How do we make housing work for everyone?

All of Cobb County suffers from subpar land use. The reason for this has a lot to do with safe streets, but also an issue entirely of it’s own: the suburban experiment.

Modern cities have been designed in such a way where housing development is encouraged to spread farther out from the city center,where a lot of businesses and jobs are. Many types of developments are explicitly disallowed from being next to each other, even if they are completely compatible in terms of fostering a vibrant space for people to live.

To put this in human terms, this means that instead of the local grocery store being a 5 minute walk away, it’s a 40 minute walk away. Just walking out of the subdivision you live in may take up to one fourth of that walk.

All of our spaces, outside of notable exceptions like Smyrna Market Village and some historic districts, have been purposefully separated from each other. While the intention behind this may seem logical on face value, it causes many issues.

One of the biggest issues this causes is with housing. By limiting the land where you can build places for people to live, it limits the housing supply and makes housing of all types more expensive. This directly leads to more housing insecurity and homelessness.

This also contributes to more traffic. When people are incentivized to live outside of the city center, in order to get to places where we need to be everyone has to funnel into one place at similar times of day. Given the distances between these places, and no transit, people choose to drive.

This also means that in the places that people do want to go, parking takes up a significant amount of space to accommodate for all of the cars. All of our cities enforce this through minimum parking requirements which makes the problem even worst by forcing developers to build giant parking lots, further limiting the land we have at our disposal.

The Solution

Our cities should be allowed to grow in natural and organic ways, and not be forced into staying stagnant based on us wanting to keep them how they are. Through our current land use and zoning policies we restrict neighborhoods from having the ability to grow, and create more issues rather than solving them. We should allow our neighborhoods to expand when they need to, and allow our downtown centers to do so as well (instead of being taken over by giant parking lots).

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