Joel Kotkin

In this article from the Sacramento Bee Joel Kotkin is described as a “skewed scholar” but the article so distorts the truth—as any long-time reader of  Joel Kotkin’s work can attest—that it can properly be called a “skewed article”.

One of the really hilarious distortions is the claim that:  “Smart-growth advocates (including Obama) are not anti-suburb” which anyone who reads the screeds of some of the most famous anti-suburbanites know, they are completely and totally anti-suburb; while on the contrary, most suburban devotees really love the cities and while loving to visit them usually don’t want to live there, preferring the suburbs.

Indeed, Joel Kotkin’s best work, The City: A Global History—which the author of the skewed Bee article has obviously not read—is an eloquent testament to the greatness of the city:

“Humankind’s  greatest creation has always been its cities. They represent the ultimate handiwork of our imagination as a species, testifying to our ability to reshape the natural environment in the most profound and lasting ways. Indeed, today our cities can be seen from outer space.” (p. xx)

Here is a good review of The City from Governing Magazine.

Read more about Joel Kotkin from Wikipedia and from his website.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

I have good news for those of you who think that President Barack Obama wants to control every aspect of your lives, including the houses and neighborhoods in which you reside. The Sacramento Metro Chamber, along with County Supervisor Susan Peters, has invited the foremost provocateur of this theory to be a keynote speaker at an event next month entitled, “Suburbs, Popular and Politically Incorrect.”…

A fellow in urban studies at Chapman University, Kotkin has little regard for places such as San Francisco and Portland, Ore., with their policies that encourage transit, walkable neighborhoods and yes, – goodness – density! Although he lives in the Golden State, he’s one of the leading proponents of the idea that California is failing, led by a hypocritical governor who resides largely in the Oakland hills.

Pore over his writings – a task in itself, since Kotkin is nothing if not prolific – and you’ll be left with the impression that anyone who supports smart growth is part of an elite group of Soviet apparatchiks, determined to take away your suburban house and cars and force everyone into condos close to a transit station.

All this, of course, is nonsense. Smart-growth advocates (including Obama) are not anti-suburb. They don’t want to force anyone into cities. The goal of sustainable planning is to offer options to people, young and old, who want to live in neighborhoods that are walkable, affordable and not completely ruled by the automobile.

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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