mpr: great show on the future of cities

Tuesday's Midmorning was fabulous, despite the litany of annoying callers. (Yeah, let's ask this guy in L. A. about PRT or White Bear Lake shorelines...)

The first 30 min. featured two mayors, one from Minnetonka and one from Chevy Chase, talking about political hurdles to regional planning. The second 30 min. had a urban historian and futurist. Wow, it's just like the 20s again!

Mayor Karen Anderson from Minnetonka (past pres. of LMC) notably said that "one of the great recent miracles has been getting suburban communities to support affordable housing."

That would be great, if it happened. I'm skeptical, of course. The mayor then made some caveats about how politically precarious it is to raise suburban taxes for anything, let alone something that has impact outside the city lines. She pointed to the recent Denver transportation sales tax as something that will likely spur the ouster of a suburban mayor or two.

But I wonder: Isn't this why we have the Met Council? So that progressive suburban mayors have someone to blame when regionally-focused decisions are made? C'mon Peter Bell. Come to New Urbanism...

Mayor William Hudnut from ritzy burb Chevy Chase MD (and ULI fellow), added some predictions:
There is new credibilty attached to Transit Oriented Development (TOD)... Cities will empty out, there will be such a population surge... Some people will trickle back downtown, just 2-3 demograhpic cohorts, I call them the singles, the mingles, and the jingles, and they're basically anyone w/out kids in public schools... In the long run the Central Business District (CBD) will become the central social district... This endless sprawl is unsustainable, someone calculates land is being develped at 45 acres/hour... We must learn to have more compact devlopment as we go down the trail... There will be a lot more jobs created in the suburbs... Its always a fight to get jobs to come into the central city... it took me 17 mos. to persuade an insurance company to move to downtown Indianaopolis rather than build in the suburbs... Today's the regional metropolitan form is not heliocentric, its like a constellation.... But you still need to have a strong central city... you cant be a suburb of nothing."

Finally, "futurist" Joel Kotkin looked into his crystal ball and pointed out that Minneapolis is one of the healthier cities in the U. S. He's from L. A., so that makes sense. He thinks the downtown will eventually have what he calls "a convening function," which is apparently a very old thing.

Hmm... something to chew on, I guess.

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