Thursday, March 26, 2015

Facts and Fiction

Sometimes an ugly fact can destroy a beautiful theory, an observation that has frustrated many scientists and theorists. 

The new trend to the cities, the new share economy, peak oil, millenials not wanting to drive anymore, the death of malls, the end of sprawl, the end of sodas and the beginning of the age of local food; the list of trends we like and elevate to new truths is long and in the new age of self sorting of information we see it confirmed day after day in our favorite links and information sources. 

Until an ugly facts burst the bubble and a much more messy reality intrudes. 

This is the case with Baltimore and the latest census that shows that Baltimore is still shrinking, albeit, barely. Still, losing 0.1% population (600 persons) isn't growing. And certainly not growing by 10,000 households which would be over 20, 000 people. 
Apparently all the young people that undoubtedly flock to Canton, Federal Hill or Remington cannot offset the exodus from the much larger areas of, say northeast Baltimore. Along both sides of Harford Road, for example, where in endless rows of small houses in seemingly stable neighborhoods people are worried about crime, schools and bad services like many other communities before them. They still vote with their feet and they don't chose downtown, they move to Baltimore County or, if they can afford it, Howard County. That's where taxes are lower, playgrounds cleaner and more numerous, schools near perfect and where jobs hide in so many office and industrial parks. 

The City of Baltimore needs to do exit interviews. Find out if there are clusters from where people leave and if there is anything that local government can do about it. 
We will get to growth, eventually. That theory is too nice to let it be ruined by facts, isn't it?

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

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