Black and White Urbanism

People who don't particularly like urbanism or density like to suggest that supporters of livable places want to make everyone live like Europeans... But not everyone wants to live in an apartment complex, sharing walls with neighbors on all sides. Most of all, people want a yard, grass, a place where they can relax and the kids can play.

(from PlanningComm'rsJournal on Flickr)

This is all understandable. Yards are cool - but they're not all created equally. There's a difference between a modest sized yard and one with enough room for a golf course behind your house.

More broadly, this is a flawed way of thinking about urbanism.

Consider another example. When urbanists say it would be beneficial to get cars off the road, that doesn't mean getting every single car off the road. There's evidence that small reduction in cars can lead to big reductions in traffic congestion. Arguing for more transportation options doesn't mean that every person has to live in one specific way.

But back to this question of yards. It's entirely possible to have a nice house with a yard and still be in a relatively dense area. A lot of inner-ring suburbs were designed this way. They're not cities, but they're not over-the-top car-dependent places either. Dense doesn't have to mean over-crowded. Dense can be exactly what people who claim they don't like it actually want.


    Sounds like Brightwood, or any of the other residential neighborhoods that surround it....walkable, bikeable, affordable, with modest-sized yards to satisfy the desire for green space. Yet still urban in character.


    It's worth pointing out that a lot of Europeans live in row-houses with yards, or single-family houses with yards.

    They don't have many McMansions, but they don't all live in tiny apartments.