Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

May 28, 2008
Kunstler: Suburbs, production builders aren't coming back
James-Howard-Kunstler-Headphones.jpg 
I had an quick and interesting conversation yesterday with James Howard Kunstler, who won some fame and glory in the 1990s for a couple of very readable and entertaining books that were harshly critical of suburbia. Remember them? "The Geography of Nowhere" and "Home From Nowhere."
 
  In this decade, Kunstler has become well known for his 2005 book, "The Long Emergency," which offers a pretty dark view of what we're facing in a world where oil supplies are tight.

Sunday he had an op-ed piece in The Washington Post on the theme that we're driving our cars toward disaster and that our residential living patterns have to change.

   When I left him a voice mail from Sacramento, Kunstler was out walking his dog during the lunch hour in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he lives. I reached him later in the afternoon and asked about the state of suburbs in a time when gasoline is well above $4 and apparently still rising. He said he didn't think there would be any upturn in their real estate cycle.

 "They're going down and they aren't coming back," he said. "The production home builders are going down and they aren't coming back, either."

 His point has long been that our American suburbs, filled with commuters and requiring a car for almost every trip, are creations of cheap oil and only function on that premise.
 
"The bottom line is the suburban project is over for America. We're done," he said on the phone.

 He's kind of extreme, as usual. He could be right. But I still like more of a middle ground. His idea about that, though, is there isn't one; it's all a fantasy to think we can keep living the way we do by banking on some kind of alternative energy. He's pretty cranky about that kind of thinking.
 
 We'll see. I've read his books, some two or three times over the years, about the way our cities are built and the way we live in them. It was fun talking with him for a few minutes.


Photo: Kunstlercast.com

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



Jim Wasserman on Twitter

Follow "jimwasserman" on Twitter

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31