Are older cities necessary?

Of course they are; suburbs don't exist without them.   A Post-Standard letter

October 02, 2017

To the Editor:

Regarding John Gann's commentary, "Are older cities necessary?" The answer is "Yes, they are." And it's a baseless derogatory leading question to ask.

Gann says, "But we don't take even the fastest highways to places we don't want to go". A poor analogy since roughly 40,000 suburbanites commute into Syracuse each day.

Gann says, "Paradoxically, suburbs started with every disadvantage." Really? Starting with a clean slate is hardly a disadvantage. Nor are favorable government policies including subsidized infrastructure (roads, utilities), VA and FHA housing loans, lower taxes (initially), and only middle to upper class families moving in. Many of these state and federal policies directly undermined city development and left behind a weaker tax base and also the poor and disabled who need access to government services. Cities also host the majority of non property tax paying county, state, and federal buildings, universities, hospitals and other non-profits. These entities serve both city and suburban residents but only city residents pay for the loss of tax revenue.

Trends (move to suburbs) don't last forever. Higher taxes over time, new development ever further from the city, and a growing recognition of isolation has made the "suburban living" calculus much less appealing. That is why there is a growing trend toward "city living".

Suburbs don't exist without cities. In fact, a city and its suburb are part of the same economic and social ecosystem. What separates us is our electoral and resulting governmental system that slices and dices us into our own separately governed city, towns, and villages according to our economic, racial, and ethnic background.

Any substantial improvement in the economic and cultural prosperity of CNY will require city and suburbs to work together as a unit. County-wide electoral reform (multi-seat districts and ranked voting) and some local government restructuring is the key to more sensible and coordinated public policy in the public interest.

Carlo Moneti