Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Slamming the Suburbs

"I lower my head in astonishment and embarrassment for those of you who need gas guzzlers to make it from your stepford suburbs into town every day."

The above comment came from an annoyed Tallahassee.com poster who was defending recently-announced plans for condos along Gaines Street. In his/her defense, they were responding to an equally cranky post criticizing the project. But I am so tired of all suburb-dwellers being stereotyped as Hummer-driving evildoers who, when not cheating on their spouses or calling Rush Limbaugh, shoot endangered wildlife for fun. Frankly, I agreed with everything the poster said until s/he opened fire on everyone who lives outside of Capital Circle.

When we moved to Tallahassee eight years ago, the first places we looked for houses were in town. I fell in love with Lafayette Park, Betton Hills and Midtown, and I told our Realtor not to bother showing us anything in Killearn. Nothing against Killearn, but I didn't want the commute. This was right before housing prices went nuts, but we were new parents who didn't have tons of money to spend. So after ruling out flood zones, fixer-uppers, Killearn and in-town neighborhoods we couldn't afford (see: Lafayette Park, Myers and Betton Hills), we settled on Buck Lake. In other words, we didn't choose the 'burbs because we were desperate to get away from fast-and-furious urban Tallahassee. (Besides, according to my utilties bill, I'm a bonafide city dweller.)

When I was in my 20s, I lived in a series of old, funky apartments in urban neighborhoods. So my dream house isn't a huge, gated home in Golden Eagle; it's a Craftsman-style bungalow close to downtown. But even in this market, those kinds of homes — the ones that don't need any work — are expensive. I don't have the time or the funds for a major renovation project. I have even less patience with a certain kind of ZIP code snob who thinks no one outside of their neighborhood listens to NPR or buys fair-trade coffee.

A) I don't drive an SUV.
B) My "Stepford" neighborhood is pretty diverse.
C) I'm rooting for a more vibrant urban core. Maybe I'll even get to live in it.

Can't we all just get along?

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