Suburban Charm

It’s deeply endearing, as the vast majority of Americans know and as this article from New Geography reports.

An excerpt.

Eastvale, a new community just over the Riverside County line from Orange County, is a place that most urbanists would naturally detest. City Hall is no architectural masterpiece, occupying a small office inside the area’s largest shopping mall. The streets are wide, and the houses tend to be over 2,500 square feet. There’s nothing close to a walking district and little in the way of restaurants besides fast-food outlets and chain eateries….

“There’s no way you can live this life in Mumbai,” notes Indian immigrant Nibha Kothari, who moved to Eastvale with her husband and young daughter earlier this year. “There’s a balance here between city and town here. In Mumbai, everything is so crowded and congested and there’s so much stress. It’s the little things, the quality of life for our family, that got us here.”

Residents like Kothari admit it’s not the aesthetics of the urban design that brings them to Eastvale. Instead, as in Irvine, it’s the things urban pundits barely address, like good schools, a well-developed park system , low crime rates and, perhaps most importantly, larger house footprints. After all, family is the main reason people move to Eastvale, and many locals talk about having relatives living in the same community.

Andrea Hove, the wife of an Orange County sheriff’s deputy with whom she has four kids, has several relatives in the neighborhood and a network of friends who also have extended families. “I wanted to stay home with the kids,” she explains. “In Orange County, we’d be stuck with 1,800 square feet and send the kids to private school. Here, I have great schools, 3,000 square feet for less, and my walk-in closet is bigger than most people’s bedrooms. It’s a great family community in terms of schools and parks. I can’t go anywhere without seeing someone I know.”

Finally, she says, there’s also an excitement from being in somewhere new that is still developing its sense of place and urban traditions. “This is a place where we can shape the community for our kids,” she suggests. “We can make it the way we want it, not just live the way some politician says we should.”

These kind of aspirations are rarely discussed among planners, academics or even many developers but they constitute much of what people actually want and reflects their most cherished priorities. It may seem mundane to urban aesthetes, but crucial in the locational decisions of many people.

“Everyday life,” observed the great French historian Fernand Braudel, “consists of the little things one hardly notices in time and space.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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