Retrofitting Suburbia

Much of the suburban built environment is quite old at this point, and like anything else our older “innter” suburbs need to change and adapt in order to thrive. And of course you already see quite a bit of this, with many suburban areas becoming, for example, immigrant enclaves rather than refuges for white flight from central cities. Ellen Dunham-Jones did an excellent TED Talk on this subject recently:

One thing I wish she emphasized more, however, is the legal impediments to this kind of adaptation. I think a lot of people will look at her presentation and say “if transforming these uses is so great, why don’t developers/businessmen/’the market’ do it on their own.” And a big part of the answer is that the prevailing land use regulations don’t permit it.