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« "The Housekeeper" | Main | East Meets West »

July 22, 2003

Cars or People?

Friedrich --

For whose benefit are suburbs built -- people? Or their cars? Lisa Rein and Robin Shulman report in the July 19 Washington Post that Americans continue to buy more cars per family, creating ever-more-challenging design problems, and causing ever more changes in the way suburbs look.

Sample passage:

Having so many cars has changed the aesthetics of how people live. Builders say they now must design two-car-garage homes at a minimum -- though three is often preferred -- and allow for wider driveways for all those vehicles.

"The real demand is around four parking spaces. Or five," said John Regan, executive vice president for the Christopher Cos., a leading developer of high-end homes. "There's a lot of frustrated Fairfax County people who bought homes and can't park [at] them."

The additional concrete comes at a price: fewer trees and less grass.

"You have a lot more impervious space," Regan acknowledged. "Instead of it being a garden, you have two concrete pads."

The piece doesn't seem to be available online for free, alas.



UPDATE: Felix, a more resourceful researcher than I am, found the piece online. It can be read here.

posted by Michael at July 22, 2003


Well, I grew up out in the boonies (Mystic, CT). We had, at one time, 5 cars (and three drivers!) - but we had a huge garage (a separate building with it's own attic and basement) and a large driveway to put them all (along with various things like boats, trailers, etc.). My Dad just kept buying new cars and never getting around to selling the old ones. Now that I'm on my own and live in an apartment, I'm down to one truck and one (small) motorcycle - and it drives me crazy. No sports car! No touring bike! How do people LIVE like this?

Posted by: jimbo on July 22, 2003 5:54 PM

Jimbo -- I grew up in a small town, now live in an apartment in NYC. No attic! No garage! No basement! How do people live like this? It ain't American, that's for sure.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 22, 2003 6:45 PM

I dont live in the suburbs. I live in the country which is what you get if you drive past the suburbs.

We have a two and a half car garage with plans on the back burner to remodel it to 4 stalls with a wood drying loft over it. That will accomodate the 1963 Morris Minor Woody Traveler, my car and an expanded, way cool version of my husband's wood turning shop. The other car, his, lives in the driveway. And the beater truck that we use to haul wood and barely insure lives out back of the yellow stone chicken coop which is currently wired for 3 phase power and fitted out as a forge for blacksmithing.

I have a basement and a full attic, 5 bedrooms, 2 full baths, all hardwood floors laid in geometric patterns and original to the house, 36 acres which has at least 12 acres of prime board quality hardwoods on it, and a 40 minute commute to work in Madison, WI--a college town with all the necessary bookstores, theaters, malls, art galleries, ethnic food restaurants etc I need. I even have DSL!

Sometimes the road we live on is SO busy that 2 cars actually pass each other.

How do you guys live like that?

Posted by: Deb on July 22, 2003 7:17 PM

It's outrageous. There ought to be a law.

Posted by: David on July 23, 2003 10:48 AM

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