The headlines about cities celebrate their resurgence, with empty nesters and Millennials alike investing in our urban areas, moving away from car dependence, and demanding walkable, transit-oriented neighbourhoods. But, in reality, these changes are taking place in a scattered and piecemeal fashion. While areas of a handful of cities are booming, most US metros continue to follow old patterns of central city decline and suburban sprawl. As demographic shifts change housing markets and climate change ushers in new ways of looking at settlement patterns, pressure for change in urban policy is growing. More and more policy makers are raising questions about the soundness of policies that squander our investment in urban housing, built environment, and infrastructure while continuing to support expansion of sprawling, auto-dependent development. Changing these policies is the central challenge facing US cities and metro regions, and those who manage them or plan their future. In America's Urban Future, urban experts Tomalty and Mallach examine US policy in the light of the Canadian experience and use that experience as a starting point to generate specific policy recommendations.
Their recommendations are designed to help the US further its urban revival, build more walkable, energy-efficient communities, and in particular, help land use adapt better to the needs of the ageing population. Tomalty and Mallach show how Canada, a country similar to the US in many respects, has fostered healthier urban centres and more energy- and resource-efficient suburban growth. They call for a rethinking of US public policies across those areas and look closely at what may be achievable at federal, state, and local levels in light of both the constraints and the opportunities inherent in today's political systems and economic realities.
Ray Tomalty is principal of Smart Cities Research Services, a research consultancy specialising in urban sustainability, including growth management, active transportation, green infrastructure, community energy planning, housing affordability, fiscal issues, and urban governance. He is the author of many research papers and policy reports prepared for federal, provincial and municipal governments and the non-profit sector in Canada. He is an adjunct professor at McGill University's School of Urban Planning and sits on the editorial board of Alternatives Journal, Canada's foremost environmental magazine. Alan Mallach is a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and at the Center for Community Progress. He is the author of many works on housing and planning, including Bringing Buildings Back and Building a Better Urban Future: New Directions for Housing Policies in Weak Market Cities. He served as director of housing and economic development for Trenton, N.J. from 1990 to 1999 and is currently a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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