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California Density Remains a Hot Topic

Humor and wit debunk wrong assumptions about urbanism.

In a recent post, I wrote about a war of words being contested on the internet. Anti-urbanist gadfly Wendell Cox had written an article for the Wall Street Journal arguing that California residents were fleeing the state over efforts to change the housing mix. His effort was logically flawed. The mistakes were gleefully pointed out by Josh Stevens of the California Planning and Development Report and by Jonathan Rothwell of The New Republic.

Although the Cox article seemed effectively rebutted by the first two responses, the article remained an attractive target, so the piling on continued.

Greg Hanscom of Grist.org pointed out the logic failures of the Cox article with humor and wit. My favorite flight of hyperbole:

“Saying that California, or the entire nation, has declared war on the suburbs? That’s like a spoiled frat boy whining that his parents have declared war on his trust fund because they’ve cut him back to just a keg of beer and a pound of weed each week.”

And then one of the big guns of new urbanism, Peter Calthorpe, entered the fray with a review of the philosophical underpinning of urbanism.

If the Stevens and Rothwell articles didn’t already convince you of the wrong-headedness of Wendell Cox, the two articles above probably aren’t going to sway you either. But the four rebuttals show the breadth of urbanist thinking, from humor to the exposure of logical fallacies to the underlying philosophy. Perhaps Wendell Cox did urbanism a favor by providing a convenience focal point for the barrage.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated. Please comment below or email me. And thanks for reading. - Dave Alden (davealden53@comcast.net)

Dave Alden is a Registered Civil Engineer. He has worked on energy and land use projects in California, Oregon, and Washington. He also was the president of a minor league baseball team for two seasons. He lives on the west side of Petaluma with his wife and four dogs. The blog that he writes can be found at http://northbaydesignkit.blogspot.com. He can also be followed on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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