Suburban Land Conversion in the United States: An Economic and Governmental Process

By Marion Clawson | Go to book overview

17
ALTERNATIVES FOR PLANNED
MODIFICATION OF THE
SUBURBAN LAND
CONVERSION PROCESS

How can we go about improving the process of suburban land conversion? The broad objective of change is to cure or at least reduce the disadvantages of the present process, while at the same time not losing any or much of its advantages. If one seeks social change, one must state the nature of the change desired. Here the focus is on the social mechanisms which can produce change. There is little gain in stating goals which are wholly unattainable; the capacity or means of attaining goals is inevitably a factor in statement of the goals themselves. There has been a considerable amount of popular and semipopular writing about the shortcomings of modern suburbs, but rhetoric alone will produce few improvements. Many of the proposals for improvements strike the present writer as impractical in the sense that, even if adopted, they would not produce the results desired.

In laying out a wide range of specific possibilities in this chapter, I do not wish to give the impression that all are wholly new or original, or that nothing is now being done about them.1 For example, various efforts are under way to improve the skill of suburban land planning, but the proposal here is for a greatly accelerated effort, that would so change the rate of progress as to constitute a major new measure. It is my hope that the wide range of possible measures discussed in this chapter will provide a perspective for analyzing and judging possible improvements in suburban land conversion.

In outlining a considerable range of possible measures to improve suburban land conversion processes and the whole suburban-urban development process associated therewith, this chapter begins with measures most easily described, most easily visualized, and involving the least drastic change from the past. It proceeds toward measures that are newer and very different, hence less easily described, less easily visualized, and probably less likely to gain popular support, at least in the short run. Almost every one of these measures could be considered and used inde-

____________________
1
In this chapter only a few references are cited, and those mostly to my own writings, where the points concerned have been developed more fully. All the preceding chapters and the references cited therein are source materials here. This chapter represents a more or less personal synthesis and interpretation of the earlier parts of the book.

-342-

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