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Thread: Bright Flight: Affluent Leaving Suburbs, Moving to Cities

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    Feisty Ol' Coot hamiltonpl's Avatar
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    Bright Flight: Affluent Leaving Suburbs, Moving to Cities

    By Sue Shellenbarger

    Suburbs, once upon a time. Two kids, two cars, one dog and a house in the suburbs–the stereotypical image of the affluent American family raising kids, right?



    Not so much, at least not since the new millennium, says a new Brookings Institution analysis of Census data from 2000 through 2008. In a historic first, many young, prosperous Americans are moving from the suburbs to the city. The flip side: The communities ringing big urban areas now have the largest poor population in the country, the report shows. The suburban poor rose 25% over the past decade, almost five times faster than in the cities. Suburbs are developing many of the same problems that are usually associated with cities – poverty, housing problems, crime. They are also accumulating a disproportionate number of elderly people. (Huffington Post also has a story on the Brookings data.)

    Also for the first time, a majority of all racial and ethnic groups in large metropolitan areas live outside big cities. More Hispanics, Asians and African Americans now live in the suburbs than in core cities. And in a nation where big cities historically have welcomed millions of newcomers, more than half of all recent immigrants are now choosing to live in the suburbs.

    The findings echo our survey last fall on the top 10 youth magnet cities. In a poll of demographers and regional economists, I found big cities dominated their predictions of the top cities for young, affluent jobseekers in the future, including Washington, D.C., Seattle and New York. Bruised by a brutal job market, many young workers are looking for diverse, economically dynamic places with lots of jobs, the experts said. And big cities, as the Brookings report notes, have done much to improve the quality of housing and community life in their neighborhoods.

    “A new image of urban America is in the making,” HuffPo quotes William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings who co-wrote the report, as saying. “What used to be white flight to the suburbs is turning into ‘bright flight’ to cities that have become magnets for aspiring young adults who see access to knowledge-based jobs, public transportation and a new city ambiance as an attraction.”

    After raising five kids in the suburbs, the pattern makes me wonder where my two youngest, now 19 and 22, will choose to settle and make their own family lives.

    Readers, does this study ring true with you? What do you see happening around you, in your urban or suburban neighborhood? What do these trends mean, if anything, for the future of your family or your town? If you had it to do over, would you settle in the city or the burbs? Where do you think your own children will raise their families?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...720525316.html
    Last edited by hamiltonpl; 11 May 2010 at 04:10 PM.
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    ^ I'm a great example of this, 18 years in the same house in Dallas (within the city limits, but still an overwhelmingly suburban experience), then moved to New York for school, stayed afterwards and have been here since. I've recently taken slightly more seriously the possibility of a move -- but my list includes only Chicago, DC, Montreal, or Paris.

    I have dozens of friends here in the city who did the exact same move (many from DFW, several from Houston, a few from San Antonio, and almost none from Austin).
    Times weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to slip through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won't be able to escape it.
    Haruki Murakami

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    Maybe I'm straddling the age boundary and probably less than "bright", but at 37, we live in Dallas proper - which is still largely a suburban experience. We like having a single family home, but we also like the diversity that being close to the city center offers. This is something that I think Dallas offers at an affordable rate to most other large cities. I suspect our city will continue to increase in density and diversity, which IMO is a very good thing.

    Msutton - can I vote for Paris? We'd love to live in Paris. My wife and I got engaged on a surprise trip to Paris (surprise for my wife that is... haha). Such a wnoderful city.

    Brian

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    If this study had any validity, DART would not be facing the financial problems it does. DART specifically noted that Dallas city was becoming less wealthy in comparison to suburbs with no signs of the trend reversing or slowing. We are making progress against our own numbers, but our share is still a small piece of the pie.

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    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member AeroD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjblazin
    If this study had any validity, DART would not be facing the financial problems it does. DART specifically noted that Dallas city was becoming less wealthy in comparison to suburbs with no signs of the trend reversing or slowing. We are making progress against our own numbers, but our share is still a small piece of the pie.
    Dallas compared to what suburbs? You compare one jurisdiction to about what 10, 20 or 30 jurisdictions? I don't see how DART's financial problems are an accurate read of a city's wealth. Again, you could say TxDOT's financial problems are reflective of Texas' overall economic strength.

    Isn't per capita income a better measurement?
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    I still think schools will be the make or break factor over the long term. The question this brings to my mind is what is a suburb? If someplace like Galatyn Park (someday, I don't mean now) offers an experience people consider urban, in a city with a higher daytime than overnight population, is that a suburb? I guess I'm suggesting that this trend can continue without a significant impact within central Dallas.

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    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member AeroD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdub
    I still think schools will be the make or break factor over the long term. The question this brings to my mind is what is a suburb? If someplace like Galatyn Park (someday, I don't mean now) offers an experience people consider urban, in a city with a higher daytime than overnight population, is that a suburb? I guess I'm suggesting that this trend can continue without a significant impact within central Dallas.
    Richardson is having to go "more urban" just out of necessity, and not just to compete with Dallas. Richardson cannot physically expand anymore, but it needs to expand its tax base. Luckily for Richardson, unlike other suburbs, it can increase its density in areas like the Telecom Corridor, where thousands of people work.

    Take a suburb like Allen, which is similar to Richardson, in that it cannot grow. But different in that it does not have the commercial base that Richardson. Allen, while some parts are certainly new, other parts are rather old. Allen will not have the ability to renew itself like Richardson.

    Dallas, on the other hand, still has plenty of room. Just drive through South Dallas, and there is large parcels of underdeveloped or undeveloped land. The school district issue, as time goes on, will be less of an issue as more and more people realize parents, not schools, are what affects a child's success.
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    sdub
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    I don't necessarily disagree with any of that, except maybe the part about schools. My point is that there seems to be a general consensus around here that increasing urbanism always (or always should) benefits and flows toward central Dallas. I don't think that is automatic, especially in the case of the trend this article is about, where it appears to be more of a lifestyle choice than a more fundamental selection.

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    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member AeroD's Avatar
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    The Tyranny of New York

    May 12 2010, 4:42 AM ET Conor Friedersdorf

    Even if New York is a peerless American city, an urban triumph that dwarfs every other in scale, density, and possibility; even if our idea of it is the romantic notion that Joan Didion described, "the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and perishable dream itself;" even if you've reveled in the fact of the city, strutting down Fifth Avenue in a sharp suit or kissing a date with the skyline as backdrop while the yellow cab waits; even if you've drunk from the well of its creative springs, gazing at the Flatiron Building, or paging through the New York Review of Books on a Sunday morning, or living vicariously through Joseph Mitchel or E.B. White or Tom Wolfe or any of its countless chroniclers; even if you love New York as much as I do, revering it as the highest physical achievement of Western Civilization, surely you can admit that its singularly prominent role on the national scene is a tremendously unhealthy pathology.

    Despite the rent, the cold, the competition, the bedbugs, the absurd requirements for securing even a closet-sized pre-war apartment on an inconvenient street; the distance from friends and family, the starkness of the sexual marketplace, the oppressive stench of sticky subway platforms in the dog days of August; despite the hour long commutes on the Monday morning F Train, when it isn't quite 8 am, the week hardly underway, and already you feel as though, for the relief of sitting down, you'd just as soon give up, go back to Akron or Allentown or Columbus or Marin County or Long Beach -- despite these things, and so many more, lawyers and novelists and artists and fashion designers and playwrights and journalists and bankers and aspiring publishers and models flock to New York City.

    It is the destination, and often it benefits them as it did me: it tests, enthralls, and engages, affording ideas and sex and ambition and triumph and defeat and adventure and fun. Its transplants are given all these things, but in their absence, the folks who live wherever they aren't anymore miss out on their young.

    Often they lose them forever.

    In New York City's defense, this pillage of every next generation is different in scale but not in kind from what Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, and other cities do to their regions, or to one another's regions. During the holidays, ambitious young people leave all these places to go back home, where they complain to themselves, or to friends from high school on similar returns from other cities, about the poor quality of the local newspaper, or the dearth of local bartenders who can mix a proper cocktail, or the fact that the Blockbuster Video, having put its competitors out of business a decade ago, hasn't a copy of The Graduate available for rent, ever.

    Frankly, these urban transplants on holiday are often too snotty. There is a local columnist toiling for the few readers who appreciate his tremendous wordsmithery, a man in town who serves an impeccable Manhattan, a local librarian who stocks good films at an out of the way branch. There are George Baileys who sustain civilization in every American city of any size, though ask a New Yorker, and often as not they'll doubt that anything worthwhile is even happening in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston or Atlanta. In the New Yorker's defense, these places don't compare to his city on all sorts of metrics, and a conviction that the place where one lives is tops hardly manifests itself on the island of Manhattan alone. There are as many Parisians who'd say the same, and on a per capita basis, Seville, Wasilla, Newport Beach and The Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida all might have real life Gotham beat.

    New York City's role on the American scene isn't unhealthy merely because it attracts creative, ambitious people with its dynamism, or because its residents have a healthy ego about the relative merits of their city. The problem is that along with those inevitable traits of great cities, Manhattan and certain of its surrounding boroughs happen to dominate American media, finance, and letters so thoroughly that even the most impressive achievements of other cities are routinely ignored while New Yorkers talk about local matters of comparatively smaller consequence, either tempting or forcing the whole nation to eavesdrop on their chatter depending on the day.

    In Houston, Phoenix, Dallas, San Diego, and San Antonio, all among the top ten most populous cities in the United States, the smallest with well over a million residents, the average person has watched countless hours of television set in various New York City apartments, and perhaps never seen their own city portrayed in a sitcom. The executives read The Wall Street Journal far more carefully than the local newspaper, the aspiring writers dream of getting a short story published in The New Yorker, the local Starbucks sells The New York Times, the romantics watch Breakfast at Tiffany's on AMC at six month intervals, and every New Years Eve people gather around to watch a tape-delayed broadcast of a ball that dropped on Times Square hours earlier.

    New York is a great city, but in America today, someone who seeks out the best television or novels or magazine writing or art or newspaper reporting is confronted with an even greater degree of NYC centric stuff than is justified. The city is a legitimate giant, yet its shadow somehow reaches much farther than it should. It thereby deprives other cities of the light they need to grow half as tall.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/special-r...ew-york/56581/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/ny...pagewanted=all
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    Yeah, what he said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AeroD
    Dallas compared to what suburbs? You compare one jurisdiction to about what 10, 20 or 30 jurisdictions? I don't see how DART's financial problems are an accurate read of a city's wealth. Again, you could say TxDOT's financial problems are reflective of Texas' overall economic strength.

    Isn't per capita income a better measurement?
    If brightest, more highly educated (= higher income and higher consumption) were flocking to the city or even getting closer to the core, we'd see it in the sales tax results. We don't so it's not happening in any significant fashion. DART specifically compared trends on incoming sales tax revenue and differences between its urban core jurisdictions and exurban non-jurisdictions. It stated that its previous assumption that city residents generated higher tax per capita was no longer valid and were now below other jurisdictions. That's a big change that simply would not occur if the study's results were valid.

    TXDOT is a question of mismatch between special purpose funding source and demand for services. If TXDOT used broad based sales tax, then its results on the funding side could provide data on how income/consumption is shifting across the state.

    What is the trend in per capita income of Dallas City vs. inner ring suburbs vs. outer ring suburbs? Does it show a shift inward?

    Personally I'd like the story to be true. The money tells a different story. Always believe in the money over academic studies and marketing hype. It's the only measure.

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    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member AeroD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjblazin
    If brightest, more highly educated (= higher income and higher consumption) were flocking to the city or even getting closer to the core, we'd see it in the sales tax results.
    Or maybe some of these brighter, more highly educated folks (see Uptown) are more likely to buy stuff online than other folks.
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    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member AeroD's Avatar
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    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/featu...n-Suburbs-1247

    SCREED
    Dumb People Live In Suburbs
    By MAX FISHER on May 13, 2010 7:12pm
    futureatlas.com / FlickrCC AUTHOR: John Mullane

    PUBLICATION: Bucks County Courier Times, by way of PhillyBurbs.com

    THESIS: Suburbs are "triumphant" in struggle against cities to attract the best residents.

    PREDICTION: Despite a "bright flight" of college-educated young people to cities, "eventually those bright 'knowledge workers' boomerang back to the 'burbs."

    EVIDENCE: In cities, "The bars are overpriced; the exotic cuisine gives you heartburn."

    WHY ALL EVIDENCE CONTRARY TO HIS THESIS IS WRONG: "Certain snoots have never gotten over the post-World War II exodus of Americans from crime-ridden, highly taxed, poorly managed, grimy, unwholesome cities."

    OBSERVATION FROM DUNCAN 'ATRIOS' BLACK: "This guy has a great career ahead of him as a commenter on newspaper web sites."

    SUMMARY OF A BROOKING INSTITUTION PAPER: "What Brookings really wants to say is: Smart people live in cities; dumb people live in suburbs."

    BONUS ZINGER: "Brookings has generated McBuzz with a story with more holes than a New York Times editorial."

    PHILLY PRIDE MOMENT: Taking a shot at "boutique-clotted towns like San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Austin, Texas and Portland, Ore."

    'STARTLING' NEWS: "One of the more startling developments uncovered by the last census was that immigrants, legal and otherwise, were skipping big cities like Philadelphia altogether because the suburbs are where the jobs and opportunity lay."

    WHY ALL CITY DWELLERS INEVITABLY MOVE TO SUBURBS: Maybe it's your second close call with a thug while you waited on a subway platform on your way home from work. Maybe it's the third time your car is broken into. Maybe it's growing weary of your roommate's girlfriend arriving on Friday and staying until Sunday.
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    http://oakcliffblog.dallasnews.com/

    No comments on changing demographics at DISD? We keep spending time and limited money on signature bridges and convention center hotels and many want to spend even more money on asinine athletic venues. Yet the same message comes through again and again: Nothing will get significantly better in Dallas City until we fix the schools. Until we fix DISD, the best, brightest, most ambitious will take their children elsewhere. People on this forum continually insinuate it's a racial thing. This info makes it clear it's a parent thing. Most people, with options, don't choose us.

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    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member AeroD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjblazin
    http://oakcliffblog.dallasnews.com/

    No comments on changing demographics at DISD? We keep spending time and limited money on signature bridges and convention center hotels and many want to spend even more money on asinine athletic venues. Yet the same message comes through again and again: Nothing will get significantly better in Dallas City until we fix the schools. Until we fix DISD, the best, brightest, most ambitious will take their children elsewhere. People on this forum continually insinuate it's a racial thing. This info makes it clear it's a parent thing. Most people, with options, don't choose us.
    I have posted info on the demographic changes in the "Texas: Public Education" thread. These changes are by no means limited to Dallas, and not just exclusive to school districts. Texas is becoming more Hispanic and, unless their socio-economic status changes, Texas will be poorer.

    Certainly some school districts/communities will be immune from this - Southlake, Highland Park, Alamo Heights, among others - because they are small enough and rich enough to prevent the "middle class" from moving in. Irving is starting to see this change (if I am not mistaken, Hispanics are the majority at Irving). Plano's east side is seeing this as well. The state as a whole will be confronting this.

    But again, is there a problem at DISD at least when it comes to achievement: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...s.1f15034.html

    It appears that some of DISD's efforts are paying off.

    But as you said, it is a parent thing, not a race thing. So where a child goes to school does not really matter as much as that child's parents, which makes the whole reason of leaving in Dallas for a so-called better school district silly.
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    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member AeroD's Avatar
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    MJ,

    You are going to love this: http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfa...ing_the_ye.php

    While it is not a "race" thing, it is definitely a culture thing: http://www.elpasotimes.com/newupdated/ci_15245305. Fortunately though culture is malleable. But it takes time.
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    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    DISD must begin teaching English and Spanish fluency in all grades; this educational template is imperative.

    No single action is more important and no single action can have as beneficial an impact on the city of Dallas.

    Spanish language fluency is almost as important to North Texas residents as English language fluency.

    All school districts in all metropolitan areas of Texas should mandate Spanish language fluency; DISD is the only school district capable of leading this improvement to public education in North Texas.

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    Or how about just getting everyone to learn English first?

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    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpepping
    Or how about just getting everyone to learn English first?
    I think public schools in Northern Mexico are now teaching English to the kids there, so that's a good start. As Texas population centers increasingly become more globally oriented, there is absolutely no benefit in the attempt to maintain monolingual societies. The relationship between (at least) Texan and Mexicans should not be handicapped by perpetuating the lack of cultural understanding and comprehension that comes from people speaking different languages.

    It's been known for quite a while that the best time to learn multiple languages is early in life. Considering how many legal and illegal immigrant children go to elementary, junior high and maybe high schools in Texas, to only teach English to these children is a tragic waste of natural resources ---- the most effective way to begin English comprehension among adult legal and illegal immigrants whose native language is Spanish is to teach the household's children proper English and Spanish grammar.

    I think it is foolish to simply expect Spanish speaking immigrants to figure out on their own how to learn English.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tamtagon
    I think public schools in Northern Mexico are now teaching English to the kids there, so that's a good start. As Texas population centers increasingly become more globally oriented, there is absolutely no benefit in the attempt to maintain monolingual societies. The relationship between (at least) Texan and Mexicans should not be handicapped by perpetuating the lack of cultural understanding and comprehension that comes from people speaking different languages.

    It's been known for quite a while that the best time to learn multiple languages is early in life. Considering how many legal and illegal immigrant children go to elementary, junior high and maybe high schools in Texas, to only teach English to these children is a tragic waste of natural resources ---- the most effective way to begin English comprehension among adult legal and illegal immigrants whose native language is Spanish is to teach the household's children proper English and Spanish grammar.

    I think it is foolish to simply expect Spanish speaking immigrants to figure out on their own how to learn English.
    I agree being multilingual will be a great asset. But for most of these immigrants its just a bit too late don't you think? Most come here behind in school with little to no English skills. If these kids do not learn English they are not going to make it here for the most part. This is what happens today. These kids aren't being successfully taught English and they either drop out or are somehow pushed through school. That is tragic to me.

    If the schools could figure out how to teach these kids successfully maybe they could then explore the multilingual idea? I would hope so.

  21. #21
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpepping
    I agree being multilingual will be a great asset. But for most of these immigrants its just a bit too late don't you think? Most come here behind in school with little to no English skills. If these kids do not learn English they are not going to make it here for the most part. This is what happens today.
    Yes, it really may be too late for a good number of them. That we have system failure today is a big part of the reason something fundamental ought to change. I would be fascinated to read through any qualitative and quantitative research on the subject.

    I'm thinking that if all ages of resident public school children have achieved whatever grade level bilingual proficiency, prospects of uneducated immigrants to catch up increases dramatically simply because their 'host' pier group is able to understand them. Another huge barrier is the reaction from the families of the immigrant children - the parents might not like it. I have a feeling that the biggest negative reaction to a bilingual society would come from older generations of American citizens.

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    Skyscraper Member Mark Lea's Avatar
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    Not sure what the best place to put this is, but this will do.

    A geographic breakdown of race in Dallas by Eric Fischer from the most recent Census data.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/walking...7624812674967/


    Top 40 cities in the US for comparison

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/walking...7624812674967/

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