Cities Are Now Growing Faster Than Suburbs -- Except in Dallas, Of Course

Categories: Transportation

DallasSprawl.jpg
Natural Resouces Defense Council
When the U.S. Census Bureau released figures Thursday estimating cities' growth between 2010 and 2011, the big news locally was that eight of the 15 fastest growing cities are in Texas and, of those, five -- Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Denton, Carrollton -- are in our corner of the state.

The big news nationally was that, for the first time in a century, growth in most major cities outpaced that of their suburbs.

Dallas, obviously, does not fall into the latter category. It grew a healthy 2.1 percent between 2010 and 2011, according to the census figures, but it was skunked by its northern neighbors: Plano, Frisco, and McKinney each grew by 3.8 percent, Denton grew by 3.4 percent, Carrollton by 3 percent. Every time it seems that sprawl has stepped over the limits of possibility, that Plano and its spawn couldn't possibly inch any closer to Oklahoma, we are reminded by numbers like these that it is not the case.

Which means Dallas' urbanists are losing. Sure, they're winning battles, carving out vibrant pockets of pedestrian- and hipster-friendly neighborhoods, but what about the war? Young, creative types might be coming toward the city center, but many more are opting for the four-bedroom house, golf-course lawn and hour-long commute.

Urbanites might be right that their lifestyle is richer, more fulfilling, more sustainable, but the market is speaking, and it's been saying the same thing for the past half century or more. The argument that the suburban lifestyle is heavily subsidized by pro-sprawl policies and that it would otherwise be less attractive is, of course, true, but so what? Those policies have a momentum of their own, and judging by the census figures, are only gaining a larger constituency locally.

So Dallasites can enjoy having walkable neighborhoods, microbreweries, bike lanes and whatever else to their heart's content, but those things aren't making North Texans stop moving to McKinney. Not yet, anyway. That won't happen until those people die off and their children join the creative class. Or maybe until the coming of the environmental apocalypse. Or we run out of oil? All good options.

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16 comments
Cliffson
Cliffson

Most people who live in slow-growing Dallas enjoy it and really don't give a crap what anyone else thinks.  No, it isn't a great walking city in many areas, but it's a short drive to anything you want with many optional routes. Unless you want to go to the suburbs, but who really does?

jyladvik
jyladvik

What city of Plano needs: more mature trees. More nice, quality built homes instead of tract mansions. Make the high schools smaller, they should be divided up.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Awesome!  You're everything Hipsters would want to be if they weren't so busy being ironic douchebags.  Congrats on everything!

c
c

Obviously.  ;)

RSF
RSF

I love living in Dallas proper. I've never been a victim of crime and my DISD education propelled me to two degrees from a prestigious private university - and success in business and personal relationships. As far as city government I'm very pleased with my representatives and yes there is some corruption but nothing like you find unchecked in many smaller Texas counties.  I'm not bitter nor angry, please stop projecting you suburban pettiness.

c
c

I can't figure out why the people that live in Dallas proper are so bitter and angry about their choices.  Abysmal school system?  High crime?  A city government that is the laughingstock of the country?  Please advise.

Chiggers!
Chiggers!

Yeah, how walkable is Chicago in January? Uh huh.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Which suburb are you living in? Most of the Dallas Water Utilities customer cities don't face the same restrictions as residential users within the City of Dallas. Same with the high volume residential water usage rates.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Sure, if you don't count the two grocery stores in the middle of Uptown.

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

I think Dallas would do a better job attracting residents if it could attract more businesses/jobs into the downtown Dallas area. I am a contractor who specializes in developing e-learning. I've had one client that was in Dallas, and they were located north of 635. All of the rest have been located in Richardson, Plano, and Irving. When all of your work is north of Dallas, why should you move there? To be honest, if it was not for my wife having to go in to the office daily, I would be living even further out (preferably on 10-20 acres). I might have to go into an office once a week, the rest of the time I'm working at home. The cost of living is much cheaper in rural areas (including property taxes) and you do not have to deal with the noise from neighbors and the interruptions of people going door-to-door peddling whatever. Not everyone is interested in concerts, clubs, and the other amenities living in a city offers.

Barbara
Barbara

We loved living in Dallas when I worked around Parkland for 8 years.  Had season tickets to everything, voted in a precinct where we were a definite minority and loved the area.  We wanted to build our first house in retirement and just couldn't bring ourselves to consider the land costs in the city so moved back out to McKinney this time.  Have a great house on a golf course, a wonderful antique downtown, many pools, tennis courts, beautiful winding hills, close to 121 which gets us to either airport in about 35 minutes and with the Dallas Tollway,  downtown in about the same. Up until last year, we still had season tickets to the symphony and currently belong to the Nasher, Art Museum, go to the Arts District, Zoo, and whatever else tickles our fancy downtown.  I miss being right there but as retirees, we didn't want the burden of keeping up an older house and wanted the fun of a new house for once.  Of course, it is now 10 years old.  We have the best of both worlds so don't cry for us or put us down for being here.  I don't like the suburbs either.  In fact, I don't even like Texas very much but you must thrive where you are planted because life has a way of getting away from you and into the dirt .  By the way, we are multicultural up here too!

Czero
Czero

I moved here from Seattle five years ago. I lived there for 10 years with no car, using public transit to get from the city to the suburbs where I worked. When I accepted a job in a suburb here the first thing I did was look at the public transit situation and the generally walkable areas. First the public transit situation was terrible. Closest I could get was 2.5 miles and the total transit time was ~2 hours to get to work. So a car is a necessity, great. Fine, second is what neighborhoods would make having to commute everyday worth it. But there isn't one. There are some ok ones but none that make the commute worth it. So I live in the suburbs near where I work. Mostly I did it to save on the commute. I could possibly bike to work but doing so in a north Dallas suburb is borderline suicidal. Ironically I have better access to good Asian food and stores here than I would have in the citty, a fact I didn't realize when I moved. Long story short in the five years I have been here Dallas has made incrementally small moves to make the city more attractive but as long as the jobs are in the suburbs and the public transit situation is as bad as it is you'll never grow faster.

Ali Enrique Razavi
Ali Enrique Razavi

"Urban posers" do not need to drive to IKEA.  They can buy it online. 

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

I live in the city. To be honest, I rarely go above 635 for anything. The further north I go to  is Galleria. Anytime I need to go above 635 I have a sense of being Christopher Columbus sailing away from Spain. Whats beyond? Monsters? A precipice?

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