When Steve and I looked for a community to call home, we didn't go back to our native States--New York and Michigan--because we hated the snow, ice and gloom. We had lived in Southern California, and while it's delightful when young and single, there was no way in heck we'd live there with a family. So we scouted Arizona (too dry), Colorado (snowy, sunny, overvalued) and at our friends' behest, Houston (yes Houston), Texas.
Who expects to love Houston, or rather a suburb of Houston? That's right, no one. But you get here and love it. I've had so many people tell me this from every diverse background.
Still, city planners scoff. Houston is spread out. Houston doesn't have a "real" down-town. Houston is hot, humid, buggy, and miserable in the summer. Houston is a dirty, oil town. Houston is a cow town (this from an irony-disabled Dallas dweller).
City planners are stupid. As Joel Kotkin notes in his Wall Street Journal editorial:
Advocates of the brew-latté-and-they-will-come approach often point to greater Portland, Ore., which has experienced consistent net gains of educated workers, including families. Yet most of that migration--as well as at least three quarters of the region's population and job growth--has been not to the increasingly childless city, but to the suburban periphery. This pattern holds true in virtually every major urban region.Here's what Houston suburbs have: planned communities, good schools, access to culture, jobs, jobs, jobs, cheap housing, etc. Sure single people might like the city. I'm a mom with three kids and I like the city. But I don't like it that much--not enough to live there.
I want to take my kids for a walk and go to parks safely. I want room. I want a mall within minutes and the grocery even closer. In short, I want the suburb of a big city. And there are lots of people just like me.
City planners need to remember the dull, boring families. We do exist.