How common is your surname?

by WCE

This website tells you how common your surname is around the world. Both my maiden name and my married name are relatively uncommon, with a few hundred or a thousand people around the world who have each. Is your surname common or rare? If it’s common, where in the world is it common? Are there any surnames you input for fun where something about the results surprised you?

Search for Meanings & Distribution of 11 Million Surnames

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123 thoughts on “How common is your surname?

  1. I have a very uncommon last name (let’s say, Figgletypop, for the sake of this story), especially in the West. We were the only Figgletypops in our state.

    Funny story – had a patient in residency (in an area where the name was slightly common) who had my exact last name. He was around my age, in a lot of pain. I introduced myself, “Hi Mr Figgletypop! I’m Dr. Figgletypop” (“urrrhhggh…No sh!t?” he said), and then got his workup started. After he was more comfortable, I went into chat.

    I said, I’m from [Western State]. He said, “Oh, I grew up around here. My Dad was from [Western State] though. He was never around, I don’t really know him.” My heart stopped for a few beats. “Your dad was a Figgletypop from….” “No – I took my mom’s last name. His was Johnson.”

    The website was cool – says all of the FIggletypops are descended from one person in the old country, who immigrated here. Which makes sense – it is a decidedly ethnic name with no members left in the old country.

  2. The most interesting thing I learned was how popular my name is in the Dominican Republic,which helps explain the number of MLB players that share my last name. The second most interesting thing is my mom’s maiden name has its roots in Portugal and not in Spain. It’s much more common than I expected in South American countries.

  3. Both married and maiden names are very rare.

    Once I got a call from a visitor to the US who shared my maiden name. He had found me in the phone book. Unfortunately so much of my family history on my dad’s side is unknown, I couldn’t tell if we were somehow related. Nice guy though. I’ve only run into one other, at college.

    DH’s surname is not showing up in the region from which his grandparents emigrated. Hmm, faulty database or political?

  4. Oh, I could spend *lots* of time on this today, thanks WCE. (Add irony font, as I am totally slammed at work)

    Apparently there are about 14,000 of me in the US. Almost all of us are in various British colonies — not surprising, given that it is a pretty traditional name — except for an unexplained number in Brazil. The highest percentage is N. Ireland (which I guess is not surprising, since that’s where we went when we got kicked off the island); the second-highest percentage is US (which, again, I guess is not surprising, since that’s where the 2nd son went 100 years later thanks to primogeniture). [And I am not counting any of the many variants in this] Much to my annoyance, one particular variant (the way *everyone* misspells my name) is actually more common than my own spelling.

    Meanwhile, my mom apparently only has 23 relatives in the US with her surname. Wow! And none in Germany, where her ancestors came from — closest is Denmark.

    DH’s name is a little more common than mine. It is also highly US-and-Canada focused, which isn’t surprising, because they are the classic “Ellis Island just chopped off the last syllable” story. What is surprising is that their original name tracks exclusively to Russia (we thought Germany/E. Europe). So maybe the Pogroms assisted in an earlier migration west.

  5. Mine is very common, which is good as when you interact with people they can easily spell it. I can imagine having a name like Dzieduszycki would be an ongoing hassle.

  6. My name is common but my H’s name is rare. Members of his family have become FB friends with others solely on the basis of their common names, even with no apparent close relation.

  7. Huh. Mine is less common than I thought. My husband’s last name is much more common than mine. They’re both standard, one-syllable English words.

  8. Mine is so ordinary that when someone asks me to spell it, I just look at them as if they have oatmeal for brains and repeat it. Terrible of me, I know, but there are lots of us and only one way to spell it. That’s one of the main reasons I never changed it.

    The only annoying thing is the number of other people with my first and last name, which means I get a fair amount of misdirected email.

  9. Sky – I ask people to spell their names all the time, because I can’t remember them. I’m curious how easy it is to spell – I can’t think of a last name that doesn’t have a few variants – like Smith, Smythe, Johnson, Jansen.

  10. My last name is shared by just under 10,000 people (3,000 in the U.S.) – so I guess that’s somewhat rare. It’s definitely very unusual for me to run into people with my last name. It’s most prevalent in the US and then in England which does not surprise me. The one fun fact is that it has the highest density in Grenada – but that must be because Grenada is so small. About 33,000 people share DH’s last name.

  11. It’s most prevalent in the US and then in England which does not surprise me. The one fun fact is that it has the highest density in Grenada.

    Maybe one of your ancestors owned a sugar plantation and the people with that name are descendants of the um… former staff.

  12. My maiden name is a fairly common Irish name. Married name – only 2200 people. It’s a two word last name so there are a lot of variations.

  13. My last name, as expected, is most popular in Scotland and Australia. It is very rare in the US – there are only about 500 of us. It is more common in Canada.

    My DH’s last name is even stranger, but I know why. His last name is French origin. Today, it is a relatively common name in Canada abd not so common in the US (although not as rare as mine). It is also very common in a number of African nations, I am assuming because of the French origin. But even more bizarrely, it is pretty common in India. We knew that, because when DH lived in Manhattan, his full name was the same as someone in the Indian Embassy, so he used to get mixed up calls every so often.

    And most oddly, it does not appear in France. AT ALL. We knew that too. It died out in France, and proliferating in France’s colonies

  14. My maiden name is very rare – the website estimated 47 people globally. I think I am related to everyone who has that name. It’s not even common in the country of origin – it might have been changed in the 1800’s when ancestors came over. I think I was likely the only person in the world with my first name-last name combo.

    Married name is relatively common in the country of origin and areas to where those people immigrated. Not particularly common where I live now, but there are plenty of people with my exact name even in just the US.

  15. There are a lot of Jews in Argentina and Chile. I had a college roommate who was Jewish from Chile (and another who was Jewish from Curacao)

  16. One of the cool things about Qebec culture is that people know who their ancestors are. Not many people came from France originaly, and they were all registered in logs. And then, as they had babies, those babies were all registered in the parishes. At some point, the provincial government put all those records into a database, and you can now go to a museum in Quebec City, and look up who your original ancestor was. So DH knows the name and a brief bio of his direct ancestor who came from France (from La Rochelle) and his wife (an orphan from Rouen). If you can do that, you are termed pure laine (pure wool).

    We also know where the original farm was, on the Ile d’orleans in the St Lawrence. We rode by on our bikes one summer when bike touring.

  17. There are around 5600 with my maiden name in the US, and only 1300 in Ireland. There are 29,000 of my married name in the US, and around 3600 in England.

    I was weirdly excited to meet a colleague with my maiden name when I was in our California office. I like to look into our genealogy, and can get sucked into Ancestry when I’m playing around with my account.

  18. My last name is the result of colonial influences. However, it is not showing up in the country/countries of origin as I expected. It shows up in the home country which may mean that there was a spelling change along the way.
    Also, with immigration it is showing up in the Canada, Australia, the Middle East and the U.S.

  19. @Mooshi – That’s really interesting. That part of the family has been in North America for a very long time, but made their way to what became the US a long time ago as well via the fur trade. I wonder what we would be able to find out.

  20. DH’s surname is very English but relatively rare. Everyone always misspells it. The annoying thing is that the misspelled version is 4x more rare than DH’s version.
    Many people mispronounce the name as well. DD and her 4th grade teacher got into an argument, with the teacher insisting that DD was mispronouncing her own last name.
    It’s one reason I didn’t change my last name.

  21. I wonder what the Queen and Prince Phillip would think of it.

    I wonder if they will watch it? I bet they will. Can you imagine how surreal it must be to watch a television series about your life? I’m not nearly as old as the queen but things that happened 25 years ago are now just snippets of memory. At 90, I wonder how many memories of 70 years ago you still have.

  22. Mine is ranked ~1300th most common globally, my husband’s is ~1,000,000th. I do have a name doppelganger over in Kailua. She’s actually a FB friend of a FB friend — I believe they both were Little League parents together — and I think I first learned of her because the dance store we used to go to for ballet had her in their database as well so we had to make sure the notes about which size ballet slipper was last purchased went under the correct HM.

  23. My maiden name is very common as over 4 million people share it and seems to be according the map in every country. My married name shares it with 36,000 people so less common then my maiden but certainly common enough.

    Is there a way to know which name is considered the most common?

  24. My maiden name is most common in the European country where my grandparents came from followed by Mexico. Not very common in the US. My married name is common in the US and has several alternative spellings.

  25. Just watched The Crown over the weekend. Really enjoyed it. Is there more than Season 1? Last episode I watched involved the final decision on Margaret’s marriage.

  26. I really liked the Crown, but they probably won’t release season 2 until 2017.

    My name is not common, but there are a decent number of people in the US with the same last name. I did a search on my grandfather’s last name when he arrived from Poland, and that name was VERY uncommon. Just 50 people around the world. He dropped the first half of a longer name to get to this shorter version that is more common.

    I was surprised to find that my husband’s surname is common around the world. There are a lot of them, but there aren’t as many in the US.

    I generally have to spell my first and last names because my first name sounds like a really common name, but it is spelled without one of the letters. My last name has an extra letter so people generally ask me to spell both of my names.

  27. Is there more than Season 1?

    There will be. I think they are planning a 10 episode season to cover every decade up through the death of Diana.

  28. I’ve been saving the Crown to binge watch over Thanksgiving holiday and can’t wait. We have zero plans on Friday, and that’s all I’m going to do.

    Binge watching is one of my favorite things ever.

  29. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy binge watching shows, but my husband doesn’t like to binge.
    This isn’t generally an issue because we have different tastes, but it was a problem with the Americans. We started the show when DD was away at camp so we could have watched a lot of episodes. He likes to take a break so it took a while to get through the four seasons.

    i was thrilled that he wasn’t interested in the Crown because I could just keep swiping for the next episode.

  30. I’m planning on watching a lot of The Americans (we got distracted by the World Series and then DH got busy at work) over Thanksgiving break. I do want to get to the Crown too but Gilmore Girls is also coming so I have to prioritize.

  31. He likes to take a break so it took a while to get through the four seasons

    I’m more like your husband — I just can’t sit still for that long. I don’t know if it’s more needing a break from the story, or just getting physically antsy. Maybe both.

  32. “I just can’t sit still for that long”

    I’m kinda like this also. I think for me it’s both my attention span and getting antsy. However, I rarely like anything that much that I’d want to watch for hours. I did watch the first episode of The Crown and really enjoyed it, so I’m going to see if I can binge watch at least a few episodes at a time.

    Are you that way with reading? I find it hard to sit for hours and read. I used to be much better at keeping focused for hours on end, certainly when I was a student and when I worked where this was a requirement. Maybe I’ve just gotten lazy. Right now I’m reading a good book (fiction for a change) that is holding my interest so let’s see how I do.

    Of course, part of the challenge with all this is finding the time. Although, if it were a priority I’m sure I’d make the time.

  33. My married name is the 1258th most common in the world. It’s definitely German, but US and Brazil have the highest populations with that last name. Germany is listed 6th. The highest density of people with that name is Greenland.

    My maiden name is 2354th most common in the world. US and England have the most people with that name, and the highest density is a small island nation that I had to look up because I didn’t know where it was.

    I’m not surprised by the commonality of the names. My married name has many variants and is a pain to spell, so that might add to some of the commonality.

  34. this site is somewhat addictive. My grandmother’s maiden name is originally in England – but now is most commonly found in India which I would not have guessed.

  35. I just did my grandmother’s maiden name… it’s very rare, apparently, and in popularity, the US ranks 7th on the Top 10 list. The highest population density with that last name is a republic only 4 hours away from my grandmother’s ancestral home… maybe worth taking a trip… :)

  36. “Binge watching is one of my favorite things ever.”

    +1. I have a hard time stopping anything when I am into it (last night, I finished one document at 8PM, couldn’t settle down, and worked on another until 10 — first day I was free of kid duty in a while, and I just couldn’t stop). But there is something about flickering screens — in law school, I totally got sucked into Tetris and spent hours in the office/lounge just playing and playing and playing. Netflix just kills me when I find something I like, because the next one is just always. right. there. I think I watched “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” in about 2 days when DH was out of town.

    It’s sort of like bacon: better just not to start.

  37. I like to watch one or maybe two tv episodes at once. I can’t binge watch. However, I can read a book for hours. Our favorite shows right now are Luke Cage and The Ranch on Netflix.

  38. Apparently there are only 29 people in the U.S. with my surname. Five of those 29 are in my immediate family (myself, by brother, my SIL, and their two kids). There are a couple of hundred in the Old Country. Outside the U.S. and the Old Country, there are only seven people worldwide with our name.

    My name is ethnic and hard to spell/pronounce. My husband’s name is also ethnic and hard to spell/pronounce (different ethnicity). One reason I didn’t change my name when I got married is that I figured I would stick with the PITA ethnic name that I was used to, rather than switch to a different PITA ethnic name. I might have been tempted to switch if DH’s surname were Spencer or Walker or something like that.

    DH and I are watching The Crown like we watched Downton Abbey – one episode a week on Sunday nights. But I’m planning to watch Gilmore Girls as soon as it comes out!

  39. I love binge watching and so does DH, but it’s annoying when he falls asleep. Am I allowed to keep going? The Americans was such a great binge watch, as was 24 and Homeland.

    However, I can no longer binge read the way I used to. Not even on an airplane. Not sure if it’s an age thing or an attention span thing (as in, I can only pay attention to blog-post sized bits of text and then my mind starts wandering).

  40. “Netflix just kills me when I find something I like, because the next one is just always. right. there.”

    Yes! Exactly! Especially for the programs with 42 minute episodes.

  41. I finished with The Crown and don’t have anything lined up.
    I watch one espisode in the evenings, so about 59 minutes. I will try to watch an interesting series every evening till I finish or get tired of it

  42. Excellent timing on the binge watching discussion, given the imminent arrival of The Artist Formerly Known as Top Gear. :-) :-) :-)

  43. Louise – it’s not a very common name in India (there are about 4,000 people with the name) – but you find this name in India more than any other country. It originally came from England but there are now only 400 people with it; about 1,000 in the US.

  44. @ Scarlettt – it might be residual effects of chemo. Same thing has happened to my dad,who used to be a huge reader.

  45. There are 10 people listed with my surname. I think they are all my immediate family or grandparents. If you spell it right, you can always find me with the internet.

  46. I went from an uncommon maiden name towards the end of the alphabet to a more common married name towards the beginning – it has been great!

    A fun fact about me – my initials spell my name. For example, if my name was Mary Ann Richards and I married someone whose last name was Young, my full initials (which I don’t use because I only use 3) spell MARY. When I was a kid I did have the thought that I should marry someone with a last name that began with “Y”, but forgot about it, until I was dating DH.

  47. “Yes, I love to binge read as well. I can read for hours and hours.”

    See, I call that “reading.”

    I guess I am guilty of this; I have real problems putting down books once I pick them up (or: once they get good), and too many times I have read until 3 or 4 in the morning (even after I was old enough to know better). I just don’t think of it as “binge reading,” because it’s one book — I’m not sitting down to read all of Jane Austen at once.

  48. @SSK — that’s really cool! We sort of worried about initials, but from the “not get beat up at recess” standpoint, as some of our early name choices resulted in bad combinations of initials (think something like “BUM” or “ASS”).

  49. My maiden name and my married name are both kind of rare, between 400-500 incidents worldwide. My maiden name is spelled with an umlaut (..). Since that isn’t common in the US, my parents added an (e) to the name. I’m always thrown off when I see one of my relatives write their name – my first thought is that they’ve misspelled it. My grandfather traced our family tree back to the 1700’s. So many men were lost in wars.

  50. I really have to find the right book to read all day, but it can happen (assuming I have a day where I can sit and read!) My problem is that I don’t have those big blocks of times, which means with exciting books I’ll do what my family calls sucking the life out of them — I want to know what happens, I know I won’t have time to get there right now because obligations / bedtime and I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to it, so I skip ahead a bit to peek. Do too much of that, and you get less interested in finishing the book because you already know where it’s going, so you pick up another, and eventually you realize you’ll never finish the original one because it’s now just a broken husk that you sucked the life out of.

  51. My name has no history and supposedly only 50 people, but that’s the Americanized spelling.

    When I married DW, I had a good mind to take HER nice, simple Scotch-Irish surname, but she wouldn’t hear of it. So now we’re both stuck spelling and pronouncing mine.

  52. Totally unrelated by neat story about one of the outreach programs run by Chabad in NYC. http://www.wsj.com/articles/tales-from-the-mitzvah-tank-1479427418

    “So, what’s going on?” asked the cheerful Chabad rabbi who helped me through the prayer, including wrapping my arm seven times with the long leather strap.

    I told him that my daughter was getting married in a few weeks, immediately regretting it, knowing what the response would be. “Mazel Tov!” he announced, before asking me if the man was Jewish.

    I had to admit he was not, which drew stern clucking from the rabbi. “It could be worse,” he said. But will he convert? Highly unlikely, I told him. The rabbi reassured me that at least my grandchildren would be Jewish, then a look of urgency came over him.

    “Does your daughter have a Mezuzah?” he asked, referring to the sealed parchment of Torah portions that Jews traditionally affix to their doorjambs—the universal sign of a Jewish household. I meekly shook my head.

    He asked for her cellphone number, offering to go put one up for her. I wasn’t used to such personal attention from a rabbi. In 20 years of attending a shul on the Upper West Side, none of the rabbis ever offered a house call. I doubt they would consider a missing Mezuzah grounds for an emergency visit. I politely demurred.”

  53. Livestrong, I notice you’ve been joining us over the last few posts, so I wanted to say welcome to the group!

  54. My married name only has 900 or so people in the US. Oddly enough it is most common in an East African French speaking country and then India. DH’s family is unaware of any ancestry to these regions. We were aware that it is fairly common in India, but the Africa country is really interesting. It is not a common French name.

    My maiden name is a little more common. And no surprises where else it is common. My dad’s ancestry is from a part of Europe that had a lot of border changes so the country that this name is most common in (Germany) is not the country that the family is from, nor did they ever speak German. But the history of the area is interesting as it relates to why the name is now considered German.

  55. Ohh, I shouldn’t have started flipping through the Sharper Image gift catalog. Everyone on my gift list wants a personalized bobble-head doll, right?

  56. Lemon, Cameroon and Togo were German colonies from the Scramble for Africa (late 1800s) until the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI.

  57. According to that site, there are over 13000 people with my last name. The relatives I know about in Germany are in SW Germany, but the highest density of the name is apparently in Austria. Go figure.

    My last name has a handful of letters. There is only one that people nearly always get right if I don’t spell it out. My son has (part of) his father’s last name. It has twice as many letters, and people generally don’t try to writie it until they’ve heard it spelled. There are apparently over 8000 people with that name, mostly in his father’s home country.

    There is someone in NYC with the same first and last name as my son. There is a young woman with my name. I think she is an interior decorator from Folorado who went to school in Atlanta.

    My college roommate has a very common last name (1.7 mil worldwide). I recall getting a piece of mail intended for someone else and being very excited that there was someone else on campus with the same name. It was funny, because she really didn’t see why the fuss, and I couldn’t see why she didn’t think it was cool.

    Mooshi, on knowing your ancestory, Somalis consider that part of a kid’s name. Most people can go back 20+ generations off the top of their head. It’s not unusual for adults to meet someone and know immediately who their last common relative was. If they don’t, that’s the first thing they talk about. I can’t fathom having that connection to history. About that far back, I have a relative who came over a couple boats after the Mayflower. I am aware of one bloody incident and one land/water feature with that branch of the family’s name, then nothing until my great-grandparents.

  58. SM – my take on her, and this is not directed at you, is that she’s entertaining to read once. And some of the houses she picks are pretty good examples of over-the-top ridiculousness.

    But after a while, I get tired of the snark of a 22-year-old architecture student who, according to the Huff Post article, is taking herself and her “mission” way too seriously. Let her have a family first, and decide whether she really wants to prioritize her insistence on using only the finest building materials over things like financial security, college and retirement savings, and vacations. If so, great, but I don’t really need to hear about her smug disapproval.

    And if she wants to talk about energy usage, I think LfB and I could email her our respective utility bills that she may find quite eye-opening.

  59. “In her ideal world, McMansions would eventually disappear as people traded sprawling suburbia for sustainability ― dense, walkable and diverse neighborhoods.”

    A 22-year old can dream. It turns out that lots of people don’t actually like living in dense and walkable neighborhoods, especially after they have a few kids.

  60. If people didn’t want to live in dense and walkable neighborhoods once they had children, we would expect that to be a cheaper option than living in the suburbs. However, in most urban areas, it is much, much cheaper to have a 3000 sqft house in a good school district 20 miles from the center than it is to have 1800 sq feet on a bus line in an area with a high walk score and a questionable school district. Of course there are parts of the urban core (big or small parts, depending on the city) that are cheap to live in – but there are run-down parts of the suburbs/exurbs that are even cheaper.

    So, there’s no accounting for taste. However, the economics seems to imply that most people would prefer to live in the dense and walkable neighborhood.

  61. Also, I think the discussion of McMansions (as defined by 22-year-old architectural students) often neglects that there are plenty of affordable housing options, suburban and otherwise, which are not McMansions. New construction is not, by definition, always a McMansion.

    The first, I think, is McMansiony https://www.newhomesource.com/homedetail/planid-1193412

    This one, at a similar price point, is not: https://www.newhomesource.com/homedetail/planid-1213482

  62. “However, the economics seems to imply that most people would prefer to live in the dense and walkable neighborhood.”

    Your argument would be persuasive if both options were available in equal numbers. They’re certainly not.

    Second, most people also prefer to live closer to where they work. In doing so, many find the density that comes with doing so to be an acceptable tradeoff rather than a sought-after feature.

  63. To add to Milo’s comment, it’s the location that accounts for the price difference, not the density or lack of it. Land costs more closer to the city center than it does out of town.

  64. Another point about this perpetual debate that hit me on our recent trip was when we were driving south on 17 en route to the Phoenix airport and, seemingly out of nowhere, we drove past a small sign that read “Entering Phoenix City Limits.” It seemed like a joke. You look around at that point, and it’s almost nothing but miles and miles of sand, saguaro cacti, and some mountains on the horizon, save for a constant scattering of low-density, newish subdivisions.

    But when those new subdivisions’ residents got registered in the last Census, urbanists like the aforementioned blogger read the data and happily exclaimed that Americans have finally become enlightened and are choosing to live in CITIES!!! where they can ditch their cars and blah blah blah.

    The data is heavily biased toward this misrepresentation as the population has a net shift from the Northeast to the Southeast and Southwest, where cities like Phoenix, Denver, Jacksonville (especially Jacksonville!), even Charlotte, et. al, have municipal borders that reach way out into very low-density areas.

  65. The location is desirable, and therefore expensive – I think we can agree on that? The argument is about what makes it desirable. Milo is probably right – for some people it is convenience to work. That is partially true for my family. However, I don’t think that explains why the vast majority of my neighbors live where they do (and pay a premium to do it).

  66. “I don’t think that explains why the vast majority of my neighbors live where they do”

    You’re back to the old “Nobody I know voted for Nixon” argument.

  67. The location is desirable, and therefore expensive – I think we can agree on that? The argument is about what makes it desirable. Milo is probably right – for some people it is convenience to work. That is partially true for my family. However, I don’t think that explains why the vast majority of my neighbors live where they do (and pay a premium to do it).

    So your argument is “everyone who lives in my urban, high-density neighborhood pays a premium for the location, so therefore everyone thinks it’s a desirable place to live?” The vast majority of my neighbors live in a low-density suburban-type area, and pay a premium to do so because it’s one of the more expensive neighborhoods in Denver due to its location, so clearly not everyone who is willing to pay a premium wants to live in a high-density location. The most expensive area around Denver (Cherry Hills) is very low density, and people pay a huge premium to live there.

    All it shows is different people have different preferences.

  68. The data is heavily biased toward this misrepresentation as the population has a net shift from the Northeast to the Southeast and Southwest, where cities like Phoenix, Denver, Jacksonville (especially Jacksonville!), even Charlotte, et. al, have municipal borders that reach way out into very low-density areas.

    Most of the Mid-sized cities are really just big suburbs. Denver is locked in pretty tightly by the surrounding towns, but most of the neighborhoods are very suburban in density and layout. Same with places like Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City, etc.

  69. Denver – I agree with you, but just one caveat on our argument here is that I’m always surprised how so many people who clearly want to live in low-density areas and, of course, want new houses with all the attendant features, are likewise apparently willing to accept very small lots. This was kind of surprising leaving the Denver airport toward CO Springs (I think it was Castle Rock, which I’ve heard you mention), and looking from the highway, there are miles and miles of great vast open Western spaces, but the dozens of subdivisions have thousands of large, new, single-family homes packed pretty tightly together.

  70. want new houses with all the attendant features, are likewise apparently willing to accept very small lots.

    That’s me, babe. I admit I don’t like being so close to the neighbors, but the houses in Stapleton are designed so that you’re never looking directly through your neighbors’ windows. And we like having a very small garden to tend. No mowing. Within one mile we have a great new rec center, a new branch library, a grocery store, and a huge park with running/walking trails and a fun playground for the kids and tons of green space for soccer, kite flying, etc. 20 minutes to downtown, and good public transit if you prefer.

  71. “However, the economics seems to imply that most people would prefer to live in the dense and walkable neighborhood.”

    Let’s focus on Totebaggers in Arlington — educated professionals with at least one school-age child and one parent who commutes to a workplace on a regular basis and can afford a home that costs about $800K. At that price point, they can choose to live in a 3 BR condo in dense walkable Ballston or a 3-4 BR older non-expanded SFH in East Falls Church. If most families leave dense, walkable Ballston by the time their first child reaches kindergarten age, if not before, what does that tell you about their preferences? Dense and walkable means less square footage, and most people still want more, not less, square footage as they begin raising families. They don’t necessarily want big lots, but they want big kitchens and work areas and closets.

  72. “And we like having a very small garden to tend. No mowing.”

    I don’t fault anyone her preferences. I spent five hours yesterday afternoon with a leaf blower strapped to my back.

  73. The schools aren’t very good in that part of Arlington. People are obsessed with schools around here. My favorite neighborhood is Lyon Village in Arlington but there was nothing in our price range that would satisfy my husband.

  74. “People are obsessed with schools around here.’

    They’re obsessed everywhere. If not obsessed, certainly they place schools at the top of their list in terms of where to live. So what came first, the chicken or the egg? The schools or the neighborhoods? Really, in most locations a high density of UMC families would generate they types of public schools they want.

  75. “But after a while, I get tired of the snark of a 22-year-old architecture student”

    See, to me, this is a feature instead of a bug. I think it’s kind of cute, in the patronizing “oh, honey, just wait” way. :-)

    I actually do agree with Ada here, but I think both sides have good points, it is just how you look at it.

    1. If you look at price per square foot, Ada is correct: people are willing to pay more to live closer in. You can argue the specific factors that lead to this choice (are the numbers accurate or does it reflect faux “city limits” assumptions; is it trendy walkable cute shops or just less soul-deadening commute time; etc.). But the basic data suggest that on average, people prefer to live in/close to cities.

    2. OTOH, if you hold price constant and ask which is more desirable, you will get a different answer based on demographics — most specifically, people without kids are more willing to live farther away. Again, you can argue about “why” (e.g., is it space or schools?), and you can see whether those trends are changing (e.g., increasing number of retirees choosing to move closer in), but again, I think the data suggest that “closer in” becomes less important in the decision-making process when kids are involved.

  76. Kate,
    Arlington has some good magnet programs, and Washington-Lee and Yorktown are essentially interchangeable in many respects; certainly W-L is a much more competitive option than it was 30 years ago when we first moved to Arlington. So long as you are in North rather than South Arlington, there aren’t serious issues. My point is that many, perhaps most families who can afford to live in dense, walkable neighborhoods don’t choose to do so because they are not willing to make the necessary tradeoffs in square footage and garage/yard availability, even holding the schools relatively constant.

  77. “But the basic data suggest that on average, people prefer to live in/close to cities.”

    Some people obviously do. But I don’t think that most do.

    With your reasoning, you might argue that, since the Porsche 911 sells for over $100,000, the basic data suggest that, on average, people prefer to drive very small cars. And you’d say, yes, of course when they have kids, other factors might become more important, like having a backseat and a trunk, but look at what people are willing to pay for a Porsche, even compared to a BMW 335!. The smaller you get, the more money people are willing to pay.

    Obviously, you’re ignoring that far greater number of people, even without young children, who are buying F-150s, Tahoes, and Range Rovers.

  78. I think the level of crime/litter is underconsidered as a factor in why people choose to live where they do. Where I’ve lived and live, the dense neighborhoods are near the local manufacturing plant, with the attendant smells, traffic and noise. In my current city, the denser areas are where the drug problems are most common and removing litter from your yard is a significant obligation, the way leaves and mowing are obligations for my yard. If I could live somewhere with middle class “respect” for common areas that was dense, especially without 4 kids, that might appeal. Living in an apartment in a college town did nothing to make me appreciate residential density.

    I wonder how much of the appeal of stores/restaurants in dense areas is because the people choosing those neighborhoods now have more discretionary income than the average? In one local city of 50,000, there are great urban neighborhoods by the university. In the other local city of 50,000, the urban neighborhood lacks amenities other than a high density of laundromats. The kind of people who live in an urban neighborhood definitely affect the schools.

  79. Denver – I agree with you, but just one caveat on our argument here is that I’m always surprised how so many people who clearly want to live in low-density areas and, of course, want new houses with all the attendant features, are likewise apparently willing to accept very small lots. This was kind of surprising leaving the Denver airport toward CO Springs (I think it was Castle Rock, which I’ve heard you mention), and looking from the highway, there are miles and miles of great vast open Western spaces, but the dozens of subdivisions have thousands of large, new, single-family homes packed pretty tightly together.

    Milo, that’s because that’s how all the new developments are. There just aren’t any subdivisions being built with larger lot sizes. I think most people would prefer larger lots but developers aren’t providing them because they want to maximize their revenue. The price points of these homes are such that there would not be enough buyers for homes on larger lots at higher prices.

    A typical new development in Castle Rock has home prices starting around $350k. Increase the lot size by 50% increases the price to starting at $525k. There simply isn’t enough demand at that price to be out in Castle Rock. For that price, you can get a comparable house much closer to Denver (on a small lot, of course), but still in a very nice area.

  80. I realize that increasing the lot size wouldn’t increase the price quite that much because they are still only building one house, but the point is the same. There aren’t enough buyers who are able and willing to pay the higher prices for new homes with bigger lots.

  81. I’m with Milo here, even though we chose the opposite. I feel we are very much in the minority in choosing to stay in the dense, close in neighborhood with school aged kid(s). Most of our friends left for the suburbs or the outer edges of the city before kindergarten for the basements, the yard, the schools, etc. Of course the very wealthy have those things in the city center. But our choice to live in a condo instead of an older house in a walkable inner ring suburb or a new construction house further out is not really a popular one from my vantage point. Then again, there are plenty of kids for little league and swimming and soccer and enrichment classes and chess club and everything else. So it’s not like there are none.

  82. DD – around here lot cost is a huge driver of the small lots and big houses. Our lot cost more than the $ to build the house. To go from 1/3 acre to 1/2 or 2/3 acre is cost prohibitive for many Totebaggers where I live.

  83. Here our new developments come at various price points. McMansions on small lots close in, town homes close in cost more. There is less land close in, so builders build much smaller communities. However on the outskirts there is still plenty of land and mid sized homes on small lots start at $250k.
    My DS was commenting on this as his friends live in different neighborhoods with commutes ranging from 10 minutes to 40 minutes and in houses ranging from big lots/old neighborhoods to small lots/new neighborhoods

  84. Oregon is an example of a state where zoning changes might improve density in certain areas. You have dense (house on 0.12 acre lot, some places developers choose 0.25 acre where land is less expensive) and then two levels of ruralish, with 2 and 5 acre lots. Our house is on a leftover 0.7 acre chunk surrounded by 5 acre lots. But the 2 or 5 acre minimum in the urban growth boundary (which is unchanged in many places since it was set in the early 1970’s) definitely affects home prices. I think the state decided it didn’t want to build the infrastructure for ~0.4 instead of 2 acre lots. I don’t know if that is being rethought at the state level for rapidly growing cities.

  85. Visiting relatives from the big city think our “city” is farmland because there are miles of developments, little shopping plazas all hidden by low walls and trees.

  86. Milo, yeah, I definitely thought the comments on her “mission” were funny. But didn’t most people on here think they were darn important at that age? I have not bookmarked the site, and doubt I’ll visit it again, but for a little detour on a Sun eve, it was fun. I’m surprised to see your comment on the building materials; I thought that and finishes were something that mattered to you.

    Money in Hillsborough County tends to go in 3 directions: South Tampa, north to New Tampa, or to Westchase. The most money by far is in South Tampa, which is the oldest, most dense, with the most commercial properties within walking distance of residences. People are tearing down “old” (=1960s) houses there to build new ones that leave a small front yard and either a small backyard or a little pool, but not both. The other two areas are adding more area, generally have larger lot sizes, and bigger houses are available for much less money. Different people pay the premium for S Tampa for different reasons–some certainly do like the walkability and convenience. For others it’s probably that the best public high school and most of the good privates are located there. And maybe some don’t like yardwork. People I know who’ve made the decision of where to build have all factored in house size for money. Friends who recently built in S Tampa (and are renting out their old house there) have furnished their new, bigger home nearly exclusively from second hand sites.

    WCE, I can’t tell from what you’ve written what you mean by “improving” density–increasing or decreasing it.

    Rocky, I can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s taken so long for developers here to come up with set-ups that don’t line up the windows from house to house! At our place in Germany, one room faced the street, but in the others I could do the Watusi naked with no fear that anyone outside would see me.

  87. “I thought that and finishes were something that mattered to you. ”

    Yes and no. I’m good with vinyl siding over the cedar it’s supposed to simulate. If cost were no consideration, I’d probably rip it all off, send it to the landfill, and have HardiPlank installed. But it’s not worth the $20k or so right now.

  88. “With your reasoning, you might argue that, since the Porsche 911 sells for over $100,000, the basic data suggest that, on average, people prefer to drive very small cars.”

    Well, no, you’d have to compare across the $100K cars, and then look at how things vary across various $$ thresholds (I suspect that the actual commonality is hp and lux finishes). But that’s also sort of like asking what the “average” homebuyer in the $2.5MM price range wants. If you’re looking to make generalizations about what “people” want, you need to look at something like a median or an average, or look at how the range of preferences varies over the price ranges.

    I do think it’s sort of interesting that so many of us believe (largely) in free markets, but yet there are so many explanations/excuses here about how in this case, the market data don’t accurately portray the story. If living nearer to work weren’t more appealing on average than more space, then people wouldn’t pay more per square foot for those locations (sort of like various areas in NYC through large swaths of the ’70s and ’80s). If a 2/3 acre yard was more valuable to buyers than 1/3 acre yards, then they’d be willing to pay an upcharge to make it cost-effective for builders to offer that alternative. If you assume an efficient market, then by definition what the market is offering reflects what people want, regardless of differences around the edges or variations in trends over time.

    I do agree with Milo on how your perception of the value of “quality” changes when you move from theoretical to actual. In CO, we found a builder who could build us a site-specific home with pretty good quality for maybe $375K. I gave him the plans for my dream home (similar size, similar number of bedrooms, similar “leave the basement unfinished for the future” approach), and he laughed and quoted us $750K. Fundamentally, character costs $$$. And “perfect” wasn’t worth 2x “good enough” (especially because we couldn’t have afforded the second option!).

  89. “but yet there are so many explanations/excuses here about how in this case, the market data don’t accurately portray the story.”

    It’s not an excuse, and I’m not saying that the overall market data doesn’t portray the correct story. I’m saying that focusing only on the markets where a small minority of the population lives (dense urban centers vs. suburban and rural) is just as foolish as focusing on Porsche 911 buyers and extrapolating their preferences to the market as a whole.

    Don’t look at the prices of the outliers, look at what the vast majority of people are actually buying and where they’re choosing to live. It ain’t downtown. The country has never stopped becoming more suburban.

    The argument I was refuting with the Porsche analogy was the argument that said “Well, since the price of downtown condos is so high, clearly that’s what most people would choose if they could afford it.” And I say bullshit, because that’s as wrong as assuming that most people would choose a 911 since that’s what some people are willing to pay for a very small car.

  90. Saac, I’m not sure what I mean by “improving” density either, in terms of increasing or decreasing. To me, allowing development on enough land to allow ~0.25 acre lots to be affordable would be an improvement, because I like fruit trees and the freedom to let my kids play outside unsupervised. (It’s possible that more dense neighborhoods will change social norms so that elementary school kids can play unsupervised at parks. Based on news reports from Silver Spring, that hasn’t happened in middle class urban areas.)

    Allowing affordable density between 0.12 acre lots and 2 acre lots would be an improvement because I value that individual freedom and choice. I don’t know if the net change in density would be an increase or a decrease. I suspect it would be an increase.

  91. So I don’t think that’s exactly what I was trying to say. I was reading your argument as “people want space, and they will always choose space, on average.” But it seems to me that by definition, when you have a consistently higher $/square foot in certain areas, these hypothetical people don’t always choose space, even on average, or the prices in the city would be lower, not higher. So there must be something about those areas over the past 10-20 years that people nowadays value more than space — affordability, commute, safety, schools, etc.

    But writing this also makes me realize that I probably have a very different perspective (call it the “old fart” perspective): when I was growing up, NO ONE wanted to live in any city, period. Because, you know, crime. Baltimore was selling houses for $1. NY and other locations had razed whole neighborhoods in the interest of “urban renewal.” No one wanted to live in DC because drug wars, risking death every day, etc. The prevailing ethos was Columbia, MD: let’s build our new suburban ideal, with decent, affordable houses across multiple income levels, connected by walking/biking trails and paths, all far, far away from that bad, evil downtown area. In short, I think most of the first 20 years of my life coincided with the nadir of “city life.”

    So from that perspective, it seems blindingly obvious that there has been a huge swing back to the cities. Those $1 homes of c.1978 are now $500K+; even in middling little Baltimore, living downtown costs 2-4x per square foot. Which then brings me back to, well, of course you can’t just say that “people prefer space and will always choose it on average,” because the first half of my life was the story of people choosing to go back to the city *instead* of coming to where I live. And this difference is not, like DC, population growth outstripping the available options; our population continues to decline, but more of those remainders seem to prefer the downtown core, and more of the abandoned homes are now moving farther away.

    So maybe the better way to say it is that “people” want to be close to work and schools and the conveniences they hold dear, but at some point other factors come into play, like safety and cost and neighborhood and space. So more people choose the city now, because it’s safe and close and there are awesome shops and they can afford as much space as they need. Until they can’t (e.g., get married/have kids), and then the priority list shifts again.

    (And FWIW, in the Porsche context, I’d argue it’s hp, luxury, and perceived status, not size — e.g., I think there are a significant number of large and small vehicles that are $100K+, and the common denominator is not size — it’s more power, finish quality, and big-status brands).

  92. Following up, I also wonder if there is a meeting place between the two. I think in the cities where you have seen both the huge price run-ups and the huge deltas between close-in and farther-out neighborhoods (NY, DC, SF, etc. — primarily older, dense cities, Silicon Valley excepted), there is a also a prevalence of high-paying jobs (that help drive the overall costs up) that are very high-demand in time (so low commute time is high priority to keep both high-paying job and sanity). And there is maybe also a big delta between the salaries of those high-paying jobs and the other jobs available (e.g., firefighter pay in SV cannot increase at the same rate as Google, etc.). I am thinking of Seattle housing prices, because everyone wants to work for Amazon, which is going to require 80-100-hr weeks, so all of a sudden over the past decade now you have Manhattan-size condos for Manhattan-size prices. Whereas when you look at many other “mid-America” locations, you don’t have the huge salary delta, you don’t have the same demand for huge workweeks and 24/7 accessibility, and so having that prime, close-in location is not worth that much of a premium (a 30-minute or even 1 hr+ commute is much reasonable when you are working 9-5 than 7-7).

    Phoenix seems to be an interesting example, because you don’t necessarily have the same core focus around the traditional “downtown” — yes, you have that, but you have the various fabs that built up several miles outside of town, you have the universities that are in nearby towns, major medical centers, etc. So you have multiple different employment draws, which means people are going different directions and not all heading to X at the same time. And that means there is more diffused competition for housing across different areas, and so there isn’t one sort of bulls-eye graph with decreasing costs as you get farther away.

    And then of course you get into other constraints that contribute to demand outstripping supply — e.g. development constraints (Portland, SF), which I’d also think are more common in those kinds of older, dense cities than mid-America; speed of construction (e.g., ND oil boom with $3K/mo. efficiency apartments and RVs because there just was no place to stay and no ability to build up the housing stock). Which just makes “nationwide” or “average” lessons even more difficult to draw.

  93. It’s funny, I have some kin (-in-law) who are your age and followed that very migration pattern: Columbia, and then to Baltimore, to those five-story two-car-garage elevator townhouses overlooking the Harbor. But after some job relocations, they’re not there any more (and they could be again, but they’re back in the suburbs. I think they didn’t fully comprehend what $30k+ in annual property taxes actually feels like.)

    I agree that after the cities got control of the crime, a lot of white people decided that it might suit them after all, and prices (in some cities, not all) have skyrocketed. But I’ve never been convinced that this indicates that a majority of people want to live downtown somewhere, or, as the initial statement read, in “dense, walkable” neighborhoods.

  94. Milo, I suspect that the proportion of people who want to live in dense neighborhoods depends on how the neighbors behave and whether construction includes appropriate soundproofing. I have read dozens of papers on soundproofing for apartment construction in Seoul. In Europe, there is probably a combination of soundproofing and enforcement of social norms for noisy behavior during certain hours.

    In the U.S., we may overvalue the freedom to flush our toilets whenever we please.

  95. … I am thinking of Seattle housing prices, because everyone wants to work for Amazon, which is going to require 80-100-hr weeks, so all of a sudden over the past decade now you have Manhattan-size condos for Manhattan-size prices. Whereas when you look at many other “mid-America” locations, you don’t have the huge salary delta, you don’t have the same demand for huge workweeks and 24/7 accessibility, and so having that prime, close-in location is not worth that much of a premium…

    You may remember my points about how inequality is going to get a lot worse based on demographic and economic factors, namely, to be as brief as possible, the increasing trends toward:
    1) 401(k)s vs. pensions
    1a. Wider range of outcomes as you have Totebagger/MMM types at one end and spendthrifts at the other end as opposed to most IBM pensioners in 1980 enjoying a similar standard of living commensurate with their final salary level.
    1b. The descendants of the diligent savers will inherit large amounts despite always being a “middle class” family.

    2) Fewer kids in Totebaggy families, concentrating the wealth and attention.

    To tie this back to your point, I suspect that what’s propping up the Seattles and other super-expensive markets is generational affluence. The parents may not be buying them the house outright, and they’re not necessarily living large, but I think in the neighborhoods of old, modest, $850k bungalows being purchased by 35-year-old software engineer couples, there’s a lot more help with downpayments than people openly discuss. And likewise, it means families like the WCEs simply find employment options elsewhere.

    And this contributes to our country’s political isolation as well, because in the Seattle neighborhoods that you’re thinking of, not only are your neighbors going to be limited to people with good educations and good, professional-class jobs, but you’ll be limited to people whose parents also had good educations and professional-class jobs.

  96. “In the U.S., we may overvalue the freedom to flush our toilets whenever we please.”

    lol. I don’t think I could overvalue that. I never think about it until these discussions, but the ability to flush away human excrement as soon as it’s expelled is one of the hallmarks of the Industrial Revolution, and I sure as Hell am not giving that up so that I can walk to Starbucks.

  97. But I’ve never been convinced that this indicates that a majority of people want to live downtown somewhere, or, as the initial statement read, in “dense, walkable” neighborhoods.

    Right. People want different things. A lot of people want to live in the dense, walkable neighborhoods. A lot of people don’t. The issue is that there is a push from the proponents of “new urbanism” and such to try to push their ideas onto those who like living the suburban lifestyle.

  98. Safety is, of course, a huge part of how suburbs were marketed. Safety from crime and from those nasty races of people living in town. It’s only in the past decade or two that suburban populations have gotten less white.

    Denver, yes, there is a small group pushing back. Doesn’t that happen any time there’s lots of money trying to convince us that “really” we like x instead of y?

  99. I agree that there is a huge lifestyle gap between people who are financially independent from high school on and people who receive family support. This is accentuated by having parents who require financial support vs. parents who provide support to their adult children.

    I think some yuppie-type people want to live in UMC, safe, dense, walkable neighborhoods. The laundromats don’t seem to be drawing people to our dense, historic neighborhood, though one of my techs has a cute historic home there- I got to see it on the local garden tour.

    He and his wife had their kids out of the house by ~43 and don’t mind the maintenance associated with a historic home. And our less-expensive city doesn’t require A City Ordinance to install energy efficient windows in your house, for example. (The expensive city doesn’t allow its historic homes to be desecrated by energy efficient windows.)

  100. “(It’s possible that more dense neighborhoods will change social norms so that elementary school kids can play unsupervised at parks. Based on news reports from Silver Spring, that hasn’t happened in middle class urban areas.)”

    I think this is a coincidentally apt comment. Most folks who grew up in big cities just expect their kids will play in the park vs. yard, for obvious reasons. But then you add in the modern expectation of 100%-supervision-through-35-yrs-old, + people moving from different areas with different expectations (e.g., perceptions of crime in the “city”/perceptions of child abduction threats vs. real numbers), and you end up with a real culture clash. E.g., my FIL, who grew up in old Brooklyn, has a MUCH lower threshold of “neighborhoods that are perfectly fine to walk through” at night than his kids, who grew up in suburban NJ and MD.

    @DD: I’d be interested in seeing the real figures on how many developments are actually “new urbanism” vs. just a marketing trend or argument for laxer rules because the developments are “desirable.” At least around here, there are very few “real” developments. Mostly, I see the developers using it to justify exceptions – e.g., higher density than is allowed under the zoning rules, maybe tax breaks or “why you should choose me to build this development on this valuable piece of city-owned land,” etc. — when the reality is what they really want is the deal or the higher profit margin from more units in the same space, etc. And then on the other end, I think a lot of the advertisement is basically marketing to appeal to that particular demographic to make their development more attractive to their target audience, and to recast negatives as positives (e.g., “you have a train line in your backyard” becomes “close to transit!” — in the same way “cozy” has meant “small” for, oh, ever). It’s not about the philosophy, it’s about the dollar.

    In short, I think “New Urbanists are forcing their sociological ideals on unwilling developers/buyers” is about as much of a myth as “all buyers prefer city locations.”

    Though I will draw the line at sidewalks. You build a family-oriented development with lots under about an acre in size, fork over for the damn sidewalk. Forcing people to push strollers and go running on windy roads with cars parked is just horrible, horrible planning.

  101. “Safety is, of course, a huge part of how suburbs were marketed. Safety from crime”

    It wasn’t just marketing.

  102. But LFB – if you built sidewalks. People MAY walk on them. People who may not live in the neighborhood. We can’t have that!

  103. LfB, Denver has had two major developments in the last 15-20 years: the closed Lowry air Force base and the old Stapleton airport. They both have been in the new urbanism mold. On top of that, we have light rail expansion and all the new developments around the stations are high-density, even in the outlying areas that are much lower density residential areas where they don’t fit at all. Additionally, there have been a lot of other areas that have been redeveloped in the new urbanism design even though they are in lower density neighborhoods. At least here, it’s more than a small minority that is pushing this.

  104. DD, I was in Denver this summer while you were overseas. I really like the transformation of the city near Coors Field. I haven’t been downtown in over 20 years, and I thought it was easy to get there via light rail. Lots of places to walk and eat. We stayed in one of those new burbs with access to Denver via RTD. I think it’s great that so many of these cities such as DC, Denver, Jersey City are welcoming new generations in their downtown core.

  105. Here, there are lots of apartments and shopping coming up around the light rail stations at the one end of the city. It is mostly populated by young professionals and a few people with infants. We lived in this area when we first moved here. There are no condos only rental apartments.
    There isn’t space set aside for parks in this area, so if you have kids you end up driving them to the older inner ring surburbs with the parks. I spent many hours with my kids walking from one light rail station to the next, looking at the trains.

  106. @DD – thanks, that’s interesting – very different than what I’ve seen here.

  107. Lauren, LoDo is a great example of good urban redevelopment, and they are doing some really good things with other neighborhoods close to downtown. And the light rail is great for going to and from downtown.

    Denver, like a lot of other mid-sized cities, is not really a city in the way that places like New York, Chicago, Boston, Philly, DC, etc. are cities. Denver has a downtown business center, surrounding urban neighborhoods, and the rest of it is a big suburb.

    The problem with the new developments, IMO, is that they are shoehorning high-density developments into outlying low-density neighborhoods. For those of you who know Denver, I live near I-25 and Hampden. The surrounding area is largely residential single-family homes with a major six-lane road running through with business along either side and some strip malls. They opened a light rail station about 10 years ago (the rail runs alongside the highway). Previously, right off the highway there was a hotel on the north side of Hampden and a hotel and restaurant on the south side.

    First, they redeveloped the lot on the south side with a multi-building, four story apartment complex with some retail at ground level. Then a few years ago they redeveloped the lot on the north side with a high-rise apartment building (with Denver’s only lazy river!), a high-rise assisted living facility, and strip mall-type retail. It is totally out of character with the surrounding neighborhoods and has added a significant amount of traffic. The area is not very walkable because it is on a six-lane road.

    They are forcing these high-density projects where people don’t want them because it’s supposed to be better for everyone, except for those of us who have chosen to live in the low-density neighborhoods.

  108. But LFB – if you built sidewalks. People MAY walk on them. People who may not live in the neighborhood. We can’t have that!

    Funny story. We live right behind one of the strip malls I mentioned above. There used to be access to it from the neighborhood at the end of a dead end street. About 10 years ago, they redeveloped the strip mall. They closed off the access point during the construction. When they finished, they kept the access closed, so now you to walk about a half mile out of the way to get around to the stores. I asked our city councilwoman at the time if she could try to get the access reopened. Her response was that most people in the neighborhood wanted it kept closed because they didn’t want people coming from the strip mall into the neighborhood.

  109. Oh, I hate that kind of thing, Denver Dad. I have always loved little alleyways and access paths. It’s slightly irrational. And they get closed off more and more.

    And the argument they’re making reminds me of why Palo Alto wouldn’t pay to have BART brought down the Peninsula — Those People might take the train to our lovely little community! Idiots. It would have been so great to have BART all the way to the city.

  110. “Those People might take the train to our lovely little community! ”

    Wasn’t CalTrain already there to take Those People to the lovely little community?

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