Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: Great cities need to be areas of opportunity upward mobilization

Mar 1, 2011


Joel Kotkin is an author and scholar on urban land-use issues and a supporter of the proliferation of automobile-oriented sprawl an unsustainable pattern of development. This often places his priorities counter to those of Region Forward. However in a recent piece for Metropolis Magazine Kotkin makes a case that we here at The Morning Measure can agree with: premier cities need to be more inclusive and provide greater opportunities for advancement.

Many major cities in the U.S. – New York San Francisco Washington D.C. – and around the world – Paris and London for example – have become effectively off limits for people unable to pay exorbitant housing costs. This is something we’ve written about in the context of metro Washington one of the most expensive cities in the country. The urban renaissance that the inner core of the region is enjoying is indeed very positive yet unless the growth becomes more equitable there is a risk that we may not be solving the problem of sprawl rather we’re just switching who lives in the core or in transit-oriented mixed-use centers and who lives outside.

Washington is an in-demand area and is forecast to remain so because of the perpetual pull of the federal government. As the region’s economy performs strong relative to the rest of the country people will continue to move to the area. In fact an influx of two million more people to the region is expected in the next few decades. If they can’t afford to live in the core or in a TOD they’re going to have to choose sprawl.

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