What’s the point?

I have never understood the disdain most urban planners have for suburban America. My neighbors and I enjoy living in homes on about a third of an acre around a cul-de-sac.

We enjoy living in a city with low crime rates and great public schools. We like having a yard where our children and grandchildren can play catch without walking or driving to a park.

I love waking up to the sound of a dove cooing outside my window and sometimes catching a glimpse of a fox when I walk to the mailbox. I get a kick out of seeing an owl perched on top of my son’s basketball goal when I pull into my driveway at night. And even though I get frustrated when my pansies become fodder for my woodland neighbors it is thrilling to catch an offending deer in my yard and stand there waiting to see which one of us will blink first.

Yes, I love living in the suburbs and apparently my neighbors do too. Many of them are educated, relatively affluent people who moved from all over the world to call Alpharetta home. They could have chosen anywhere in metro Atlanta but they have set down roots in Alpharetta because this is where they wanted to live and raise their families.

Of course very few of us have always lived in Alpharetta. Over the years we have lived in apartments, town homes and houses in cities populated by a variety of ethnic and economic demographics in cities all over the world. Each was appropriate for that particular stage of our lives. But at no point in time did any of us ever think our preferences were superior to those of people who chose to live differently.

That’s why I’m always amazed by people who profess to know what’s best for everyone else. Especially the city planners who make a living by telling everybody else how they should live. A perfect example is Richard Florida whose book Rise of the Creative Class gained him celebrity status more than a decade ago but is now peddling a book titled The New Urban Crisis which proposes solutions to the negative consequences caused by his previous recommendations.

So it was refreshing to run across this video titled The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us the other day. The video is nearly an hour long so most of you may not have time to watch the whole thing but it provides a perspective from Joel Kotkin, a founder of the website NewGeography.com, that I have never heard explained so well anywhere else.

Joel Kotkin

If you can’t watch the whole thing you should at least watch the last four minutes. Mr. Kotkin’s response to the final question beginning at the 52:28 mark provides a poignant summary.

You can have some more density in suburban areas but if you densify them too much then whats the point?

Why would I live there?

I couldn’t agree more. An overwhelming majority of American adults people prefer to live in suburbs when given the choice. They prefer suburbs to dense urban cores.

So when great suburban cities like Alpharetta add density to the point of losing the character that makes them more attractive to us in the first place… whats the point?

What’s the point?

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Steve Jobs and the greatest speech I have ever heard

While reading Christopher Fountain’s blog For What Its Worth I came across the most powerful piece of video I have ever watched in my life. It is Steve Jobs’ commencement speech to the graduating class of Stanford in 2005.

The insight Steve Jobs shared with those students is more valuable than anything they learned in four years of instruction. If you take a few minutes to watch you will be glad you did.

Brandon Beach pitches trains in Windward on the news

Earlier I covered curious events surrounding a presentation to the Alpharetta City Council by Mr. Brandon Beach. Mr. Beach is a board member of the Georgia Department of Transportation and also serves as the CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce as well as Director of the North Fulton CID which represents the commercial property owners in the Northpoint Parkway area of Alpharetta.

You can read the previous posts here and here for more details. But after Mr. Beach decided not to present his transit plan to our city council you can imagine my surprise when I heard that he had instead chosen to present the plan on WSB’s newscast last night. You can see the clip by clicking on the picture below.

I have seen Mr. Beach give a similar presentation but it didn’t mention taking the train through my neighborhood to Duluth. Needless to say I am not a fan of expanding costly and inefficient trains through my neighborhood and now I understand why he didn’t even bother presenting the plan to our City Council.

In a completely unrelated matter I noticed a few pictures of Mr. Beach in the Alpharetta Revue today. The odd thing was that standing right there with Brandon was Penn Hodge, the developer that owns the land adjacent to the Windward MARTA property. Looked like they were having a great time together at the Ritz Carlton. Small world isn’t it?

But back to the matter at hand, I did like one part of the WSB news story. The clip where Mr. Beach says,”You’ve got Windward… up here… with jobs.” The rest of the clip… not so much.