Dreier, Mollenkopf, and Swanstrom “Metropolitics for the Twenty-First Century”

Dreier, Mollenkopf, and Swanstrom reiterate the importance of place and the impact on life outcomes. Their focus is on urban sprawl and its negative effects on the inner city, primarily through metropolitan fragmentation. As Squires also mentioned, Dreier et al., note that America experienced an “urban exodus” thanks in part to governmental subsidies on interstate construction as well as subsidies on housing making suburban home ownership an option to the middle class urbanites. In fact, the authors argue that “federal and state policies have biased metropolitan development in favor of of economic segregation, concentrated urban poverty, and suburban sprawl.” Rather than beneficial growth of the urban area, urban sprawl has drastically divided the city center and the suburbs.

Where we live impacts many aspects of our lives for a variety of reasons. The authors point to not only quality of the area in which one lives, but also how the area functions, i.e., functioning of the social and political systems. Access to jobs, public services and even shopping are affected by place of residence, and access to quality services is commensurate with one’s socioeconomic status. As a consequence of governmental policies enacted in the mid to late 20th century, intended to stimulate economic growth in the central city, instead cities have seen an increase in concentrated poverty and inefficient political function and public services in the metropolitan area that exacerbate poverty.

Metropolitan political fragmentation is the term used to describe dysfunction of spatial boundaries and the proliferation of local governmental agencies that resulted from the public-private partnerships popularized in the 1980s. The consequence of this fragmentation is poorly planned locales with inefficient public structures that subverts the economic competitiveness of cities.

Dreier et al., point out that many groups, including the Sierra Club, argue in support of “smart growth” and “new regionalism” and two states, Oregon and Maryland, have even instituted legislature. The new regionalists are interested in correcting the effects of long term segregation and the concentrated poverty of the inner city, by increasing economic efficiency and social equity in such a way that the central city remains competitive without sprawling. The smart growth concept, contrary to the “growth machines” discussed by Logan and Molotch, focuses on collaborative efforts between residents, private companies and public offices to grow efficient, equitable and competitive urban areas. One example provided by the authors include, collaborative efforts of the high-tech companies in Silicon Valley in supporting solutions to urban problems such as housing and transportation, made that a more successful technological area than its counterpart “America’s Technology Highway” in Boston, MA.

 

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