“People left the crowded neighborhoods and moved to places
like Albuquerque because they've wanted room, big, sunny yards and high,
block walls to keep nosy neighbors out of their lives. And the car has helped
them do it. The planners are now propagandizing that we yearn to live
squeezed next to and on top of each other. Don't buy it.”
Read About It!
Get it at:
New Urbanists Want to Squish Us On Top of Each Other
I used to think that cars offered me mobility, convenience and independence
as well as a weapon in the war against societal menaces such as bicyclists
I also thought that cars were good things that stoked the economy, got adults
to work, children to school, sick people to hospitals, adulterers to their
mistresses and paramours, and dead people to their graves.
What an idiot I've been. Cars aren't any of those.
The car, for those who have never known it, has "disenfranchised
children as human beings."
This shocking revelation comes from Anne Watkins, director of Albuquerque’s
Transit Department. But before you take a sledgehammer to the evil vehicle,
wait. There's more.
Cars have helped turn oldsters into ghetto dwellers, and commutes in
Albuquerque are now "interminable," which means endless.
If you're panicking because you never realized these things before, don't.
They're not true.
They're offensive overstatements put forth by a growing number of
anti-sprawl, elitist planner/policy types who have bought into the latest
development fad and who are out to demonize your car and change the way we
The fad is called The New Urbanism. It calls for us to live in urban
villages, which resemble the crowded city neighborhoods that hordes of
Americans have been fleeing from for the past fifty years.
Consider the statement again: Cars have disenfranchised children as human
beings. Then picture a ballroom full of people hearing it and nodding
knowingly at each other while expressing eye-rolling contempt for you, your
big yard and car, and you have the New Urbanists. That occurred here recently
during a transportation/land-use conference.
The smart people now abhor Albuquerque's sprawl, and scowl that it must stop.
Don't trust the elitists or let them force their ideas on you.
truth is, Albuquerque is nowhere near major sprawl. Look at figures for the
square mileage of some major cities.
New Orleans is 199 square miles. Chicago, 228. El Paso, 239. Kansas City,
Mo., 316. San Antonio, 349. Indianapolis, 352. New York, 301. Phoenix, 324.
Los Angeles, 465. Houston, 556.
And Albuquerque? 161.
How about density, or people per square mile?
Chattanooga, 1,370. Kansas City, 1,377. Indianapolis, 2,108. El Paso, 2,156.
New Orleans, 2,497. San Antonio, 2,681. Houston, 2,933. Atlanta, 3,008.
Phoenix, 3,035. Austin, 4,014. Tucson, 4,095.
And Albuquerque? 2,892. It was 3,492, until recently when undeveloped land
We're not packing them in like New York, which has 24,327 people per square
mile. Or Chicago, with 12,209. Or San Francisco, where the guru of the New
Urbanism lives, with 15,403. Who wants to?
But we compare well with Denver, with 4,213 people per square mile. And when
compared to Portland, that alleged model of urban perfection that planners
here drool over, well, Portland has 4,246. Not many more than here.
There are no endless commutes here, either. Except when it snows, which is
hardly ever, it takes me about 12 minutes to get home from work. And I've
never gone more than 25 minutes in trying to get anywhere in this town. It's
My hunch is that the elite planners and New Urbanists have never lived in the
crowded, noisy neighborhoods they're now romanticizing.
Have they ever lived downstairs from a couple that screams constantly at each
other? Or upstairs from someone who blasts bad music all night? Or four feet
across from the neighbor's bathroom window?
Or have they ever had to lug groceries and children, or themselves after
drinking too much, up two or three flights of stairs? Or smell five other
peoples’ bad cooking?
Have they ever tried to grow a garden in a small yard that gets three hours
of sun because other buildings block it out?
I doubt it.
People left the crowded neighborhoods and moved to places like Albuquerque
because they've wanted room, big, sunny yards and high, block walls to keep
nosy neighbors out of their lives.
And the car has helped them do it.
The planners are now propagandizing that we yearn to live squeezed next to
and on top of each other. Don't buy it.
I could be wrong about all of this. Cars really might have disenfranchised
children as human beings. If that's true, I have an observation:
When they were kids, Watkins and the other New Urbanists must have spent a
lot of time in cars.
© Copyright 2003 Dennis Domrzalski All rights reserved