Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Natomas & the Markets

What we see here, with some liking it and some not, is the market at work. Most people want to live in suburbs, transport themselves around by car, and shop at big box centers that offer good prices, so suburbs like Natomas need to respond to that or not sell homes.

Singles, whether young or old, are more open to the urban or suburban village development because they either enjoy walking or biking and/or have the extra time that mode of transit demands, and don’t have as great a need—as do suburban families—to carry stuff in a car trunk, so the markets will also respond to that.

Sacramento, at least at this point, appears to have more people who want suburban living rather than urban or village, and so suburbs are what the market has to deliver.

That’s what markets do, deliver what the customer wants, and that is part of what makes this system of ours that favored by much of the world.

North Natomas: Visions of a community neighborhood lost in a car-oriented suburb
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - mlvellinga@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PDT Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Before the home construction crews and bulldozers descended on the flat plain of North Natomas, city leaders made their vision clear: The northern frontier of Sacramento would be a pedestrian-friendly place where people could work, play and shop in the same neighborhood.

Not only that, this city within a city would pay for itself. The houses, stores and offices would generate enough fees and taxes to build roads and community facilities as well as pay for public safety and other city services.

Eight years and 15,000 homes later, city leaders say the reality has fallen well short of that vision. North Natomas doesn't look or feel much different from nearby suburbs. In some respects, it's more car-oriented than most because its roads are oversized to handle traffic from Arco Arena.

"It still is a suburban community, and I think what we envisioned was something that would be more than a suburban community," Councilman Steve Cohn said at a recent council workshop on growth.

Land once envisioned for job centers has been rezoned for big box stores, served by broad, traffic-clogged roads. More rezoning proposals are in the works. A promised light-rail line may be decades away, and bus service is sparse. Sound walls separate neighborhoods from sidewalks and streets.