Atlanta: Sprawl and the New Poverty
I’ve always been fascinated by Atlanta, Georgia – by some measures, the sprawliest city in America.
There’s been a spate of articles on the region (as big as Massachusetts!) in the last few days – notably this one in Politico by Rebecca Burns:
If the old story of poverty in America was crumbling inner cities and drug-addled housing projects, the new story is increasingly one of downscale strip malls and long bus rides in search of ever-scarcer jobs. We can’t understand what’s working in America’s cities unless we also look at what’s not working in the vast suburbs that surround them. …
Designed around a car-centric culture of single-family homes clustered in cul-de-sacs served by strip centers and shopping malls, and fueled by jobs reached by commuting to downtown or suburban office parks, suburbs like Cobb County have struggled to respond to denser populations, increased congestion and, as a result of the 2008 recession, a decline in the middle-class jobs that made it all possible.
Suburban Atlanta voters, including in Cobb County, have consistently rejected mass transit that might relieve their car dependency. And county zoning ordinances have continued to favor single-family housing over denser development, exacerbating the problem for the poor who are clustered there in ever greater numbers.
Atlantic Cities provides a supplemental perspective: By 2011, Atlanta Had Demolished All of Its Public Housing Projects. Where Did All Those People Go?
And Robert Robert Bruegmann provides a rebuttal in Politico: Sprawl Is Good for You. Why urban yuppies have it all wrong.