Minnesota remains a fortunate state in many respects. Does it have suburban poverty? Yes, and here is the final installment in a three-part series on that topic from Lakeshore News.
Communities are working toward solutions to suburban poverty
Granted, it sounds counterintuitive to associate a tax increase with saving money. Taxes remove money from us, don’t they? Yes, but what matters is what you get for those dollars. A picture is emerging from one of the northern states that a tax increase on behalf of public transit would be a net gain for many working families. How so? Because frequent, good quality public transit could do away with the need for ownership of a second car.
How paying higher taxes to fund transit could save you money
Eric Wheeler/Metro Transit via Flickr
Last year the Urban Land Institute produced a document with a half dozen case studies of communities doing sprawl repair, adding transit infrastructure, and undertaking suburban retrofits. It’s nice to see these projects because it seems logical that a better designed community offers its residents some insurance against difficulty compared to poorly thought out, low density, car-dependent ones, the kind that are everywhere. These projects and their various components represent at least a good attempt at adapting the lived-in North American landscape to an emergent future which doesn’t really support the things that made suburbia possible any more, namely E-Z money and cheap energy.
Our relatively limited experience of these refitted places is that they rely too much on retail and ironically, cars. What will happen to the major continental chains like Starbucks or The Gap as we move forward is not fully clear. They and their global supply chains may contract along with everything else. A coffee bar an upstairs tenant can walk to doesn’t mean much if the windows are boarded up. One of our interns was in Toronto’s Liberty Village this weekend. Liberty Village is not so much a refitted suburb as a refitted industrial area but it models many of the same attributes as ULI’s case studies. “Don’t know when I’ve ever seen so many luxury SUVs, Minis, Japanese sports cars, German sedans in one place, ever,” said our intern. The very success and enjoyability of the area’s renovated buildings, its retail opportunities and so forth attracts loads of people, many of whom arrive by car even though there’s multiple possibilities for arrival by public transit.
Shifting Suburbs: reinventing infrastructure for compact development
uli.org 56 page .pdf file
ULI Infrastructure Initiative
image: dead shopping mall by Augustawiki via Wikimedia Commons
Mainstream media station KARE 11 provides video and a short article absolutely typical of suburban poverty. The numbers for Minnesota-Saint Paul are pretty vicious.
In Dakota county alone visits to food banks have gone up three hundred and forty two percent in three years. What comes after a development like that?
Poverty in the Twin Cities suburbs on the rise
photo: bradleypjohnson via Wikimedia Commons
A two-part film documentary about America`s aging “inner ring” or “first” suburbs as they are called was released recently. The piece is called The New Metropolis and was intended to get dialogue going about the future of these places. A lot of these older suburbs have been losing population and economic viability at a time when the economy is not great and their physical infrastructure, public and private alike, is aging and in need of major investment, or even outright replacement. The link below provides more information on the film and supporting video from its website. Well worth a look. The second and third links are from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area where the older suburbs are experiencing exactly the kind of change described in the movie.
New Metropolis site
Declining suburbs: Twin Cities-area project focuses on how to revitalize these communities Daily Planet
Twin Cities suburb growth becomes thing of the past StarTribune Local