Dear Mr. Del Mastro, I much appreciate your ‘the deleted scenes’ blog for its insights into American city and town history, and I am sympathetic to your (and Strong Towns) abiding critique of extensive suburbia along highways that primarily codified single house per large lot zoning extending far outside of traditional urban zones from about the 1950’s onward. While I avoid name-calling such as denigration of stereotypical suburban so-called ‘NIMBYs’, I understand such frustrations encountered by New Urbanist oriented professional planners.

What concerns me in the present-day/future context is ‘lumping together’ often modest and

small-scale mixed housing areas adjoining city borders or newly-created urban perimeters with what are radically different Exurban corporately designed large developments sold to households seeking to get away from congestion on grossly over-extended highways. What is actually happening in many metropolitan areas are high-priced ‘build-up’ developments in and right around so-called ‘edge cities’ (mostly not truly urban Cities). These may be former Central Business Districts or defunct Industrial/Commercial zones that Centralized Planning Boards are (suddenly) trying to redevelop as densified urban systems with large-scale new public infrastructure investments to facilitate lobbyist-inspired ‘Master Plans’ just for profit. Historically widespread projects of so-called ‘slum-clearance’ pushed Minorities out of city centers in 1950’s/60’s, a well-documented strategy motivated by racism and and classism. But emerging new ‘wrinkle’ of this ‘Re-urbanizing Machine’ shifts the blame onto current-day residents of older houses on small lots and garden apartments (often affordable ones), shaming them as ‘NIMBYs’ when they have nothing in common with newer residents of wealthier exurban suburbs extending further out. Mature small suburban enclaves near urban zones are already woven into a more densified Metropolitan-urban-light industry and small shop-owning way of life that have racially and socio-economically integrated by now. These residents & workers use public transportation plus private automobiles for transport.

Yet, so-called New Urbanist ‘transit-oriented-development’ (acronym TOD) master plans aim to raze them to the ground and replace them with Private, For-Profit Developer built and marketed over-densified housing and (oddly named) ‘mixed-use/place-making’! But, these are already tightly clustered residential/work/shopping communities along narrow streets. Destroying existing and functional mature modest ‘suburban’ enclaves has become a profit-oriented land-use rezoning Mantra - to be only partially replaced by so-called ‘attainable’ or ‘missing middle’ much tighter housing with diminished quality-of-life amenities, but at much higher purchase and rental Price Points’ that most upwardly mobile younger householders can no longer afford. In short, we are experiencing a new propagandistic ‘sleight-of-hand’ in which corporate investors and developers openly label local residents and businesses as ‘the enemy’ of social equality and racial integration by calling them ‘NIMBYs’ and worse. I’d like to see someone with your skills and insights take on these reconfigured expropriations for what they are underneath computer photo-shopped shiny images of new residential communities open to all, and fancy footwork by so-called progressive politicians using the rhetoric of the Civil Rights movement and perceived need for working/middle class family homes to push through their self-interested Zoning Reforms undermining social well-being.

Let’s see your ‘take’ after examining real-world demographics and shapes of small racially integrated existing neighborhoods located adjacent/near to ‘expansive’ urbanizing centers.

Joel Teitelbaum, Greater Lyttonsville, Silver Spring, MD

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LOL, if it has a crowded downtown with multistory buildings, it isn't a small town it's a small city. If it has a pretentious cafe with 8 dollar lattes it isn't a small town, it's a small city. And yes I do know you'd have to drive an hour to get a cappuccino in my neck of the woods.

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