Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, August 08, 2011

A concern about city-county consolidation

Mostly the writing about this, in Orfield's Metropolitics and Rusk's Cities without Suburbs and Inside Game, Outside Game, has been around cost savings through service consolidation and getting city access to greater property tax revenue streams that are typically generated by suburban areas compared to the generally declining property values that had typified the urban experience over the past 30-40 years.

Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star makes the point (" Toronto embarked on a civic, if not a civil, war") that Toronto's footprint, containing both the city and the suburbs, allowed conservative Rob Ford to win the mayoral election, because the suburban voters, more conservative than those in the city, tipped his way. From the article:

City versus suburb: Like it or not, that has become the story of Toronto politics in the 21st century. And if the Rob Ford phenomenon is any indication, the suburbs are winning.

The great urban/suburban divide has been the topic of conjecture going back decades, but in the past 30 years, the gap between the two has widened into a chasm. They are Canada’s new solitudes.

Though reasons are hard to pin down, the fact is that while suburbanites move further to the right, their urban counterparts remain firmly on the left.

Since 1997, writes the University of Toronto’s Alan Walks, “the inner cities are about three times more likely to vote NDP than are the suburbs, while the suburbs are twice as likely to vote for the Reform party as the inner city.”

Interestingly, the Post's article yesterday, "Minority growth may reshape Md. congressional map," about Congressional redistricting in Maryland discussed the same issue, but in reverse, about how creating districts with large numbers of more liberal voters--usually from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, yields more Democratic congresspeople for the state.

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