Before we can understand what makes some suburbs so miserable, we first have to understand what makes others succeed. The most successful suburban neighborhoods fall into two categories. First, there are the dense and walkable ones that, like the most successful urban neighborhoods, have town centers that give local residents easy access to retail and employment opportunities. These neighborhoods generally include a mix of single-family homes and apartment buildings, which allows for different kinds of families and adults at different stages of life to share in the same local amenities. The problem with these urban suburbs, as Christopher Leinberger recounts in his 2009 book The Option of Urbanism, is that there are so few of them, and this scarcity fuels the same kind of gentrification that is driving poor people out of successful cities.
The other model for success can be found in sprawling suburban neighborhoods dominated by households with either the time or the resources to maintain single-family homes and to engage in civic life. As a general rule, the neighborhoods in this latter category don’t allow for apartment buildings or townhomes on small lots. They implement stringent local land-use regulations that keep them exclusive, and they attract families that tenaciously defend the character of their neighborhoods.
Via Mathijs Booden, Jukka Melaranta