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What's Driving the Push to Urbanize?

In case you haven’t noticed, urbanization advocates are in full campaign mode – again!  Unless you’re living under a rock, that’s what the upcoming election in Roswell is all about – to urbanize or not to urbanize.  So, who are the advocates? Why, those who have the most to gain from turning Metro-Atlanta into a high-density metropolis, of course.  And who would that be; well, for starters politically connected developers and all those who get a piece of the development pie, such as folks in the construction trades, realtors, lenders, speculators, lawyers and people involved with the manufacture and sale of construction equipment, materials and supplies.  Oh yeah, and let’s don’t forget the politicians.  They benefit through campaign contributions and the prospects of enlarging their tax supported empires. 

Then too, urbanization likely means a shift in the political landscape.  Urban dwellers lean to the left whereas suburbanites tend to list starboard.  I’m sure there is an excellent explanation for that phenomenon, but whatever the cause, it should come as no surprise that lefties are all in for urbanization.

The latest “Let’s all be big city dwellers” campaign is far more subtle than the last major attempt.  Compared to T-SPLOST, the present drive is stealthy and it comes on two fronts.  First is a multi-faceted propaganda barrage designed to soften and shift public perception of urbanization.  Have you noticed how many voices are suddenly speaking out on the copious virtues of urban living and how urbanity is the choice of hip generations, a veritable utopia where no one will ever be stuck in traffic again because we’ll all be riding bicycles in spandex tighties to our favorite sidewalk cafés to drink organic lattes?   

The other front is political.  There are three urban believer candidates in the present Council race.  Given the recent T-SPLOST beat down, they are not all being completely candid about where they stand, however, it doesn’t take Hercule Poirot to separate wheat from chaff.  One of the main giveaways is where the candidates stand on the proposed revised zoning code that will – despite assurances to the contrary - blunt future citizen blow-back when those tall towers start going up in a neighborhood near you!

Aside from the fact that the public is being conned yet again by political insiders and their business cronies, there is a huge long term economic problem with urbanizing Metro-Atlanta – including Roswell. An economy driven by development is an economy destined to crash.  Yes, it will secure some political careers and make fortunes for a few, but development as the leading economic driver is a house of cards.  How many times do we have to go through the boom / bust construction cycle before we catch on? Development in and of itself is neither good nor bad; it’s just not smart to let it become the leading driver of the economy because it is not sustainable.  So, let’s get off the development addiction and concentrate on attracting businesses that are sustainable. Development that follows market driven growth is healthy. Development that is politically driven is corporatism at is worst.

Millions migrated to these environs precisely because they sought the gracious lifestyle suburban Atlanta offers. For those who truly want urban living, there are plenty of attractive options inside 285, not mention New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and, well, you get the picture.  If you don’t like southern culture, if you don’t like suburbia, you can always pitch your tent elsewhere.





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