This Space for Rent

Save The Suburbs!

The Clackamas Portland Tribune published an front page article in their latest issue (Tuesday the 22nd?) that featured some slimy suburban developer putting on his paper mache halo and claiming that the eViL mEtRo GoVeRnMeNt™ is starving the suburbs by (and I'm sure that you'll be surprised to hear this) not spending more money to provide public services to them. (I'm rather surprised that Metro is spending any money to provide public services to new development; the local policy should be that if you want to build a subdivision, you need to supply roads, water, and sewer, and then the effected city will be happy to roll crews and tie your (inspected) services into the city ones. But I digress.) And why should we spend more money providing municipal services to these new subdivisions? Why, that's simple, because they provide a better quality of life™ to the poor bastards who end up living there.

The better quality of life™ is, of course, because of the chiiiiildren. Apparently children can't be raised properly unless they live on the expansive estates provided by the nasty real estate developments that cluster like a series of melanomas around the perimeter of the greater Portland area.

I've seen some of these suburban developments. Nasty big houses crammed together cheek to jowl along twisting dead-end roads, with postage-stamp front yards and back yards that make our house look like it's a freaking country estate.

But they're out in the (what used to be, before it was rezoned and turned into a nasty little subdivision) wilderness, and all a kid has to do is walk 4 miles down the maze of twisting dead-end roads, then a mile down the major highway that fronts the subdivision, and they they'll be able to play in the 1-acre fen that is the flood control area/"park" for this subdivision. It's much better than living in the city, where you might have to walk half a mile to get to a park where there's not a foot of stagnant water in the middle of it (my house doesn't count here, because our local park has Crystal Springs Creek running through it -- that creek started carrying more water about 5 years ago, so every year the low parts of the park flood while the city park service engages in a silent battle to the death with the people who don't want ANY changes to the rapidly-becoming-treeless park. *sigh*)

Oh, and if the parents want to go to the store? They'd better fire up the old H3 and get ready to sacrifice US$6 to the petroleum gods, because these subdivisions don't have any sort of retail developments in them; it's just a sterile residential monoculture, and if you want anything else it's a 5 mile drive into the city (or, if you're really lucky, a hour wait for one of the Tri-Met interurban busses.) Also, much better than living in the city, where you can just walk around the corner to a convenience store, or walk 5 blocks to a grocery store.

But it's a better quality of life™! And so the state needs to subsidise it more because otherwise, um, what? Apparently the better quality of life™ is not something that can be taken advantage of by just charging more for houses (unlike in Portland, where houses near a good school are sometimes fought over like a Hank Aaron homerun baseball), but it's something that must be sprung on people by coaxing them out with the sweet smell of subsidized housing.

I'm certainly sold. Why, I'd love to trade my house that's 250 feet away from two bus lines, 400 feet away from a convenience store, 3 bars and 6 restaurants, and 1100 feet away from a hardware store, bicycle shop, and local branch of Kroger (not that we actually shop there; Kroger decided to start using those nasty "customer appreciation" cards [where if you want to get reasonable prices on anything, you've got to let them keep a file on you; the non-card prices make New Seasons seem like Wal*Mart.]) for some smaller meaner house that's trapped in a cul-de-sac out in the middle of Clackamas County.


I've got a better suggestion for the developers. STFU and resign yourself to actually having to work for that second swimming pool full of gold bullion. If your nasty suburban developments are a better quality of life™, people will pay to move into them. If they aren't (and they aren't), perhaps you should consider doing different sorts of development that might actually be attractive to people who have choices about where they can live?


You think it's bad in Portland, check out Bend.

Thomas Ware Thu Nov 24 10:38:55 2005

I count myself fortunate that I've not yet seen Bend. I have seen the real estate ads around Bend, and it certainly sounds like the developers are trying their damnest to build right up to the Bend UGB with the usual crop of ticky-tacky cul-de-sac houses. Are the developers also whining that they aren't getting their recommended daily dose of subsidies from The Man, or are they despoiling the area around Bend on their own dime?

David Parsons Fri Nov 25 12:23:00 2005

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