinances are strictly enforced.  Aggressive, obnoxious behavoir guarantees you will be gossiped about and ostracized, not high-fived and have your street-cred elevated.  Hardly anyone locks their door and we have an nice mix of young families, empty nesters and elderly folks that look out for each other.  

    Yes, we decided to isolate ourselves from the bad behaviour in our particular city and yes, the private auto enabled us to do so but the larger question should be why is all this bad behaviour allowed to drive folks away in the first place?

    •  Well (4.00)
      Well this is the crux of the issue: Cities are terrible dangerous places to live in and you can't encourage people to want to live in dense urban neighborhoods unless you cut out the crime and poverty. The problem with some cities is that they are TOO dense. I think its not acceptable to pick one urban spot and dump all the poor people and criminals there. That's what the government does by situating low income housing in one specific location. They create a virtual ghetto filled with obnoxious behavior and crime that drives out every middle-class person. The only way to stop cities from turning into dumps is to spread out low-income/affordable housing instead of concentrating it in specific urban spots.
      •  Huh? (none)
        _ Cities are terrible dangerous places to live in _

        Do you live in such a place? I think you've been watching too much TV - I live in a huge city and the primary danger we worry about is that Bushco doesn't seem to want to fund antiterrorism measures adequately (prot security etc.)

        Some cities are poor, and dangerous, and they got that way because roadbuilding and housing developers  gave the urban middle class an easy alternative to improving the communtiy the lived in.

        Other cities are not poor, and they are wonderful places to live.

        -8.25,-8.36 As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it? - William Marcy Tweed

        by sidnora on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 09:05:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I do talk from experience (none)
          Affordable housing - a type of housing that accomodates the mentally ill, the very poor, and the criminal - tends to oftentimes be concentrated in specific urban areas. That's why you often a see a glut of affordable housing highrises and townhouses as well as mental health facilities in the same town and a complete absence of them in most others. Most towns' and cities mayors manage to rebuff attempts to build such affordable housing, but the few places that don't get inundated with it. Is it a wonder then, after all such building occurs, that the middle class families move out and the neighborhood becomes a haven of poverty, crime, and drugs?
      •  I disagree. (none)
        Not about giving the poor the option to live outside high-density areas but that it will solve the problem.  Rather, it assumes being poor = bad behaviour and that it should just be accepted.

        We need to stop glorifying thugs and ostracize them.  People should be ashamed of bad behaviour instead proud of it.  

        We moved specifically because of the behaviour of an increasing number of our neighbors, not the density or even poverty level (which was the same as when we moved there).  At least with many suburban neighborhoods, the inherent snootiness factor does at least keep such behaviour to a minimum.  Not ideal perhaps, but effective.

    •  It's not cities vs. suburbs (none)
      the larger question should be why is all this bad behaviour allowed to drive folks away in the first place?
      In July I went to New York City for the first time. It's the citiest of all cities, and has been for more than a hundred years.

      In the 70s, it was falling apart, a widely-cited example of urban failure.

      In July 2005 it was a vibrant, functioning city where a gal on her own could walk all over (even at night), take the subway everywhere, and gawk at the fireflies in Central Park, all without ever feeling even vaguely threatened.

      It wasn't any less "city" in 2005 -- they'd just cleaned up their act.

      I don't know why other cities can't clean up even tiny pockets of lawlessness, but it seems to simply be a lack of civic will -- a DECISION for cops to not bust people for blatant things like dealing drugs on the street that magnifies outward into a general tolerance of bad behavior.

      •  You're right (none)
        When Guiliani was mayor he cracked down on everything from broken windows to squeegie people, hookers and drug dealers.  The crime rate dropped dramatically.  People will be civil if they are expected to be civil.

        We live in upstate NY and would consider moving to the City but when the kids are grown - the cost of housing having what even resembles a bedroom is ridiculous!

    •  Sounds like you (none)
      live in an older suburb. Now laws require that new winding roads be very wide (for fire engines, etc.), so they make it very easy to speed. I love old hilly neighborhoods, wherever they may be.

      "I am Joe's raging bile duct."

      by Floja Roja on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 08:19:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep, it is an older suburb (none)
        But we live on a macaroni corner, it is literally  a 180 degree angle.  No one speeds here, otherwise you end up in my next door neighbor's living room.

        Our neighborhood is an older ring suburb but fortunately very affluent and the busybodies here uphold the standard of life i.e. they call in every possible infraction according to their standards.  But it is a good thing.  NO noise or swearing or aggressive ANYTHING is tolerated, lest it be hotlined and the police here DO confiscate offending sound systems and arrest and fine loud, obnoxious people simply for being so.

        Plus,  kids' misbehaviour here gets you ostracized.  Your younger kids are no longer included in play dates or parties.  It is just uncomfortable to be on the outs here in evil suburbia!  

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