EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

August 4, 2013

Column: Owning a home may end up nothing but a dream

(Continued)

Presto! Population-loss problem solved. Just force the residents of all those wealthier suburbs to pay for their own municipal services and for Detroit’s.

Reich’s dream is the political version of “Hotel California.” You can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave.

But a bankrupt city is not the only indicator that the value of your suburban home is likely to erode over the next decade or so, while its expenses increase. Another is what conservative commentator Stanley Kurtz calls President Obama’s “regionalist agenda.”

It is under way, he contends, with things like a July 19 order from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to force suburbs – even those with no record of housing discrimination – to build more public housing for ethnic and racial minorities.

The endgame, he writes, “is really about changing the way Americans live. It is part of a broader suite of initiatives designed to block suburban development, press Americans into hyper-dense cities, and force us out of our cars.”

An example is the San Francisco Bay area, where a regional blueprint will control development in the nine counties around the city, block development of any new suburbs and force all population growth over the next 30 years into urban areas close to public transportation.

It is only fair to acknowledge that this may be exactly what many Americans – especially younger ones – want. You have probably read nice features about “micro” apartments in cities, where a twentysomething is just fine with cramming a bed, bathroom, kitchen and desk into a space about the size of a large closet. No word on whether that preference might change with a marriage and a few kids.

Last month, the city of Boston decided it would no longer require developers to include enough parking spaces to accommodate all the residents of new housing facilities. An increasing number of people don’t want cars, officials said, brushing off a recent report that two parking spaces in the Back Bay neighborhood had just sold at auction for $560,000.

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