Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Why the neighbourhood went

with 5 comments

Pete McMartin has a nice commentary piece in today’s Sun which seemed to be about education, or the end of compulsory retirement but ends up being about why we don’t have neighborhoods anymore

This time, however, the whole idea of home has changed for Mom and Dad, and for the child. To Mom And Dad, who have watched the worth of their hovel appreciate beyond all reason, it is no longer the nest but the nest egg, no longer a place to live but an investment, an asset, their retirement fund to be sold for a whopping profit so they can pay off the mortgage and credit card bills and maybe have some left over to travel as their child has.

They can see and feel how that thinking has infected all of their friends and neighbours, and how it has obliterated the idea of neighbourhood itself, because a neighbourhood is made up of homes and families and demands permanency, while a collection of assets owned by investors demands liquidity, and so everywhere they see flippers and quick-hit fixer-uppers and people who move in one month and have a for-sale sign on their lawn two years later.

I recall a quote from one of my planning theory text books – but not who wrote it “In the city everything is connected to everything else” which like most profound statements sounds trite until you think about it.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 25, 2008 at 8:24 am

Posted in Urban Planning

5 Responses

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  1. Interesting- this doesn’t exist to such an extent in Germany -yet. In fact houses tend to loose value rather than gain, and families are far stronger. Someone locally was talking about his house, and said: “It’s the third in the family”, meaning, his brother and sister-in-law have one and his parents have one. All in the same village.

    Andy in Germany

    March 25, 2008 at 8:39 am

  2. the ex-community? its been leaving for a long time,when I was knee high to a grasshopper,the (large) family burdeon to the community was integreted as basic needs, what was daycare?–a very quiet need ,for very few, a two income family ,was a bad sign! one income would suffice- now ,now 2 incomes arn`t enough,daycare subsidies what an election issue, 4income families ( the future ) I hope not- small town bc is slowly and methodicaly being gutted,schools 85% full -GUT IT- little hospital gut it- save money, sure, put the kiss of death to a town,absloutely, what young family would move there , the big town ,kids must be driven to school,freaks and the unknown were not supposed to be in the (norm ) a community of knowing your sons freinds parents chariot – a wave a smile a question of doubt? can I trust anyone,no I cannot fear not the unknown,fear the community lost, eco-densify,an idea,perhaps ? densify,to make room for -parks,green-space, boys and girls clubs, community gathering places – thats community – sardine-ify to make room for ,traffic, food troughs ,and more sardines -that vision -hasn`t worked — maybe I`m dillusional ,maybe that community never existed? maybe people are nothing more than currency movers (tools ) maybe the only community left is a virtual one? its sterile ,predictable,and expanding signed ………………………………….mrs. cleaver

    gran g

    March 25, 2008 at 9:29 am

  3. I blame the real estate folks. I insist, if these people weren’t so greedy, we wouldn’t see the phenomena we are seeing. Construction of new houses, suites, apartments, etc. is such a profitable business (build for a cent and sell the apartment for 10,000 dollars) that the concept of neighbourhood doesn’t even register in their brains.

    By the way, what do you think of gated communities? This notion of “have your home within a secure area” has become really popular in Mexico, but I am not too happy with it. It would seem as though these people want to isolate themselves from the community at large.


    March 25, 2008 at 10:24 am

  4. Gated communities should not be permitted.

    Stephen Rees

    March 25, 2008 at 3:04 pm

  5. This is an artifact of urbanization. While the antics of the real estate association doesn’t help, the liquidity of the real estate market has nothing to do with the concept of “community” as you’re implying in the article – it’s more of a symptom of the root cause. The consequence of urbanization is exactly what you’re describing – whether you’re in North America or Europe.

    Whether this is good or bad remains to be seen, but people that want this sense of knowing your neighbours and so forth should move into a small population town.


    March 26, 2008 at 10:06 am

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