The Quest to Confront Suburban Decline: Political Realities and Lessons
Vicino, T.J. (2008). 'The Quest to Confront Suburban Decline: Political Realities and Lessons,' Urban Affairs Review 43 (4): 553-581
29 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2012 Last revised: 22 Feb 2016
Date Written: March 1, 2008
The social and economic decline of first-tier suburbs has emerged as an important issue in metropolitan America, yet little is known about the political and policy responses to this problem. An analysis of Baltimore County demonstrates that the local government was able to implement revitalization projects from 1995 to 2005 since it had jurisdiction over its first-tier suburbs. Characteristics such as a large population in both first-tier and outer suburbs, an affluent tax base, and the lack of municipalities allowed Baltimore County to redistribute funds for these projects. I argue that if policymakers and planners are serious about confronting suburban decline, then either a regional growth boundary or a regional zoning tool is necessary to slow the pressures of urban decentralization. The political realities suggest that the will to maintain local autonomy is stronger than the will to eliminate the real barriers to revitalizing first-tier suburbs.
Keywords: suburban decline, first-tier suburbs, suburban revitalization politics
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